Apple gave Amazon serious concessions in order to secure the Prime video app for the App Store, documents shown to a US government hearing probing Big Tech have revealed.
Rather than paying the 30% cut of all in-app subscriptions mandated by Apple, Amazon wrangled a deal to fork over just 15% of its revenue from those signing up within the Prime Video app.
That’s despite Apple CEO Tim Cook informing the House antitrust subcommittee “we apply the rules to all developers evenly.” Contrarily, documents presented to the hearing detail confidential emails between Apple executive Eddy Cue and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos following a meeting in November 2016.
Part of the email reads: “15% rev stare for customers that signup using the app (uses our payment); no rev share for customers that already subscribe.”
Other elements include Amazon giving access to customer metadata for Siri and Spotlight Search and support for the app in Siri. The email was revealed by Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman and you can see it below:
The key story point is that Apple, which has long told developers of the consistency of its revenue sharing policy, was willing to half that to get Amazon Prime Video on board, which it eventually did in 2017.
If you’re a small app developer handing over 30% of all in-app sales to Apple you’ve probably taken comfort in it being the same for all companies large and small. The concessions afforded to Amazon, one of the riches companies in the world led by the richest man in the world, probably sting a bit.
The hearing has also revealed emails between the late Steve Jobs and his executive team, which details the original decision not to let Amazon sell books through its Kindle app for iOS, without sharing the revenue (via The Verge). This led to the Kindle app simply being a vessel for Kindle users to shelve their books, rather than a means of purchasing more.
Jobs told Cue and current marketing boss Phil Schiller “[I]t’s time for Amazon to decide to use our payment mechanism or bow out [of the App Store],” and followed that with “[a]nd I think it’s time to begin applying this uniformly except for existing subscriptions (but applying it for new ones).”
In an email to Cue in 2011, which came just before Apple announced the policy, Jobs wrote: “I think this is all pretty simple — iBooks is going to be the only bookstore on iOS devices. We need to hold our heads high. One can read books bought elsewhere, just not buy/rent/subscribe from iOS without paying us, which we acknowledge is prohibitive for many things.”