Why Should You Avoid In-App Purchases On Your Phone
Before making any new purchase on your phone we are about to reveal a big secret and save you a bunch of money going forward.
This is going to sound so cliché, but we are about to tell you something that apple and google do not want you to know. They’re going to be furious at this article and it has to do with purchase prices for in-app purchases and why you’re probably spending way more than you need to and how you can save that money by doing absolutely nothing.
As you probably know both google and apple run their respective app stores, so google on Android has the google play store. Apple has an app store on iOS and both of them take cuts from digital purchases made through those apps on their app store, so this is going to be their subscriptions or digital services.
It does not apply to physical goods such as ordering a physical product from amazon or something but anytime you make an in-app purchase whether it’s an app subscription or anything that happens to do within the app than apple and google take a 30% cut of that.
First and foremost, the thing they don’t want you to know is a lot of companies and apps will increase the price to compensate for this commission only if you’re buying the service in-app. So if you go to the website of the app or service and buy directly from them on a desktop. It could be 30% cheaper for the same thing that you’re buying on the phone and we are going to show you some specific examples.
You’re probably going to be pretty angry at this if you’ve been paying unnecessarily more but we do want to point out that what is scummy, especially in the case of apple is apple forbids developers and companies from saying that you can get their service cheaper somewhere other than on the phone.
So if you’re going to buy a subscription to an app or something on your iPhone and it shows a price there, they are forbidden from being able to say you can just go to our website and get this cheaper they cannot do that due to the developer program policies.
Android is a little bit different in that, they’re allowed to tell people that you can get it cheaper elsewhere, and also Android apps can bypass that 30% commission if they use their payment software and do not use google play but apple does have it all locked down there’s no option otherwise for that.
Let’s take a look at some actual examples of very popular apps that are more expensive simply from buying on your iPhone or Android phone compared to buying them on the official website.
Popular In-App Purchases To Avoid
YouTube Premium / YouTube Music
First, we could take a look at YouTube and they have a few different products. For example, for YouTube premium so the price on the web is the real price you get a three-month trial, and then the price is 12$ a month and this is the same if you get on Android because Google owns YouTube. So they’re not going to charge the extra price on themselves but if you were to buy the same thing on iOS you only get one month trial and it costs 16$ a month and 4$ a month.
And we need to make it clear whether you buy it on iOS or Android the premium subscription applies to all of your devices. So there’s literally no reason to buy it on IOS or you’re just paying more if you’re just buying on the website then it will still apply to your iOS devices when you’re logged in.
Also for YouTube music, for example, the family plan on the web costs 15$ a month, the same price for Android. But for iOS, it’s 20$ a month which means 5$ more expensive.
here’s another example Duolingo a language learning app. They have the plus subscription which costs on iOS 10$ a month but on the web, if you go through their website it’s only 7$ a month.
Again same thing and you just log into your account on iOS and get the same service.
Another example is MyFitnessPal in this one both Android and iOS are both more expensive than the web version. So for Android and iOS, it’s 20$ a month or 18$ for the annual plan whereas on the web the monthly price is half the price it’s just 10$ and 50$ for an annual. So if you sign up for this on the web you save either 10$ a month or 30$ a year depending on which length of plan you get.
Yet another example and for this one you will be a little bit surprised. If you’re trying to get your swipe on “Tinder”. Yes, even Tinder is more expensive on iOS and Android than on the web.
All of these pricing screenshots were taken from the wall street journal. So you can guess that the pricing for these apps is a little bit different from one region to another and Tinder it has different pricing for different age groups and stuff so this is going to go up or down depending on these factors.
In any case, it’ll still show that iOS is more expensive than the web, and even Android sometimes can be. So for the last example, it shows the iOS price is more than double the web price. 30$ a month versus 13.50$ a month.
We found someone else on Reddit also posted about the difference in prices. it was a little bit different and this might be because this screenshot’s from last year but still, it shows 27$ a month versus 30$ a month, in any case, more expensive.
Amazon Prime / Amazon Kindle
So if you try to go and buy an eBook through the amazon app, it’ll just tell you this app does not support purchasing. It’ll let you download a sample but if you want to buy an eBook through Amazon because it’s a digital good which is different from their physical products which don’t get a commission you have to go on the desktop or buy it somewhere else besides iOS because they don’t want to take that cut.
Another example is amazon prime. So that’s the whole free shipping premium service from amazon they just do not let you buy prime on the mobile app you have to do it from the computer.
Another really good example is Netflix. If you go to the Netflix app and you’re not a premium subscriber, it’ll tell you “you can’t sign up for Netflix in this app. We know it’s a hassle after you’re a member you can start watching the app”. And again like we said the earlier apple does not allow them to tell you where you can download it. So it literally can only say “you can’t buy it in this app” and then they have to hope that people assume that you can buy it on their website.
So it’s scummy that they can’t even link to where you can buy it and we think they try to make this clear by saying “we know it’s a hassle”. It means they are trying to blame apple but a lot of people might just be annoyed they’re “like I can’t buy it oh this is so stupid” and do not understand the truth behind it.
Another example is Spotify premium they don’t allow you to buy this from your mobile device. You have to go on the web and sign up from there.
Another example is YouTube TV. You can not sign up for YouTube tv for that subscription through the iOS app.
It’ll simply tell you “sign in to enjoy live TV- at home or on the go. YouTube TV can be viewed not purchased through the iOS app”. And this is probably because YouTube TV is a lot more expensive than the other premium apps, so charging 30% on like a 60$ thing is gonna be a lot more than people are probably willing to pay extra and also they don’t want to give apple a bigger 30% cut of that higher price thing. They figure out that the right thing is to make people buy it on their computers.
What Should You Do?
So what you should do is look through all your subscriptions on your google play account on Android or your app store subscriptions if you’re on iOS and check all the prices for what you’re paying and then see if those apps have websites where you can sign up for the same subscription on the web for cheaper you might be surprised that a lot of these services do have a cheaper price available for the same thing and you’re just paying extra for no reason.
Does This Apply To My Current Subscriptions?
Yes, it does. You can renew your subscriptions from a web device or just a browser and it will defiantly save some extra bucks.
One More Thing!
You might also be interested to know that a lot of companies especially bigger companies instead of either giving apple the 30% cut or charging people 30% more just do not allow people to buy their subscription through the app and simply make people buy it through the web.
But again these are mostly big established companies that people already associate as websites and stuff so probably most of their purchases don’t come through their mobile apps anyway one example is amazon kindle.
How did This monopoly affect big IT companies?
Now obviously companies don’t like doing this either charging customers extra or giving apple a cut. So a lot of companies have tried fighting this, for example, Spotify. They started a whole campaign about how apple is being a monopoly and they don’t like apple taking this cut.
You might have also seen a very high-profile new campaign from Epic Games which owns Fortnite they specifically did a whole campaign marketing campaign where they went on and updated their app to allow a direct purchase for V-Bucks for their video game and showed it literally in comparison to the App Store and this was to provoke a response from Apple who indeed then banned Fortnite from the
App Store altogether.
Then Epic Games was ready to go, they had a lawsuit ready they filed a lawsuit against Apple for any competitive practices. They also created a parody that was in 1984 making fun of apple for basically being in a monopoly and having too much control over the app ecosystem.
Anyway, they are fighting it and we are not going to get into the whole legal analysis of all this but it just goes to show that companies do not like this they don’t accept this for the most part and some of them have very deep pockets are willing to fight this in a court of law.
Finally, just going forward be sure to check either for subscriptions or even individual app purchases you could probably get it cheaper through the direct website or elsewhere instead of buying it through the iOS app.