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Amazon Prime now selling and renting directly on iPhone or iPad — but how?

Nick Statt, writing for The Verge

Amazon’s Prime Video iOS and Apple TV apps now let customers make in-app purchases, including renting and buying films and TV shows. The change marks a huge shift in Amazon’s approach to the App Store, which mandates a 30 percent cut on all in-app purchases. Prior to the change, Amazon would not allow you to rent or buy content on the Prime Video app, instead, directing users to a web browser to avoid the App Store fee.

Now, when users log in to the Prime Video app, there should be a message reading, “Browse, rent, or buy new release movies, popular TV shows, and more — now within the app.” (Big thanks to George Watson, who tipped us off to this change.)

Apple originally didn't allow in-app-purchases in the App Store. Free apps had to stay free. When they changed that policy, they created a new one that didn't allow linking out from the App Store to another transaction service. For digital goods, at least. It never covered physical goods.

In other words, Apple didn't want every app in the App Store to suddenly go free and link back directly to the developer for payments as a way to do an end run around the 30/70 revenue split. To stick Apple with the hosting but deny them the transaction.

Thanks to giant games like Candy Crush and Pokemon Go, and on-again-off-again relationships with streaming video providers like Netflix, that's allowed App Store revenue to explode of the last decade. Since App Store revenue is a huge part of services revenue, and Apple has told investors to expect a huge increase in services revenue, it's something Apple probably wants to protect.

But, it's also an old, outdated system that results in impossible margins for middle vendors or extreme inconvenience for customers.

Basically, if Amazon wants 30% from content creators to aggregate videos for Prime, and Apple wants 30% from Amazon to aggregate Prime for the App Store, and the content creator still wants 70%, it breaks the math.

A few years back Apple dropped the second year subscription revenue share down to 15%, but that still makes multiple middle vendors tough. Neither Amazon nor Apple can earn together what they would earn separately, selling directly.

So, did Apple drop the rate for individual purchases (full out or rental), did Amazon agree to cut Apple in (full share or partial), and if they came to a deal, is it a new deal for everyone or something special for Amazon and maybe just other major vendors?

Unclear.

It seems clear, if and when we emerge from COVID-19 and regulatory attention turns back to tech companies, App Store policies will be front and center.

That's why it would behoove Apple to come up with something more modern, something that lets them defray the cost of hosting the App Store and serving free apps, but also drives revenue based on security, privacy, and convenience, rather than policy, and that allows all these apps to provide better and more convenient experiences for all their mutual customers.

Maybe this updated Amazon implemenation could be a first step towards that?

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CNET: Armed with the iPhone 8, canvassers go all-in with tech

Lynn La, writing for CNET

In an effort to make the door-to-door process, which is the most laborious and expensive part of the census, faster and more efficient, the bureau is arming 500,000 enumerators with the Apple iPhone 8. But as the census goes mobile, instantaneously beaming respondents' answers to data centers and cloud servers, it opens itself up to those who may want to access or manipulate such valuable information. The stakes to pull off a census have always been high, but with this year's adoption of new technological methods, the pressure to succeed is even higher.

Simple and familiar to use, easy to carry, always connected — sounds like the right tool for the job.

"We are proud that the US Census Bureau will use the iPhone for the collection and management of 2020 census data," said an Apple spokesperson. "The census is an important constitutional cornerstone that aims to ensure every one of us has equal representation, education and access in America."

Now they just have to find out how well the government software works, both in terms of reliability and security.

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Hello (Again)

As of this week, I've left iMore/Vector, and their parent company, Future PLC, and started my own, independent YouTube channel. But hear me out!

I’m fascinated by Apple. I’ve been covering the company since the launch of the original iPhone, and they’ve come to touch just so many aspects of our culture, our relationships, our lives. They’ve become the lens through which many of us experience the rest of consumer tech as well, from Google to Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Twitter, and more.

I also love the news. I have a Sorkin-esque romantic ideal about how facts righteously presented can inform and empower us.

I spent the first 10 years of my career in product marketing, learning how tech companies position their products and problems from the inside. I spent the last 10 in tech media, learning how those products and problems affect all of us.

Now I want to spend the next 10 years right here with you. Talking not just about Apple, glorified or vilified, but about all the tech that affects all of our lives. And not just about the news, about what’s happening and when, but diving deep into the analysis behind it, the how and the why.

Most importantly, I want to start a new conversation with you about what’s real and what’s not, what’s fact and what’s not, what’s serious and meant to help and educate us and what’s just sensationalism, desperate to manipulate and exploit us.

And, as a community, I think we’ll be able to figure it all out… together. 

It starts here with this brand new channel and a brand new… mostly daily analysis show, because that’s just what I do. But I have a few other, really exciting projects coming up that I can’t wait to tell you about as well.

And here’s where you come in. I’m starting fresh. Starting over. Building everything all back up from the ground up from the ground up. And I need your help to do it. So, go subscribe my new YouTube channel, set that bell gizmo to always, it’s the only way YouTube will actually tell you when each and every new episode goes live, share this new channel with everyone you know so we can get this all going again fast.

Thanks for your support. Let's do this.