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ClassPass and Airbnb speak out against Apple's 30% digital commission fee

When the coronavirus forced Airbnb and ClassPass to adapt, their new strategy marked them as digital content, causing Apple to prompting commissions.

Before the pandemic, both Airbnb and ClassPass offered users the ability to book in-person classes, events, and "experiences." As COVID-19 brought in-person events to a halt, both companies took their experiences to the digital realm.

Because the classes and events were now digital content, they were subject to Apple's 30% commission fee, which lowers to 15% in an app's second year.

Apple contacted the both ClassPass and Airbnb to inform them that they would need to pay the commission fee, according to The New York Times.

Apple claims that its intention was not to generate revenue, but rather enforce the ten-year-old commission rate rule. The company claims that it will not be waiving the fees as it would be unfair to other developers who have had to comply with the 30% cut for the last decade.

"To ensure every developer can create and grow a successful business, Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone," the company said in a statement.

Both ClassPass and Airbnb have spoken to antitrust committees as the justice department investigates Apple's App Store after developers continue to raise concerns over anticompetitive behavior.

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday is holding a testimony titled "Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple." It's part of a broader investigation by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee launched in June 2019. Specifically, the probe is an antitrust investigation that has examined dominant technology companies and platforms.

Tim Cook is set to appear alongside Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The chiefs' meeting would be as part of a session where they would testify to the House Antitrust Subcommittee over the power the firms have over their competition and the market in general.

Developers have been complaining about Apple's cut for quite some time.

In 2015, Spotify publicly lashed back at Apple for the fee, and later went on to encourage users to subscribe via their website, rather than through an in-app purchase.

In Europe, Apple's App Store has long been the subject of debate for some time now, with government agencies launching antitrust probes into the company's behavior toward its competitors.