Apple CEO Tim Cook.
  • Apple has apologised after it tried to force WordPress to add in-app payment options to a free app.
  • WordPress' founder said on Friday that Apple was refusing to allow any updates to the WordPress iOS app until the website builder added in-app purchases, from which Apple takes a 15-30% commission.
  • Apple is in a fierce fight with developers including Fortnite maker Epic Games and Spotify over its rules on in-app purchases.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple has backed down in its latest skirmish with a developer over its App Store rules.

The tech giant on Sunday issued a rare apology to WordPress after it pressured the website builder to add payment options to its free iOS app, or else be blocked from updating.

"We believe the issue with the WordPress app has been resolved," an Apple spokesman told The Verge. "Since the developer removed the display of their service payment options from the app, it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases. We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused."

WordPress' founding developer Matt Mullenweg tweeted on Friday that Apple had locked the app out from making any updates until the website-builder added in-app purchases. Mullenweg later told the Verge he had been forced to add in-app purchases as an option, meaning Apple would get a 30% cut of any payments made.

Mullenweg tweeted about Apple's U-turn on Sunday, saying WordPress is no longer being forced to include in-app purchases.

Mullenweg did not address whether WordPress had removed any display of premium payment options, as suggested in Apple's statement. The Verge's Sean Hollister writes that while the app shows no payment options, it's possible WordPress removed references to its premium services weeks ago.

Apple's rules on in-app payments are at the center of an ongoing fight with developers. Developers are obliged to use Apple's payment system, which automatically takes a 15-30% cut.

Apple is currently engaged in a fight with Fortnite maker Epic Games, after Epic introduced its own payment system into the mobile versions of Fortnite, circumventing Apple's commission. In response, both Apple and Google pulled the game from their app stores. Epic then filed for a temporary restraining order against Apple to try to block it from removing the app.

Last year, Spotify filed an antitrust complaint with the EU about Apple's cut of payment, claiming Apple uses it to artificially inflate prices. The EU opened a formal investigation into Apple in June because of Spotify's complaint.

WordPress is open source, meaning users don't have to pay when using it to build their websites. Roughly 35% of the internet uses WordPress, according to Who Is Hosting This.

WordPress.com is the commercial arm of the business, which sells premium domain names and offers web hosting services. These options were not on offer through the free WordPress app, and so Apple's demand was seen by some as forcing WordPress to monetize a free-to-use app so as to take a cut of the payments.

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