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Apple's claim that "we treat every developer the same" tested by US Congress

House Antitrust Subcommittee releases emails showing half revenue share being offered to Amazon for Prime Video app

Apple negotiated a lower revenue share in an attempt to lure Amazon's Prime Video to the iOS App Store, according to an email released by the US House Antitrust Subcommittee.

The email was released as part of a hearing this week, in which Apple CEO Tim Cook will be one of many tech leaders questioned about their business practices. In Apple's case, the 30% revenue share it takes from payments made on its platform is under scrutiny.

According to Techcrunch, Cook told the House Antitrust Subcommittee: "We treat every developer the same. We have open and transparent rules... It's a rigorous process, because we care so deeply about privacy and security and quality. We do look at every app before it goes on."

The current structure sees Apple take a 30% cut from revenue made from apps selling digital goods or services. Cook added that only 16% of apps on the App Store pay anything at all to Apple.

However, Cook's position was contradicted by emails between Apple and Amazon, which revealed a negotiation for the Amazon Prime Video player to receive more favourable terms than those given to other developers.

As reported by CNBC, the emails -- which are dated November 2016 -- show Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recapping a discussion with Apple exec Eddy Cue.

The terms they discussed included a 15% revenue share for new subscriptions made through the Prime Video app -- half of the standard rate for the first year of a subscription -- and a 15% share for upselling services like Showtime.

The emails show only the negotiation rather than the final deal, but the terms Bezos described were offered by Apple a full year ahead of the Amazon Prime Video app launching on Apple TV at the end of 2017.

The House Antitrust Subcommittee also heard from Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook, and Alphabet's Sundar Pichai.

Apple is also being investigated by the European Commission, following a complaint from Spotify in 2019 over its 30% revenue share of subscriptions sold through the App Store.

In an op-ed for, legal expert Dr Andreas Lober posited that the pressure and attention could force a change in Apple's business model -- an undermine the industry standard 30% revenue share.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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