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Apple cuts App Store affiliate commission from 7% to 2.5% (techcrunch.com)
293 points by petergatsby on Apr 24, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments



For my apps, I used the affiliate program to get back some of the Apple tax.

So from my perspective, this is just the latest in a long line of developer hostile developments from Apple.

Sidenote- I tried deploying an app to testers on Testflight for the first time, and the app was rejected. What a complete waste of time. It was rejected for not running on iPad properly and not working with ipv6. Not exactly too frickin helpful when I needed to get the app out to testers/stakeholders asap. Fortunately Tryouts.io don't want to waste my time.


>For my apps, I used the affiliate program to get back some of the Apple tax. >So from my perspective, this is just the latest in a long line of developer hostile developments from Apple.

I know this is a common practice but it's not the intended use of the tool and therefore I think it's quite a stretch to say this is a "hostile development towards developers". I understand the frustration, though.


I think it actually is (one of) the intended uses of this tool. I've been told directly by the managers of this program at Apple that it's meant to reward app developers for driving traffic to the App Store.


What's the point?

They don't want you to come from a web page that you arrived from after a google search or a facebook ad.

They want you to go to the AppStore app first. And search there and see advertisements there.


They want people to be engaged.


It's a logical practice as well. You're the one generating the user's interest and directing them to the app in the store to get the sale. So, it would be logical that you'd want to pay less of the Apple tax.


It would be amazing if this were a precursor to the "Apple tax" being lowered. If Apple is going to lower their 30% take on app sales, then perhaps that requires lowering these affiliate commissions. I know this is probably wishful thinking, but as the author of this[1], I will hold out hope...

[1] http://blog.anylistapp.com/2015/02/open-letter-to-tim-cook-r...


I did the same, and since the majority of my sales were generated through my own site rather than directly on the app store, it was relatively successful too.

This represents a roughly 6% cut in post-Apple revenue... on sales of our own apps. Unbelievable.


What is the "Apple tax"?


Apple takes 30% of the purchase price for app sales on the app store.


Which, in the days before the Apple App Store, when one had to contact Verizon or AT&T to get your app available to cell phones, was the other way around. They would take 70%, and give you 30%.


How quickly people forget this. It went quickly from Apple is changing the game, and giving developers an unprecedented cut of the sale of their apps. And for their 30% they host it, they process the credit cards, they provide the iCloud infrastructure and notifications for free, they make it searchable in their store. No one said it wasn't a good deal.

But a few years pass, and now it's the Apple Tax? Some people could promote and sell it themselves for less. A lot less? Maybe, maybe not. But most of us could never ever do it for the 30%. Why does everyone think they're the smartest one in the room these days? Odds are, you're really not. Sorry. You're just not.


Well appstore is a walled monopoly and has pretty awful discovery. There's a huge tail and only the top 10 really make it.

They are using their monopolistic stance to kill others. But then it's their platform and they can do as they please. They gotta make the $$$ to keep shareholders happy with ever expanding profits.

Welcome to America.


Just look at Android, despite having 85% or more of the smartphone market...


What you say is great if I was able to install Apps from anywhere and not limited to the App Store.


You wouldn't go to Verizon, you would need to get a publisher, which was very hard to get.


Getting approved was also a months long process that required a substantial upfront investment in bizdev, legal, and custom engineering. And you had to do this for every single carrier, which was extra fun internationally.


This is true, and it's also why apps hardly existed in those days. But really it just shows that the market has moved from having the mobile companies as rent-takers to Apple as a slightly more generous rent-taker. Neither the 70% nor 30% is really the product of a market process.

The counter-argument is of course the PC era, where you could sell stuff and give 0% to the manufacturer and OS vendor.


A lot of people came to iOS not from cell phone development, but from developing for the desktop, where 'store' fees did not apply most of the time.


I never had any issues sideloading J2ME apps...


How did you go about selling them?


I used a J2ME Twitter client where you paid via Paypal and entered an activation code - the shareware model.


Apple tax to me also means the average ~$1000/year I have to spend on replacing otherwise completely perfect Apple hardware that gets conveniently software upgraded to be too old for normal daily functions :)


What on earth are you buying regularly? Several 4 year old iPhones?


Probably a base model iPhone every 2.5 years @ ~$720 after tax/state fees, and $1645.90 for a base model MacBook Pro every 3 years. Figure OP might bump some specs up to hit the $1k spend a year mark, but minimum your spending $800 a year for a decent environment to target iOS.

And this is why I haven't made any apps for iOS :P


Look at the costs for developing for a VR environment ($5K+), Xbox, PS4, or literally any other platform.

Android's computer requirements are more modest, but if you're a serious Android developer you'll need to have at least one of the flagship phones from every major vendor to be sure your stuff runs properly. That can mean dishing out thousands a year for the latest Android device from Samsung, Motorola, and Google itself, normally unlocked so you're not also paying for service you don't need.

If all you're doing is building web sites, maybe you can hack it on a Linux desktop with Windows in a VM. Anything else requires more hardware.


VR is expensive, but $5K is really overstating it. I've done VR development very happily on my desktop with a 6700K and a 980Ti and, even with a VR headset (I had a free demo kit so I didn't buy it) it'd have been under $2500 all-told. Xbox One development these days is "get an Xbox One you can keep in developer mode" and a sub-$2,000 PC that'll remain relevant for five years at a time. If you're a spec-chaser, it'll be expensive. If you're a normal solo developer, not so much (and EA doesn't swap its workstations every year, either).

Android has also settled to the point where I disagree on the need for multiple flagship devices (most people I know develop on a single device and use something like Device Farm to test more widely, though this doesn't work so well for game development.


Definitely, VR dev can cost a pretty penny. The only reason I have a VR capable rig is cause I was given the CPU & GPU by a friend who reviews hardware after he was done with them.

Android has low development requirements, but you can definitely get by without a flagship phone from each of the major vendors, one mid-range device will usually suffice.

Wrt web development, why bother with a Windows VM? It either renders in Firefox & Chrome or it doesn't, and if IE/Safari can't hack it, tough luck, you get the JS free version of my web app for being a steaming pile. I'm not willing to waste resources on dying platforms, that is silly.


OP said: "replacing otherwise completely perfect Apple hardware that gets conveniently software upgraded to be too old for normal daily functions"

For iOS v10, the iPhone 5, which was released in 2012, is still supported. So no, Apple is not forcing you to purchase a new iPhone every 2.5 years.


No, I was pulling that 2.5 year figure from my prior life of selling cellphones to businesses and the occasional consumer. On average 40% of a wireless account will upgrade per year, so about every 2.5 years you'll see a line upgrade devices.

Its great that Apple supports the iPhone 5 still, but the user experience on an iPhone 5 is different from an iPhone 7, and its hard to optimize for a device you don't have that is multiple generations newer.


If you're developing on Apple hardware in Xcode, you have a number of simulators available in the development environment to test/optimize most of that. I'm sure someone will come up with plenty of reasons that this isn't good enough for some developers, but it's not something I ran into when I was developing for iOS.


What you have to optimize exactly?

If it runs fine on a iPhone 5, it runs better on an iPhone 7.

You are not writing drivers, you don't need to optimize anything.


For that money you also get a great laptop which you probably need anyway. If you don't, you can also use a Mac mini which isn't nearly as expensive and lasts for a pretty long time.

You can also use the iPod Touch for iOS development if you don't want to buy an iPhone.


Eh, I'd hate to own a MBP again, it just can't handle my lifestyle. With my current Thinkpad, everything is repairable, a new screen is $45 for 1440x900 @ 14in, DisplayPort is right there for my external monitor, and it can take a beating without issue.

I've thrown it in the back of my pickup and let it slam side to side as I drove all over town, no worse for wear. Speaker fell from 20ft up and busted the screen once, and an angry former friend punched it and broke the last one, but I was able to get a new screen same day and swap it in both instances. Took me two screws and less than 5 minutes to be back up and rolling again.

If I need more than an i5, 8GB ram & an SSD, I've got a new KVM box that I can use as a desktop easily.

Wrt iPod Touch as an iOS development target, that would likely work for some applications, but if your app involves voice or seeing how performance is over cellular, it'd be non-optimal. Same for using an iPhone 5, your missing out on features that newer devices bring to the table, so you can't optimize for them/leverage them.

On another note, the Mac Mini is one of the most neglected product lines out there that Apple is currently selling, akin to their routers before they finally killed them off (which was a mercy kill).

Mac Mini: http://www.macworld.com/article/3154027/macs/what-the-mac-ne...


Whereas that 3 year old Dell laptop and Samsung phone are humming along quite nicely?

FWIW I just replaced my 5 year old MacBook Air, but only because I wanted to. It was still working perfectly well - and is now my flatmate's main computer.


Until last month my wife was using an LG G2 (2013 flagship), and it was still going strong. What killed it? A broken screen due to being dropped, and we decided that it was probably time for an upgrade rather than repairing a 4 year old phone.


If a computer costs $3000 and you save up $1000 a year to buy it, in 3 years you can buy that computer.


I question your decision-making if you aren't doing bleeding-edge graphics programming and are replacing a $3,000 computer every three years.

Three years ago was when I got my current retina MBP, I do stuff on it that's considerably more demanding than iOS app development, and I expect to replace this in 2020.


Alternatively, they are sane enthusiasts who enjoy using and taxing state of the art hardware. Or they are gamers. Or both. I could say I question the decision making of someone (especially a hacker) who doesn't upgrade their laptop every six years. But that would be rude.


> Alternatively, they are sane enthusiasts who enjoy using and taxing state of the art hardware

If you're complaining about the "Apple tax" of hardware in a thread about Apple taking 30% off the top of an App Store sale, then it stands to reason that you're talking about using that hardware to build applications that would be hit by the first. But even if you overlook the "sail into a topic and go grind that axe" non sequitur of it, the complaint here was that software was being "upgraded" to the point where it no longer suffices for "normal daily functions"--which is kinda silly, Sierra is about as performant on my older MBP (a 2011 midrange one) as OS X ever was even if applications running on it have gotten more grabby, but that's not Apple's fault either.

(But to be clear: gaming? Hey, that's totally fine. I keep a moderately recent gaming rig, myself. But I don't then turn around and complain about the "tax" of my own choices, because that would be transcendentally dumb.)


Well, I agree with everything you wrote here.


Above that, the resale value of Macs is great. I typically buy a new MacBook every 1.5 years. But I can sell the old one for 75% of the purchase price. 300 Euro per year for a cutting edge machine is not a lot, especially if your income depends on it.


Hah, I can barely get the hardware on a heavily used laptop to last 2 years, let alone over 3. Shit is just junk, Apple stuff included. HDMI port failed on my new Macbook.


But a 3 years old $3000 computer won't have been obsoleted by software updates (the OP contention). So... that won't be an issue.


30% and 30% for subscription for the first year and 15% after 12 months of subscription.

http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-changes-app-store-reven...

AKA Highway robbery and Google doesn't do any better. It should be in the single digits.


> AKA Highway robbery and Google doesn't do any better. It should be in the single digits.

Why single digits?


> Why single digits?

What's is their cost? When you look at an ebook Apple makes more money then the Author of a book. Most developers don't make a profit but Apple is guaranteed a profit form each purchase. http://alltopstartups.com/2016/03/30/do-apps-still-make-mone...

When the creator makes less then the deliver there is a problem. When the deliver makes money from purchase 1 and the developer might never see a penny after thousands of purchases there is a problem. A developer makes an app that cost her $10,000 and she must sell $14,300 to break even and not make a dime. Apple will make $4,299.


> What's is their cost?

Cost isn't relevant, the commission is because Apple brings X hundred million credit cards to your door and presumably increases sales by at least that much.

> Most developers don't make a profit

Because most apps are garbage?

> but Apple is guaranteed a profit form each purchase. When the creator makes less then the deliver there is a problem. When the deliver makes money from purchase 1 and the developer might never see a penny after thousands of purchases there is a problem. A developer makes an app that cost her $10,000 and she must sell $14,300 to break even and not make a dime. Apple will make $4,299.

Except Apple eats all the credit card fees, server fees (hosts free apps for free), built the platform with an install base of hundreds of millions with a demo that spends more than other platforms etc.


If we still lived in 2008 this is relevant. But it is now 2017, server costs are so close to zero for an app binary download, and credit card transactions can be had for 2.9% + 30 cents with Stripe. App visibility used to be a bonus, but today your app will get seen by literally no one if you just upload it just because of the sheer number of apps being released every day. And that is only mentioning the "good parts" of being on the App Store.

The bad parts: - No customer data, this is fine, except for when the expectation is that you will host the application for that specific user indefinitely. But this leads into the next point...

- No ability to do customer support - Want to refund a user? We have to tell them to go to Apple. Want to give a user a free subscription month? Can't do that, as subscriptions will just continue to auto-renew on apple's servers. Want to give an existing user a discount on a new app? Can't do that without some super awkward app bundle. Want to even know that a user purchased your app in the first place? I hope you collected an email when they signed up...

- Arbitrary app review process - my company has had an app stuck "in review" for two weeks. We pulled it and resubmitted and it was available later that day. What?

- Search. And now Search Ads. Search highly favors volume over user satisfaction. Have a small user base but impeccably high retention rate? Who cares, we have another app with 10x the downloads and a 2.5 star rating that will rank above you. Also your competitor is buying your app name as a keyword to also bump you down one more slot.

- Subscriptions: They pushed these really hard last WWDC, but in iOS 10.3 users still have to find the subscriptions page buried in settings and use a crappy web view emulating iOS to cancel.

So for "all that" Apple takes 30%...

I appreciate all Apple has done in creating the market, but they need a way to make it actually sustainable for things that aren't SaaS or candy crush clones with in-app currency. Paid apps are dead along with anything wanting to be "pro" level on the iPad. My main issue is that almost all of these things can be fixed with some small changes to how things work. Responding to reviews was a definite step in the right direction, but they still have a ways to go to actually be worth 30% in 2017. There is a reason you can't sign up for Spotify Premium in the iOS app anymore.


The parent's real meaning behind "bringing credit cards to your door" is not quite addressed by cheap CDNs or Stripe. It's the fact that Apple has gotten these people to sign up for user accounts and pair credit cards to those accounts, and then authorize devices to one-tap purchase your app using those accounts+cards. They've pre-qualified your leads through 95% of the funnel before they get to you.

If someone is looking at your software within a Store (Apple's, Google's, Valve's, whoever), you've essentially already "won" in terms of likelihood of conversion. You will still have to do some inbound-marketing work up-front to drive the user to that Store-page, but that's way less effort than the several-funnel-step process required to qualify and convince a "cold lead" your app, and your site, and its CC processor, are all safe to interact with, and that your app actually does what it claims to do.


> Cost isn't relevant, the commission is because Apple brings X hundred million credit cards to your door and presumably increases sales by at least that much.

Except that developers have demonstrated with real numbers that that is not always true: https://weblog.rogueamoeba.com/2017/02/10/piezos-life-outsid...


Aside from the fact that I didn't claim it was a universal rule, are we drawing big conclusions from sample size n=1? How about looking at the amount of money developers made from app store vs google play by year?

http://bgr.com/2016/07/20/ios-vs-android-developers-profits-...


I know math. But my point is that no solution will ever be satisfactory. Is 9% too high? 6%? 3%?

Also, think on the reverse situation. Apple currently makes 0$ on the sale of free apps but obviously these apps have a cost in storage and distribution. ¿What is the "fair" proposition in that case?


For like 95% of apps the $99 yearly developer fee more than covers the storage and distribution. A terabyte of data transfer is about $100 on S3, most apps are a few MB at most and will never reach that many downloads in a year, even with re-downloads and updates.

The fair thing is anything lower than what it is now. Distribution costs have dropped dramatically, and user trust has increased so accepting credit cards on your own really isn't as huge of a deal as it was ten years ago. Visibility is now zero from the App Store as well which was also a benefit back in the early days.


Free apps must, just like paid apps, still get reviewed by human Apple employees on every release, which (I would assume) is a far greater cost than distribution, and might heavily outweigh the $99 charge in the case of complex free apps like Facebook or Chrome.


If prices of anything were ever determined by the price of a terabyte of data, you'd be right. However, in this case, they are not. The price of data is wholly irrelevant to this discussion.

As an app developer, I can tell you that visibility is not zero. If you understand how the store works, there is still excellent money to be made there. The 30% cut isn't outrageous. You just can't be pushing shovelware.


> Apple currently makes 0$ on the sale of free apps

That is 100% not true and probably right now Apple makes most of their App Store money from free apps.

98% of Google Play income is from free apps.

https://www.smartappmarketer.com/how-do-free-apps-make-money...


Apps that use in-app purchases are not free apps, they are priced apps that defer payment. There are millions of real free apps in the AppStore.


That's a bit of a broad brush statement. An IAP could be any one of:

    * An upgrade of some sort (often ad removal)
    * In-game currency (which may or may not be a defacto requirement)
    * A tip to the developer with no added functionality
Neither of those carries an implication for the pricing status of the title. It's all context-dependent.


Apple makes at least $99/yr for each free app (Developer's program fee)


Apple makes $99/yr for each free app developer. There's nothing stopping any developer from releasing multiple apps.


well, that's not necessarily fair. Apple has done an incredible amount of work to give devs and content creators an audience in the first place. Their rules are no different from many others. The economics of a "good business" need to take into account the delivery costs. Just because those costs are borne by a 3rd party (apple), does not mean those costs aren't real. Yes, shifting the costs more on apple would change the economics for app developers, but as long as the economics remain great for apple, they keep developing better services, devices, and platforms for devs to use (and, they give some of that away for very cheap or free).


I know quite a few App Store Developers and I don't think a single one would say that Apple does the following:

> they keep developing better services, devices, and platforms for devs to use (and, they give some of that away for very cheap or free).

Follow the money and Apple, Google and Valve are making a killing off the backs of creators. The cost of delivery is what 1% if that?


Apple, Google, and Valve are creators, and they're also providing the service of being middlemen for you. They deal with hosting, serving, taking payments, so on and so forth. There are AAA companies that have found Steam so much better for distribution that they no longer sell any other way (look at Paradox Studios, for example).

And while you're locked into Apple (not that anyone is forcing you - and Apple basically created that whole industry), with Google and Valve, you're free to run your own setup and deal with all the middleman stuff yourself. 30% to hop onto their infrastructure and let them deal with bad payments is a pretty good deal.

In short, you can always tell the people inexperienced in business in these conversations, because they think that 30% is a crushing 'take'. 30% is actually pretty damn good - normally in retail it's what you'd get, rather than what they'd take.


Follow the money and Apple, Google and Valve are making a killing off the backs of creators. The cost of delivery is what 1% if that?

Well, if the cost of delivery and maintenance of these platforms is so low and the charge to developers is so high, why not arbitrage this? Create your own trusted multi-billion hardware/software platform with expedited payment and protection from cheating, and you can cut developers a better deal!


Twitch is, gog.com, gamersgate.com, humblebundle.com, and etc. etc. etc.


I'm an iOS developer and I'd definitely say that.

I think you should forget about "hard" costs. They're completely irrelevant to how valuable something is.


You're right. This is something that annoys me me when people evaluate thing. The values of something is of much more important thing than just cost. Its like punishing poeple who optimize things to reduce cost


In the case of Google and Valve, if developers think that the commissions are too high they could always try to sell the software on their own site.....


They make the hardware and the operating system!


Why not? They make plenty of money elsewhere and there's no value-add here aside from the storefront that you're forced to use anyway. It's basically a self-enforced monopoly.


Because a fair rate is always determined by what number base you use.


The EU just limited credit card fees to be below 0.25%.

Apple and Google can have their 30%, but only if they allow third party stores to exist just equally.


> Why single digits?

Competitors to the Mac app store charge in the single digit range, whether it's Paypal or Stripe at about 2.9%, or a more full-service offering like Paddle at 5% + 50c, FastSpring at 5.9% + 95c, or Avangate at 4% - 8%.


...You think Paypal is a competitor to the app store?


To the Mac App Store, in that you can sell your software from your own website & take the payments using Paypal.

Fastspring / Avangate / Paddle are better comparisons, as they also handle license/serial keys, file hosting, subscription management & tax accounting like the Mac App Store does, and have been doing so before the App Store ever existed.


why almost a third of your revenue?


Well, when I was actually working for a company that billed me out to clients I would have killed to get 70% of my billable rate.


Which for many developers is more then their own cut of an app?


It's a shit-ton more than most musicians get from a record label deal.

It's also way more than you'll get shipping for XBox or PS4.


There's a somewhat fair way of adjudicating this discussion, where the truth is obviously neither "highway robbery" nor "best deal ever", and that's the Mac App store.

Mac developers are free to choose distribution via the App store, or to roll their own and not pay a cent to Apple.

I don't have any numbers (and I'd guess very few people do), but I'd guess that the majority of developers is still in the App store, even though there were a few high-profile defections. OTOH, the Mac app store may be <50% in total revenue because the really expensive stuff is usually distributed independently (Adobe, for example, is big enough not to need the platform).

So right now I'd say most iOS developers are probably still getting a positive return on investment. Although that doesn't mean that it's a completely fair price–Apple is probably getting the lion's share of the App Store's value.


I admire you app store developers -- I really do. To me Apple feels like working for a restaurant -- always finding out a way to pass on more costs down to the waiters and waitresses and support staff, and reaping more of the profits themselves.


> If Apple drastically cuts this revenue stream, the company could end up alienating people writing for those sites.

Isn't this, in some ways, good for the consumer? While some legitimate review sites may be impacted, this would imaginably help cut down on the number of illegitimate spammy review sites that are pushing ad-ridden and malware-ish apps.


Nope. It will just cut down on the number independent apps being written about. In their place, spammy apps that are paying affiliate networks - whose creators can only afford to pay large per-install commissions though aggressive revenue techniques (malware etc) - will be reviewed and pushed. This cut will make things infinitely worse. The only apps you will see being talked about on thousands of blogs/social media/review sites/etc. will be "ad-ridden and malware-ish".


It may do so in the big picture, but number of reviews != number of quality reviews.

I'd much rather read reviews from people not incentivized to write them, and I'd rather not have to wade through all of the organic results from those that are affiliates to find the ones that are not.

Spammy review sites are also Google's problem, and they do a lot to keep them out of rankings. This won't hurt forums though where people candidly share their feedback on apps.

I'm not clear how people using CPI installs through shady tactics like malware will suddenly rise to prominence. I can't see an honest reviewer who is reviewing for the sake of it (vs. the paltry affiliate commission) saying "yes, I should review this scummy app that forced its way onto my device."

Instead, I think we'll see the rise of reviews from sites that monetize in other ways such as traditional display advertising, email sponsorships, other products, subscriptions, etc. Forums and social will also hopefully have less spam as it becomes less financially viable for the spammers in question.


The spammy review sites will always be more profitable than the ones that actually put in the work to do reviews. If they drive down profit the useful sites will be the first to die sadly :(


> profitable

Not really, one thing is revenue, another thing is profit.

Those spammy sites pay a lot of money to appear on those clickbait tables that appear at the end of articles. And without guarantee that the user (victim) buys anything.


"The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give." - Adam Smith

The App Store developers are now farmers on Apple's domain, and their landlord has figured out they can pay more.


As opposed to Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, and for all intents and purposes Google?


> The App Store developers are now farmers on Apple's domain

What do you mean by "now"? As far as I can tell, it has always been like that.


In a sense, yes. However, I think the farmers in this analogy were more willing/able to be nomadic in the earlier days of osx and ios apps, where now they are much more likely to make the land their permanent home.

This could be because the app store is more stable or reliable as a source of income or from a realization that the Mac App store is the best/only way to present information to a sufficiently wide audience - that wasn't really something developers knew to be true in the earlier years I imagine - maybe the thoughtful ones knew but the rest were still warming up their feet.


Good.

What you expect? You're not a big company like Google or Apple that owns the land.

Do you think that, for example, youtubers aren't farmers in the google's farm?

Or that web developers and content creators aren't farmers for the ad networks?


As a consumer, I strongly dislike the direction Apple has taken since Tim Cook assumed CEO. When I bought the new iPhone 7, the previous plastic headphones case was changed to be made of disposable, thin paper. You could argue it was an environmental move, but Apple now seems to care more about maximizing profit and cutting costs in every possible area than providing a good customer experience. I mean, the original iPhone even included a microfiber cloth to clean the screen. And iPhone's seriously still come in 32GB for the base model?

The company has an excess of over $250B in liquid cash but it decides to stiffen its products to revolve around pleasing shareholders, not consumers. Let's not even get started on the disaster of catering to professionals using their MacBook "Pro" or Mac Pro line.


>the previous plastic headphones case was changed to be made of disposable, thin paper

As a consumer, changing from a plastic headphone-delivery container to a paper one was a positive. Such a large amount of plastic that was never used after delivering the headphones to me and, I'd assume, other customers.


I use the case every day, it's what keeps my headphones from getting tangled and protects the cable from being pinched or cut.

However I think I'm the exception, I understand that most never use the plastic case for regular storage/transport.


I cannot agree more. As an "early adopter" of the new Macbook Pro (the one with the "touch bar"), I am also a regretful one. As Apple customers, we have always overpaid. However, the dollar-to-value ratio has only worsened since Jobs' passing.


That's how I felt when Apple started adding ads to their app store. They sell the iPhone experience as a premium one. Seeing ads as the first result of all searches on the app store makes it seem like I'm using something cheap.


I have to disagree, the ads haven't been pushed as badly as say Google Search Ads. I quite enjoy finding a random relevant app once in a blue moon via the App Store ads, and they're clearly marked. To each their own I guess.

EDIT: It just doesn't bother me: https://imgur.com/a/FHMSy


> providing a good customer experience

No one is having a bad experience because of a paper wrapper and lack of 10 cent cleaning cloth in the box.


You're missing the point. There's a big difference between opening a mass-produced item from a manufacturing plant and a homemade gift from an Etsy seller. Apple's vision, in its quintessential days, wasn't focused on selling products to mass amounts of people internationally, but only focused on giving detail that passionate and loyal customers of Apple would appreciate. Even iPhone launch parties felt special, they handed out pizza, held free giveaways and other swag to the crowd waiting in line.

They've simply lost their touch of resembling a company that started out of a garage and are looking more like a Walmart superstore of electronics with knowledgeable reps that only care about the quantitative.


> Apple now seems to care more about maximizing profit and cutting costs in every possible area than providing a good customer experience.

Isn't maximizing profit the entire point of a company? Providing a good customer experience is just one way to maximize profit. Apple doesn't care about you, they never did.


Affiliate commissions generate a lot of fake reviews. I think this is a good move by Apple; although I believe they should simply shut down the entire program.


Ok, I've sat and thought about it for a bit but have yet to figure it out. How would this cause fake reviews in the specific case of the App Store?


Write a fake or cookie cutter review about popular app X, link to app X in your article and then collect commissions on people who buy it through the link.


Ah I see. I was considering reviews only in the context of a purchaser on the App Store writing a review on the App Store.


If I give a good review you're more likely to click my affiliate link.


True, but on the flipside, if revenue is cut, to make up revenue, many sites will probably only write about big apps/games and make them good reviews, or do 3x the reviews again biased to be good.


As someone who earns some revenue from affiliate marketing, I doubt this. It's already hard enough to compete with others for a 7% cut. For 2.5%, it's probably a better investment of time for others to find a different source of revenue entirely.


fake reviews on the affiliate site: more unique affiliate site links to more apps, more revenue

fake reviews on the app store: increase app profile and visibility, secondary feeder to your affiliate site via organic; Maybe affiliate site uses app store category top 20 lists to generate its links?


Cutting affiliate revenues by 2/3 without warning hurts honest players more than it hurts scammers, who will just move on to the next scam. Also for anyone who has invested time and effort in developing this as a legit business activity it's really horrible. I don't think companies should be able to unilaterally alter contractual relationships this way, it's unconscionable.


Starting on May 1st 2017, commissions for all app and in-app content will be reduced from 7% to 2.5% globally. All other content types (music, movies, books, and TV) will remain at the current 7% commission rate in all markets.

So, the sites promoting Hollywood get to keep the 7%, but the sites promoting Apple's developers get tanked?


Different rates make sense to me because if you're going to buy a movie or a song, you can go to Amazon, Spotify, etc. Apple doesn't have a monopoly on those sales. If you want to buy an app for your iPhone the App Store is literally the only place you can get it.


It makes sense from Apple's perspective, but kind of sucks for everyone else.


Yes, it makes perfect business sense for Apple itself, but it is just another Apple decision that negatively impacts Apple's developers.


That's an interesting way to read it.

To me it says more along the lines of: we know that media gets a lot of marketing through word of mouth, which affiliate links promote, but for apps, they usually spread though being useful, so we don't think we'll loose a lot of money but cutting off the "word of mouth" marketing channel for apps.


Apps don't spread from being useful. Being useful might be a baseline requirement for them to spread, but massive marketing budgets, social media spamming, and shady deals with handset makers (if you can get them) are what cause most apps to truly be hits today. Long gone are the days when an independent developer writes a little app and, and much to his or her surprise, it goes viral and they make six or seven figures quickly. There are many reasons for this - fierce competition, terrible app store discovery models, etc.

The commission cut will only make the problem worse, by lowering the incentives to write about little-known but good apps. Instead, the only apps that get written about will be those where the app creator has a big budget and puts pay-per-install offers on affiliate networks. The competition and steep commissions on these netowrks is such that a typical install will cost a publisher $2-$4, making it unprofitable except possibly in the very long term, and even then only if the app has an extremely aggressive revenue model.


Hollywood has an advertising budget which cannot be matched by any app developer save the game studios and Apple itself. How many app developers have anything but "word of mouth"?


promoting Hollywood

Please stop treating the entertainment industry as a monolithic 'Hollywood' to be hated on, that's neither true nor fair.


A lot of comments seem to think this effects developers. It doesn't - just the many sub par app review sites that make money with affiliate links. As an iOS developer I wouldn't be sad to see these die out.

Some comments have mentioned the 30% cut that Apple takes. From my point of view, I'd be making $0 without the App Store, so a 30% cut I was aware of from square one doesn't seem unreasonable. Apple have never raised the figure, and I don't think they're likely to in the near future.


It effects developers who use the affiliate code on links from their site/social to the App Store as a way of knocking the 30% down a bit.


Is it time for a developer's guild?

Like if most iOS developers were part of the guild, and if Apple made too drastic a cut like this, the guild would disable all of the apps in the store for some number of days until a compromise could be reached between Apple and the guild. Not to single Apple out - we seem to be seeing a lot of these unilateral decisions in tech lately.


This does not affect developers, only marketing and blog sites that promote apps and link to the app store.


This is not true. Many app developers use the affiliate program from their app's web site to claw back some of the 30% commission.

Minimise the house take, so to speak.


If you don't like it don't develop for closed ecosystems. This is the kind of shit you get when someone else has complete control.


Collective bargaining only works when everyone is in, otherwise economic forces move in to undercut you. That's why union workers on strike are so vicious to those who break ranks to go to work.


Like a trade union and a strike you mean?


Who would want to promote something for $0.025 commission on a $1 sale?

The volume needed for that to be any sort of business model seems extraordinarily high.


Even at the original (3x higher) rate, the volume required seems pretty high to make ant real money.


I imagine a lot of these sites are setup by people in developing countries. Spending a few hours a week for an extra $10/month is good money for some people.


> The volume needed for that to be any sort of business model seems extraordinarily high.

If it can be easily automated that is not a big deal.


Like other ecommerce site affiliate programs (e.g. Amazon, eBay), the affiliates earn commissions on everything the user purchases from iTunes, like movies, music, etc. - not just the apps they promote.

Still requires a lot of volume to make decent money, but maybe not as much as you imagined.


Sounds like Romain was at least making a few hundred euros per month. The volumes on some of these things can get really, really high.


A few hundred euros a month is not a business model.

OK maybe it's different with something high volume, perhaps a large volume popular website that focuses on apps... two seconds on Google reveals "Touch Arcade" is a large volume and popular website with such a focus. Well they are saying the commission schedule puts them in "incredibly scary financial territory."

https://toucharcade.com/2017/04/24/apple-slashes-referral-pa...

Maybe there is a larger volume example? I don't know, but that website seems very popular (124,000 twitter followers, high rank on Google) and if they can't make it work, who can?


The 30% fee robbery is the reason I quit app development, im actually happy I ended up in SaaS business, so thank you Apple


What do you think is a fair price, given what you get from Apple for that 30%?

I'd be more than happy for it to be 0%, but you do get a few things for that cut:

* Credit card processing

* Handling refunds (you need to do this manually on refund, just another thing to deal with)

* Some level of app discovery

* Distribution of app and files

My biggest problem with the 30% is that it is now the de-facto amount that other similar services charge developers for everything now (Google Play - there are others too that escape me now).


House commission can be compared.

Amazon charges 15% for most things. eBay is 9%. Etsy is 3.5%.

Software house commission is definitely on the high side. Interesting that Steam, Apple, and Google are all at the same rough figure.


Some things don't compare well. Unfortunately, fee systems are some of those things. I just looked up Etsy because 3.5% commission seems unrealistically low (credit card fees are easily higher): https://www.etsy.com/help/article/136

Turns out, they have several other fees on top. So it's not only 3.5%, it's actually $2.4 a year per item. Add to that the credit card fees of minimum 3-4.4% + $0.25 per sale. On top of this, you need to add the shipping fees, currency conversion fees and each platform have their own particular setup.

This all goes to show that you can't just randomly pick fees out like that. The total cost to the user needs to be considered.


creditcard processing - i can see plenty of alternatives. app discovery - my app which is far better than the others by various tests. + even behind tons of apps that really just crashes on launch. How is this discovery? People who search for my app by name can't even find it. I have to send out itunes app store links to friends. sickening distribution of files - yeah cause hosting a 19 mb file to 10 000 users is really expensive in 2017


You can get most of that for a few percent from places like Avangate or FastSpring.


Is it a robbery if you were aware of it before choosing to sign up?


yeah if you know you dont have a choice, its a duopoly that is being exploited as hell.


IDK. I feel bad for the devs but I hate being punted from safari to the app store. If this cuts it down 66percent that would be awesome ux. Really sick of the huge green button that says "proceed" and the tiny "no thanks" that takes you to the actual site. Reddit is a perfect example


Does this means I'll get fewer random redirects to the App Store from crappy advertising networks?


It does fit the pattern. When in lack of product innovation, milk the existing reveneue stream harder.


OT: Imagine a web without affiliate sites. Would we miss any of their content?


Also, you can look forward to the day when apple raises it's tax from 30% to 50%. I suspect this is coming. They're certainly powerful enough to pull it off. Developers won't like it but there's nothing devs can really do about it.


Who used this?


Review sites good and bad. I feel like the good ones will be the first one's out.


They can probably make more money through a YouTube channel than via affiliate fees. That way you can capitalize on people who watched your review but didn't buy it, or the app was free and you weren't going to get money anyway.


I used it for my own app (Mac App). Basically I could send traffic to the App Store instead of offering my own app outside the app store, and Apple would effectively give me part of their cut back. This is from what I understand, a legitimate use of it.


This may mean that they’ll decrease the commission charged to developers to as little as 10-15% this summer?


Just curious: How are you connecting this Apple news with that theory?


It's just greed. They're likely to do the reverse.


Capitalism


Source?


And I suddenly don't feel the need to support iOS anymore


Do you have a product/service built on affiliate commissions?




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