TikTok Faces Backlash for Circumventing Apple's App Policies

TikTok Faces Backlash for Circumventing Apple's App Policies

Moritz Schmidt
2 min read

TikTok Faces Allegations of Violating Apple's App Policies

TikTok is drawing intense scrutiny for allegedly breaching Apple's app guidelines, granting certain users the ability to buy coins directly from its website, therefore evading Apple's 30% commission. The platform promotes users to "Try recharging on tiktok.com" to enjoy about 25% savings on coin purchases, utilized for tipping creators. Interestingly, this feature is exclusively accessible to specific users, with the reasoning behind this selectivity remaining unclear. Notably, this isn't the first time Apple has intervened against a firm for bypassing its fees. Last year, Apple removed Fortnite from its app store after Epic Games facilitated discounts on the game's currency for direct transactions. Following an investigation by the European Union, Apple restored Epic Games' developer account in March. Spotify has also clashed with Apple for similar reasons, encountering refusals for updates displaying its pricing and in-app plan purchases.

Key Takeaways

  • TikTok is under scrutiny for allegedly violating Apple's rules by allowing some users to purchase coins directly from its website, bypassing Apple's 30% commission.
  • The option to purchase coins from TikTok's website is being offered as a way to save around 25% thanks to lower third-party service fees.
  • It is unclear why only some users have access to this external payment method, but one hypothesis is that it is available to those who previously purchased a large number of coins.
  • Apple has a history of taking action against companies that circumvent its fees, such as when it removed Fortnite from its app store in 2020.
  • Apple has faced pushback from other companies, including Spotify, over its in-app purchase policies and has faced legal battles over its commission fees.


The potential violation of Apple's app policies by TikTok may have significant repercussions for both entities. This move could embolden other developers to bypass Apple's 30% commission, thereby intensifying legal and public relations challenges for Apple. Furthermore, app developers like Spotify and Epic Games might also enter into the confrontation to seek improved terms from Apple or advocate for regulatory intervention.

Nations with robust consumer protection and competition laws, such as the European Union, could play a pivotal role in shaping future regulations governing in-app purchases and app store commissions. Regulators might demand enhanced transparency, curbing the dominance of major app stores, and fostering a more equitable digital economy.

In the near term, TikTok might encounter penalties or restrictions within the Apple ecosystem. However, in the long run, this standoff could instigate structural transformations to app store policies and commission frameworks, benefiting both users and developers.

Did You Know?

  • In-app purchase: This refers to the ability for users to make purchases within a mobile application, such as buying coins in TikTok to tip creators. Apple typically charges a 30% commission for such purchases made through its platform.
  • Sideloading: This term describes the action of installing apps on a device through means other than the official app store, such as downloading from a website. In this case, TikTok is allowing some users to purchase coins through its website, bypassing Apple's in-app purchase system and commissions.
  • Apple's commission fees: Apple charges a 30% commission on in-app purchases made within apps distributed on its App Store. Critics argue that this fee is too high and stifles competition. Apple has faced legal battles and pushback from companies like Spotify and Epic Games over this policy.

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