On Friday, the internet erupted in a small way to learn that Apple had successfully forced WordPress to monetize its free app — forcing it to sell premium plans and custom domain names seemingly just so that Apple could get its traditional 30 percent cut.
But one afternoon and evening of surprise and outrage later, Apple is backing off. The company is issuing a rare on-the-record apology, and it says that WordPress will no longer have to add in-app purchases now that all is said and done.
Here’s Apple’s full statement:
We believe the issue with the WordPress app has been resolved. Since the developer removed the display of their service payment options from the app, it is now a free stand-alone app and does not have to offer in-app purchases. We have informed the developer and apologize for any confusion that we have caused.
You’ll notice that Apple is positioning this as the developer — WordPress — having done the right thing and removed the “display of their service payment options from the app,” and to my knowledge that is technically true. But as far as I’m aware, that didn’t happen today: it happened weeks or months ago.
While as of yesterday, the WordPress app didn’t sell a single thing and didn’t so much as mention a paid “Wordpress.com” plan unless you followed an unlikely workaround, I was able to track down a fellow journalist this weekend who had a much older version of the app, one with a dedicated “Plans” tab that listed some of the different plans available to premium customers:
So, to the best of my knowledge, this isn’t WordPress caving yet again. Apple simply seems to have decided that trying to extract its cut from a free app — by forcing in-app purchases — isn’t a hill worth dying on today.