WordPress claims Apple wants 30% of App Store profits even though its free

A founding WordPress developer accused Apple of delaying the app’s updates and bug fixes in the App Store until WordPress agrees to fork over 30% of its domain name purchases to Apple.

The problem? The WordPress app, which lets users create and manage websites for free, does not have any options for in-app purchases. Its desktop-based website, WordPress.com, however, sells domain names.

In a tweet Friday, WordPress developer Matt Mullenweg said, “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.”

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

WordPress, both the iOS app and the website, are owned by parent company Automattic. In the app version of WordPress, users are not given any options to purchase a domain name, which begs the question: If it’s a free-to-use app, what does Apple want 30% of?

Founder of Stratechery, a tech policy blog, Ben Thompson said Apple’s action “is thus holding millions of websites hostage for 30% of Automattic domain sales.”

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.

Apple is thus holding millions of websites hostage for 30% of Automattic domain sales ????‍♂️

— Ben Thompson (@benthompson) August 21, 2020

Apple and its App Store have come under fire recently for practices critics call monopolistic and anti-competitive. Last week,

A company spokesperson for Apple told Digital Trends that the company is currently working with WordPress to bring their app into compliance with App Store requirements, and that WordPress’s latest update has been approved.

Apple kicked Fortnite from its App Store, after the game’s developer Epic Games revealed that players could buy the in-game currency V-Bucks at a discount if they circumvented purchasing through the App Store. Epic Games turned around and sued Apple for anti-competitive practices by forcing the company to charge higher prices for its in-game purchases.

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