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Apple gives Flattr micro-payment the thumbs down

The iPhone maker rejects a donation-focused third-party payment system, saying it violates the App Store's terms and conditions. But does it actually have more to do with competition?

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read
Screenshot of Flattr's homepage. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

After a wishy-washy last couple of weeks, Apple has finally told the micro-payment donation app Flattr that there's no deal. The iPhone maker said that the service violates the App Store's terms and conditions with third-party payments.

"Apple is notoriously secretive about its motives or what would be the compliant and best way of doing things that are sort of new," Flattr's community manager Siim Teller wrote in a blog post. "What does this mean for the future of Flattr inside applications for iPhone and iPad?"

With the motto, "Support Great Web Content," the idea behind Flattr is to help people give money to blogs, Web sites, podcast and video-makers in order for the businesses to continue creating products that users appreciate. When users see a "Flattr" button on a Website they can click it to donate money.

Flattr's payment system does use third-party payments, but until earlier this month it wasn't a serious issue for Apple. It all began on May 6 when the tech giant rejected an update for the well-known podcast manager Instacast, which used Flattr's platform.

With the rejection, Apple cited its App Store guideline that reads, "The collection of donations must be done via a web site in Safari or an SMS." Then, the company told Flattr, "We understand that directing your user outside of your app may not be the user experience you prefer to offer your users. However it is a common experience in a variety of iOS apps."

As of last week, Apple made the final decision that even after a few changes to Instacast, Flattr was still in violation of the App Store's terms and conditions.

Even though Apple has clear grounds not to accept Flattr's app integration, according to The Next Web, it's likely that the iPhone maker is being skittish about the platform competing with its own in-app payment system, which gives the company 30 percent of each purchase.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment and we will update this report when we learn more.