Why is Apple favoring Amazon's 'premium' video content?

Amazon Prime Video Hero
Amazon Prime Video Hero (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore)

It's going to become more convenient to buy or rent video content through the Amazon Prime Video app. Under a program Apple has had in place since at least 2018, Amazon can now forgo Apple's 30% cut it requires on all App Store purchases. While this is great news for Amazon customers, it might leave others scratching their heads.

Apple's program for "premium subscription video entertainment providers," allows members to ditch Apple's long-held 30% requirement. For a company like Amazon, this means users can (finally) make purchases through the Amazon Prime Video app on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV.

Previously, because of Apple's hard and fast 30% percent rule, Amazon simply didn't allow any purchases to be made through its Apple apps. Instead, these purchases were only available outside of the app.

As Apple explained to Bloomberg about its premium program, "Customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription." The perk also includes other 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."

Besides Amazon, Canal+, a unit of Vivendi SA, has also been deemed a premium subscription provider, as has Altice One, a cloud-based video service. Whether there are other members of the group is unknown.

Good for consumers, but ...

As a long-time Amazon Prime user, I'm thrilled to see this change since I can now make purchases through the app. And yet, I'm smart enough also to realize it doesn't make much sense when you look at the bigger picture.

For one, did anyone outside of Vivendi SA, Altice One, and now Amazon, know about this premium offering for providers before this week? If so, what criteria is Apple using for inclusion? Also, why doesn't the new offering also extend to the Amazon Kindle app, which still doesn't offer in-app book purchases? (Oh right, this is for video entertainment providers only.)

Apple's 30% rule has always been controversial. Until now, however, the requirement hung over everyone. Either a developer accepted the 30% rule and used Apple's payment system in-app, or it didn't offer in-app purchases. Now, a select few have another option, which looks a lot like having its cake and eating it too.

Perhaps not today or this month, but sometime soon, Apple needs to clarify both the requirements for the premium provider program and who its current members are. Otherwise, it looks like the iPhone maker is playing favorites. Wouldn't you agree?

Bryan M Wolfe
Staff Writer

Bryan M. Wolfe has written about technology for over a decade on various websites, including TechRadar, AppAdvice, and many more. Before this, he worked in the technology field across different industries, including healthcare and education. He’s currently iMore’s lead on all things Mac and macOS, although he also loves covering iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Bryan enjoys watching his favorite sports teams, traveling, and driving around his teenage daughter to her latest stage show, audition, or school event in his spare time. He also keeps busy walking his black and white cocker spaniel, Izzy, and trying new coffees and liquid grapes.