It’s a well-known fact that Apple charges a 30% cut of all in-app purchases and it’s something that it has gotten plenty of criticism for over the years. But for the most part app developers pay it. But not always.
The Epic Games case that saw Fortnite kicked out of the App Store for bypassing Apple’s 30% cut is legendary at this point but there might be another huge company pushing its luck. That company, it seems, is Tesla.
As one report notes, Tesla offers a subscription service via its iPhone app that should possibly be run through the App Store in-app purchase system, giving Apple its cut. But it isn’t, and the only way to pay is via credit card or Apple Pay. So what gives?
The report in question comes from Gizmodo and it accuses Tesla of “dodging Apple’s 30% App Store tax.” And it all revolves around a Connectivity Packages subscription.
“Tesla offers drivers a tier of premium features called ‘Connectivity Packages’ that costs $9.99 a month,” the report points out. “The package unlocks a number of functions and perks including a satellite view map in the car’s console, a web browser for your car’s dashboard, and several others.” Part of that package is a View Live Camera feature that allows iPhone owners to see what’s going on around their car and that, the report believes, means that Apple’s App Store rules apply.
Apple doesn’t require its in-app purchase system to be used if a purchase relates to content exclusively consumed or related to another device. But that doesn’t appear to apply in this case. What’s more, Apple has a clause that covers this situation. It says that apps that “work in combination with an approved physical product (such as a toy) on an optional basis may unlock functionality without using in-app purchase,” but goes on to say that its in-app purchase system must be an option. In the case of Tesla, it isn’t.
Whether Tesla and Apple have some sort of understanding here isn’t clear, nor is it possible that there is some nuance that’s being missed here.
Gizmodo notes that neither company responded to a request for comment.