Tencent Holdings' instant messaging app WeChat on Thursday closed a function that allowed users to reward its public account articles on iOS as required by Apple Inc, according to an announcement on WeChat's official account.
It noted that WeChat had broken Apple's rules by leading customers to pay inside the app rather than through Apple's payment system.
WeChat can originally adopt Apple's payment system for its public account operators, Apple told news portal sina.com.cn on Thursday morning.
Liu Dingding, an independent IT expert, told the Global Times on Thursday that "Apple's internal payment system is like a closed kingdom, and it has been imposed on many Chinese companies in such sectors as games and social media."
On the contrary, Liu said, China's Internet environment is based on openness and cooperation. For example, WeChat does not make any profit from the reward function, all of which flows to public account operators, Liu added, explaining the results of his own trials for the function.
WeChat officially announced late Wednesday that it would close the reward function and adjust the way customers pay for WeChat public accounts by scanning a QR code.
However, this also violated Apple's rules because QR codes fall outside the company's payment system, according to a report on the domestic news portal Sohu on Thursday.
"In the end, we regretfully decided to adjust WeChat's reward function on iOS after discussions with Apple," WeChat said.
"I don't approve of Apple's restrictive strategy because it seems that Apple has defended its rights, but actually it may lose many customers in the long run as China's Internet environment becomes more open," Liu stressed.
The report pointed out that the incident occurred because WeChat did not follow Apple's rules due to conflicting interests.
The App Store has been an important source of profits for Apple since its launch in 2008. Apple and its partners receive 30 percent of third-party app sales profit, while the third party receives the remaining 70 percent, the report noted.
In addition, WeChat's reward function should adopt Apple's own payment system, meaning 30 percent of each payment would go to Apple, which is obviously unacceptable to WeChat and its public account operators, the report said. The direct "victims" are WeChat public account writers and operators, who have expressed their complaints and regrets via social media, according to the report.
Liu, also a WeChat public account writer, told the Global Times he would lose about 30 percent of his reward revenue if the function is shut down.
"The conflict between Apple and Tencent is hard to explain but it did harm the general users especially 'we media' workers,' who do not rely on the reward revenue but the encouragement and support that comes via the reward function," noted Jiang Ming, a public account writer with more than 200,000 followers on the WeChat platform.