Sept. 2, 2021, 4:11 p.m. EDT

Apple stock closes at record high following concessions to Netflix, Spotify, other app makers

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By Wallace Witkowski

Apple Inc. shares closed at a record high Thursday after the most valuable U.S. company by market cap announced concessions for some large developers on its App Store regarding commissions, while those app makers’ stocks also gained.

Apple /zigman2/quotes/202934861/composite AAPL -0.65% shares closed up 0.8% at $153.65, surpassing the stock’s previous closing record of $153.12, which was set on Monday.

Apple said late Wednesday it will allow developers of so-called “reader” apps, which offer content on a subscription basis like Netflix Inc. /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -0.21% and Spotify Technology SA /zigman2/quotes/207488629/composite SPOT +1.62% , to give customers the option of sidestepping its in-app purchase commissions by making direct purchases from the respective companies. Netflix shares closed up 1.1% at $588.55 Thursday, extending their best-ever two-week stretch of gains into record territory , while Spotify shares rallied to close up 6.6% at $254.03.

More on the change: Apple loosens App Store payment rules for ‘reader’ apps in another concession to developers

Shares of Match Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207178501/composite MTCH +0.02% finished up 6.1% at $147.11, even though it is unclear whether the company’s subscription products like Match.com and Tinder would be covered under the most recent concession. A Match executive said in an April Senate hearing that the company pays roughly $500 million in commissions annually to Apple.

The change would not affect videogames, which are believed to produce the largest share of App Store revenue and have led to one of its biggest fights. Epic Games, known for its battle-royal game “Fortnite,” was instrumental in kicking off a rebellion by developers by suing Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +1.79% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +1.63% Google, claiming the app stores maintained a monopoly of taking commissions of up to 30% on in-app purchases or dropping the app.

Epic vs. Apple: The (predicted) verdict is in

Videogame stocks were mostly spilt Thursday with Unity Software Inc. /zigman2/quotes/221035391/composite U -0.13% leading gainers with a 5.3% rise to close at $133.14. Shares of Roblox Holding Corp. /zigman2/quotes/223883423/composite RBLX +3.36% rose 0.2%, while Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. /zigman2/quotes/204008930/composite TTWO +0.62% closed up less than 0.1%.

Playtika Holding Corp. /zigman2/quotes/208028170/composite PLTK +1.70% finished down 0.2%, while Electronic Arts Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206954087/composite EA +2.30% declined 0.7%, Activision Blizzard Inc. /zigman2/quotes/200717283/composite ATVI +0.05% fell 1.2%, and Zynga Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209662259/composite ZNGA -0.17% broke even for the day.

The Coalition for App Fairness, which is led by companies such as Epic Games, Spotify and Match, criticized Apple’s concession Wednesday evening as a way “to protect their App Store monopoly by dividing developers into winners and losers.”

Apple made other concessions last week in a proposed settlement of a 2019 class-action lawsuit from developers over app-store practices.

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