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We reported this morning that Apple was demanding WordPress.com add in-app purchases to their app so Apple could get a 30% share from the sale of their paid hosting plans.
The existing WordPress app only lets users manage their sites and make free websites, and Apple was blocking WordPress for releasing any updates or bug fixes for the app unless they met Apple’s demand.
The furore caused by the news has resulted in one of Apple’s rare (but increasingly common) climbdowns, with the company releasing their hold on WordPress’s app updates.
In a statement they said:
We believe the issue with the WordPress app has been resolved. Since the developer removed the display of their service payment options from the app, it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases. We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused.
The statement claims the app had revealed the existence of paid WordPress.com plans without offering the option to purchase them in the app, which was a violation of Apple’s Store rules, and implies that the hold on the app has been released after the developer removed the references.
The Verge however reports Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress.com, had told them they had removed all the references they could weeks or months ago, but that Apple was more intent on the company adding revenue-generating in-app purchases instead.
I am very grateful that folks at Apple re-reviewed @WordPressiOS and have let us know we do not need to implement in-app purchases to be able to continue to update the app. Bad news travels faster than good, usually, so please consider sharing that they reversed course.
— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) August 23, 2020
This is confirmed in part by Apple approving the app after they “re-reviewed” it, meaning the version they were examining was already compliant with their policies.
We reported earlier that other publishers have confirmed that they have been extorted in the same manner:
This exact thing happened with CoughDrop, but it's small enough that nobody cares. Free app for 4 years (they knew we had an external subscription), suddenly our bug fixes were held hostage until I scrambled to add iap. https://t.co/LlR0V6TQzD
— Brian Whitmer (@whitmer) August 22, 2020
It is clear Apple is turning the screws on companies in an attempt to squeeze ever more revenue from their platform, and we can only hope the tighter they squeeze, the more companies and end-users escape from their grip.