Facebook, Apple at an ‘Impasse’ Over In-App Media Subscriptions

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Facebook has a plan to help media companies sell subscriptions to their publications. But unfortunately for the social media giant, Apple isn’t getting on board.

Those plans include a new paywall system embedded within Facebook’s Instant Articles platform. Publishers can either set metered paywalls or “freemium” paywalls around their content — the ultimate goal being getting Facebook users to purchase subscriptions. And Facebook isn’t even looking to make any money off of the deal.

But on iOS, Apple’s policies are currently roadblocking Facebook’s efforts. While Facebook wants all of the subscription money to go to publishers, Apple is looking to take its typical cut of revenue made through in-app subscription purchases — up to 30 percent, in some cases.

Apple and Facebook have hit a stalemate in negotiating the terms, and the two tech giants have been “discussing the impasse” for a few months, Recode reported. So while Facebook is rolling out a version of its paywall system to its Android-based app in the next few weeks, the feature will be noticeably absent from the iOS Facebook app.

Cupertino’s in-app subscription policies date back to 2011, in the wake of the iPad’s release. Then, publishers were trying to figure out how to sell subscriptions on Apple’s ecosystem — and they still are. While iPhones make up only 45 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, iOS users tend to spend more on paid services, according to comScore data.

Google, for its part, reportedly won’t take any cut of subscription revenue made from Facebook’s Android app. On Android, Facebook said it will work with a slew of major publishers — with some notable holdouts including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

But despite the iOS impasse, Facebook is remaining upbeat about the feasibility of its new plan.

“We know subscriptions are an important business model for many in the news industry,” Facebook wrote in a statement. “That’s why we’ve been working hand-in-hand with publishers to create a product that will drive real value for them. We’re committed to this effort and optimistic that we’ll launch a test on all mobile platforms soon.”

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