Gears & Gadgets

In a surprising change, Amazon now sells movies in its Prime Video iOS app

iPhone and iPad users are now able to purchase and rent videos from Amazon directly in the Amazon Prime Video iOS and iPadOS apps in an apparent reversal of a longstanding limitation in Amazon’s apps on those platforms.

Users discovered the changes in an Amazon Prime Video iOS app update—the app now displays a pop-up notifying users of the new functionality. Neither Apple nor Amazon has made an announcement about the change elsewhere yet.

Historically, Amazon Prime Video and some other apps similar to it were limited to consumption of content acquired outside the app. So the previous version of the Prime Video app let users watch videos they’d purchased on say, Amazon’s website, but it would not let them purchase those videos directly from the app. And in cases where app developers do offer in-app purchases, those purchases are generally made through Apple’s own payment system.

Apple typically takes a 30-percent cut of app and in-app purchases made from developers through its payment system. While it remains unclear whether Apple has changed that rate for Amazon, an Apple spokesperson gave this comment to TechCrunch today:

Apple has an established program for premium subscription video entertainment providers to offer a variety of customer benefits—including integration with the Apple TV app, AirPlay 2 support, tvOS apps, universal search, Siri support and, where applicable, single or zero sign-on. On qualifying premium video entertainment apps such as Prime Video, Altice One and Canal+, customers have the option to buy or rent movies and TV shows using the payment method tied to their existing video subscription.

Apple is currently battling both public perception and regulation efforts that hold that the company behaves anticompetitively in the marketplace, specifically with regard to how it handles services that compete with its own (like Prime Video versus the Apple TV store) in its App Store. Apple has previously made some changes to combat those allegations, like tweaks to how Apple’s own apps and services are promoted in App Store search results. The allegations are similar in some respects to claims that Amazon favors its own products in its online store.

The updated Amazon Prime Video app is supported on all iPhones, iPads, and iPods capable of running iOS or iPadOS 12.2 or higher. It also works on recent Apple TV models.

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