A couple of years back, Amazon’s streaming service, Prime Video, was nowhere to be found on Apple’s streaming devices—that is, until late 2017, when the company announced that Amazon’s Prime Video app would finally debut on Apple TV. What broke the stalemate? Well, we finally know.
Emails between Apple’s Eddy Cue and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, released Wednesday during this week’s big antitrust hearing and reported by Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, showed that the executives agreed to a deal that would see Amazon Prime Video pay just half of the regular App Store fee. Bloomberg reports that Apple typically takes a 30% cut from subscriptions made through Apple TV using its payment system during an app’s first year, but Amazon Prime Video agreed to pay just 15% during its first year, according to the emails. Prime Video got Siri support as part of the deal, and Apple took a 15% cut for subscriptions to partner channels like Showtime.
Neither Amazon nor Apple immediately returned requests for comment about the emails and the apparent confirmation that Apple makes extraordinary policy exceptions for some apps but not others—an imbalance that has long pissed off developers. Last month, Apple’s App Store policy that allows it to take a significant cut of subscriptions sold through its service came under fire by the developers behind the email management app Hey, a high-stake standoff that eventually saw Apple overhaul some of its policies.
But Apple is still a business, after all—a very large, very powerful tech giant. While it would certainly like to have you to believe it’s a benevolent monopoly, it’s still one of the richest companies in the world. And clearly, it has no problem making exceptions to its own rules in the event that they’re directly beneficial to Apple. It does not, as Apple Chief Tim Cook said before the House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday, “treat every developer the same.”
If you’re a developer who’s had issues with Apple’s policy enforcement, we want to hear from you. You can reach the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or tip us anonymously through SecureDrop.