A new report by The Wall Street Journal reveals that in their discussion between 2016 and 2018, Apple suggested that Facebook should launch a new subscription-based version of the app without ads on iOS but the social media giant turned down the offer.
Since the launch of the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature on iOS, the relationship between Apple and Facebook (now called Meta) has been very rocky. The ATT privacy feature gives users the control to opt-in tracking across third-party apps and websites on iPhones.
Digital advertisers like Facebook track users’ online activities to run targeted ads to generate revenue, sometimes through invasive means by accessing the devices’ microphones or cameras without users’ consent. Luckily for users, ATT put an end to that practice which has resulted in huge revenue loss for Facebook.
If Facebook has launched a subscription-based version of the app, then Apple would have charged a 15% – 30% App Store commission
During its anti-ATT campaign in 2020, Facebook accused the Cupertino tech giant of charging 30% “Apple tax” for in-app purchases on App Store from developers which is especially detrimental for small businesses.
Ahead of the launch of ATT in 2021, Apple proposed two options to Facebook which would have enabled it to grow its revenue base by offering paid services instead of tracking users online to run targeted ads.
In addition to a paid tier of the app, the Cupertino tech giant also suggested that Facebook should charge a fee to promote pages on the platform to a larger audience which would also have been considered an in-app purchase and had made it liable to App Store in-app purchase commission.
However, an Apple spokesperson said that it is routine for the company to discuss various business prospects with all developers:
“Every day, we meet and collaborate with developers of all sizes to make suggestions, address concerns, and help them continue to grow their businesses,” said an Apple spokesman, who added that the rules for app developers like Facebook are “applied equally to all developers because we think that fair enforcement results in the best user experience.”
Another spokesperson clarified that there was no connection between the proposed ideas and the ATT feature which was launched years later.