Earlier this month, Facebook launched a new feature for paid online events that allowed businesses to host and charge for virtual cooking lessons, workout sessions, and more. The company planned to pass on all the money to businesses to support them during the global pandemic. But Apple refused to waive its 30% cut and won’t let Facebook display a message about it.
The idea seems pretty sound, during a global pandemic going out for group class sessions, like yoga or baking lessons, isn’t a thing you want to do. So if that’s your business, why not take it virtual? Facebook wants to help companies to host virtual sessions in a familiar setting.
To support those businesses, Facebook vowed not to collect any fees during the first year. On Android and the Web, Facebook handles credit card transactions and will absorb the costs associated with it, so companies get 100% of the revenue.
Facebook says asked Apple permission to add a direct-payment option so it could cover the fees there too, but Apple said no. In turn, Facebook claims it asked Apple to waive its usual 30% cut on in-app purchases so businesses would benefit, but Apple refused that as well.
As a last resort, Facebook added a message to the purchase dialog to explain that Apple takes a 30% cut on the iOS app purchases. However, the Android version explains that Facebook will pass on 100% of the revenue to the company. But Facebook tells Reuters that Apple balked at the message and made the social network remove it under the auspices that it’s “irrelevant” information.
All this comes as Epic and Apple duke it out over the 30% model, leading to Fortnite leaving iOS after Epic implemented direct payments against Apple’s rules. Microsoft entered the fray as well to support Epic when it looked like Unreal Engine might get tossed from the App store, but a judge stopped that.
It’s a turbulent time for Apple, and it already lost face when it tried to force WordPress to add in-app purchases to its free app, only to change its mind after the resultant outcry. We’ll see how this latest turn of events goes for the company.