Apple Relaxes App Store Rules for Netflix and Other Companies

THE apple further loosened the App Store rules on Wednesday (2), allowing some content companies like Netflix provide links to their websites so that customers can sign up for paid accounts.

The concession was part of an agreement with the antitrust regulator of the Japan, who said the move was enough to end a five-year investigation into Apple that focused on video and music apps but didn’t consider games.

The US tech giant, however, has yet to face a host of other legal and regulatory challenges to the rules that game makers are forced to follow.

The ban on providing separate links has been lifted for so-called reading apps, which provide content such as e-books, video and music that do not offer a free level of service, requiring payment at registration.

The change is expected to take effect early next year and will apply globally, said Apple, which will keep the final word on which apps qualify as reader apps.

Some companies said the concession was not enough.

“A limited anti-referral fix doesn’t solve all of our problems,” said the Spotify Technology in a statement. The music streaming company has an antitrust lawsuit against Apple with the European Union’s competition authorities.

Apple’s App Store forms the core of its $53.8 billion services segment and collects commissions between 15% and 30% of in-app purchases.

Its rules for game developers are among the most controversial, particularly the practice Epic Games is challenging of not allowing developers to make other forms of payment within apps.

This case may determine whether Apple can maintain control over which apps appear on its devices and whether it is allowed to charge developers commissions.

In response to Apple’s latest announcement about its App Store, Epic Games President Tim Sweeney accused the company of trying to appease with insufficient piecemeal measures.

“Apple should open up iOS based on hardware, stores, payments and services, each competing individually on its merits. Instead, they’re running a daily divide-and-conquer recalculation in hopes of getting away with most of their draw practices,” he wrote on Twitter.

A Japanese Fair Trade Commission official emphasized that the scope of their investigation does not cover games.

“There is a possibility that there is an investigation into games as well,” he said at a press conference.

Apple has a 46.5% market share of smartphones Japan, where more than 30 million are sold annually.