Twitter exec says App Store fee 'isn't just a highway tax'

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What you need to know

  • Twitter's head of consumer product has spoken to The Verge in an interview.
  • The conversation covered Apple's App Store commission rates and more.
  • Kayvon Beykpour also said that Twitter wasn't in the business of breaking platform rules.

Twitter's head of consumer product Kayvon Beykpour has lent his support to the commission fees charged by the likes of Apple and Google for apps on the iPhone and beyond, saying a lot of work goes into building platforms and ecosystems.

Speaking to The Verge, Beykpour took questions about Twitter's new Super Follows initiative, and was asked by Nilay Patel:

One of the hard problems here is Twitter is an app on a phone. I use desktop Twitter, but I'm guessing the vast majority of people that are interacting with Twitter are doing it with an app on iOS or Android. If you want to enable a payment inside of an app on those platforms, you have to give a cut to Apple or Google. I'm assuming Twitter is going to want a small slice of whatever payment, because they're enabling the interaction. You've probably got a payment processor in the mix. That's a lot of cuts.Are you going to talk to Apple and Google about reducing the 30 percent cut for Super Follows? Because that's a lot for a creator to bear.

Beykpour said that Super Follows was meant so that creators, not Twitter, could make money, but eventually landed in support of Apple and Google and their models:

But on the creator side, I think the platforms and the app stores, be it Apple or Google, they have these tried and true workflows and frameworks for developers to leverage when it comes to facilitating digital goods and in-app payments, and that comes with a cost, but it also comes with a lot of benefits that increase conversion and improve simplicity and decrease fraud. And so there are definitely pros and cons there.

Patel, pushing the issue, stated that if he made money from Twitter's Super Follows, he would have to give 30 percent to Apple, before asking if Twitter was in a position to advocate for a better deal:

Then 30 percent of that $10, I'm giving away $3 to Apple and they've given me nothing as a creator. I get no value out of that. Maybe Twitter gets some value out of that, but me as a creator, I'm just giving away $3 of my $10 to a giant platform company. Are you in a position to advocate for a lesser amount there?

Beykpour stated that the way Twitter saw it, Super Follows was a brand new layer to its service, so that even if someone was making $10, and giving away $3 to Apple, they were still making $7 more than they were before from Twitter. Asked if Twitter could get around the rule he said "We're not in the business of getting around platform rules," before defending platform commissions:

Listen, I get that there's a lot of controversy around this, and some of it is for good reason. I think that there's a lot of positive things about these. This isn't just a highway tax. There's a lot of cost and effort involved in building these ecosystems that allow you to accept payments, and there's a lot of fraud or risk involved in the whole customer service flow around refunds. A lot of that is taken off of your plate.

The App Store commission fee of 30% is a key gripe at the heart of Epic Games' lawsuit against Apple over Fortnite, due to call for trial later this year. You can listen to or read the full interview here.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9