Apple Letting Some Video Services Bypass 30% App Store Fee

Apple has begun exempting select third-party streaming video services from paying a 30% App Store fee, or “Apple tax,” as SVODs such as Netflix characterize the surcharge.

Apple has long maintained that third-party services generating subscriptions through its iOS operating system be subjected to the fee. Now, it is letting Amazon Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+ skip paying it.

“Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits — including integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on,” Apple said in a statement, first reported by The Verge. “On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription.”

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The inclusion of French-based Canal+ is noteworthy considering Apple was recently fined $1.2 billion by French antitrust officials. Music streaming service Spotify currently has an antitrust lawsuit against Apple pending before the European Union.

The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission under President Trump have ramped up investigations of media/tech companies suspected of violating antitrust guidelines.

Indeed, Netflix reportedly advises iOS users to subscribe to its SVOD platform outside the App Store. Apple, in turn, has cut the fee in half to 15% to some services who members maintain subscriptions through the App Store for more than a year.

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Apple TV App Now Available on Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Oct. 24 announced that Fire TV users in more than 60 countries can download the Apple TV app — affording first-time access to iTunes movies, TV shows and channels purchased.

The app will enable Fire TV users on Nov. 1 to subscribe to Apple TV +, Apple’s new SVOD service featuring original and catalog programming, including “The Morning Show,” “Dickinson,” “See,” “For All Mankind” and “The Elephant Queen.”

The announcement is significant as it underscores Apple’s willingness to expand beyond its branded iOS ecosystem.

Viewers can also use the Alexa Voice Remote or a paired Echo device for far-field voice control.

The Apple TV app is available for Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) and Fire TV Stick 4K, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and India. Fire TV Basic Edition can also start using the app in more than 50 countries, including Australia, Austria, New Zealand, Brazil, Ireland and Mexico.

The app will be coming soon to the Fire TV Cube (1st- and 2nd-gen), Fire TV (3rd-gen pendant design), Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Nebula sound bar.

Netflix Launches Mobile Previews

Netflix April 19 introduced mobile previews on iOS, according to a blog post by Cameron Johnson, director of product innovation.

The service is coming soon to Android, he wrote.

“Mobile previews present members with a fun, simple, and easy way to learn about all the new content on Netflix — and find something great to watch even faster,” he wrote. “Each preview is about 30 seconds long and presented in a vertical format, so you can watch them without turning your phone. The previews are shown like a slideshow, so if you see something you like, you can tap play or add to your list. If not, you can swipe or tap the screen to advance to the next preview.”

The move comes on the heels of video previews on the TV launched last year.

“Years of testing has made it clear that video previews help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly,” Johnson wrote. “With the launch of mobile previews, we are bringing a video browse experience to your mobile phone in a fun and mobile-optimized way.”

“Mobile previews load very quickly, are personalized to your specific tastes, and are easy to use.”