Apple emails reveal how it tried to stop Netflix from pulling in-app iOS purchases

Before Netflix dropped in-app purchases on the iOS Store, Apple really tried to convince them to keep the option, according to internal emails revealed in the Epic vs. Apple court case. Spotted by 9to5 Mac, the documents show that Apple offered to advertise Netflix in its retail stores, pay for search ads and even bundle Netflix with its own services.

Netflix dropped in-app iOS Store purchases in December of 2018, but that decision was still in the planning stages when the emails circulated in early 2018. According to several threads, Netflix planned to run a study detailing the impact of disabling in-app purchases on iOS. It said it was concerned that users who signed up for Netflix on iOS had a tendency to cancel more often than when they joined on Netflix’s website or other ways. (And was also no doubt concerned about revenue lost via Apple’s 30 percent cut.) As such, Netflix wanted to run a two month test in select markets with in-app purchases disabled.

Apple, of course, stood to lose a substantial amount of revenue. At first it considered punishing Netflix, but by July 2018, it had created a presentation meant to sway the streamer in favor of keeping in-app purchases. It highlighted all of the promotion work it did for Netflix, saying it was featured more than any other developer, and noted that its advertising had boosted downloads by up to seven percent. It also proposed subscriber discounts, bundling with Apple services and other perks never offered to other partners.

Netflix of course dropped in-app subscriptions for new iOS signups in the end and didn’t seem to be hurt by doing so, as it recently hit the 200 million subscriber mark. From Epic Games’ side, the episode may be designed to show that Apple is willing to cut deals for its largest, most lucrative partners. As such, it could possibly be used to undermine Apple’s argument that it wouldn’t be fair to give Epic a special rate.

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