Where Is Apple’s Confidence in In-App Purchases? smallscreens.substack.com

Sarah Perez, in her Small Screens newsletter (Update: Perez lost her home and possessions in a fire. Thankfully, all occupants escaped. You can donate to the fundraiser at GoFundMe if you are able.):

What’s worse is that Apple doesn’t seem to think that IAP [in-app purchases] can stand up to the competition: app developers’ websites.

In reality, Apple’s IAP is the most natural and easiest way to buy things on the iPhone, whether that’s virtual goods or currencies in games, subscriptions to favorite apps, paid downloads, micropurchases, and more. You simply double-tap a button and look at your phone to make a transaction. It’s incredibly simple, fast, and relatively painless. (Except when you cave and purchase boosters to pass that tough level in Candy Crush, of course. That’s painful.)

IAP is arguably the best way to buy things on iPhone and gives Apple a huge competitive advantage. It could stand up to competition, but Apple is behaving as if it could not.

John Gruber:

Message from a DF reader:

I came across an app that’s getting away with directly linking to a website to start a subscription instead of IAP. It’s a straightforward violation of App Store rules in the US. If you look at reviews, a lot of people complain about fraudulent charges and not being able to cancel. But apparently Apple hasn’t stopped them yet.


I don’t think DealMachine is a scam. Stripe is as legit as it gets. But when you handle payments on your own, you handle refunds and subscription cancellations on your own too. Renewal reminders too. […]

A few things can be true:

  1. Apple’s in-app purchasing system is a particularly nice way to buy digital goods and manage subscriptions.

  2. Apple requires most developers to use in-app purchases for many types of transaction. It does not compete independently in the market of digital payment systems. This is probably in part because Apple wants a consistent experience in third-party apps. But its 15–30% commission cannot be ignored, and Apple’s mandate implies little faith in IAP’s niceness and familiarity to convince developers to use it.

  3. Easy cancellation of subscriptions can be the domain of consumer protection authorities if you want it to be. You can just pass a law. This sort of stuff is a political slam dunk across the spectrum, except for weird libertarians. It is possible to just require things to be better for everybody regardless of what they bought or how they bought it.