Amazon’s Prime Video iOS and Apple TV apps now let customers make in-app purchases, including renting and buying films and TV shows. The change marks a huge shift in Amazon’s approach to the App Store, which mandates a 30 percent cut on all in-app purchases.
Prior to the change, Amazon would not allow you to rent or buy content on the Prime Video app, instead, directing users to a web browser to avoid the App Store fee. You could still sign up for a Prime Video subscription through the iOS app if you are not an Amazon Prime subscriber, but even then, you could not make individual content purchases from within the app.
Now, when users log in to the Prime Video app, there should be a message reading, “Browse, rent, or buy new release movies, popular TV shows, and more — now within the app.” (Big thanks to George Watson, who tipped us off to this change.)
The prices do not appear to have been raised to account for the 30 percent fee, as some platform owners like Spotify have done in the past. It was not immediately clear whether Amazon reached a deal with Apple or whether it is indeed deciding to pay the full cut. But Apple has since confirmed that it entered Amazon Prime Video into an established program for “premium” video providers.
“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 given to The Verge. “On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Atlice 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.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
In the new Prime Video app, which does not require an update, there’s now a full-blown store tab at the bottom. It features lists of popular and new movies to buy or rent, including many of the recently released films like Invisible Man and Sonic the Hedgehog that were in theaters in February and March but had runs cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to user reports and Apple’s statement, Amazon is processing purchases using its own stored payment methods and through its own processor so long as a user has an Amazon account with that information on file. That’s a notable change in how all forms of in-app purchases have been handled before.
The In-App Purchases are also adorned with metadata (age rating) that don’t exist for standard developers today, so it sure looks like Apple and Amazon have indeed arranged something custom.
— Benjamin Mayo (@bzamayo) April 1, 2020
Typically, Apple takes its 30 percent fee and handles all payment, processing, and security upfront — Apple takes only 15 percent from subscriptions so long as a customers signed up for the services within the iOS app and has maintained it for more than a year.
According to app developer Guilherme Rambo, the Prime Video app began using a special request related to payment processing that first suggested an arrangement between Amazon and Apple, prior to Apple confirming the new program.
The Prime Video app has a special “https://t.co/HYCfFFPq6w.storekit.request-data” entitlement. This reminds me of the “requestData” property on SKPayment, which has been “Reserved for future use” for a long time. Hmmmm…
— Guilherme Rambo (@_inside) April 1, 2020
According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the deal struck between Amazon and Apple is not a wholly unique one; it’s been in place for some time although it is unclear when it was started. The program allows a company to use its own payment methods, Gurman says, and it’s already in use by apps from more niche premium video providers like Altice One and Canal+.
Apple says it has had an “established” program for “premium” video apps subscriptions, now including Amazon Prime, to let them use their own payment methods instead of in-app-purchase, which gives Apple a 30% cut. This program has been in use already with Altice One and Canal+
— Mark Gurman (@markgurman) April 1, 2020
Gurman, in a report for Bloomberg published after the change, later explained that the program also extends to supporting a number of Apple apps, services, and features — including the “Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on,” according to Apple’s statement.
Regardless of how long this program has existed and the exact terms of the deal that was struck between the two companies, the change should remove a long-lasting headache to buying and renting movies and shows through Amazon’s app and on Apple TV.
Update April 1st, 4:51PM ET: Added clarity around how in-app purchases are processed by Amazon.
Update April 1st, 5:26PM ET: Added comment from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman regarding the existence of an Apple program allowing premium video providers to use their own payment methods.
Update April 1st, 6:15PM ET: Added Apple’s statement and more clarity around how its program works.