Apple forces WordPress to start monetising its free open-source iOS app in order to get its 30% cut after first blocking the app from updating. It is another day in the App Store monopoly battle.
In the late hours of Friday 21st August 2020, WordPress founder and developer, Matt Mullenweg notified its iOS app users on why they have not gotten new updates yet. He Tweeted:
Heads up on why @WordPressiOS updates have been absent… we were locked by App Store. To be able to ship updates and bug fixes again we had to commit to support in-app purchases for .com plans. I know why this is problematic, open to suggestions. Allow others IAP? New name?
— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) August 21, 2020
The issue is that traditionally, WordPress iOS app does not sell merchandise and many other tech journalists confirmed this. It is true to its word an allows anyone using the app to create a free website. In fact, people accessing the app from iPhones and iPads cannot buy a unique domain name; the app assigns one to users for free.
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Meanwhile, Apple says that part of their App Store rules requires that developers add in-app purchases to their apps if users can use content or features that they purchase from other platforms on the iOS app.
What this means is that, if a WordPress user buys a feature from another source and is able to use this feature on its iOS app, then it will have to include in-app purchases. This by extension mandates that they pay Apple 30% commissions.
However, there are arguments that this should not apply to WordPress because its iOS app makes what users buy from other sources almost completely useless. The Verge says that it only allows them to use this feature to upload additional files and select website themes. Also, it does not push its paid features to the front of the WordPress iOS app.
Additionally, Mullenweg said that he had suggested to Apple that WordPress could block iOS users from seeing that it offered paid features. But, the company had allegedly rejected the suggestion.
Thus, the developer had no choice but to agree to add brand-new in-app purchases to its WordPress iOS app within 30 days.
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