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Screenshots suggest TikTok is circumventing Apple App Store commissions | TechCrunch

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses how TikTok may be bypassing the App Store's in-app purchase system to avoid paying Apple's 30% commission on digital content purchases. It explores TikTok's new feature that allows some users to purchase TikTok coins directly through the TikTok website instead of the iOS app, potentially saving them around 25% on the service fee.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] TikTok's Potential Bypass of App Store Commissions

1. What is the new feature TikTok is testing that allows users to bypass in-app purchases?

  • TikTok is presenting some users with a link to the website to purchase TikTok coins, which are typically bought through in-app purchases on the iOS app.
  • This allows users to avoid the 30% commission paid to Apple on in-app purchases.

2. How is this feature being presented to users?

  • The feature is displayed as an option to "recharge" or buy more coins on the website, with messages encouraging users to try this to "avoid in-app service fees" and save around 25% on the service fee.
  • It's unclear how many users are seeing this option, as it may be hidden from most users or only shown to a specific group like testers or high spenders.

3. What are the implications of TikTok bypassing the App Store's in-app purchase system?

  • This could be a way for TikTok to save on the 30% commission paid to Apple on in-app purchases.
  • However, it's unclear if this practice would violate Apple's rules around the "External Link Entitlement" which only allows certain "reader" apps to link out to their own websites for account management.

[02] Potential Consequences for TikTok

1. What happened when Fortnite tried a similar approach to bypass App Store commissions?

  • When Fortnite inserted an option that routed users around Apple's in-app purchases, Apple banned the app from the App Store.

2. What is the current status of TikTok's operations in the U.S.?

  • TikTok's future in the U.S. is uncertain, as a bill to ban the app has now been signed into law by President Biden.
  • However, TikTok has said it plans to fight the ban in court, as it did before under President Trump.
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