Those looking for love won’t find it in the App Store. Apple has removed Match.com‘s iOS app because it allowed the lonely to pay for Match subscriptions with a credit card through an external link rather than using the in-app purchases system. That meant Apple wasn’t getting its 30% cut. In June Apple revised its policy to state that “Apps can read or play approved content that is subscribed to or purchased outside of the app, as long as there is no button or external link in the app to purchase the approved content.” Apple and Match.com are now negotiating how the app must change before their relationship can be rekindled and they can have an earth-shattering makeup revenue split.
You may remember the controversy back in February when Apple unveiled its original subscription policy which required apps to offer their website subscriptions through the in-app purchases system at an equal or lower price. Match.com apparently dodged the 30% tax on in-app purchases by displaying a button to pay them directly. This was the exact type of behavior Apple banned with its June policy revision, but I guess it took a while for it to notice Match.com was messing around on the side.
Match.com’s app primarily serves as a mobile access point to its subscription-based web service. Those who’ve already downloaded it can continue looking for their soulmate through the app. Still, new users could create an account and start paying within the app, so the removal may be taking a small toll on Match.com’s onboarding rates. That’s a problem since they have high churn rates. See, any successful matchmaking service permanently solves the problem it address — married people don’t need marriage apps. Even a temporary removal from the App Store can also have a lasting impact since it causes an app to fall off the leaderboards, reducing discovery potential.
Match.com will have to decide whether to stop allowing users to signup and pay through the app, or agree to pay Apple’s 30% tax. The former seems more lucrative. If you’re setting up your Match.com profile on the go, you’re probably not putting your best foot forward, you won’t meet people, and you’ll stop paying anyways. Even better, Match.com could provide limited functionality in the app and only offer the full experience if they’ve paid online, but not offer any link or button to its web payment system. This way it could still hook up with new users through the app, but be free to collect 100% of their subscription fees. You could call it an open relationship.
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