Apple threatens to remove Airbnb from app store over virtual experiences commission

Source: Joseph Keller / iMore

A new report says Apple has claimed a 30% commission on sales of online virtual courses sold by Airbnb and ClassPass.

According to The New York Times:

ClassPass built their business on helping people book exercise classes at local gyms. So when the pandemic forced gyms to close across the United States, the business switched to virtual classes.

Then ClassPass received a disturbing message from Apple. Because the courses it was selling on its iPhone app were now virtual, Apple said it was entitled to 30% of sales, for no fees before, according to a person close to ClassPass who spoke on condition of anonymity by fear of upsetting Apple. . The iPhone maker said it was just enforcing a ten-year-old rule.

Like ClassPass, Airbnb claims to have “encountered similar requests” after starting to sell experiences online like virtual cooking classes. The report says the two companies spoke to House lawmakers involved in an antitrust investigation into Apple regarding its App Store rules. The report continues:

With the gyms closing, ClassPass has lowered its typical commission on virtual classes, shifting 100% of sales to gyms, the person close to the company said. That meant Apple would have taken its part in hundreds of struggling independent fitness centers, yoga studios and boxing halls.

Apple said that with Airbnb and ClassPass, it isn’t trying to generate revenue – although that’s a side effect – but instead tries to enforce a rule in place since its enforcement guidelines were first published in 2010. .

Apple reportedly told the NY Times that waiving the commission for these apps would be unfair to other companies that have been paying fees for similar companies for years. He would have given ClassPass until the end of the year to comply and is still negotiating with Airbnb. In a statement, Apple said:

“To ensure that every developer can build and grow a successful business, Apple maintains a clear and consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone.”

Rather than comply with the rule, ClassPass reportedly stopped selling virtual courses through its iPhone app. While Airbnb has been selling “experiences” since 2016, it started selling virtual experiences online in April, quickly gaining Apple’s attention:

In early April, as the pandemic drained travel plans and corporate results, Airbnb began selling virtual versions of similar experiences, though it soon expanded that business to larger offerings, like cooking classes with celebrity chefs and workouts with Olympic athletes.

Later that month, Apple reached out to say that when the online experiences are sold in Airbnb’s iPhone app, the company would have to pay Apple’s fees, a person familiar with their exchanges said.

Apple reportedly said it believed Airbnb had long intended to offer experiences online, rather than the move being driven by the pandemic. He also said he believes Airbnb will continue to do so when things get back to normal. Echoing previous rhetoric directed at developers, he pointed out how Airbnb “never paid Apple any money despite building their multi-billion dollar business with the help of their iPhone app.” . Apple has also reportedly said it could remove Airbnb from the App Store if the two can’t get along.

You can read the full report here.

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