How do apps like Lyft, Uber, AirBnB skirt Apple's 30% cut on each transaction?

over 9 years ago from , Sr. UX Designer

I'm currently finishing up an app thats for businesses based on the iPad. It's software as a service with a recurring $100/month fee.

We need to avoid the 30% fee as it'll bring a real crushing blow to our revenue. The app store itself will not be generating sales for us since it's b2b.

Any idea of how those companies do it?


  • Rob GrantRob Grant, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    The 30% fee applies only to content and features that are delivered as an in-app purchase, so Lyft, Uber, and AirBnB aren't skirting anything—they provide physical services that are external to any app. If your app itself has a subscription fee to use, you're out of luck.

    EDIT: Upon further consideration, I think you'll be fine as long as you don't offer the subscription within the app. Sell subscriptions via your site and design the app to be useful only to authenticated users. Think Spotify.

    6 points
    • Oscar Waczynski, over 9 years ago

      Thats exactly what I was thinking...

      But there are other companies that are doing the same thing like for instance... SeatMe, POSLavu, SquareRegister, etc...

      If it was 5% I wouldn't even care... but 30% is outrageous.

      0 points
    • Brendan SaundersBrendan Saunders, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

      I worked for a company that built iOS apps with a subscription model and while I don't recall all the specifics, I do recall that we were rejected from the app store until we removed the ability to create an account in-app, and had scrubbed the app of all links pointing to the signup page (including the app store description.)

      1 point
  • Greg Mathews, over 9 years ago

    At Voxer for our Business app, we require users to create their paid account on the website, and then they can download the free app and login with their paid credentials. Not the best UX but we skirt the 30%

    1 point
  • Karl DanningerKarl Danninger, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    Rdio is a good example. They have a monthly subscription of $10 to use their online service. They made an iOS app that allows you to use their service on your iPhone. All you need is a registered account. From the iOS app, if you are new to Rdio, they prompt you to either make an account online, or pay the $13 a month via in app purchase. The added $3 accounts for the 30% apple takes.

    1 point
    • Nathan ManousosNathan Manousos, over 9 years ago

      I got bitten by this. Purchased Rdio from my phone only to feel cheated moments later when I realized it was cheaper if I did it on my computer.

      1 point
  • Andrew CornettAndrew Cornett, over 9 years ago

    Anything that is a physical/non-digital item (e.g. concert tickets, etsy products, kickstarter rewards) don't apply to the 30% tax since they aren't fulfilled through Apple's platform.

    1 point
  • Charlie PrattCharlie Pratt, over 9 years ago

    Pretty sure you just designate the app as a free download. Charge your clients elsewhere.

    1 point
  • Rameez Ramzan, over 5 years ago

    Here are some tips how anyone can make uber type app. https://www.cubix.co/blog/ultimate-guide-developing-uber-type-app/

    0 points
  • Niyam Shani, over 5 years ago

    Ditch The Big Ridesharing Apps For These Alternative Taxi And Car Services. Creating Apps Like Uber, Ola, And Lyft Clones Have Its Own Set Of Benefits. These On-demand Car Booking Apps Can Take You Around The World. Best Smartphones Under 12,000 In India

    0 points
  • Petter Tchirkov, 6 years ago

    Here are some tips how Uber and apps of this king earn money https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-it-cost-to-build-an-app-like-Uber or https://thunderrise.com/blog/how-to-build-a-mobile-taxi-app-like-uber

    0 points
  • Rachel Sara, over 6 years ago

    We built mobile app for mystockalarm.com not knowing 30% will be get deducted. We are expecting between 5% - 10% Simply removed all in-app purchase and asked user to purchase credits through website.

    0 points
  • Blake SimkinsBlake Simkins, over 9 years ago

    As far as I understand it, you will have to have users create and pay online. Then once in the app, they can login with their account and use the app. You cannot link out to a webview to create and pay for the subscription.

    If users are able to purchase in the app, you will have to fork over that 30%.

    0 points
  • Thomas CharbitThomas Charbit, over 9 years ago

    See this thread on Quora : http://www.quora.com/Apple-Inc-2/How-does-Apple-define-digital-content-when-taking-its-30-cut

    The border can be really thin.. In your case i guess you would need to tweak your business model to dissociate your app (that you would be give away for free), from a service outside the app (that would be sell for 100$/month) The app would react differently if you are registered as a 100$-a-month user or not

    you may have a look at companies that use freemium business model such as Vimeo or Spotify (same app, monthly fee for getting more from it)

    0 points
  • Dan LeboDan Lebo, over 9 years ago (edited over 9 years ago )

    Hmm, good question. The loops Apple forces us through to avoid their 30% cut is absolutely outrageous, as well as a horrible user experience.

    0 points