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Top U.S. Publishers want the same "Premium" App Store deal that was Secretly Struck with Amazon with Fees cut to 15%

1 x cover Apple - Amazon deal


It's being reported today that Digital Content Next (DCN), a trade body representing the likes of The New York Times, The Washington Post, News Corp and CNBC, wrote to Apple's CEO Tim Cook asking him how its members could qualify for a special deal like one given to Amazon in 2017.


More specifically, the CEO of DCN stated in his letter to Tim Cook: "We would like to know what conditions our members — high quality digital content companies — would need to meet in order to qualify for the arrangement Amazon is receiving for its Amazon Prime Video app in the Apple App Store."


The Arrangement with Amazon: Under that arrangement, Apple offers Amazon a 15% fee on customer subscriptions for Amazon’s Prime Video app via the App Store, lower than Apple’s customary 30% fee for most in-app purchases.


Apple has previously defended its treatment of Amazon, saying the firm is part of a program for "premium" video subscription services to offer integration with core Apple services, apps and features. It claims this program is only for individual purchases, not subscriptions.


Evidently the DCN letter confirms that the terms of Apple's "premium" program are not made public or else the letter wouldn't have been written requesting such details.  


Apple has to be careful how they reply to DCN's letter because this specific issue was highlighted during the recent House Antitrust Subcommittee hearing by Democrat Hank Johnson from Georgia. Johnson asked Tim Cook if the agreement with Amazon was available to other app developers, to which Cook said: "It’s available to anyone meeting the conditions." Once again, the letter from the DCN is making it crystal clear that the "conditions" that Cook referred to are unknown even to top U.S. publishers.


Apple's App Store policies are under investigation in both Europe and the U.S., with some top industry brands such as Spotify, Microsoft, Kobo, Epic Games and Facebook weighing in against Apple. We also reported this week that a game developer alliance has filed a formal complaint about Apple's App store policies to the Korean Communications Commission."


In a separate DCN blog entry posted yesterday, its Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Chris Pedigo began by stating the following:


"Given the recent congressional hearing in which the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google testified around the topic, antitrust scrutiny is undeniably intensifying. Each of these tech titans raises distinct competition issues. However, there was an interesting collision of concerns around Apple and Amazon at the hearing. It was revealed that Apple’s seemingly inviolate store terms – long questioned for favoring Apple’s own services and apps – may well bend for those who have sufficient power to wield in their negotiations.


Neither Apple nor Amazon have ever publicly disclosed the deal. Given that they are the two most valuable companies on the planet, and the huge number of businesses that rely on these platforms, it is remarkable that such a deal has been shrouded in secrecy for so long. Some would point to this deal and say, "It’s the platforms’ world, we’re just living in it." Frankly, the deal stinks of favoritism at best – and collusion at worst.


Pedigo further stated that "The monopolistic behavior of big tech puts a wide range of industries — not the least of which is the news industry — at a distinct disadvantage. It is laudable that EU and American regulatory bodies are digging in and uncovering these anti-competitive behaviors. Talking trust is not enough. We need to level the playing field and transparency is a critical first step."


For more on this, read the full CNBC report. You could also read Pedigo's full blog post here.


The level of frustration and anger aimed at Apple's App Store policies and fees playing out in the media by various heavyweights is now at fever pitch. It's as if they seem to know that judgement against Apple is assured. Why didn't the DCN make their position known in 2018 or 2019? Why now?


No company wants to be singled out as the one that poked the bear in fear of the consequences. That wall of fear appears to be missing when lashing out against Apple these days which is rather telling of what's likely to come. Remember that close to 18 months ago, Elizabeth Warren struck out against Apple by stating that she'd force Apple to choose between running their platform or the App Store, but not both. That seemed to be the starting point in the U.S. case against Apple's App Store. 


10.0F - Apple News


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