Apple, Facebook discussed revenue-sharing before privacy battles

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Before Apple's privacy feud with Facebook, the two companies reportedly discussed "revenue-sharing agreements" such as an ad-free, subscription-based version of the social media platform.

The talks between Apple and Facebook reportedly occurred between 2016 and 2018, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The report claims that Apple was in talks about various deals that would give it "a slice of Facebook's revenue."

According to one source, Apple approached Facebook and said it wanted to "build businesses together." One of those ideas included a subscription-based version of Facebook that was ad-free — and would allow Apple to collect a 15% to 30% cut of revenue.

Facebook, which eventually rebranded itself as Meta after a series of controversies, decided against a subscription model.

When approached by The Wall Street Journal, an Apple spokesperson said that the iPhone maker routinely meets with developers to "make suggestions, address concerns, and help them continue to grow their businesses."

Additionally, the spokesperson said that there wasn't any connection between partnership talks with Facebook and Apple's eventual release of privacy features like App Tracking Transparency (ATT).

ATT is a feature that allows users to control whether apps can track them across other apps and services. The feature has dealt a blow to Facebook's ad revenue, which led the social media juggernaut to launch an all-out campaign against Apple and ATT.

In total, Facebook says it will take up to a $10 billion revenue hit in 2022 because of ATT.

Although Apple has its own nascent-but-growing advertising business, the company has also denied that its privacy features were meant to boost its own first-party offerings.