Apple previously forbid app makers from directing users to subscribe through a website, for example to sign up for a service like Spotify or Netflix. Instead developers were directed to Apple’s own billing, which takes between 15% and 30% of the gross sales.
The rule does not apply to all transactions through the App Store. Game oriented in-app purchases will still need to use Apple’s payment system. But so-called “reader apps” that link to content subscriptions can now offer a service without offering a subscription handled through Apple.
The issue is one of the main complaints of developers who say Apple’s App Store has anticompetitive practices. Those include Spotify, whose complaint was a factor in the European Union’s decision to say Apple breaks competition rules.
Apple said the decision was made as part of a settlement with the Japan Fair Trade Commission but that it was applying the new rule globally.