Patreon CEO Jack Conte says the App Store review process is unstable

App Store on iPhone
App Store on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Patreon CEO Jack Conte sat down with The Verge's Nilay Patel on the Decoder podcast.
  • The CEO talked about its relationship with Apple and its App Store fees.

Apple's fees for in-app purchases have been under fire for years. The company famously (or infamously) charges a 30% fee on subscription services sold through apps for the first year and then reduces that fee to 15% for each year afterward. Apple also recently created the App Store Small Business Program which reduced that first-year fee to 15% for the majority of developers.

While some companies, most notably Epic Games, have taken Apple to court over their App Store fees, Jack Conte of Patreon doesn't seem concerned about the whole thing. In a new episode of Decoder, the CEO sat down with Nilay Patel to talk about Patreon and the creator economy. During the interview, they touched on App Store fees and Conte said that, while they do not have a special agreement with Apple, they have avoided paying Apple's fees as they direct subscribers (or members, in Patreon's world) out of their app to sign up for a membership with a creator.

I wish we had some special contract with Apple. We don't. We have to deal with the App Store policies and review process like anybody else. And sometimes we actually get delayed and have to make changes in the apps.Why don't we have to pay fees? I think it's because, for whatever reason, we're within Apple's guidelines, and we haven't had to pay fees.

When Patel pushed Conte on the subject, the CEO said that the vast majority of people who subscribe to a creator on Patreon do so through discovery that happens outside of its app on iOS, so it's currently not something they've really needed to worry about.

Well, the way people use our app, and the way Patreon has set up the business as a platform for creators, as you mentioned, there's not a ton of discovery right now happening on Patreon. People are not coming to Patreon to find a bunch of creators and then supporting creators. They're using the app to communicate and to hang out, between patrons and creators, to make posts, to talk to each other. And then a lot of the actual engagement is happening on other platforms. A big portion of our creators are using Discord to hang out with their communities and to be with their communities. People are not coming to Patreon like you would come to YouTube, to find a bunch of creators to support. So it's just not the primary behavior that's happening on Patreon.

Of course, Apple could come at any time and ask Patreon to start paying the App Store fees by forcing the company to enable in-app purchases through its app. While Conte says Apple has not done so yet, he did express frustration with the App Store review process, saying that the experience with the company has not felt stable.

Honestly, with the app review policy, we've never really felt a ton of stability. I think, again, we've had conversations where the app hasn't been approved. That doesn't feel great. And then we have to make changes and do things. So far, it's always worked out, but does it feel stable? No.

You can listen to entire interview between Nilay Patel and Jack Conte below:

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.