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Apple Takes Flak For Restrictive New NFT Rules

26 Oct, 20223 min readNFT
Apple Takes Flak For Restrictive New NFT Rules

Apple is known to take advantage of it’s power positioning in the mobile software world. However, Apple has been quietly restrictive with limited public-facing perspective around blockchain-related technology including crypto and NFTs. The NFT momentum has changed that in recent months, despite a broad crypto bear market, and has led Apple to include policy changes to address NFTs directly – and those changes aren’t especially NFT-friendly.

Apples Policy Additions… Restrictions May Apply

Speculation began in late September that the dominant tech company was opening its doors to NFT-based apps in the App Store. That led to mixed reviews: it’s undoubtedly positive for NFT enthusiasts to see major tech companies addressing them, but Apples exorbitant ~30% fee was largely believed within NFT communities to be unsustainable, undesirable and unreasonable.

Now that official policy changes are coming into effect, we’ll highlight three major pillars from the policy changes that summarize all you need to know:

  • NFTs are approved for “minting, listing and transferring:” Yes, you read that right. Apple has directly approved app utilization of NFTs, a major win for blockchain-based ecosystems that are building mobile platforms and services.
  • NFTs will be restricted to in-app purchases only: Now the less exciting part. As was believed in our report last month on the matter, Apple is restricting any sort of financial transactions to live within it’s in-app functionality – which means that it’s ~30% collection fees will apply. No external links, no buttons routing to external sources, and no directing consumers for purchases outside the app. This has been a long point of contention for major parties even in web2, such as Epic Games, who disputed that Fortnite purchases should be exempt from the exorbitant Apple fees (albeit with limited success).
  • NFT ownership in-app cannot “unlock features or functionality” within any app: The restrictions continue. One of the biggest selling points around many NFT collections and projects will be left to the wayside. With this policy adjustment, there are no mobile features or functionality that can be gated through NFTs in-app, as Apple likely looks to limit NFT impacts within apps.
  • In all, while we can praise Apple for their willingness to address NFTs directly, most community members throughout the NFT landscape are left with a lot to be desired out of the company’s latest policy changes.

    The Big Picture

    Despite a heavy hand, seeing Apple acknowledge NFTs in this fashion is still noteworthy. It comes in the midst of substantial tech and social media dialogue around crypto and NFTs; across social, buzz has been floating around with major channels this past week, most particularly around Twitter and Reddit.

    Twitter is reportedly working on a crypto wallet product for users, while Reddit has been making headlines for the momentum surrounding its pillar NFT project, ‘Collectible Avatars.’ Without leaning into the NFT aspect of Reddit’s NFTs (powered by Polygon), the social channel has found a way to ‘mainstream’ NFTs with substantial success that has largely been unmatched. All of this to say that there is plenty of action in tech and social.

    Elsewhere in social and tech, Meta (formerly Facebook) has found similar points of criticism that we see today with Apple; the platform charges a similar “hardware platform fee” for it’s VR product, Meta Quest, that Apple charges for in-app transactions (roughly 30%), and then adds nearly a 20% for it’s Horizon Worlds transactions.

    Beyond social, however, plenty of traditional tech players have looked to engage in the crypto space – but it’s been a slow burn with little engagement from Apple to date. Beyond their restrictive perspective surrounding new NFT-related policies, Apple recently had to fend off a class action lawsuit surround ‘dupe’ apps, and has had to deal with Senate scrutiny in the U.S. surround crypto app fraud at large.

    In all, there are plenty of frontline fights for Apple, which makes their insistence on such substantial in-app fees even more highlighted. The issue hasn’t just been a web3 one either – even web2 brands have expressed disdain for the “Apple tax” and their restrictive tendencies. We’ll see how it shakes out – for web3 and beyond – in due time.

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