ComiXology Removes In-App Purchase Option for Apple iOS Apps

Two weeks after its purchase by Amazon, the leading digital comics platform releases new versions of its iOS apps, pushing customers to the online web store to make purchases.

Just a couple weeks after the company was purchased by Amazon, ComiXology sent an email to customers this weekend advising them of an “important update” about the company’s iOS app — namely, that the app would no longer allow users to make in-app purchases, instead direct them to the existing online web store.

In an interview about the change, ComiXology’s vp marketing and communications Chip Mosher explained that the move brought the company in line with “the web-based purchasing model [Amazon has] successfully used with Kindle, which we expect will allow us to strike the best balance between prices, selection and customer experience.”

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The change also means that Apple won't receive a cut of any purchases customers make on an iPhone or iPad using the App Store. Under current rules, Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases. By pushing iOS users outside of the app to make their comic purchases, ComiXology, following in the footsteps of Amazon’s Kindle app, bypasses that rule altogether.

Reaction to the policy change came swiftly on social media, with many fans complaining that the additional steps needed to make ComiXology purchases on an Apple product needlessly complicate the process; in response, the company released a guide showing how to save a shortcut to the web store on Apple devices, telling customers that “shopping via the webstore gives you the added benefit of being able to add multiple items to the cart before checkout as well as including content previously unavailable to the iPhone and iPad app” and noting that the company had “recently optimized the webstore for mobile shopping. … It’s pretty slick.”

In the past, the bulk of ComiXology’s sales were rumored to have come through iOS devices (Allison Baker of ComiXology-exclusive publisher Monkeybrain Comics confirmed that was her company’s experience in a recent podcast), so whether or not this change will impact ComiXology’s success going forward is unclear — and, given the company doesn’t release hard sales figures, is likely to remain so for some time.

The company also updated the ComiXology Android app this weekend, removing the ability to pay using Google Play, although in-app purchasing otherwise remains unaffected.