The WordPress app for iOS helps users build and manage a website for free from their iOS devices. WordPress is now accusing Apple of cutting off the ability to update the app, as Apple is demanding its 30% cut of the in-app purchases.
The founding developer of WordPress, Matt Wullenweg, informed users on Twitter the reason why their iOS app of WordPress was not being updated.
Heads up on why @WordPressiOS updates have been absent... we were locked by App Store. To be able to ship updates and bug fixes again we had to commit to support in-app purchases for .com plans. I know why this is problematic, open to suggestions. Allow others IAP? New name?— Matt Mullenweg (@photomatt) August 21, 2020
The problem is that the WordPress app does not even sell anything as every functionality on the app is for free. WordPress simply assigns users a free WordPress domain name and 3GB of space, so users don't even have the option of 'buying' a unique dot-com or dot-blog domain name.
Apple justified its demand with its in-app purchases policy, saying that in-app purchases are required whenever apps “allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site.”. The reasoning still doesn't quite make sense in case of WordPress as its app doesn't sell anything itself and doesn't even offer anything special with what users might have purchased from the WordPress website.
WordPress (and the app) are GPL, and App Store TOS and DRM violate GPL. Thus only the copyright holder can submit an app for all of WordPress, both self-hosted and https://t.co/WHTtnmKYAZ.— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) August 21, 2020
Apple is thus holding millions of websites hostage for 30% of Automattic domain sales 🤷♂️
Apparently, Wullenweg had to eventually give up confronting Apple and decided to add brand new in-app purchases within 30 days for WordPress.com's paid tiers including domain names. The move has been approved by Apple and the company will allow Automattic to update the WordPress app.
Mullenweg also addressed that his tweet was for the WordPress community and not necessarily an angry response to Apple's tax policies.
Apple, on the other hand, won, proving itself as the richest and most powerful tech company of the world that successfully forced an app developer to monetize his app just so Apple could make more money.