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Netflix stops paying the ‘Apple tax’ on its $853M in annual iOS revenue (techcrunch.com)
594 points by pseudolus on Dec 31, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 383 comments

I find it hard to blame anyone for leaving any store when there has been almost nothing of value added in years and things are even regressing. That 30% should have gone a lot further; after 10 years, I can’t even use two different search-and-sort criteria at once to find new apps (and I refuse to sit there and scroll through offensively-bad lists of useless results, much less buy them).

I am however not surprised by the slow rate of new features in stores because there still aren’t “tiers” for developers to willingly become early adopters of new store capabilities. When there are millions of apps, why does it make sense to delay any new feature until the infrastructure has grown to provide that feature to all million apps?

Clearly there should be a way to roll out enhanced storefronts to a few apps at a time. For example, charge early adopters/beneficiaries for complex new features and don’t roll them out to all apps right away (if ever).

And then, developers shouldn’t have to sacrifice 30% for features they don’t use, either. I’d rather have a tiny percentage as the base to provide only essential features, with infrastructure upgrade options! I should be able to give up some low X% for “basic payment processing and auto-installation on devices”, with an option of X+N% to provide “that, plus hosting of app preview videos and several dozen screenshot images”, a higher option of X+2N% for “all that, plus an increased chance of being featured”, etc.

I find it hard to blame anyone for leaving any store when there has been almost nothing of value added in years and things are even regressing. That 30% should have gone a lot further

It's not really a market if the seller thinks there's no alternatives, and the buyer has no choice but to put up with anything. Works the other way around, too.

This misses the point. It is not equal. I choose Apple's store for one Very Big Reason over almost all other third-party services: I trust them with my financial details.

I don't have to 'beg' to later cancel my subscription. I don't have to worry about my credit card being stolen. I don't have to worry about a bunch of sophomoric engineers breaking their own website and creating grief for me.

I am in control with Apple. I prefer it. I am the customer.

I realize Netflix is no startup. I realize I may be paranoid and not even a fan of the Stripe madness that every two-bit startup uses.

But Netflix is still YAFS (Yet Another Friggin Subscription) that I have to manage on some other platform.

I prefer to have Apple be the "overseer" of even Netflix.

Would I cancel my Netflix subscription if I'm not at least provided the option of continuing my Apple management of their subscription? I'm leaning heavily toward it.

Don't be naive, everyone. This is more than just about the 30% cut. This is also about Netflix having a LOT of extra data on their customers they can't get within the Apple ecosystem.... home addresses, full names, credit card data, and possibly (yes, quiet possibly) cross-referencing that with other data providers to determine credit scores, income brackets, lifestyle choices, etc.

Why wouldn't' Netflix want a complete 'subscriber per zip code' breakdown. Yes, they could guesstimate it with IP addresses (and probably do), but now they could even say, "Hmmm... these subscribers appear to have 700 beacon scores, are single, and pay with a Titanium credit card. Surely, we could charge them more per month and they'd still pay. Or at least spam, er, offer them premium packages".

Not saying they don't have the right. Just as long as they don't say I don't have the right to stick with my Protective Shield of Apple.

After 2018 and all the data breaches the past two years, it's almost enough to want to pay cash for everything - or just bow out altogether. What little things I want to stay with, I prefer some 'middleman' that I can trust. Like Apple.

P.S. I am not an Apple Fanboy. But they are devoted to my privacy like no other Big tech company. So, they get my business. For now.

Am I the only one who is convinced Apple is focused on privacy because its cloud tech is really far behind Google and privacy was a path largely ignored in a data driven world? Don’t get me wrong—I like that they pursue the privacy angle but if the company’s strengths allowed them to compete with modern web/ads services companies, I think they would not have focused on privacy as much.

You'd be hard pressed to find any credible source for your conviction.

Apple's privacy stance is what Steve Jobs believed in, and what Tim Cook has stuck with, because they know that leaving privacy-based decisions up to third-party developers never ends well.

Here are excerpts from Jobs 2010 interview with Walt Mossberg [0]:

“Silicon Valley is not monolithic,” Jobs responded, “We’ve always had a very different view of privacy than some of our colleagues in the Valley.” Apple, for instance, does not leave it up to developers to decide whether to be dutiful about warning users that their apps are tracking their location data, instead forcing pop-ups on users to alert them that an app is tracking them, and to turn off that ability if they don’t want. “We do a lot of things like that, to ensure that people know what these apps are doing,” he added.

"Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly. I’m an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do. Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data."

“A lot of people in the Valley think we’re really old-fashioned about this,” Jobs said in the interview, “And maybe we are, but we worry about stuff like this.”

[0]: https://qz.com/1236322/apples-steve-jobs-tried-to-warn-faceb...

Very good find, but SJ was using a slight-of-hand here. While true, privacy has always been a feature of Apple products, this was said during the Amazon iBooks lawsuit when Apple suddenly added this 30% in-app purchase restriction.

SJ was obsessed with control more than privacy and believed developers would make a mess of his beautiful iPhone. Every decision always started from that angle.

No, I believe privacy that we understand it today is wholly Tim Cook. This is his vision for Apple and how he wants to run the company. Good for him and it definitely plays better against Android.

probably a typo: "sleight of hand" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleight_of_hand)

as for your point, i don't think it was an either-or situation. i think both jobs and cook considered both control and privacy (among considerations like litigation, as you mention). jobs seemed more overtly a control freak though (not that that's always a bad thing).

I honestly don't expect to be able to cite any sources regarding Apple's decisions based on their level of transparency into their business.

It seems perfectly compatible for Jobs to make those statements about privacy after weighing the cost for Apple to implement robust cloud infrastructure and services, and (potentially) deciding Apple would just not compete in that space.

It's like Google finally conceding it won't be a social network, only not having wasted a ton of resources before pulling the plug. Actually, with their messaging apps being spun up and spun down, Google may still be in the midst of pulling.

> (I honestly don't expect to be able to cite any sources regarding Apple's decisions based on their level of transparency into their business.

If that's the case, wouldn't it be better to not, you know, not speculate? Anyone can come up with a plausible sounding reason for x once there is some evidence of y, but it doesn't change the underlying fact that it is all a conjecture -- drawing conclusion(s) from incomplete information.

I pointed you to information refuting your central claim but since you are not privy to salient information, saying nothing is much better than expanding on your conjecture.

I'm not sure where you're going with not speculating and "better". What is wrong with a conjecture? Aren't some conjectures out of the set of all conjectures going to be right?

Also, how is an interview complete information?

I also pointed out later that I don't see the information you provided as refuting what I said, but compatible with it. From your response, it seems reasonable to ask what refuting is happening here.

OK, here’s your original claim about what you were convinced about Apple’s strategy with respect to competition from web/ads companies like Google:

“Am I the only one who is convinced Apple is focused on privacy because its cloud tech is really far behind Google and privacy was a path largely ignored in a data driven world?”

I pointed to the explanation given in 2010 by the founder/CEO of Apple, regarding their stance on privacy — it was conceived because of the risk of third-party developers going rogue as has happened with Facebook/CambridgeAnalytica (even though Zuck was in the audience). Apple’s privacy position was taken independent of Google.

Google’s competitive advantage over Apple today wrt cloud tech comes from public-facing cloud infrastructure & expertise that was previously internal to Google — Google’s cloud advantage was completely non-existent back in 2010 when Jobs granted that interview.

In 2010, GCP didn’t really exist yet, developers/end users could only interact with sandboxed apps on App Engine; GCP was still in infancy, the market leader in cloud tech was and still is AWS.

Google’s main competitive advantage back then was in search, Apple recognized this and did not try to compete head-to-head with Google (like Yahoo! or Bing), or the way Google competed but failed against Facebook. (Apple would later go up against Google in maps.)

OTOH, Apple did try to compete head-to-head with Amazon using iBooks, but they shot themselves in the foot by colluding with publishers to raise prices.

I think there's some misunderstanding about what I'm saying, but unfortunately, I don't think clarification will make this discussion any more fruitful for either of us. I'm sorry, I think it's best for me to disengage for now.

> Apple's privacy stance is what Steve Jobs believed in, and what Tim Cook has stuck with, because they know that leaving privacy-based decisions up to third-party developers never ends well.

As opposed to leaving their API wide open so anyone could access anybodys photos and files? Hence, the fappening.

Apple is a marketing company, not a technology company.

Did an infinite number of marketing monkeys banging on keyboards produce the A12X design?

No. But they did cone up with a design that allowed infinite login attempts.

I don't know if it's because they are behind in cloud tech, but I do believe their privacy stance can change as quickly as market changes. As soon as selling iphones or apps on the app store won't be enough, apple will have to change its business model. I'm not saying that making money out of the data they collect is what's gonna happen, but it's a possibility.

People learn about new things through two ways: through algorithmic recommendations, and through social media / real life social networks.

From what I can tell from recaptcha requests, Google still hasn’t figured out how to teach something to identify storefronts, bicycles, crosswalks, or traffic lights.

Apple doesn’t offer a consumer cloud, what they refer to as iCloud is just a SaaS similar to Dropbox. For their internal requirements they use both GCP and Azure IIRC.

Apple's privacy stance is based on the fact that they can make money just selling hardware. The recent news of 'pivot to services' suggests Apple's stance would loosen on privacy.

Most of Google's competitors would do well to focus on privacy, because that is one area in which Google will most likely not be able to outdo them. Google is likely to be better at machine learning or most other technical qualities of whatever products you're competing in. It still is, however, a data analytics company - that's where its main strength is, and that's what pays the bills. It will therefore be almost a guarantee that it will be worse in the privacy department than a competitor for whom that is not the case, so that's what they should capitalise on.

Even if that’s the case, rewarding Apple for that decision is still the right thing to do because in a free market, companies will make decisions where they earn the most money. If the company that out of selfish reasons is promoting privacy makes the most money, other companies will also shift to a more privacy oriented business model rather than business models which rely on selling people’s information.

Right, I would hope it encourages more consideration for privacy in other business as well. I wonder though if people with privacy concerns will turn to non-profits or other orgs instead of companies. For instance, lots of people on Hacker News will voice support for Firefox, but dish dirt on Brave or even Chromium.

That said, more consideration of privacy as part of product development practice in business, even if non-businesses may end up winning more from this, is a good thing.

Apple now controls aprox 10% of mobile marketshare and I believe most people consume most content on screens bigger than their iPhone which can also be used to sign up for Netflix.

Nobody much cares about Apple TV either.

Apple is taking a sizable chunk of revenue and they don't have enormous leverage.

Taking away Netflix from Apple users would hurt Apple more than Netflix and people will happily sign up on via their browser. It's not like Netflix is a fly by night org they have a similar rep to Apple because users don't make fine distinctions.

Apple will suck it up and any negative for Netflix will be a rounding error compared to the pile of cash saved.

Fair point, although I would bet that the share of Netflix customers using Apple devices is significantly higher than 10%. For one thing, in the US, iOS has more like a 45% share. For another, wealthier people are more likely to own iOS devices (worldwide), and I’m guessing they’re also likelier to be Netflix customers.

> But Netflix is still YAFS (Yet Another Friggin Subscription) that I have to manage on some other platform. I prefer to have Apple be the "overseer" of even Netflix.

Would you pay 30% more via the App Store if given the choice?

I'm not the person you replied to, but yes. I can't think of many subscriptions I have that I wouldn't happily pay more for if it meant having one central place to manage them all, overseen by a company that I fully believe gives a shit about my privacy.

Other than the slightly obscure menu option to get to your list of subscriptions, how nice is the process to cancel an Apple subscription? Any of them – an app, Netflix, whatever.

1. Navigate to list of subscriptions.

2. Find desired subscription in list.

3. Click cancel.

Nobody else does that and it is so nice.

On Android:

Play Store > Menu > Subscriptions > select subscription > Cancel Subscription

Seems pretty similar to me.

The Netflix cancellation process is also 3 steps, for what it’s worth:

Click “more”

Click “account”

Click “cancel”

Off course, this isn’t the same as having a centralized location for managing all subscriptions, but at least in this case the cancellation process is the same number of steps.

Sure, if you ignore the biggest glaring difference both things are the same.

We should consider one other party: your credit card provider.

I've always believed that they should be the ones providing subscription management, because scummy "hope they forget to cancel!" business practices exist offline too, so Apple could never become the central place for managing all of your subscriptions.

I vaguely feel like that would be even worse somehow.

It's strange. Sure I trust Visa and my bank with the literal fruit of my labour so far in life, but I don't think I could abide them knowing what exactly I use their financial tools to do (besides what little information a vendor chooses to share).

It probably doesn't make any difference in reality, but I just feel more comfortable with one party having full access to my funds but little to no information about how those funds are used, and another with all that usage information but little/easily revoked access to my funds.

Edit: I also think the current rigorous process around directly contesting transactions with your bank/card provider does more good than harm, and on contemplation wouldn't scrap it for ease of canceling subscriptions.

Funny you mention that. I have a friend who works as a 'think up interesting new products' person for one of Australia's big 4 banks. On their list of stuff to try is some way of centrally managing your subscriptions for you.

No idea how they'd pull it off – do you have to set up relationships with every provider, globally?! – but it's certainly an interesting idea. The number of subscriptions we have is only going in one direction.

One way of doing it is flagging all subscription payments as "requires me to give it the thumbs up each cycle otherwise the payment is declined or trigger a charge back". This would not require any integration with any service provider as you're simply declining any payments that weren't explicitly agreed to by the user.

A big bank has the muscle to attempt this, because most service providers would be too scared to let these transactions fail and send collections after people because having too many charge backs paints a target on your back and they could get booted off the network.

This generally lines up with my philosophy that all payments should be initiated by users on a one-off basis. It really shouldn't be too much hassle to approve every monthly recurring cost you have.

In terms of execution, I believe subscription charges are a distinct "type" of transaction.

I have a weird money management system that involves two bank accounts, one of which regularly can go down to a zero balance. When this happens, I rely on the bank to deny the transaction when I use my debit card, which they do—I have overdraft "protection" turned off—unless it's an autorenewing subscription. My bank has told me these types of transactions can't be blocked because they're considered pre-approved.

My point being, the credit card company knows which transactions are "subscriptions", so they should be able to provide you with a list. No provider relationship needed.

(I'm in the US, no idea if Australia is the same)

I used to have a Capital One card, and one thing I liked about it was that it sent me emails when my monthly charge from a company was higher than expected. This was especially helpful for Verizon/Comcast bills, which shot up unexpectedly on a few occasions.

If you look at the post I was responding to, it said "how nice is the process to cancel an Apple subscription". I was pointing out that it is no easier than canceling directly through Netflix.

Is your bank not one place? You can just block the payments

If you block a payment with your bank or credit card the other end can attempt to charge you anyway. You can sometimes dispute and lose and still pay.

It also can trigger negative repercussions if you do have an ongoing relationship with the company, like IIRC Steam locks your whole account if you go that path on the basis that it indicates fraud to be blocked (not just that you wanted to cancel)

It's not uncommon for the terms to require an explicit cancellation. People who try to cancel gym memberships by just letting their payment card expire find this out when they get sent to collections.

Or Paypal ...

I would pay more for that service. Not 30% more. 5-10 is more reasonable.

Why is it naive to think they just simply want to keep $250 million a year for themselves? Find me a CEO in America who wouldn’t go for that option first

I agree with your point on need for a strong middleman that can look after interests of its customer and defend against greedy sellers who are after customer's data and money. I would love to see Apple expand its role further and spearhead initiatives to safeguard interests of buyers from behemoth internet service/product providers, something that we desperately need.

Your credit card company is one intermediary already.

Not sure what I’m adding here, but I used to feel this way about PayPal and Amazon too. PayPal lost my loyalty years ago, Amazon I now run all products through a review checker and don’t buy clothes from them anymore

What do you use instead of PayPal? Just enter your credit card on every site you buy something from? Definitely curious, because Google Pay and Amazon Payments are the only alternatives I can think of and neither are as widely adopted as PayPall.

Yep, credit card everywhere and trust the fraud teams to save me. Only had a single fraudulent transaction once ever.

Be careful, a few fraudulent transactions and the teams would start thinking you're just trying to get out of paying your bills instead of helping you out.

Lots of banks have virtual cards now that you can generate for one time use or for subscription services with a dollar/expiration date limits. I highly recommend seeing if your bank has such a feature.

What’s a review checker?

Something like https://fakespot.com

It analyzes product reviews to detect fake ones.


  This is also about Netflix having a LOT of extra data on their customers
If you have a Netflix subscription in the first place, you've already given them a superset of what you've given Apple's app store, haven't you? (Aside from specific card details if you use a unique card for your Netflix payment.)

Still, it doesn't seem reasonable for Netflix to get 30% less revenue from users who happen to be using iOS. I guess the fairest thing for Netflix to do is to charge 40% more (so they get roughly the same amount after Apple takes their 30% cut) for people who sign up through Apple. That way, customers get the choice to go through Apple or not.

  >  I don't have to worry about my credit card being stolen. 
I still think it's bizarre that you even have to authorise payment through the vendor you're buying from, rather than through your bank. This credit card-based payment system the internet accidentally foisted upon us is completely backwards.

What is this "Stripe Madness" to which you refer?

According to Google Stripe was posted on HN 130 times in the last month. I'm guessing for someone who uses HN daily this might skew their world view to assume that Stripe is everywhere.

What is privacy is just their marketing selling point.

Apple did try ads and they failed. So they changed their business to something they can handle. Something even required by law through GDPR.

The most obvious prove was that Apple had insufficiently implemented GDPR according to a consumer organisation on the EU, a month after implementation. Where they surveyed all tech companies.

They love GDPR because they think it would hurt their competitors though

As long as Apple operates its services in china, I have no faith in ANY of their empty privacy promises. Publicly refusing to unlock phones and yet always allowing persistent backdoors used by anyone with 40k and a cell searching device is a nice way of turning their heads and proclaiming everything is fine.

> I am in control with Apple.

Steve Jobs is laughing in his grave.

> Don't be naive, everyone. This is more than just about the 30% cut. This is also about Netflix having a LOT of extra data on their customers they can't get within the Apple ecosystem.... home addresses, full names, credit card data, and possibly (yes, quiet possibly) cross-referencing that with other data providers to determine credit scores, income brackets, lifestyle choices, etc.

I am no developer of iOS, but I am quite sure that Apple gives this information to developers. I worked in a payment system for years and this kind of information is quite common to share with your API users. I think they're even obligated by law because you can't really have a monetary transfer without sharing more details between both parties involved (yeah, you also have more information about the seller when money is involved).

I mean, I don't see how Apple would share less information with Netflix, them say, Stripe itself. Of course Netflix has some more information about you because you're using their platform to make the payment, however about the payment data itself I would say the information they can get with both Apple or Stripe is similar [1].

[1]: Unless of course Netflix made their own payment system, that also would make sense considering their size. In this case they would have more information about you, like full Credit Card number instead of only the bin number of your Credit Card. However I don't think this would make my point much different.

While it's been a long time since I played in Apple's sandbox, I can tell you from experience in Google's that this is most certainly not how things work for your average app store developer.[1] The transaction is between the customer and the app store (i.e. Apple/Google) and the app store then acts as an intermediary telling your app if the user (effectively just a meaningless ID number from the App point of view) is authorized etc. About the only times a developer even knows that someone is a user of their app is when they need support or leave a review.

[1] There was a very brief period of time in the early days of Google supporting paid apps when some very limited customer information was provided (iirc, it was maybe email address and city level information) but that changed very quickly and I don't believe Apple ever provided this.

Apple doesn't hand over customer data.

They did bend enough in 2011 to allow their customers to choose to share some limited information when subscribing to the digital version of a magazine.

>As for subscriber data, Apple will allow customers to provide publishers with name, e-mail and zip code information at the time of subscription. This is optional


Apple shares exactly none of this information with developers.

It's not a market. It's like a shopping mall on a cruise ship—you chose to go on this cruise, and if you don't like dealing with the ship as a monopoly vendor, you can get off the ship and buy whatever you like from wherever.

Just because this cruise happens to be the nicest, most comfortable vessel in the sea doesn't mean you have a right to expect space to be reserved on the ship for competitor's stores.

Sure, but in the case of the cruise ship, you can just wait until the cruise is over and buy things at your usual store at home. So the analogy falls down at a pretty fundamental level. It's more like you're living in a company town, and there's no openly advertised non-black market alternatives to the company shops.

Yes, a company town is also a good analogy. Maybe even a better one, though it is a lot easier and cheaper to switch mobile platforms than it is to pick up your whole life. To expand your analogy, nothing stops you from owning homes in two different towns at the same time. (Nobody is forcing you to carry just one mobile phone, even though most people do.)

And in this company town, yes they own all the stores and playgrounds, but you can still get stuff delivered from anywhere. (All these phones have web browsers that give you unencumbered access to the wider internet. No you can't play Fortnite through a web browser, but you can't play football by mail-order either, so the analogy holds.)

(Nobody is forcing you to carry just one mobile phone, even though most people do.)

So now we're getting somewhere. This is the height of the wall around this particular walled garden. Now let me ask this: What percentage of the population would even consider owning two smartphones? That's how close to an idealized monopoly this walled garden is. So granted, it's not a monopoly in an idealized sense. But we now quantify how "monopolish" it is.

I used to carry 2 smart phones- one for work, one personal. I did it because my work phone was strictly monitored and I didnt want my company (or feds, namely SEC) reading my personal communications without a warrant just because it was on my work phone.

That said, I would not pay for 2 personal smartphones.

Edit: spelling

Imagine you live in a town with two similarly good cable TV providers. Each has a monopoly on selling HBO subscriptions through their particular service.

Most people have one cable TV subscription. Which means if you want HBO on your cable TV box, you can only subscribe through your current cable TV provider. You can call this a monopoly if you like, doesn't make it wrong or illegal.

> Most people have one cable TV subscription. Which means if you want HBO on your cable TV box, you can only subscribe through your current cable TV provider. You can call this a monopoly if you like, doesn't make it wrong or illegal.

It is, however, the exact reason for having network neutrality requirements.

It might be slightly easier, but there are still a big cost to switching phone platforms. You lose all the apps you have purchased over the years, and all the music as well. It isn't easy to just leave.

It would be like if the company town made you leave your clothes behind if you decide to leave.

> though it is a lot easier and cheaper to switch mobile platforms

Try telling that to your customers. "Yeah sure just sell your phone and buy an Android device to use our app". And having them use Safari? Yeah right. Apple doesn't even provide push notifications for web apps. Have you ever wondered why that is?

The fact is, if your customer has an iOS device, you must include Apple in the transaction and pay them 30%. And if you're a smaller developer there's no way they will let you get away with what Netflix and Epic have done. Oh you thought the review process was completely fair and impartial? Well, i've got some bad news about that too.

Seeing how websites have abused push notifications I don’t blame them. A happy medium would be only to allow push notifications for websites that the user has saved to their home screen.

That could work. Though i'd argue by now users know what they know what they are getting themselves into when accepting a push notification - and the notifications pane in settings for disabling them has been working just fine.

It would keep expectations more consistent. A website that was saved to the home screen would be a signal that the user wanted to treat it as an app. When they delete the website from their home screen, they would stop getting notifications. Apple could even manage website notifications in that case in the same settings screen as apps.

> The fact is, if your customer has an iOS device, you must include Apple in the transaction and pay them 30%

This is false.

What Netflix and Epic are doing is completely within the terms Apple has laid out. The only thing they can't do is direct their iOS app customers elsewhere for the purpose of a monetary transaction.

And it's not limited to big corps. There are countless examples of small developers doing the exact same thing. For example, I subscribe to 1Password for use on my iOS device, and Apple doesn't get a single cent of that subscription fee.

Except 1Password is a huge and very well known product, and it could be argued that the software takes places outside the app and therefore is exempt from IAP.

AgileBits are a very small private company with just one noteworthy product and fewer than 100 employees. Calling them "huge and very well known" is objectively absurd.

> Except 1Password is a huge and very well known product

> AgileBits are a very small private company

The context being

>>> And if you're a smaller developer there's no way they will let you get away with what Netflix and Epic have done.

You're complaining about the experience from a developer, which is not what this analogy is about. No, Wal-Mart isn't allowed to run their own business in a company town.

As for push notifications—it's not surprising that Apple doesn't allow the HTTP version because it would be chaos for battery life. Besides, any website can offer a totally free native app that simply performs push notifications for your site. You don't need to give up 30% of anything to Apple for that.

As someone thats submitted over 50 apps to the app store over the last 8 yrs through my agency I disagree. Try submitting a "totally free native app that only performs push notifications for your site" and watch them immediately reject your app for not being "App-like enough". How do I know this? Because I've actually done it. Sorry but your idealistic opinions just don't reflect reality.

I've submitted a multitude of apps to the App Store as well. Of course Apple will reject it if you try to make it simply perform notifications—but exceeding that hilariously low bar is honestly not difficult for anyone with an ounce of creativity.

> As for push notifications—it's not surprising that Apple doesn't allow the HTTP version because it would be chaos for battery life.

Web push notifications use a browser-vendor-provided server to trigger notifications, the exact same architecture as APNS.

> Besides, any website can offer a totally free native app that simply performs push notifications for your site. You don't need to give up 30% of anything to Apple for that.

Iff you buy a Mac, pay their dev fees, rewrite your site as a native app, and put up with their review bullshit. That's not really an alternative to them supporting the standard.

Not only is it chaos for battery life, web push notifications are almost entirely spam. The web should have never added them in the first place. I’m glad that Apple stands against that crap.

Notifications are opt in. I actually find them useful for the news sites and blogs I care about. Forcing someone to make native app just to send notifications is wrong.

Exactly, I am sick of websites asking me to enable notifications. Apps asking me to allow notifications. At the end of the day, rarely is the app worthy of that sort of interruption. I've absolutely never seen a website that can justify. But they will still somehow notify you about enabling notifications. Companies have a delusional vision that their particular product is that important to their users. It isn't.

For many social media, dating, discussion forum apps where users want to be notified of DM's or replies to their threads push notifications is essential. Just because you don't think its valuable for you doesn't mean users shouldn't have the choice.

Social media has little value and hilariously enough dating apps are actually incredibly terrible with notifications. The average website or app though will annoy the fuck out you. Those have absolutely no need for implementing it. A notification to rate the app, a notification reminder to use the site, a notification to...

You listed the very limited set of notifications that are useful. and while there could be a couple more, everyone else should stop asking and doing it

Straight forward use case example: any web based messenger. But browser UI for the notification enable request has to be good. The one I know (Firefox) is terrible.

Wrong. There are multiple alternatives. Such as, by doing what Netflix is doing, and bypassing the whole thing completely.

Netflix will still continue to work on iOS, so it seems like it is working out for them. They very much have the legal right to do this.

Why not?

I think more to the point, the 30% cut for Apple isn't justified because the content isn't delivered via the App Store. 30% of in app purchases that are downloaded from the App Store is one thing, but 30% of Netflix fees is crazy when all Apple is doing is hosting the app itself. Apple isn't hosting Netflix's content, why should they get a cut of that?

That 30% is unjustifiable. Period. If we're talking cost, the cost of hosting software and payment processor fees are closer to 7-8%, 99% of which are on the payment side.

The cost of Apple's gatekeeping -- their review bureaucracy -- is entirely their own doing and benefits no one. Software can and should be sold directly. There is zero justification for a middleman with digital delivery.

They say it's for consumers which is absolute nonsense when you look at what makes it into the store. Most of it is garbage.

The effect on "real" developers is staggering: Discoverability is virtually non-existent, the review process is time wasting, opaque and capricious. There is constant downward pressure on pricing. Reviews have to be aggressively managed, either by begging users for positive reviews or buying them and risking a ban, since people tend to review when they're pissed off. And then, Apple takes 30% off the top for your trouble.

The 2 million apps (or whatever it is now) boast is laughable. Apart from the expected stuff (browsers, social networks, etc) there is a dearth of worthwhile software. Which is a shame given the capabilities of the platform and its overall utility.

I don't see the US regulating Apple (or any big tech) given the prestige and money coming into the country, so I'm sure status quo will remain. But Apple should really be forced to open up iOS as a platform. And I say that as someone opposed to government intervention.

I will say this, if they ever close macOS as a platform, I'm changing careers and throwing away all of my Apple products. Which would be a shame, since they really are the best in a number of areas.

It's simply a power and money grab. Anyone who says anything else is full of shit.

> The cost of Apple's gatekeeping -- their review bureaucracy -- is entirely their own doing and benefits no one.

That was actually the reason I ditched my Android and switched to an iPhone a few years back. After writing an app for both platforms and seeing how terrifyingly easy it was to get on the Play store ($25 and 4 hours after uploading the apk) vs Apple's more rigorous review process which took close to a month, checked out our company's DUNS number and _actually_ tested/used the app.

Also the cluster hell that is the forced Android permission system and how intrusive the most basic ones are vs. Apple's opt-in "Read contacts? (Yes/No)" while using the app are why I'd never go back.

> That was actually the reason I ditched my Android and switched to an iPhone a few years back. After writing an app for both platforms and seeing how terrifyingly easy it was to get on the Play store ($25 and 4 hours after uploading the apk) vs Apple's more rigorous review process which took close to a month, checked out our company's DUNS number and _actually_ tested/used the app.

An optional appstore with verifications is one (great) thing, making it mandatory is another. We have the entirery of desktop computers history to know that. That's like saying "I ditched Linux/OSX/Windows because they allowed me to install things not from their package manager/store".

And if what you meant is "I enjoy a well curated app store", well the truth is that apple's store is not well curated at all, that many apps are being abusive anyway especially from the big ones, and that there are several alternative stores for Android if you want one.

I just can't agree with "I want apple to make it impossible for me to be in control of what runs on my device even if they disagree", and I think both stores are absolutely terrible so I don't get the whole "I ditched terrible for execrable".

> Also the cluster hell that is the forced Android permission system and how intrusive the most basic ones are vs. Apple's opt-in "Read contacts? (Yes/No)" while using the app are why I'd never go back.

That hasn't been the case for quite some time, apps now ask for granular permissions and they do so when they need it the first time. There are still some holdouts that don't upgrade to the newer api on purpose but that's why google is bumping the minimum api version to publish on the store soon and force those leftover to clean up.

> An optional appstore with verifications is one (great) thing, making it mandatory is another.

Sure, and it's great that Android has side-loading and it would be nice if Apple offered that too without a Mac/Dev License and XCode. But, given the option between the two ecosystems, I continue to choose iOS.

> There are still some holdouts that don't upgrade to the newer api on purpose but that's why google is bumping the minimum api version to publish on the store soon

I've heard a similar argument 4+ years ago, this was supposed to be fixed in Lollipop: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8461466

No, lolipop offered the new api that allowed to ask for granular permissions, but apps using the older api were still using the old permission system, and the store still allowed to publish apps using the older api (because most phone of the time weren't being updated).

Now (like right now and for the first time) google is making is impossible to publish new apps, or update to existing apps, using the older api.

That's two very different things, "X is deprecated but still there, the new Y is available for those who want it" and "X is removed now, you must use Y".

Android's permissions system is still ridiculously terrible and nowhere close to as user/privacy-friendly as the system on iOS.

Just look at how each OS handles e.g. location permissions.

I kind of agree, my comment was toward his about the previous version of (non granular, must allow all at install) permissions.

Though if we're being frank, just like I said about the app store quality, I believe that apple permission system is well above others, but it's still nowhere near good enough. Rule is, don't install crap on your phone thinking "the permission system will protect me from all abuse", it won't.

30% is in the ballpark of a marketing budget. Back when there were only a few apps in the app store it made some sense because it was a marketing platform. Now, it's not. In fact it's quite the opposite.

When Steve Jobs was asked about the exorbitant fee when the app store was born, he said it wasn't an issue because people were going to be using web apps instead anyway. And that's exactly what we should have done.

The percentage has never really been for hosting, which would be worth a couple percent at most. It's been about access to the giant audience.

Exactly this point! They should charge more on the lines of affiliate fee or transaction fees. 5% is what they should get in an ideal world.

My thoughts as well. How could Apple's search so bad? If it indeed brings billions a year, why wouldn't they spend that money to improve the functionality of this revenue powerhouse?

Apple tax should be stopped, people are paying penalty to use their sub par software, this is as ridiculous as it gets.

Have you ever thought about the situation as being analogous to a wholesale market like Costco? Consumers pay for a Costco membership card, similar to the iPhone as it grants access to the store, then sells products in the store at a marked up rate (Apple tax as you call it). Consumers actually choose to shop at Costco because it’s a great experience for them just as consumers choose to buy iPhones and use the App Store as it’s also a great user expiernce (judging by the sales...if the Apple tax was so repulsive to consumers they may not buy as many iPhones). It would be nice if Costco sold everything at cost with no markup, just as it would be nice if I could use my Costco card at Sam’s club, but they don’t, and I can’t, and yet I and millions of others still have Costco cards and quite enjoy the shopping experience.

It is different. When I shop at Costco I know I shop at Costco and that is what I paid for. But when I buy Netflix subscription, I am paying to Netflix, not Apple. Does Apple making Netflix as a service any better? I didn't quite see that. And since this is a recurring fee, which makes it even funnier, that I am constantly paying Apple for to essentially ALLOW me watch Netflix.

And don't forget this result in a higher price for customer, while Costco's model save customer money.

I am however, see it as less of a problem if they charge fee over one-time purchase and make me aware of whether I am paying it.

When you shop at Costco, you are buying Kirkland, Samsung, Apple, and 100 other brands. Think of it from the perspective of Danone yoghurt. They are paying Costco 5-10-15% right? Because they sell to Costco at a price cheaper than the sale price. How is it different here?

There are other arguments to be made about the store fees, but Costco is pretty much like apple store and vendors don't even have the option of saying "hey they will not stock it but you can pick it there anyways", which is what Apple allows you to do by having an app that can be registered / paid for elsewhere.

> Because they sell to Costco at a price cheaper than the sale price. How is it different here.

Apple Store is no cheaper and 30% is a huge cut, many service providers raise the price for iOS user to compensate this. So customer gets no benefit paying the 30% premium, at least not in Netlfix's case. Watching Netflix on iPhone doesn't necessary make a different experience. This is all because Apple had a monopoly on iOS platforms, had there be another App Store, I am sure many users will go there to avoid the 30% cut on themselves. It is called Apple Tax for a reason.

Virtually every major budget retail store averages 30% margin or more on stuff sold there (Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc), especially for consumer electronics.

The margin on Apple products is small though. ~5%

The difference is people are locked into their iPhones much more so than they are locked in to Costco.

> Have you ever thought about the situation as being analogous to a wholesale market like Costco? Consumers pay for a Costco membership card, similar to the iPhone as it grants access to the store, then sells products in the store at a marked up rate (Apple tax as you call it).

Having a Costco subscription doesn't interfere with the customer from buying things from Walmart or Amazon. Costco couldn't demand to pay 30% lower wholesale prices than Amazon and then charge the same retail prices because suppliers would just sell through Amazon instead and have access to all the same customers. Even customers who have a Costco card can trivially buy anything from Amazon if the product is not available at Costco or even if Amazon just has the lower price.

The difference with Apple is that iOS users can't do that. Users can't reasonably buy an iOS app through anybody but Apple.

Another difference is that a phone is more than a thing to put apps on. A Costco card is only for buying things at Costco. Someone may buy an iPhone because they prefer the OS, or the hardware, and then get stuck with the App Store because it's not sold separately. Nobody pays for a Costco membership because they like the design of the card.

Because they don't have to. It may not meet the legal definition of a monopoly but a monopoly it is.

It's kinda like how you can charge obscene amounts of money for popcorn when you own movie theater.

Or an obscene amount of money for replacement car keys when you make the cars.

Sony can decide who's games can be published on the PS4, and they get a cut of every single sale, physical or digital.

Incredibly, Miele have a monopoly on the retail sale of their whitegoods. When someone buys from a retailer, the retailer act as mere agents; the actual sale is actually directly between Miele and the customer.

There are several other big names bypassing Apple Tax such Slack, their bots have their own billing mechanisms mostly via Stripe.

But I don't think it is going to last long, I got a message from Kik telling, their bot developers should be registered as an Apple Developer[1]!

Meanwhile, Facebook mentions in their bot developer guidelines that no digital goods should be sold in their Messenger platform; likely to 'not' avoid Apple Tax.


No one gets 20% when retailers discount Apple iTunes gift cards 20%.

The Apple store seems good for small apps because the “tax” pays for discovery/marketing, distribution, billing & payment, lends credibility to the application, etc. This is especially true for single purchases.

Recurring revenue is a much different proposition— even for small or first time apps. A player like netflix which handles it’s own marketing, payment and all other ancilliary services doesn’t need to anything the apple store is offering other than distribution. I would understand if apple took $1 or some one time download fee but to regularly claim 30% of Netflix revenue seems like a stretch. While I think apple could make the case that they signed up through iOS, i think it is equally fair for Netflix to disable this option.

> The Apple store seems good for small apps

This is simply not true. As a small app developer, I can tell you first hand that Apple only promotes and supports larger apps in the ecosystem. It is the exception, not the rule, when they promote a smaller app.

As a developer, you are on your own on the marketing and discovery front. The billing infrastructure you allude to would be easily replaceable with a dozen or so startups and wouldn't warrant a 30 percent hit that Apple charges.

I have to agree with grandparent. You can't scale down international infrastructure like this. The cost per sale for someone managing a store for you has a certain minimum cost per month plus an amount per sale and per return.

Of course they're going to hype the big games. It's opportunity cost. Advertisement leads to sales, but feeding a hype train gets you more. If they stop advertising the hot new game to showcase yours then that person is not getting promoted. The guy who had no problems ignoring your game gets promoted and now everybody answers to them.

Is it awesome? No. Do I like it? Not really. But it's rational, and getting large companies to be rational is often better than you can expect.

The fallacy there is that their push to promote big Warner is mostly promoting toxic games that milk and dime users because freemium games is where money is at.

It's no coincidence that on both stores you cannot filter out apps that have in app purchases

s/Warner/earners/ sorry

Except that Apple doesn't hype the big games. They never have.

Go look through the Today/Games section right now. All of the featured games will be from super high quality indie developers. It isn't the ones that make the most money.

> As a small app developer, I can tell you first hand that Apple only promotes and supports larger apps in the ecosystem

I have friends at Apple who curate the App Store and I have a number of apps on the store as well. Your statement is categorically wrong.

Apple absolutely supports small developers. If you look through many of their "editor playlists" you will see plenty of smaller apps that get a lot of attention e.g. Bear, Notability, Calm. Even apps like Instagram were small once.

As an indie developer - HOW do you get in touch with them?

We have rave reviews on one of our apps and a very enthusiastic community in a unique space, but having a hell of a time getting the eye of anyone at Apple.

Look through Linkedin e.g. App Store Editor, find the person that corresponds to your country/region and then email them. Every company has a standard email format and Apple is no different. There are apps around e.g. Hunter that can help.

Then be polite, succinct and be specific about what you want. Don't just say "feature me". Say can you please include me in the playlist "Favourite Travel Apps" etc.

As more and more big players like this choose to move away from transactions in the app stores we may see a lowering of that 30% margin. It's way too high to last. If it came down to something sub 5% it would make a lot more sense.

> This is simply not true. As a small app developer, I can tell you first hand that Apple only promotes and supports larger apps in the ecosystem.

We’re a two person shop. We’ve taken zero funding. We’re nowhere near Fortnite revenue.

Apple has done an outstanding job promoting us. Last month they gave us our first Today tab feature, and at any given time we can be found in several lists.

I am really happy for you. Genuinely. But most apps do not share your fate no matter how well designed, performant, or useful.

I am actually fine if Apple doesn't do any sort of discovery or promotion of our apps. Just don't charge 30 percent then.

I just opened the App Store. In the first list, “Great Apps for iPhone XR,” I’d estimate 1/3 of the apps listed were built by small, bootstrapped teams. Another third are larger companies (1Password), and the last third are pretty mainstream brands (Snapchat, Mint). Even if you draw the line for small apps below the size of 1Password, 1/3 seems like an amazingly fair share of retail space.

I’m sure many great apps went nowhere. That’s the nature of entrepreneurship. I’d say Apple’s promotion significantly improves the survival odds for small teams doing great work.

Go look through the store right now. The majority of the apps on the Today section will be small developers.

If your app doesn't meet a certain level of quality then Apple will not feature you. But if you do then it is almost certain that at some point they will. I suspect your app falls in the former category.

There is no need to attack. Let's be nice. You don't have any idea what the app is.

One of the things I find strange is that the features last so long. They appear to be...weekly? If so, that means about 50 apps PER YEAR in a slot, out of possibly millions?

That just seems silly. They should at least be rotating through a list of a few hundred apps per day.

Also, as a consequence I am quickly bored by browsing the store. Top-10 lists virtually never change. Featured lists seem like the same 3 apps forever. And a “See All” link that shows nothing more than the same 3 apps from the front page is just insulting. Apple needs much, much, much more in their featuring.

Despite the number of apps in the store, I am not convinced there are enough worth featuring for them to rotate through "a few hundred per day".

> The Apple store seems good for small apps

that is fine if you ever show up as featured. Which is 1% of the apps, and even then, from already big companies after they spent the marketing money. Other than that, for distribution (really?) and payment, there are tons of alternatives/competition the small apps cannot even consider.

App store is nothing other than a racketeering scheme where you have to pay if you can't "protect" yourself against. It is "robber barons"/"ma-bell"/etc all over again.

In the past, you bought software in a box from a retailer who took a margin as high as 50%. After you pay for manufacturing and distribution (shipping shrink-wrapped boxes of CD-ROMs, multilingual manuals and a unique serial number to retailers in Alaska and Singapore is definitely not free) a developer would be lucky to end up with one third of the retail price in their pocket.

The Apple app store is actually a huge improvement over that model; it just seems unfair because digital sales shouldn't cost much, right? Right??

Well, Apple created the marketplace. They spend a lot of money making that marketplace work correctly, keeping their software platforms and merchant facilities robust for customers and developers, and putting that marketplace in the hands of hundreds of millions of people. They built this opportunity for devlopers and every developer who has built an app did so knowing exactly what the terms were.

If you don't like it, don't complain after you voluntarily and knowingly agreed to the terms.

> Apple created the marketplace

It used to be that the maker of the OS spent tremendous efforts to attract developers. They did this for free to gain app market share.

So, your argument falls flat. Apple is doing this to generate profit. They continue doing so because of their dominant iOS market share and that for apps there is no alternative.

Please stop making excuses for trillion dollar companies.

> Apple is doing this to generate profit.

Yes, that's what companies do. If you don't like capitalism, your beef isn't with Apple, it's with your government.

> In the past, you bought software in a box from a retailer who took a margin as high as 50%.

In the past, you bought hardware that could run software from more than one retailer.

You still can, if that is you want.

You are free to make that choice.

Meanwhile, I'd appreciate if you didn't object to my right to choose a managed ecosystem if that is what I prefer. I like the Apple ecosystem the way it is, thank you very much.

> You are free to make that choice.

i do not believe that apple allows you to sideload apps without jailbreaking (which voids warranty iirc). Therefore, the user is not free to make that choice.

Let me be clearer.

You are free to make that choice [of running software from more than one retailer] by choosing a different computing platform. Hundreds of models of Android phone are available at every price point, from super-budget to super-premium.

It's important to me that I can choose a platform that has a strongly walled ecosystem because I greatly prefer the advantages of it more than I dislike the disadvantages. That's my opinion and I am happy that a product exists that satisfies my needs. If you don't like Apple's ecosystem, don't buy their products.

Asking for an Apple device that uses the Android/AOSP business model is like insisting that Jeep builds a Wrangler with a Tesla drivetrain. If that's really what you want and you're willing to put the effort in, you can make it yourself. It's entirely possible.

If Jeep started suing people for modifying their Jeep with a Tesla Drivetrain, I would object to that as well.

Or even if Jeep started adding specific "features" that attempted to make it difficult for people to modify their car.

Apple used to literally sue people for this stuff. That's immoral. And the courts shutdown those frivolous lawsuits from Apple.

It is perfectly reasonable for people to modify products that they own. If you don't like then, then feel free to not modify your product. You own it, and all.

Sorry but your Argument falls flat....you cannot use android as an option to defend Apple. If apple fails to meet the needs for the user you cannot defend them and say 'but you can choose android' that is not freedom. Freedom within Apple would mean the ability to easily host and run applications as desired. They do not have alveen caught trying to suppress users freedom. Aka jailbreaking and their fight make it illegal

His entire point is that Apple does in fact meet his needs as a user. It meets those needs precisely because of the choices they have made. This may mean that Apple doesn't meet your needs as a user. However, asking Apple to be all things to all users is an impossible requirement.

The market has your back though, because Android gives you a very different experience from Apple.

Exactly right, thank you.

You can buy an Android.

Not sure what you are talking about here.

You could never buy software for your phone from more than one retailer. Or are you trying to force the desktop computing model onto Apple ?

The app store didn't replace offline retail, the internet did. Software was sold online before the app store came along just fine. With app-stores we are back in retailer country: convenient as a customer but the manufacturer has to pay a fee to be boxed and put on the digital shelf.

And there is only one shelf! This is way worst than retailer country.

As a data point, which I don't think is a huge outlier: I have paid $5 for lots of apps I like, which I would never ever have gotten around to paying for on someone's website -- partly trust, partly just mental overhead. But whether the app is $4 or $6 makes zero difference to me.

I don't think I found any of these through their listings or search, maybe those could be better? But the space is huge, maybe random blogs etc. can do better than any centralised store.

But even if you DON'T show up as featured, maybe you're one of the 10 vetted apps that do what yours does, instead of 1 out of 100 on the Play Store. I think that's what's being discussed here.

> you're one of the 10 vetted apps that do what yours does, instead of 1 out of 100 on the Play Store.

1. Citation needed (because looks like you are pulling these numbers out of your ass).

2. And by your argument, looks like people have more choices on Android. Who would have thought?!

Please don't be a jerk on HN.


Edit: you've unfortunately been breaking the site guidelines so often that I've banned your account.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

Agreed on subscriptions. While paid and freemium apps benefit from being in the store (discovery, etc), recurring revenue models are much more difficult to optimize and maintain. That’s not something the store really helps with.

This is why both Apple and Google introduces the reduced rate after the first year of subscription, which in my opinion will eventually become the norm from the get go. It’s only a letter of time.

Ultimately, even such seemingly large losses are still a really small fraction of Apple’s bottom line. Once more apps find ways to do this is when Apple will start noticing.

I don't think that Netflix needs distribution. Netflix needs Apple's permission to run its software on its users devices. That what they are paying for. I doubt that many people would discover Netflix brand via AppStore browsing or that Netflix would struggle to serve .ipa file downloads.

The Apple Tax is especially hard on Spotify since Apple launched Apple Music (previously, Spotify passed the 30% on to customers, but $13 vs $10 for similar services doesn't work). Both services are $10 per month. It's well-publicized that Spotify pays out 70% to labels, leaving nothing to run the service.

Full disclosure: I used to work for Spotify. My personal take on the fee was that 2%-3% is the floor (credit card processing), but Apple could charge up to 5% and reasonably justify the value-add without risking price gouging or anti-competitive claims.

Spotify stopped allowing subscriptions on iOS a while ago.

True. Their choices were that, taking a ~loss on these users, or charging more. All put them at a disadvantage compared to Apple.

Inevitably the fair share in these discussions is as close to zero as the proponent can claim without looking silly.

Can I ask why you left Spotify? Do you think they're in serious financial trouble?

Career growth; I was in a small office for over three years.

No, I don't think they're in financial trouble. Their CFO, Barry McCarthy, is a pro--he took Netflix public.

I wonder how much money it costs Apple to handle subscription payments/cancellations for Netflix and other streaming services. I prefer to handle subscription through Apple because cancelling such services is never difficult. I don’t know how it is on other countries but cancelling services in the U.S. can be a hellish experience.

Personally, I’d be willing to pay the “Apple Tax” on top of a subscription services’ cost for the peace of mind that comes from knowing that cancelling is easy. What a pain it will be when all the other subscription services stop paying the “Apple Tax”. I hope Apple comes up with a solution. Clearly their current cut is too much.

For many things I’d agree, but to their credit Netflix has always made it trivially easy to cancel. They’re one of the few modern IT companies that seem to go out of the way to make joining and leaving fair and easily comprehensible. Now if they’d just make that autoplaying a goddamned option!

I was kind of surprised when I canceled my Netflix account. I had a laundry list of complaints I was going to put in the "why are you canceling" box but they never gave me one. Making it easy and painless to cancel is one of the few things they're still doing right.

After I cancelled last time they offered me a free month, with no obligation of staying beyond the free month. They make it easy to leave and easy to come back.

What were your reasons?

A lot of small issues that added up to an overall negative experience. The web UI redesign a few years ago that made it the same as the UI in Android, smart TVs, etc, but also slower and more difficult to use. Autoplaying something if you hover over it for more than a second (a cancerous UX design that has spread beyond Netflix now). UI inconsistencies like the "resume watching" row. 50% of the time it would be at the top where you would expect it, 25% of the time it would show up if you scrolled far enough, and 25% of the time it would never show up at all. I never understood that one, it was bizarre and unexpected behavior. Removing a lot of quality content and not replacing it equally high quality content. The overall decline in quality of Netflix's original series.

There wasn't any one thing that made me decide to cancel, one day I realized I hadn't used it in several months and the UI made it a pain to use when I did, so I canceled.

I also recently canceled and was surprised they didn't ask why. My reason was that the selection of content has changed dramatically. When I first signed up, I could choose a movie that I had in mind. Now, the selection of movies on Netflix streaming is extremely bleak. It's almost entirely TV shows, and about half of it is Netflix-produced. The quality of it is fine, I just don't want TV shows. I want access to the majority of movies ever produced, and would pay much more for such a service.

"I want access to the majority of movies ever produced"

Appears that will never happen.

This is really unfortunate; when Netflix launched streaming, they had a partnership with Start that had a lot of popular movies, but now you would need to mix and match two or three services to get similar coverage. I've been buying more and more discs lately, because I want to watch something today, and at any time in the future.

I hope, one day, we get compulsory licensing for movies and TV shows, like is available for music -- then we can really watch whatever, as long as it has been digitized.

Not never. In the long run, the majority of movies ever produced will be in the public domain.

To see what they'd ask?

They didn't give you one? They gave me one, and I put in basically what you complained about.

Netflix has been very good about being easy to cancel. Few companies are as good as them but I can’t trust that Netflix will always be as good as they currently are.

Which is funny, because getting ITunes off of my machines was like purging a virus. Once that is installed it is not just a "would you like to uninstall" dialogue.

I use this option often. I basically sign up about once every 4 months and cancel almost immediately. Something I want to try watching so I sign up. Then get annoyed at the autoplay which makes it nearly impossible for me to comfortably browse for other content I might be interested in so I give up and cancel.

Easy to cancel, but they won't stop begging me to come back.

Now that’s too true. Everyone seems to do that now! I bought a 3lb bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans to make some holiday vodka for a party, and they will not stop whining at me about points and buying more jelly beans. Thank Christ that I have an email I use just for online orders.

Spotify is also super easy to cancel

I’m an Apple fan all around. (Even own a homepod). But I have to disagree with “cancelling is easy”. Cancelling a subscription on iOS is so hidden that I can’t say it’s easy. I hope they change this.

Not to mention this new(?) tactic with "free trials" that automatically turn into a subscription.

I was trying out a bunch of weather apps (why is is so hard for a simple concise app with a radar without a bunch of needless fluff/wasted space) and 1 of them automatically turned into $99/year after 3 or 7 days (I forget).

The app didn't even work and would almost _always_ have the time wrong making the weather HUD also inaccurate. I tried to tell apple about this and they refused a refund. Thankfully my credit card company allowed a chargeback

I can only blame myself for forgetting these things, but it would be nice for a prompt prior to the subscription starting next time you use the app.

Europe (maybe just the UK but I think it was EU-wide) banned claiming something is "free" if in fact you must sign up to pay money.

You can tell people what it'll cost and ask for a card, or, you can say it is free and not ask up front (you can ask later if you want but having not given you a card for the free trial if the customer has lost interest they're not going to give you one later)

Chrisan was presented with that information in the subscription confirmation page. (A free trial is a subscription with a delayed start.) However, the weather app probably misrepresented what the subscription confirmation would say. The FTC in the US has rules surrounding this but they obviously aren’t as well applied as they should be in the App Store.

Quebec has a similar law. As a result, Canadian services with a format of "free one month trial and then $x for the next twelve months" tend to be available in Quebec as "$x for the first thirteen months".

My experience is that it is easy once you find the right screen. A Google search always leads me to the right screen. Apple could be better at making the location more transparent but they couldn’t make the act of canceling, once you get to the right location, easier.

Sure but the fact you have to google it every time is not exactly what I’d expect from Apple. I’m sure they will improve this. They must get a ton of support calls over this.

As a dev who works on a fairly large app with an in-app subscription, we are the ones that get a ton of support requests, even having the unsubscribe link in our own settings.

The problem is a huge percentage of users assume deleting the app will also stop their subscription, but it does not.

Sounds like something Apple should fix. They know you have a subscription for the App you're deleting. They should ask

"You have a subscription for this app's services through Apple Pay. Do you want to unsubscribe?"

They could even say something like

"You have a subscription for this app's services through Apple Pay. Do you want to unsubscribe? Note that this app is still installed on your iPad" (assuming you deleted it from your iphone)

As a tangent I notice that while Apple's hardware and OS are best in class their support infrastructure is arguably close to worst in class. Every time I have to deal with their support and order systems (apple.com) I run into issues that make it almost seem like they're still doing everything on paper and that none of their systems are connected.

Anything is easy once you know how to do it. :P

Not necessarily. Have you ever tried cancelling a cable or internet service over the phone?

Yes. In EU it's a piece of cake, as there are laws that protect consumers from companies.

You go to the App Store (logical place to look), tap your profile pic (a standard way of communicating "my account"), and tap your name in the menu. You'll arrive at the Account Settings page which has an obviously labeled Subscriptions button. Once there, subscriptions are neatly sorted into active and expired. Clicking on a subscription instantly shows you all options, you can change among them and get a full prorated refund for time on the old plan. You can cancel with ONE tap (and a confirmation)--cancelling does not interfere with what you've already paid for, and it tells you exactly what date you've paid through. All auth is by Touch/Face ID.

I've never seen a simpler and more straightforward billing UX as Apple's.

I don’t believe this is correct on iOS and it isn’t correct on the Apple TV. In iOS you need to go to

Settings -> iTunes & App Store -> tap on your Apple ID at the top of the screen -> tap on view Apple ID -> scroll to subscriptions and tap on that

It’s not obvious or intuitive in my opinion.

That's the same as going to iTunes Store -> Sroll Down to Apple ID -> Tap Apple ID -> View Apple ID -> Subscriptions on iOS... there is two ways to get to the same thing.

You can also like the parent poster said, use App Store -> Profile Picture -> Tap Apple ID -> Subscriptions.

I didn’t know there was a profile pic in the App Store app until I checked again after reading your comment. I don’t have a profile pic setup so that’s probably why I never noticed the icon on the right hand side of the page. I never thought that could be clicked. It’s not obvious or intuitive to me.

> I've never seen a simpler and more straightforward billing UX as Apple's.

Settings -> <Name> -> Subscriptions

> I've never seen a simpler and more straightforward billing UX as Apple's.

I don't like how it doesn't show the purchase method on the TouchID screen - it's fine if you are using it a lot, but if you only use it infrequently, it's annoying to not know which payment method it is using.

From what I heard from ios developers, the cost is a resounding "nothing"; any cancelled or fraudulent orders are simply taken out of Apple's monthly remittance to you. Details are usually wittheld for privacy reasons.

It may be great for consumers but it's been a constant headache for devs and publishers since the beginning of the App Store because it's very hard to work out the source of any shrinkage. Netflix is probably better positioned to pursue these cases but for a lot of indie devs the cost of investigation far outweights any benefit so they have to accept it as a part of the business cost on top of the 30% already charged by AAPL.

While I sympathise with people trying to run a business, as a user I'm incredibly grateful not to be harassed by current and former services. I have a bunch of Netflix emails saying, "Please come back!" and "Try Netflix again for free!" as well as half a dozen that all say "Netflix tonight?" Too many bad actors ruin it for everyone and I don't think people fully appreciate what Apple does to protect their attention.

I loathe the constant spam (from reputable merchants) and junk snail mail I get every day. Every few months I spend 20 min unsubscribing and refiltering email. Most people I know just let it clog up their mail app. I probably spend at least the same amount of time with junk mail.

I realize it's difficult for an advertiser to reach me for actually useful things. But when I travel and see TV adverts, I'm glad I'm not constantly reminded that I should give luxury cars as Christmas gifts or how awesome shower gel is. I'm not interested in refinancing my mortgage every month or consolidation of debt I don't have. I don't care that my cellphone provider is broadcasting a NYE live show or the last car dealership I bought a car from wants me to switch insurance companies.

I could not disagree more. It requires 5+ taps and just as many obscure screens to cancel a subscription to an iOS app. If Apple were really serious, they would have an app called Subscriptions.

App Store -> Profile Pic -> Manage Subscriptions

Whilst true, it’s not intuitive to the majority of users.

A couple other advantages is it is likely more secure than having your credit card stored across many sites (although Stripe solves that too), and if your card expires, you only have to update one thing.

Tell me about it. To cancel my NYT subscription, I had to swap my payment method to paypal, then literally block them from my Paypal. After which, they sent me no less than 10 emails, almost one per day for over a week.

And it makes iTunes gift cards really nice when they can be used to pay for anything under the sun, as long as it has an iOS app.

I am in the same boat. For most things I will happily subscribe through iTunes and pay extra because I know that I can go to one place to manage all my subscriptions.

Personally I feel like the most ridiculous part about the App Store is Apples so called "developer program". Charging 99€ a Year for a nearly nonexistent service is absurd, especially since they are already taking the 30% cut.

I am a flutter developer myself, so technically I could publish all my apps on iOS and Android with minimal changes. But since Apples developer program would eat up a significant portion of my potential yearly earnings I simply publish only on the Play Store that only charges a modest 25€ one time registration fee.

I like the $99/yr bar of entry. That, combined with the more rigid review process, keeps the App Store's average app quality higher than the Play Store's.

It makes a lot of apps simply impossible to exist. (Indie dev made an app for themselves catering to a niche, also wanting to put up their app for free.)

This trade off is typically okay for iFolk though.

If the market isn’t sigficanlty large so that 144 people will pay 99 cents a year for the app (the minimum requirement to cover the developer’s cost) than the application is probably not tested and developed to a high enough standard that I want to run it on my cell. I consider my cellphone production hardware, and treat it as such.

It might be, but we'll never know. There might not be enough people willing to test a new 1USD app from a hobbyist.

What difference does it make? Average app quality is surely a pointless metric given that people tend to spend their own money carefully (Or at least I do, I've spent £10 total on apps in my life)

Some people were up in arms about crap being pushed onto Steam, and it had no long term effect (Before or after anything was done about it)

gatekeeping can only last that long

The AppStore is a decade old, and the gate is holding strong. It’s likely that gate will exist for the rest of the iPhone’s product life, which hopefully ends within 20 years as smartphones are replaced by new technology.

What do you think is the split here though?

I’d say 90% better review and 10% the annual fee, personally. Not convinced it’s worth it.

The better review is only possible because the submission rate is lower.

And Apple has thus done the world a favor. The last thing we need is more cross platform not quite native apps...

But as far as $99, between my $300 a year Linux Academy subscription, $144 a year JetBrains Resharper subscription and the money I spend on Udemy, $99 a year is nothing.

It also keep very interesting apps from being in platform, from hobbysts/opensource developers, for example.

Last time I used iOS had terrible apps for Keepass (I tested them all, trust me [1]), while Android has at least two very good implementations (both opensource, one based on the official C# implementation with a native interface in Mono and another one less featured however fully written in Java).

> But as far as $99, between my $300 a year Linux Academy subscription, $144 a year JetBrains Resharper subscription and the money I spend on Udemy, $99 a year is nothing.

Congratulations, so for you this is nothing. If I wanted to develop for iOS as a hobbyst I would need to pay ~R$400,00 (this is equivalent almost half of a minimum wage in Brazil) [1]. I am not even including the expenses of buying a iOS device and a Mac just to have the "privilege" to develop to an Apple device.

[1]: Or don't, because Apple Store search is terrible. [2]: Just to make clear, I could afford this too if I wanted. However just because you and I can afford it doesn't mean this tax is abusive.

You are my target customer. Willing to throw away hundreds (thousands?) of dollars on licenses and willing brag about it.

If you consider spending money on software licenses a waste of money than you should consider getting out of the business of writing liscenced software. In general I find it’s unhealthy to work on products you don’t believe in.

It’s not bragging. It’s career development.

I have thousands of different licenses you could purchase to put on your resume.

“licensing” is not resume building.

Paying for courses and continuous learning is.

How is paying for licenses career building?

As far as R# it’s about the increased efficiency. Everything else Linux Academy, Udemy, etc is about learning technologies.

If I had a desire to be an iPhone developer, I would gladly pay $99 a year to publish an app to the store to show to potential employees/clients.

I've worked on a streaming service that did in-app subscriptions. I've written up my experiences before: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17831188

I wonder if Apple is letting this slide because it's enough money that Netflix would feel sufficiently motivated to spend lots of money to take Apple to court over it. Apple could lose a lot more than a billion a year if the law sides against them, which is a likely outcome. They would have to let everyone pick their payment provider. Everyone from Stripe to Paypal would rush in with better and better payment terms.

Better to keep anyone capable of winning a legal challenge against them happy.

Subscriptions I have/had that require an email address/password but allow you to subscribe outside of the store: Hulu, Netflix, PluralSight, STARZ.

Subscriptions that force you to subscribe out of the store: DirecTVNow, ACloudGuru, Amazon Prime Video, Sling, Spotify.

I doubt very seriously that Apple is stopping your app because of a fear of competition but not stopping dozens of other players.

At some point iOS feels like a third class platform, because I can't directly buy subscriptions or download my (already paid for externally!) Audible audio books. I think Apple is too arrogant to change this on their own so my only hope is the EU will regulate quasi-monopolies like the app store at some point. At the moment Apple users would benefit from a lot of regulations ranging from freedom of choice in the App Store to right to repair. That's not a good spot to be put in as a customer.

The EU forced Apple and Audible’s partnership to dissolve.


This is about books sold from iTunes. I'm talking about buying books from your Audible credits in the Audible app. But given this info, the most charitable interpretation would be that Audible stopped selling via Apple all together. A less charitable interpretation would be that Apples guidelines forbid Audible to sell content without Apple getting their cut.

You can buy books for both Kindle and Audible from Amazon and use them on the apps without Apple getting a cut.

Netflix only needs apple for distribution because apple has locked down the system so much that you are forced to go through them. Apple has added very little value and we had better systems before where you could just visit a URL and view content without needing Microsoft for distribution.

I think we’re saying the same thing. Apple can do whatever it wants with it’s ecosystem but it doesn’t matter to Netflix. Netflix customers and Apple customers can be the same people but they are indifferent to how these companies interact with eachother. “Apple” customers expect Netflix on their devices and “Netflix” customers expect to be able to consume their content on whatever phone they happen to have.

Netflix could easily stream DRM free H.264 video from their website without needing an app....

They don’t even need to make them DRM free. There are plenty of DRM options for web-based video.

I don’t think they could with the love for DRM the media companies have

> we had better systems before where you could just visit a URL and view content

You still can. Safari still works does it not ?

Define "works"

As long as we're bitching about the 'apple tax'.... I'll toss out an unrelated-yet-perplexing issue I've had with mac/ios/etc since... 2008?:

Slow app store speed.

It doesn't matter what device I'm on - multiple macbooks, imacs, iphones, ipods, ipads, etc, all running through multiple cable and dsl providers in multiple states over the last decade.

Download speed is abysmal. 30meg app update - why does this take 2-3 minutes on a connection that can get 120Mbps from multiple other sources? I've just never been able to understand how they can stream live video around the world instantly, but grabbing an 8meg update is *ever a > 1 minute process.

12+ devices over a decade, from multiple carriers in multiple states, and always slow speeds. But no doubt other people here will have "all my updates are less than 8 seconds, all the time, for years" anecdotes. :/

They should be fast though? They are on Akamai, LimeStone and their own CDN. It was all very late in 2016 /2017, but things has been much better since then. So to have a slow download speed from Apple, unless it is from iCloud Storage ( which is getting better too) shouldn't have been the case as the likely hood fo slow connection from all three CDN are very small..

Apart from Netflix Servers ( Fast.com, I really wish Netflix would make a CDN for others to use ), I think Apple now has one of the best CDN network.

they're not, your claims of their CDN quality are based on what exactly? recently tried to download macos mojave(a 5 gig download) and it was EXCRUCIATINGLY slow. Took 12 hours! For reference i downloaded an 80gig game from steam in 4 hours(i live in india and speeds vary quite a bit but it's still a solid connection)

That’s probably an India-specific issue, which is still annoying and probably just one more reason Apple is not as successful in your market as they’d like to be. The OS downloads always take under an hour in the US, and several minutes for me for at least the last few versions.

Yes, that’s perplexing and unusual-sounding. I’ve had updates take awhile occasionally, but I’ve never seen your issue. Could it be tied to your Apple ID in some way?

Despite your dismissive last line I have to share my data. Here are my results for my currently updateable apps on residential Comcast in the Midwest from the moment “Update” is hit until “Open” appears:

- Strong 117.6MB 15 seconds

- Waze 100.6MB 20 seconds

- Keyforge 44.6MB 5 seconds

different apple IDs (my wife's and mine). but... wth? there's absolutely nothing I can do about it, and apple hasn't noticed this issue with my id-level accounts (if it's just me, can I be literally the only one on the planet with this issue?)

I just did an install last night of a 100meg app which took 'only' 1 minute - maybe things are improving in to 2019?

I tihnk you are on some end of a bell curve but far from the only one at their scale, I’m sure. Is it possibly device-based, i.e. you use older devices that download moderately quickly and choke on the install portion? I had an SE until last year and noted that sometimes it would take a bit to initialize the update after I hit the button, too.

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