Image source: Apple.
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Apple knows full well just how important third-party content providers and developers are to its business. If Apple is a walled garden, then it's these stakeholders that build the walls.
That's why it's so meaningful that the company is now planning on making some important concessions in its relationships with developers. Specifically, Apple's famous 30% cut will be reduced in the context of subscriptions, according to a recent exclusive interview with marketing chief Phill Schiller by The Verge
It's about time.
A pretty big carrot
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According to the report, Apple's revenue-sharing model will shift and its cut for subscriptions will fall to 15%, allowing the developer or content provider to keep 85% after the first year. That's a big win for developers and content providers alike, since 30% has always been considered a tough pill to swallow when we're talking about long-term recurring revenue streams. Over time, it adds up -- fast.
This 30% cut has long been seen as a barrier for many developers and content providers, including dominant video streamer Netflix . For the longest time, you could not sign up directly for a Netflix subscription within the company's iOS mobile apps. At about $9 per month at the time (before the recent price increase), margins were already slim enough. For many smaller companies that lack scale, the 30% cut was simply economically unviable.
Apple will allow all categories of apps to sell subscriptions, including important categories like games.
Giving some back
It's hard to imagine that Apple's costs for operating the App Store are particularly meaningful, especially when you consider the global scale at which it operates. Sure, there are fixed costs around data centers and variable costs around employees that maintain it, but selling third-party content is very likely a high-margin business for Apple.
It stands to reason that it can then afford to give up some of that profit for the sake of benefiting developers, and the increased percentage that developers can now keep is a strong incentive to shift their own revenue models toward subscriptions. While we're talking about a 15-percentage-point increase in the developer's cut, that's more than a 20% increase relative to existing monetization levels -- and it's recurring, so that extra money compounds over time.
Meanwhile, Apple has been trying very hard to shift investor focus toward its large and growing services business, as a way to de-emphasize slowing iPhone unit sales. The company even introduced a new non-GAAP metric last quarter
While Apple will take a smaller cut of subscriptions, the full subscription value will be included in installed base related purchases, so providing strong incentives for developers to sell more subscriptions will help Apple's case. The Mac maker really wants you to know how big its service business really is
And it's only going to get bigger.