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Spotify to Apple: Time to Play Fair (timetoplayfair.com)
1903 points by dmitriid 39 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 841 comments



Personally, as an app developer, I think Spotify is taking the right stance here.

I believe that Apple should take some cuts but not as high as 30%. I believe for some categories like microtransaction based apps Apple should take maybe 5%. Plus, I think that if Apple has a competing service, then it should waive the tax altogether. It's only fair.

If the only function of the App Store (or Play Store) is to provide hosting and some quality control then I don't see why apps can't be hosted on a secure website from the vendor - as far as I'm aware, Apple requires you have some sort of website anyway.

At least Google allows installing apps without the Play Store, perhaps it's time Apple permitted something similar with its apps? This could solve this whole problem and have other positive side effects such as people being less likely to jailbreak their iPhones.


Spotify has already turned off the ability for new accounts to pay to upgrade to a premium account inside their iOS app last year.

You pay for your account on Spotify's own web site, which bypasses Apple getting any cut at all.

https://support.spotify.com/us/account_payment_help/subscrip...

Netflix has done the same thing.

https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8471988/spotify-...

In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.


> In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

This is especially damaging to small companies. Most people have heard of Spotify, Netflix, Pandora, etc. So it's somewhat natural for them (if not a bit akward) to go to the website if they can't get premium in the app.

But for small companies that connection isn't immediately obvious. In my company for instance, we aren't allowed to put ANY reference to our website in the app (as it relates to purchasing premium). As a result when a user signs up, my only option is IAP. I cannot just assume they will naturally go to the website.


Most(every?) app that I’ve signed up for requires an email address. Some apps then send a verification or welcome email. If you mention and link to paid subscription upgrades in that email, will Apple pull your app?


As Spotify points out, and I've seen first hand, Apple prohibits you from allowing users to create accounts or enter contact information if your service has a paid option and you don't use apple's IAP.

So you couldn't even get to the point where you can send an email without first falling in line with IAP.

And according to my understanding of the Spotify timeline, and I haven't see this because I haven't published to the platform in a while, Apple now prohibits you from targeting your iOS users with upgrade communications (even if they didn't sign up via iOS, which they didn't since that's prohibited).


Will people actually read the email? Will they remember it at the time they actually want to upgrade their account?

(An "email me a payment link" button would almost certainly get rejected by Apple)


“We’ve just sent a verification code to the email you provided, please type the 4 digit code here:_ _ _ _”

It could even be 2 digits (the same 2 digits for everyone), you’re just looking to get their eyes on the email letting them know additional paid subscriptions are available on your website.


Let's assume you purposefully crafted the email or app to break the code autofill built into iOS.

I think you'd end up confusing users. Most people will go to their email expecting to see a verification code in big bold type. If you make the code less obvious, they'll get frustrated ("I came here to get a code, why am I now doing something else?") It's awful UX at a particularly business-critical moment.

And this is all assuming Apple doesn't see through your ploy and just reject the app.


It's not just those two, it's standard practice: Audible, Google Play video, Amazon video, Amazon music, Playstation Video, Vimeo, Sky Store video, and YouTube Premium/Google Music (same subscription with different marketing).

Deezer music went another route: you can pay for your subscription through an iOS device, but you'll pay a higher price. [0] I'm surprised Apple permit this.

All this strikes me as a clear indication that Apple is asking for too high a cut.

I've never been tempted to use a mobile app to shop on, say, Amazon, but Apple are clearly ok with that experience being far better on Android than on iPhone.

> In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

Interesting.

The exact words used by the Audible app for iPhone: This app does not support purchasing content. Instead, add to your wishlist.

[0] https://support.deezer.com/hc/en-gb/articles/360000633989


> Deezer music went another route: you can pay for your subscription through an iOS device, but you'll pay a higher price. [0] I'm surprised Apple permit this.

This is what Spotify used to do (charging $13 instead of the normal $10 to give apple their cut), but they stopped when apple started making apple music available at $10 (since they didn't need to pay their own tax)


That's the sort of behavior that gets your company broken up. Apple's management team doesn't seem to own a single history book between them.


How so? Isn't the tipping point of an antitrust suit a lack of competition and/or a monopolized position? Apple doesn't have that. They can do whatever they want in the confines of their own store.


They have close to 50% of the market in the US and I don't think a strict majority is required to be judged a monopoly.

You simply can't ignore iOS if you want to have a successful smartphone app business. That fact alone is enough in my opinion to consider Apple a monopoly and to take action to force them to play fair on their own platform.


I think an obvious comparison could be drawn with the movie industry of the 1940s, when the studios were forced to divest their ownership of the actual theaters their movies were shown in.

Abusing market dominance in one sector in order to shut out or outcompete other providers in another sector is the classic justification for antitrust action.


> The exact words used by the Audible app for iPhone: This app does not support purchasing content. Instead, add to your wishlist.

I honestly never really thought about why this is - I simply just hated Audible for it, and thought it was the most annoying part of their app.

However, it's odd - how come the Amazon app is allowed to get away with its own purchasing system?


I believe there's an exception for physical goods, so Amazon is ok but not Kindle, audible etc.


You're right, and I was mistaken -- the Amazon app for iPhone lets you checkout.

I believe jordanthoms's explanation is correct.


>In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

Why on earth is Apple allowed to do that? I get that it is their marketplace and their rules, but they are directly hurting competition and consumers this way. There's simply no real argument to prohibit developers like this. Seems like something the EU should combat against.


That depends on whether you prioritize the ability for developers to profit or the security of customers making the purchase. Apple is guaranteeing its users that purchases made within apps are secure and that only Apple has access to their payment info. In the alternate scenario, customers have no way of verifying the security or veracity of some random app developer collecting their payment info.


I feel for Spotify and other companies on the 30% tax but I also love knowing that any purchase by my family or myself is protected, private and easily refunded if there's a mistake. There are already a lot of apps preying on kids but it would be at another level without the in-house payment system.

I think something like 30% on the first purchase and then 5-6% for any recurring purchases would make more sense. I know it changes to 15% after a year but that's still ridiculous IMO.

Maybe there's an App Association that challenges all of these stores on their rather high recurring fees.


This is a ridiculous stance. Essentially it's the same as saying that you're scared to pay for anything online and you only trust Apple for making online payments. There are other solutions to feel secure about paying online or via an app. For instance, if the app asks you for payment, you could be first shown its rating in the store, if it's low. There could be even a separate rating judging the payment security of the app, if security is what Apple is after. You're allowing Apple to rip you off by 30% on all app transactions, it's as simple as that. (Not to mention the cost of locking yourself in their platform and hardware.)


> Essentially it's the same as saying that you're scared to pay for anything online and you only trust Apple for making online payments.

I'm not particularly scared of paying for things online. I'm scared of almost anyone else in my extended family doing so, though. If you think that concern's "ridiculous" you haven't watched them use the Web. And lots of them—especially the older ones—have (rightly!) never entirely gotten over fear of buying things online. Some(!) of them do buy things online, but reluctantly, with great deliberation. In an app on an Apple device? Concerns gone. Even for me, that little background stress of being on alert for shenanigans quiets down when I'm in the Apple ecosystem. Far lower (though non-zero—there's a reason I do almost no iOS gaming) permitted rates of douchebaggery is one of the things keeping me on iOS, and the one-source-of-payments is a vital part of that.

[EDIT] there are further benefits to users and developers alike, I should add, when the UI for a purchase is the same in every app. It's worth 30% to "defect" from that, so worth it on the individual level, but if it's permitted at all then the game's up and everyone loses.


> Essentially it's the same as saying that you're scared to pay for anything online and you only trust Apple for making online payments.

Strawman. That's not at all what the parent said.

> For instance, if the app asks you for payment, you could be first shown its rating in the store, if it's low. There could be even a separate rating judging the payment security of the app, if security is what Apple is after.

You think people should be shown a payment security score so they can judge whether they want to make an in-app purchase? You must be joking. I don't think you understand what Apple is after if that's your suggestion.

> You're allowing Apple to rip you off by 30% on all app transactions, it's as simple as that.

Your entire comment reeks of irrational anti Apple bias. It's as simple as that.


Yeah that’s really a lot simpler than just using my finger.

This is why geeks make horrible product people.

And ratings have never been faked....


Yeah... no. Your stance is ridiculous. People have already gamed sites like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Play with fake reviews. The App Store also probably is flooded with tons of fake reviews. I'd rather trust my payment information to a company that has already demonstrated that they're incredibly thoughtful with my security regarding payments rather than trusting some giant unknown and just hoping for the best.


> Maybe there's an App Association that challenges all of these stores on their rather high recurring fees.

I think it's perfectly reasonable for governments to update their terms and agreements.


I would rather their focus was on citizens rights first but there's some merit to that.


> In my book, the problem is that you are not allowed to provide a link to your payment website inside your app.

The counter point is, if Apple allowed this, then every single App would use that method. Most people would not realize or care that they bought the XYZ in a web view vs through the AppStore payment system. Even apps that are currently paid only would switch to a "free" app with a "pay here" in-app purchase.

At this point the AppStore no longer can bring in any money for Apple except indirectly via encouraging iPhone sales.

Maybe Apple could charge the publisher for each app download or something instead to keep making money but I doubt that would be very popular.


There is still a non-zero cost to implementing a checkout page, as well as associated vendor fees etc. In a fair market the fees for Apple checkout would be along the same lines as Stripe, PayPal etc., but they are using their position as the device and OS vendor to charge 10x as much and giving developers no other option.


I disagree they should be the same. Credit card fraud risk is much higher on the internet than in person for instance. Apple through iOS and the App Store I would guess, also has a significant edge in detecting and stopping fraud through name, location, etc. While 15/30% might be too high, it should be higher than a simple payment processor as the transaction is also safer for the merchant.


Amazon's Kindle app has done the same as well.


Making micro-transactions more profitable would be an unfortunate course of action. There are enough of those apps in the store, and they are clearly profitable enough if they can buy Super Bowl airtime.

Subscriptions for apps should be different, but I see a challenge in drawing the line between Spotify/Netflix and a scam app like "awesome culculator" that charges $5/mo to people who don'didn't realize it was a subscription (there was an article on HN this week about apps like that, targeting kids and the elderly, of course).

If Apple has a stipulation about requiring a website, then maybe subscription-based apps can get a discount on the 30% fee if they also have a web or desktop-based version of their application that provides comparable functionality and takes payments.


> ...and they are clearly profitable enough if they can buy Super Bowl airtime.

This is not a good reason to limit how much money an app developer makes. You want to make the play field fair, regardless if there are some companies making a lot of money.


> There are enough of those apps in the store, and they are clearly profitable enough if they can buy Super Bowl airtime.

You're talking about the top 1% or less of micro transaction-based apps here. There are ton of indie apps that depend on micro transactions and aren't making enough to buy a Super Bowl ad.

It's unfortunate that spammy or low quality micro transaction-based apps have become commonplace, but I'd rather that be dealt with by the App Store flagging and filtering the apps with issues.


> and they are clearly profitable enough if they can buy Super Bowl airtime

These dollars are most certainly coming from VC funding. Most of these businesses aren't (and will never be) profitable.


While the Apple Tax is a problem of its own, I would hate for Apple to allow downloading apps through websites. A large part of iOS security is that everything has to be co-signed by Apple unless it's an Enterprise distribution app [1], so even if there is an exploit that breaks out of the app sandbox you don't have to worry about malicious websites drive-by downloading it.

1: they're likely refining the process of obtaining one of these certs after the recent news reports on business fraud


> I would hate for Apple to allow downloading apps through websites

This is such an extreme stance compared to what you're allowed to do on the desktop. Regardless of what Apple allows or not, shouldn't the user, the owner of the device, be allowed to install applications as they see fit, and choose to bypass any centralized app store? A smarthphone is a computer, and it's arguably many peoples primary computing device, and so I see no valid reason for the future of such devices to be a locked-down walled garden under the guise of security.

More than anything and any security, Apple benefits directly from this, just like they do lobbying against right-to-repair legislation. Because God forbid an owner of a Apple device repairing it themselves instead of have to go through official, expensive channels. Likewise with a (legitimate) company or app maker saying "We'll just let the users install it outside of the app store" and choosing not to deal with Apple's ecosystem. For example, Wireguard for macOS cannot be distributed outside of the app store due to native integration requiring APIs that Apple restricts with such clauses [1]. This is in my opinion ridiculous.

[1] https://lists.zx2c4.com/pipermail/wireguard/2019-February/00...


There are plenty of devices that allow you the freedom to do whatever you want to the software. If that is a priority, get one of those. Apple's walled garden is in fact much more secure. (and they also benefit financially. But correlation does not equal causation, necessarily)


You're missing the point. Security is throwing up a hurdle against installing outside apps (could be a bit steeper hurdle than Android's if you need). That's enough to keep your grandparents safe from installing crapware. Apple fighting tooth and nail against any possible installer, sideloading, rooting, whatnot, that's purely for the power, control and financial benefit of Apple and "their" ecosystem.

I put quotes around "their" just to remind that this ecosystem is made up by hundreds of millions of users, too. Yes Apple holds a singular power over this ecosystem but that power mostly boils down to the ability to wreck it for any particular group of participants. That's not ownership unless you want to claim that humans own the coral reefs, too.


Imagine you had a laptop or desktop where you could only install apps that were approved by the hardware manufacturer or os developer. Would you really be ok with that?

If not, how is it any different from the phone?


And that was part of the advantage of the phone. I’m not cleaning crapware and viruses from my parents and children’s phones and tablets every six months.

Do you feel that console makers shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what runs on their devices? Yes physical discs still have to be approved by the console maker. It’s been that way for 30 years.


> Do you feel that console makers shouldn’t be allowed to dictate what runs on their devices? Yes physical discs still have to be approved by the console maker. It’s been that way for 30 years.

Yes of course. Either allow the user full control of the hardware they apparently own, or call it what it really is, renting.


So is that also the case for my exercise equipment, my TV, my car, my car radio, my cable box, my printer, etc?


I'd say that the person in favor of restricting someone's use of their own hardware needs to come up with the argument in support of that, not the other way around.

You could have an argument in the case of a car, for safety. Cable box perhaps, but I'd say that should probably be considered a case of renting hardware for it to really make sense.

Car radio or printer, etc? Nothing comes to mind.


a laptop is not a tablet, a tablet is not a phone, a phone is not a watch; that’s part of apple’s philosophy behind how their devices work together. knock it all you want (and there are legitimate criticisms), but it works remarkably well and makes all these devices feel like they have a natural place and purpose

*EDIT: i’m not saying “place and purpose” is a reason why macos and ios have different security models, but just pointing out that “why is a laptop different to a phone” is not reeeeeeally a particularly valid place to start


They're both computers. One is smaller than the other, therefore it shouldn't allow you to run whatever apps you want? That's a ridiculous idea.


> it works remarkably well and makes all these devices feel like they have a natural place and purpose

Um really those are artificial, not natural. The nature of the devices is that they're still general purpose computers, the artificial restrictions on them give them an artificial place and purpose. It's still a thing, but Apple isn't magically altering reality.


What does the site the app is downloaded from have to do with security? The app is either signed, or it isn't.

Apple is simply erecting gratuitous roadblocks for rent-seeking purposes.


While I agree that the percentage that Apple takes per sale is too high, I completely disagree with the term 'vendor Tax'. While it's fine as a fun synonym, it's problematic as soon as people start to think about it as an actual Tax. It's not a Tax, it's the amount of money the vendor/platform owner wants to make for every sale. You can opt-out (by not being on the platform, still a choice!) if you want to. But because it's bad for the bottom-line of most companies to do so, they position themselves as a sad little broken bird that gets stomped around by the big bad corp. Newsflash: they all are generic money making capitalistic institutions that on the business side exclusively exist to make money. For profit. For doing things, any thing, to make money. That goes for Spotify and Apple just the same.

On the side of 'level playing field' they do of course still have a point, just like all the anti-trust stuff we had/have with Microsoft and Google. It does make me wonder a bit why this hasn't been involving other companies like Amazon and Facebook. (or, why it hasn't been suggested as widely as it is now)

I do wonder about the technical aspect of those store denials and watchOS problems; other streaming services do not face the same issues/pressue, so what makes spotify so special? They app is a bit crappy (it's not very good at maintaining/restoring state and doesn't have the most consistent UI), but other than that, it doesn't do much different things when compared to others (like Deezer or Tidal). Putting it as a "Apple Music vs. Spotify" thing is a bit weird too; while it might make sense, it doesn't make sense if it's just that and all the other streaming and buying services are free to do what they want. It's weird stuff.


> Putting it as a "Apple Music vs. Spotify" thing is a bit weird too; while it might make sense, it doesn't make sense if it's just that and all the other streaming and buying services are free to do what they want. It's weird stuff.

Isn't Spotify just the biggest one by a large margin?

Because frankly I never heard of Deezer or Tidal, and everyone I know that uses a music streaming service is on Spotify or, rarely, iTunes (or Apple Music? is that a rebrand or is it a new thing?)


> It's not a Tax, it's the amount of money the vendor/platform owner wants to make for every sale. You can opt-out (by not being on the platform, still a choice!) if you want to.

And I can opt out of selling things in Idaho if I don't want to pay their sales tax. I don't understand the distinction you're making at all.


If you don't sell in Idaho, you lose that market. If you don't sell on Apple's platform, you lose that market. The issue is a combination of the "tax" and the market dominance of these two companies.


...okay? I'm asking why oneplane completely disagrees with using the word "tax" here.


It kinda applies, depending.

If you consider the Appstore/iOS ecosystem to be Apple's "land", then sure that 30% is like the tax for having a presence in that land.

That's the classic meaning of "tax".

However, nowadays, in most civilised countries we expect more of "tax". We expect it to not simply flow to whoever holds power over the land (ecosystem), for them to use for profit, projecting power and keeping it. We expect the tax instead to largely be invested in things that benefit the people paying it (users). In fact, the more this happens, instead of going to the rulers, the nicer a place to live (in general).

Now one the one hand Apple is doing a pretty good job with things that benefit the users: they get security and some privacy. On the other hand, as a tax, it's fair to ask whether that 30% is really necessary for these benefits or just for lining Apple's pockets. An additional thing, looking at it pragmatically, whatever Apple's doing to Spotify doesn't seem to be in the user's benefit at all. But then, they don't pay tax. So that points to the 30% being significantly more than the tax required to benefit the users.

It seems to me that Apple should lower this tax to a rate that Spotify is willing to pay and put up with.

Thing is, Apple is not really like a modern government to its users. They are a "if you don't like it, just leave"-ocracy. So when they put up a "public" service (Apple Music), that undercuts commercial services (Spotify), it is NOT in the benefit of the people (users) like a public transport system would be. This is because the undercutting is purely based on the tax-cut, not because it's more efficient to do it as a public service rather than a commercial one.


Using the word 'tax' here is like calling anything that you need to pay for 'tax'. If you put a bit of money in a vending machine to buy some chocolate, you don't call that vending machine tax, do you?

If you were to scope it to 'services' or 'platform', then perhaps we should call virtual hosting cost not cost but tax :p and if you rent a movie, that'd then be movie tax, or rental tax? But what about actual tax, are we going to call that tax tax? Because at this point people just start using the word tax for every generic transaction.


In your vending machine example, it is a transaction, not a tax, as you implied and I agree. However Apple taking cut of app's revenue is awfully a lot like corporate tax.


In that case are transaction fees for credit cards also tax? Or PayPal fees for that matter? Or fees for using platforms like eBay and Aliexpress?


Yes, I'd call any small mostly-percentage-based transaction fee that a platform imposes a "tax" or "platform tax".


I mean, you don't have to download apps through a website if you don't want to.

It is everyone's full legal right to do whatever they want with their phone. Including downloading apps from websites.


Can I download apps for game consoles through a website?


No and that's a bad thing. Generally the ability to do so (or side-loading in general) has been to the public benefit. Think building a Playstation supercomputer cluster, debugging /modding games and of course the ability to use the things for general purpose (or media centre).

It's just that consoles never have been nearly as popular to make a stink about it. I never bought a console because of exactly this limitation: I can do anything with a computer, why would I buy a neutered computer as well? And that was fine. Because you don't need a console. But you do need a smartphone. And the choice is Android or iPhone, and the usage is about 50/50. So when the iPhone is shut tight, that's a much bigger deal.


No and that's a bad thing. Generally the ability to do so (or side-loading in general) has been to the public benefit.

There is 30 years worth of malware, ransomware spyware and viruses on PCs to show that most of the public hasn’t benefited from being able to download freely.


You have the legal right to do so, yes. You'd have to probably jailbreak your console, which is also your full legal right to do so.


There is nothing legally stopping you from doing the same thing for iOS and you can become an iOS developer much cheaper than a Gabe developer.


Legally, yes, you also have the right to do this in iOS.

Unfortunately, Apple often disagrees. They have tried to make multiple frivolous lawsuits against people doing exactly this, over the years.

Sometimes it doesn't matter what your rights are, if a company is willing to spend a bunch of money trying to submit illegal lawsuits to bankrupt you.


Citations?


A Citation that Apple wanted to criminalize jailbreaking?

Here you go: https://consumerist.com/2009/02/14/apple-wants-to-make-jailb...

That is a clear example of a bad actor.


What is "should"? Who determines should, aside from what the law currently says?

Maybe I'm uninformed, but it doesn't appear to me that access to an app store and the terms of such access (which by the way didn't even exist almost 10 years ago) is a public utility or good with an expectation of equal access or certain fair pricing.

Then, under what right does anyone claim that Apple (or any ecosystem platform) has to do anything beyond what is regulated in the payment and terms of operation? What makes your 30% price the right call? If you're an app developer, are you equally ok with someone else determining what you get to charge for your app when you're done with it? Isn't that the same (lack of) logic?


the fact that I, a software developer by trade, can't install or run any code on an ios device without running something by apple first.

that's like tesla releasing a car saying if you are a lawyer who wants to drive it you have to pay them 100k a year plus 30% of what you earn, or are "free" to drive another car (even if theirs is the fastest/safest/best-for-price in the market.)

or, now, can obtain a "provisional" license to drive it that expires weekly, with the same option to pay yearly for an annual license - these are all artificial barriers. installing software has up till now always been as simple as owning the device you're running it on and running the appropriate commands, these artificual barriers introduced by apple ensure anyone wanting to do so has to check in to see if it's okay with them.


No, your analogy oversimplifies the situation, just like that old joke about airlines selling paint for different prices.

Apple or Google's app store isn't a blank / open space where you entered an agreement that you have right to do anything you want. Just because you want to not run your code by Apple every time doesn't mean you have the right to do it.

There is no expectation that you have access to their hardware or software kit to do anything that you define. It's not like owning a car.

If the terms of your agreement are that you get time-limited / renewable access to a certain company's playground, what right do you have to insist that they change their terms, with recourse to what law?

There could be laws that decide that there should be open access. But there aren't. Why should this kind of lawsuit succeed in misinterpreting the law? The law can be rewritten, but until then I believe this effort should fail.


That's fine - I don't care about the App Store and what it offers, I just want some way to give users access to my app. Now what? Apple says "Fall in line if you want to access to our platform", I say "Thanks, but I'm not interested, I just want users to access my app somehow", but they can't and that's the crux of it. There are many legitimate apps banned from the app store, and that would be fine if the user could still install them outside of the app store. Consider the analogy of the toll bridge: if you don't want to pay, that's ok, go around. But Apple doesn't leave any alternative, and then in your argument you're putting words into peoples mouths and claiming they wanted to cross the toll bridge all along and they don't have a right to free (both literally and as in freedom) travel.

> There is no expectation

The expectation comes down to the owner of the device being allowed to have control over something they purchased, which in extension gives app developers freedom to target these users. This includes both hardware (right to repair), and software. It's completely valid, and repair, specifically, has been in news headlines months prior.


Again, that's not a correct analogy, and you're framing it like someone with deep feelings of entitlement to do what you want in the software world. That's creating a flawed argument in your logic and you're turning your desire into what you believe is legal. Or thinking that because you put work into something, someone else has to give you a forum to get paid for that work.

Actually your bridge analogy is apt, but in a way that works against your argument.

Toll bridges aren't required to have an alternate way around just because you think you have a right to go there for free by some alternative method.

Staten Island is only accessible by toll bridge. Entry to San Francisco from the north or east is only accessible by toll bridge.

Regardless, Apple built an island and a toll bridge that allows crossing for a fee. There is no entitlement in law that says you have the right to get to that island without paying what Apple charges because you think that would be "fair".


What argument do you have to support not letting users run whatever software they'd like on hardware they own?

And in extension to that, paying other people for software that they'd like to run and don't mind paying for, which is not sold through e.g. the App Store.

I'm legitimately interested in this, because I cannot see any reason why a user shouldn't be able to run any software they'd like on their own hardware, and/or pay for it however they want.


If you can't see any reason why a user isn't able to run any software they'd like on hardware they've purchased, then you need to educate yourself. Because the reason is that the contract you have with the hardware manufacturer and the terms of use do not allow you to. And there is no contradictory law or regulation that trumps that agreement.

Just because you might disagree with that contract, it doesn't change the rules. Your ability and expectation to run software of your choosing on your computer doesn't mean you have the same ability on a phone.

I could ask you, why don't you complain that even on an Android phone, you're not allowed to tinker with the baseband chip and broadcast whatever you want over the air. "Why can't I be allowed to do that? It's my right." Nope. It is not.

This is just an extension of that principle. In some other state or country the rules may be set up differently that consumer rights (however those are defined) take precedence over commercial regulations. But not here. Public opinion and law might someday change. Until then, don't confuse what you think should be with what is. It will not do you credit.

You're expressing wishes. I'm expressing facts.


> If you can't see any reason why a user isn't able to run any software they'd like on hardware they've purchased, then you need to educate yourself. Because the reason is that the contract you have with the hardware manufacturer and the terms of use do not allow you to. And there is no contradictory law or regulation that trumps that agreement.

I did not sign a contract relinquishing my rights to execute whatever code I like when I purchased my phone. Does one have to do that with an iPhone?

If you do, shouldn't it be called an applePhone, not an iPhone? If you cannot control what code is executed by the cpu, it is really more Apple's phone than your own.


I'm going to take my leave from this thread after this post, as it's kind of like talking to a wall at this point. I get nothing out of it.

You don't naturally have any expectations of a right to run whatever code you want on a phone. There is nowhere written in law or regulation that you have such a "right". So there is no such right to give up.

Apple enters into an agreement with you to give you a phone with certain capabilities. Control of what code is executed by the phone is not included in your capabilities. End of story.


That's what I wanted to know, and hearing that I'm glad I've never been interested in an apple phone.

> You don't naturally have any expectations of a right to run whatever code you want on a phone. There is nowhere written in law or regulation that you have such a "right". So there is no such right to give up.

Plenty of things that you naturally have a right to do aren't written in a law. Is there a law saying you can browse and post on hackernews on your computer?


This reminds me of a joke from my childhood.

USA: If not prohibited by law, you can do.

Taiwan: If prohibited by law, you still can do.

China: Even if allowed by law, you can't do.


> Because the reason is that the contract you have with the hardware manufacturer and the terms of use do not allow you to. And there is no contradictory law or regulation that trumps that agreement.

You are simply answering the question "Why are things this way?" with a tautological "because this is the way it is." Whether or not the status quo will change in the future, it must always start with someone questioning it.


The car analogy doesn't help that much here; plenty of cars work in that fashion. Not the average consumer car of course, but again, even then a company is free to do so. Might hurt their business, where at Apple it's not a problem because they make plenty of money.

I think that is where part of the problem lies: you can choose to do something with the platform or you can leave it alone. Seeing it as an 'I must do something with the platform' is rather strange considering it is a private, non-public platform in the sense that it has an owner and the owner is free to make whatever rules they want to as long as it is within the boundaries of the law (i.e. you can't require use of a platform to be paid with organs :p ).


the fact that I, a software developer by trade, can't install or run any code on an ios device without running something by apple first.

If I were a game developer could I install any software on my game console?

that's like tesla releasing a car saying if you are a lawyer who wants to drive it you have to pay them 100k a year plus 30% of what you earn, or are "free" to drive another car (even if theirs is the fastest/safest/best-for-price in the market.)

Let’s not make an analogy. Can I install any software on the computers in my Tesla?


I was about to argue with this and rage against Apple, but then I remembered a very similar situation everyone deals with and no one complains about: Supermarket Generics.

"How is it fair for Price Chopper to undercut Rice Crispies with a similar, cheaper product?" no on says this...


Because your choice of phone brand does not tie you to a specific grocery where you can buy rice crispies. You can simply cross the street and shop at a competing grocery.


Yeah, theres different smart phones just like theres different grocery stores


If I go to a different grocery store, I can get products that are compatible with everything else I own.

If we go with the store=phone analogy, then somehow my brand A flour and my brand B milk are magnetically repulsed and I can't make pancakes. It's not good for consumers.


There are some extra levels to this. Imagine a country where there is only one supermarket chain allowed. In that case there is no competition and no choice for consumers.

Before you should people should simply switch phones: you can switch phones, but you can't take the apps you bought with you. And even if you switch: there's only one real alternative: Android. If Apple is allowed their 30% cut on literally everythig, why wouldn't Google do the same?

This way you end up with only 2 App stores, 2 Music and 2 Movie streaming services.


I believe Google does take a cut on literally everything!

We do have only two app stores. Apple and Google just haven't managed to kill all the competing Music & Movie services. They'd love to!


Google doesn't require all app installs to run through the play store. In fact, the OS allows for other app stores to automatically install and update apps. The Play Store may be the only option preinstalled on devices, but anyone can download and install third party apps, and if you're rooted or writing a custom rom you can create/use your own app store. See the fdroid privileged extension for an example of an alternate app store that allows background installs similar to the play store. Alternate app stores in general include the Amazon app store for Android.


because people have had a longer amount of time to understand food. hang in there, my friend :)


Try telling the IRS you think their tax rates are too high. Apple owns the sandbox with the most valuable customers and if you want to play in it you gotta pay. Personally I love letting Apple handle my subscriptions and subscribing through iTunes is one of the things it does well.


Do you think apple's subscription feature is worth paying 30% more for spotify?

Do you think spotify should just suck it up and take the hit to keep prices the same because apple is providing a service (access and subscription handling) worth 30% of the price? Not even Amazon charges that much.

I don't know if the anti-competitive practices mentioned are illegal, but they're certainly scummy. The company that owns the walled garden shouldn't be bullying spotify to try and prop apple music up.


What if Apple Music is for free? Should be Apple be punished then, like MS for IE being free?


Then Apple is using its success in one market (Selling phones) to price-dump in another market (music).

It would be the poster child of an anti-trust case.


Does this view still apply if Apple considers the music subscription as part of the product/device?

Consider the countless users that, perhaps rightfully, argue that Apple should include more than 5 GB of iCloud storage for backups, user data, etc. That could be considered part of the product while it still competes in a different market with Dropbox and similar services.


Yes. Or do what everyone else does and negotiate a lower rate. The simplicity of in app transactions is great and offering that to customers makes a lot of sense. I’m More likely to keep a subscription if it’s through iTunes; it also makes moving to new devices super easy as all I have to do is login with my iTunes account and all my subscriptions are there or that and hit restore purchases and boom I’m done.


What they need to do is split off the new competing services into a walled corporation (even new entity). And they play fair by the rules, so 30% tax even to them.


Not sure if you know how enterprises work.

But it is standard practice for divisions to bill other divisions for work. I would be almost certain that Apple Music is already paying the 30% tax however since it’s internal it doesn’t really make a difference. Likewise splitting into a new entity does not change anything.


It changes a lot, since as an independent entity Apple Music (for example) is answerable to its own investors and board of directors, including having the pressure to be profitable. Right now Apple can subsidize them for as long as they force all competitors out.


With said company owned by apple and paying apple for licensing fees that just so happen to be equivalent to its yearly rev.

That's easy enough to circumvent.


Not sure that I completely follow your logic in regards to the "tax" here. With any product, you have two main things: production of the product and distribution of the product. Spotify doesn't NEED to be on Apple devices (they started off on the web), but they WANT to be on Apple devices (and Android devices) because they are great distribution channels for its product.

That said, how much is distribution worth to Spotify? Imagine that Spotify was not software, but instead it was a hardware device. Would they expect Best Buy to carry it for free? Would they expect Walmart or Target not to offer a store branded competitor? I think not.

When you don't own your distribution channel, you pay for distribution one way or another.


Mobile OS's are more than just a "distribution channel" though, because there's a significant amount of lock-in that prevents customers from buying your software from another distributor even if they want to. I think a better metaphor is like this:

A billion people live in a company town ("Appleville"). When they first decided to move there, they paid a lot of money to buy a house there, and in return they get access to all the benefits the town offers - nicely-built houses, well-maintained streets, and access to lots of public services. Because living in the town is so nice, houses there cost a lot more than they do in other areas.

While you live in the town, you've signed a contract that says you're only allowed to buy things from one store owned by the town's developer. Most popular items are available at the store, so it's never too much of an inconvience, but sometimes things are more expensive than they are in other towns, or they aren't available at all.

Every time you drive into the town, you get stopped, and a bunch of guards search your car. If they find anything in your car that you didn't buy from them, they take it, and you can't have it back.

If you ever do want to leave the town, not only will you have to buy a house somewhere else (and your existing house will be worth a lot less than what you paid for it), but you're not allowed to take any of the stuff in your house with you - it all just disappears forever.

Now imagine you're a new company trying to sell a product, and the store owner won't let you sell your product in their town for some reason (you aren't paying them enough, it violates one of their rules, etc.) Even if the people living inside the town want your product, they can't buy it unless they completely uproot their life and move somewhere else, which no one is willing to do. And so the town owner is able to kill your product, and prevent it from ever being a threat to them. (Meanwhile, the town owner copies your product and starts selling it in the store themselves).


The practice of stores like Walmart strongarming producers into reducing prices and quality is a well established problem with a number of articles and documentaries around it already.

In either case the difference between a store doing this and Apple doing this is that Best Buy is not the one of two practical ways to access the product, and consumers are not compelled to go only to Best Buy simply because they chose to go there once.

Figuring out the proper practices for phone app markets is difficult right now, because we really can't compare them to anything that already exists. Physical markets just aren't the same thing.


> I believe for some categories like microtransaction based apps Apple should take maybe 5%.

And then every PAID app will switch to FREE and charge for PRO, to circumvent the 30%. Oh, Apple complained it’s not technically a microtransaction? Fine, just separate every feature into a new purchase.

> If the only function of the App Store (or Play Store) is to provide hosting and some quality control then I don't see why apps can't be hosted on a secure website from the vendor

If the vendor server is compromised or is down, a download from the App Store won’t work for a single app, leaving customers confused and complaining to Apple, who can’t fix the issue.


> And then every PAID app will switch to FREE and charge for PRO, to circumvent the 30%.

Then make it 30% of the first 20 or 30 dollars, and 5% or less after. That more than pays for Apple's verification work without letting them gouge repeat payments.


How many apps on the store sell for over $5 let alone $30?


That's the point, yeah. For the vast majority of apps the 30% cut remains exactly the same, with no loopholes.

But if you're dealing with a $100+ per year subscription, the fee goes down to a modest processing cost.


That’s sort of true for the app itself - if the Trello API is down then the Trello app doesn’t work.


Most people know the difference.

App doesn’t download - Apple’s fault.

App doesn’t work - App developer’s fault.


I believe it is not the problem of 30% cuts. It is the Problem of Anti-Competitive behaviour when you have a competing services without the cost of cuts.

This is not the same as Amazon offering their own label in their Store. Customers could shop in dozens of many other online retail or local retail. And Amazon does not charge other label 30% cut for stocking fees.

I believe Apple should charge a fair amount only when they have a competing product or services within its locked system. Had Apple Charge 15% for the first year on Spotify and 10% for all subsequent subscription it would have been much better. I don't believe the 5% would work, as I have seen many saying 5% should be enough. The cost of running microtransaction, processing, billing, legal, etc are just about break even at 5% even in the scale of Apple. I don't see charging 10% would seem unfair. ( In US at least, in EU the processing fees are much much lower )

Or Apple should never have made Apple Music in the first place. I still don't see any value in Apple offering it. iTunes was required for iPod. And it changes the whole music industry as a whole, along with iPod sold which ultimately saved Apple. No one will buy iPhone because of Apple Music, and Apple Music itself isn't even profitable.


This opens up a wide host of negative side-effects including the extreme ease of malware. I'd say the #1 value proposition for the App Store, and why most iOS users prefer it, is the guarantee of virus-free programs.


Why don't Apple/Google ensure AV/Malware protection is a default app? Why do we depend on Apple/Google protecting us from these big bad apps?

If not Apple/Google controlling it directly, I'd imagine there would be a reasonable market for malware/AV providers on mobiles, if not solutions provided by Apple/Google.


More to the point, why do you act as if malware protection has ever been effective and not just a resource drain?


"then it should waive the tax altogether. It's only fair."

They've still got to at least cover bandwidth (minor) and payment processing.


If the only function of the App Store (or Play Store) is to provide hosting and some quality control then I don't see why apps can't be hosted on a secure website from the vendor - as far as I'm aware, Apple requires you have some sort of website anyway.

Because that worked so well for Windows with malware,viruses, and ransomware.


Apple should take no cut, and profit only from the sale of hardware. By taking cut on software they are double dipping. Good software makes the phone more valuable for users and drives phone sales.


A lower cut?

Why not only allow to use their payment system?


DOJ - SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME (SORRY FOR CAPS) HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM USA vs. MICROSOFT (besides the obvious).


Apple did the same thing to Kindle for iPhone back when it launched.

We submitted the original version to Apple with a fully functioning store built into it—and were then stuck in submission limbo. Two weeks later, Apple announces their intent to build in-app purchasing.

The kicker: Apple wanted a 30% cut of every book sold on the store …and at the same time, had negotiated with book publishers that the publishers MUST sell all books at a 30% margin on ALL stores if they want to sell their books via Apple's own ebook store.

Aka we couldn't sell books at an increased cost, even if we wanted to. We would have had to take a loss on every purchase.

In the end, we had to remove all of the store functionality from the app, and weren't even allowed to link people directly to the web store for purchasing (or even instructions for purchasing).


Even crazier, Apple in some cases forces apps that use webviews to block out links to the Kindle Store that would normally appear. My iOS app [1] has speed reading and accessibility features that we overlay on websites, including the Kindle Cloud Reader.

Apple wouldn't approve our app until we blocked the Kindle Store button from loading on the Kindle Cloud Reader website. It never occurred to me that Apple would try to exercise control over how third-party websites are rendered inside webviews, but it turns out they do.

1: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beeline-reader/id938026867?m...


> It never occurred to me that Apple would try to exercise control over how third-party websites are rendered inside webviews, but it turns out they do

Wow. I'm not sure why this isn't all over the tech press. Apple forcing developers to modify third party websites is way, way over the line of what I would call ethical.

I'm generally an Apple fan, but this is nothing more than unrestrained corporate greed.

Disgusting.


Yeah I generally try not to make waves that could cause us issues for App Store review, for obvious reasons. And I didn't really mind taking out the button since it wouldn't have generated revenue for us (we don't have an Amazon affiliate account). It just struck me as weird that Apple was trying to edit the web, so to speak.


It wasn't just Kindle. There were dozens of really high quality book reading apps that either sold old or hard to find books, comics, or even mangas. All of them evaporated over night once Apple forced the 30% cut. I'm still very bitter about that move.

Apple even went as far as making some Steve Jobsian rule that you had to sell your book for the same price on the web as you did in-app. So you couldn't make up for the 30% cut. That was a pure bad-faith move and Apple only recently rescinded that requirement.


For others reading this comment: “recently” as in “several years ago”, i.e. not do recently, that rule was rather short-lived.


My dad has had iPads since the first one, and it is still jarring for him to not be able to just click a "store" button in the Kindle app. (I believe it used to have a webview for the store built-in; I do not use the Kindle app)

He was very confused when it disappeared. I imagine most users feel this way. I had to coach my mom to sign up for Pandora on the website so she saved a couple bucks a month, and it was baffling to her why it costed more in the app.


Agreed. I am very aware of Apple policies on this regard and anything discussed in this thread, but still two weeks ago I wandered around in the Amazon app looking for 10 minutes on how to buy a book in Kindle version... then I realized I had to switch to Safari for that.

This is confusing for users.


boy, that kind of "deep regulation" into UX design from a single arbitrary company should be illegal regardless.

people bought apple hardware and the operating system, not voted them the unilateral governing body on consumer choice in that platform. one should not be taken to imply the other.


IMO this is a problem with the shareholder-driven corporate structure. Corporations have a fiduciary responsibility to maximize value to their shareholders, and they have to show continual growth in order to see share prices continue to increase, which often leads to ant-consumer practices once organic growth becomes difficult.

Apple's a perfect example of this: they have a long history of making high-quality hardware products loved by consumers at an immense scale with high margins. In a more rational world, that would be "enough", and even if their revenue fluctuated somewhat from year to year, they could still easily support their activities and pay out generous dividends while focusing only on their core competency.

Instead we live in a world where a small drop in demand for a single product based on extrinsic market forces leads to a slew of articles heralding an "end of Apple". So they prioritize service revenue, and continue to squeeze more and more value out of every revenue stream which flows through their products.

It's insane that this is seen as necessary for a company which basically prints money, and sits inside a massive moat of wealth greater than the GDP of many nations.


I've never actually owned one, but did the iphone ever allow users to install arbitrary apps (without jailbreaking, of course)?


No it did not.


Yeah, it was supremely frustrating for us. The original store experience was fully native, and still a far better experience than what the app has today :(


Could they put: Apple Users: Upgrade.

Then on the payment page:

- Spotify fee: $9.99.

- Apple's cut: $3.33. (When purchased through the app, save online).

- Total: $13.32 > [Purchase Button]


Probably would be deemed to violate the Guidline that "You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase."


This is why I'll never 'purposefully' own an apple product. I made a client buy me an iphone to test out their ios builds from (I'm the api/backend dev), I'll probably someday do react native stuff/cross platform and might cringefully get a cheap old mac just to build the ios app, but I'll do it begrudging the whole way to the app store..lol


Your post makes the case for itself, 30% of $13.32 is not $3.33. As Spotify raised their price to counter the apple fee, the also had to give 30% of that raise.

To get $9.99 (for the first year at the 30% rate) it'd be

Spotify fee: $9.99 Apple fee: $4.28 Total: $14.27

When they were charging $12.99 on iOS Spotify was only taking home $9.09 and Apple getting $3.87.

Really goes to show the insanity. Apple probably made more from a Spotify user than an Apple music user. (Of course, they're happy to have an Apple music user for the increased lock in.)

(But as others point out, Spotify showing this almost certainly wouldn't be permitted by Apple).


I miss this feature from Pandora. It used to let you buy an album on iTunes or Amazon, but they eventually removed that feature.


I'll feel sorry for Kindle when their devices support EPUB files.



> Kindle for iPhone

You put a walled garden... in another walled garden.

On a more serious note: I get it; among Apple users are the most happily paying people that you can find on this planet and if you have a product you want to make it available to them. No wonder they think it their right to take a massive 30% cut.


An important thing is that the Kindle walled garden is an abstract free program that can be installed into most devices. It doesn't try to push the customer around. There are very different types of garden out there.


Amazon very much tries to push publishers around. How is what Amazon does to publishers any different than Apple?


Publishers being bullied by Amazon can go somewhere else and reach the same consumers, for the most part. It's intertwined with how much the consumers are being bullied.

In the case of e-ink kindles it's sort of the same problem, but the kindle app is available on many platforms so it reduces the harm by a lot.


In this case Kindle is the platform and it’s far more dominant in its market than iOS is. The book publishers had to conform to Amazon’s terms.

https://www.dailyherald.com/article/20140608/business/140609...

The disagreement spilled into public view last month when Amazon tried to dissuade its customers from buying Hachette titles on its website, removing discounts from some books or delaying shipments by as much as five weeks when items typically ship within three to five days. By refusing to buckle under the pressure, Hachette is leading the charge for publishers' fight against Amazon.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/02/amazon-greedy-...

Besides, how far will a book publisher get if they can’t sell on Amazon.


Most of that's talking about physical books, which isn't really relevant here.

Also screw a lot of those publishers. They were demanding control over the price amazon sells at, which should be none of their business. Lawmakers need to fix the first sale doctrine for digital goods.

> Besides, how far will a book publisher get if they can’t sell on Amazon.

If they can't sell on kindle they should be fine.


So did you read the other article about how much Amazon charges in fees for small publishers and the demands it places on them?

So you don’t care about publishers of physical books who according to one of the articles actually go negative because of the “Amazon tax” but you do care about software developers who can’t sell loot boxes without a 30% cut going to Apple

What do you think is Amazon’s motive for selling Kindle books below cost if it isn’t to kill competition just to raise prices later?


Or in other words: Apple users are the product that Apple sells to publishers, for 30%?


At least the Kindle and Kindle app can read books from other sources, they don't force you to buy from Amazon.


Can you clarify what you mean by "At least"? It looks like you might be implying that Apple's Books app forces you to buy books from Apple book store.


The Kindle iPhone app still doesn't even link you to the website so you can buy books does it? It only looks like I can add it to a "list" that I assume I can view in the browser and then purchase.


Apps are not allowed to link the website for purchasing. That's one of Apple's rules.

https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#in-...

> Apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.


Now I have this wild supposition that every time I see an

<add it to your wish list!>

button it is so that Apple won't fall on you like a ton of bricks for suggesting I can buy things outside their store.


Amazon played the victim here but book publishers preferred Apple’s model to Amazon selling their books at a loss to keep competitors out and to boost sales of the Kindle.


As a user this is infuriating, I remember spending a good chunk of time trying to figure out how to get book on the Kindle app :/


Same with Audible. I was sitting in an airport, after finishing my last book, spending so much time trying to figure out how to buy a book through the app on my phone. Was so confused.


I've used the Kindle app ever since it launched, and have followed this fiasco. The trouble for someone like me is I would rather purchase my content from Amazon since I can read it on any device, not just an apple device.

p.s. Do you know how I would go about recommending someone add the ability to have green or amber text on the black background?


This is possible in the iOS app that I built [1], which accesses your Kindle library through the Kindle Cloud Reader web app and injects a javascript that allows advanced coloring options. This is used primarily to enable our line-wrapping color gradients, which facilitate visual tracking, but you can also add colors without the gradients. Here are some screenshots of green/black [2] and amber(ish)/black [3]. The app is free to download and this feature has a free trial so you can see how it works. You can also use our Chrome/Firefox/Brave extension [4] for reading on the computer.

Unfortunately we cannot build a similar tool for Android, as Amazon blocks the Kindle Cloud Reader on all Android devices (including the Kindle Fire).

1: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/beeline-reader/id938026867?m...

2: https://imgur.com/a/nFzLNIs

3: https://imgur.com/a/52kEvi5

4: https://www.beelinereader.com


> p.s. Do you know how I would go about recommending someone add the ability to have green or amber text on the black background?

If you're on Android:

1. go to Settings -> Info -> About

2. Draw a lowercase h on the screen (anywhere), and you'll see a "special color mode enabled", and should get amber on black. another letter gives you green on black, but I forget which :( . There's a bunch of hidden color combinations there :)

I'm not sure that exists on iOS, though

---

For requesting it: help & feedback -> contact us -> give feedback is your best bet. I'm out of touch w/ the Kindle team, but at least several years ago many of the devs would obsessively read customer feedback (that wasn't deemed sensitive/PII)


Wow - could not find any other details about this (my google skills are poor?)

Great tip.

Any idea some where to to find the other hidden combinations ?


I don't think it's actually been advertised anywhere - welcome to a very small group of cool kids ;)


This is the coolest easter egg I have heard about in a bigco mobile app.


Also: there were multiple ebook readers on the store at the time that were already selling books in-app. Several stopped development, others removed their in-app store.

I suspect we (Kindle) we're either the trigger for the in-app purchasing store, or really accelerated plans around it.


I wasted so much time trying to figure out how to get books in the iOS kindle app. When I finally figured out that I had to use my laptop, I was still confused at so why the iOS app was not saying anything about anything.


Technically you can use your iPad/iPhone, but you have to use a web browser instead of the Kindle app. A funny thing happens when you do — the website redirects you to the Amazon app, which then redirects you back to the website. Honestly, I don't know how Amazon does purchasing through the Amazon app without giving 30% to Apple, but it seems that they don't let you purchase books this way.


The 30% fee only applies to digital goods, not physical ones. It's part of why there's all the awkward hoops that the main amazon app goes through when you run into digital goods, but everything else is mostly sane


If that's the case, could Spotify work around this by mailing something to the customer every month (like a "Certificate of Subscription")? That way it'd technically be a physical good.


I imagine that would be insufficient to transform the purchase into that of a physical good. Might have a chance if it were a physical widget (USB key?) that you plug into your computer or phone to validate your subscription. Even that is walking the line, since you're arguably still buying a digital good, albeit one that is activated/confirmed via a hardware key.


So if I were to buy a sheet of paper from Amazon every month, that wouldn't be a physical good?

Or is the rule that the physical good can't be accompanied by anything beyond the physical object itself? If that's the case, then is Amazon not allowed to sell items via its iOS app if those items come with warranties?

Or what about video games? If Amazon is allowed to sell physical copies of them, then can Spotify go full-AOL-mode and send a CD with a Spotify installer on it every month?


Apple is not a robot. And they're already interpreting vague text against spotify wherever they can.

If you want a better answer, if a large percent of amazon app purchases became physical objects tied to upgrades you can use on your iPhone, then they would also get the hammer.

Precedent doesn't matter here, the rules will adapt to whatever is needed to require that 30% cut. (Unless Apple changes their mind first.)


My point is that we can get to a point where the only way Apple can actually enforce such a rule consistently is by forcing itself into the process of purchasing physical goods and dictating what physical goods can and cannot be sold.

More importantly: the more Apple tries to react to these tactics, the more evidence in favor of Spotify's case. It's a classic case of squeezing sand so hard that it slips through your fingers.


> My point is that we can get to a point where the only way Apple can actually enforce such a rule consistently is by forcing itself into the process of purchasing physical goods and dictating what physical goods can and cannot be sold.

Okay, you forced them into having a rule about an exceptionally niche category of physical goods. They already ban the sale of firearms, so this isn't even new. It causes them no problems.

> More importantly: the more Apple tries to react to these tactics, the more evidence in favor of Spotify's case. It's a classic case of squeezing sand so hard that it slips through your fingers.

Not when they're so obviously looking for a loophole. It would hurt Spotify's reputation more than Apple.


It's not that niche of a category, though. Any sale of a physical good with a warranty or separate registration process or "cloud" features or any other non-physical good/service that's tied to that physical good would be caught up in this. That's a pretty broad category.

Even if we wanted to stick to a narrow category of "subscription to a service that entails shipping physical media devices on a subscription", there are other apps in that category (though I don't know if they do let you actually sign up via the app): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dvd-netflix/id1169772776

Spotify could do something similar and pivot into the music rental business, kinda like an inverse Netflix. Whether that'd actually be better than just paying the 30% App Store tax is another question, of course :)


Apple makes the rules; and they're mostly concerned about digital marketplaces that _could_ operate purely via IAP


Which is especially unfortunate, since most Kindle users want this feature and (probably) frequently request it, not knowing that Amazon's hand is forced.


Apple doesn’t always get 30%. You can buy iTunes gift cards 20% off. Amazon can take 90% by selling iTunes gift cards used to buy through App Store.


I don't get this. Can you elaborate? So you're saying because I bought an iTunes gift card that was $100 for $80, Apple will only ever get $10 of my actual dollars if I spend all $100? This is an interesting hack.


The claims in here are pretty wild, particularly around how Apple has favored its own products:

- Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch

- It blocked Spotify from building apps for HomePod

- It blocked Spotify from building apps for Siri

- It blocks Spotify updates on a regular basis

- It blocked Spotify from using a podcasting API after it acquired 2x major podcasting companies

I genuinely hope Europe takes this seriously. The issue of the 30% cut alone is enough for further investigation, particularly as Apple now uses that as an advantage to undercut Spotify with Apple Music.


> - It blocked Spotify from using a podcasting API after it acquired 2x major podcasting companies

Interesting one since it is Spotify that is trying to close the currently open podcasting universe.

Let's not pretend that Spotify is either the white knight or the underdog here. This is two big companies negotiating over pricing.


Well Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, Spotify may not be a white knight but they're definitely an underdog.


I'd be more likely to consider Spotify an underdog if they weren't a VC-fueled, still-not-profitable startup.


I'd like to think comparing a VC-funded company to one of the largest public companies on earth the very definition of underdog.


Especially one that isn't currently making money, presumably if Apple wasn't engaging in anti-market strategies they would have more revenue.

How much, I have no clue - but if they can't even have a "get premium now" button in the app then that's insane to me. The 30% fee Apple would take isn't a real alternative either, it's still not profitable.


Spotify is public


> Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch

I'm not sure this is 100% true. From browsing the spotify support forums many moons ago, some guy had built a spotify playing app for the apple watch, but spotify squashed it. Given that some random dev could do this, it doesn't seem like apple prevented anything.


Counterargument: Apple's review process is more likely to let "some guy's" app slip through the cracks and make it in the App Store than the official app of one of its huge competitors with an install base of many, many, many millions of devices.


If I remember correctly the app wasn't on the app store (presumably because it couldn't get approved)


I have an install of Apollo for Spotify on my Apple Watch.

It streams Spotify directly without your phone and has a very flaky offline mode.

The developer tweeted that Spotify (not Apple) asked him to remove it four days after it reached the App Store.

I was lucky enough to get hold of it in that brief window and use it often.


And its frustrating because a company like Spotify surely isn't asking Apple ahead of time if they can build a watch app.


This is the correct answer. Some guy isnt Spotify. Apple wasnt going to let Spotify proper do it however they just dont care about Jim Bob tinkering.


Perhaps. No one has any evidence of this in this case though, so it sounds like you're just taking a side.

On the other hand Spotify did squash this guy's app. That's a thing that happened. So it's not like the APIs aren't there.

So now we're taking Spotify's word that Apple is keeping them off the app store, while ignoring the fact that said app is possible and they themselves have kept an app off the app store.

Sounds like PR bullshit all around.


True, I just offered a counterargument based on conjecture. So let's assume at least rational behavior on the part of Spotify. What do you think would be their rationale for not building a feature that would enhance their product and is desired by customers? What do they gain by blaming Apple for not building it? This isn't rhetorical... I think there are potential legitimate reasons they'd want to do this, I'm just curious about where your thinking is on this.


I _believe_ the issue here is some app developers were invited to visit Apple and (perhaps) get access to certain APIs that weren't going to be made available to normal app developers.

- If you're deep into iOS development you know that Apple apps - the ones shipped with the OS - sometimes do things that 3rd party apps aren't able to. For example the Music app gets to be the _default_ app to live in the control panel even if you hardly ever use it and are using Spotify most of the time.

- I believe - for the Apple Watch - some of the 3rd party apps which were already available on the day of the launch were a) invited to preview the Watch ahead of other developers and b) in some cases allowed to use undocumented APIs. Uber may be one example of this - https://www.macrumors.com/2017/10/05/uber-removing-apple-gra...

Apple has been inviting 3rd party developers to preview technologies for a while e.g. https://appleinsider.com/articles/16/06/17/apple-invites-dev... so it seems to be standard practice.

As I read this "Time to Play Fair" website, it looks to me like Spotify is complaining they weren't invited to these preview sessions and thereby didn't get to learn about / get permission to use undocumented APIs.

Of course IANAL


Spotify did not squash the random guy that made that app, they asked him to change the name and then hired him to work on the official app.


That was "Spotty". There was another in November called Apollo that Spotify squashed.


My read from the linked timeline is that Apple didn't block Spotify from the Apple Watch, but rather wouldn't provide the API necessary to Spotify for offline-mode.

I inferred this from the vague wording in the earlier points and the clarifications in the later points.

> When Apple launches their new Apple Watch, they dismiss our proposals and won’t work with us to develop an app for it.

Notice, they didn't say they were blocked. Also why would building an app for the watch necessitate a proposal to Apple that requires Apple to work with them directly? Wouldn't you instead build your app and submit it for approval? This is probably because the Apple Watch SDK didn't provide all the functionality Spotify wanted, and so Spotify was trying to get Apple to add new functionality to the SDK.

> We submit a new proposal for a streaming app directly on the Apple Watch. Apple declines

> With WatchOS 4, Apple continues to make it challenging for us to deliver a workable streaming solution for the Apple Watch

Again, doesn't say they were blocked, just that proposals were rejected and the provided functionality made it difficult/impossible to do what they wanted.

> With Watch OS 5, Apple allowed the Spotify team to start developing offline functionality

Was this the functionality Spotify was proposing for Apple to make possible all along? In other words, was this the missing part of the SDK that Spotify had kept proposing to Apple and having rejected (not the app itself, which they didn't want to build without this functionality)?

EDIT: I'm also not saying they didn't build the app and submit it and have it rejected. They just never actually say that in the timeline.


It's one thing to make an app, it's an entirely different thing to get it through the App Store review process.

Did that guy's app make it on the App Store? He could have easily built it with private APIs which would work but wouldn't pass review (maybe, App Review is very inconsistent) or many other reasons why he could and Spotify couldn't.


Spotify is available (on apple watch) now, for whatever that's worth... Took me about 2 minutes from reading the complaint to playing Spotify (already had an account) on my watch. That includes downloading from the store and then to the watch (which has in the past, with other apps, taken a while)


They state in their timeline that after many years Apple did allow Spotify.


Until last year there was not an API that allowed apps to download music to the local storage of the watch and play it back in the background.

https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2018/504/


> They state in their timeline that after many years Apple did allow Spotify.

This is a VERY different statement than the true one which is:

Apple didn't allow ANY streaming music (or audiobook, or podcast) apps on the watch due to not providing the API's. They didn't specifically block Spotify.


The Apple Watch has almost been available 4 years... In the first year and a half all apps were extremely limited. I'm not sure if that leaves "many" years for them to not allow Spotify.


If a random guy can make the app then Spotify could certainly have made an Apple Watch app.

If anything it makes the case that if it were so simple for a single random dev that unless Apple itself were preventing it there is no reason the app wouldn't have been released.


For god sake, it's about policy not tech inability! You don't even need to read the website to know that. WatchOS has APIs like iOS, it's not a matter of being 'hard' to program. It's because if you're nobody, the spotlight is not on you every step you take. But Spotify being your competitor is being close watched.


But it was Spotify that asked the random guy to take the app down. If anything I would have thought it would be in Spotify's interests to keep it up - "look it's possible, but Apple isn't allowing us"


Of course, because this guy had no rights. It’s already technically possible without having to keep an app alive that’s infringing your property just to say ‘hey look’


If you read between the lines, it's clear that Spotify was able to make a normal watch app. But they wanted to make one that had special functionality not yet allowed by Apple, for any app, not just Spotify.


There is a fine line between reading between the lines and fabricating things. Can you point to what exactly in that website substantiates your implication?


Their timeline is a bit unclear. They claim that in 2015 and 2016, they were denied outright. In 2017 they say that "Apple continues to make it challenging for us to deliver a workable streaming solution for the Apple Watch". Then in 2018 they say that "Apple finally allows enhanced functionality for the Spotify app on the Apple Watch".


Until watchos 5, 3rd party apps couldn’t do lte streaming. That said, lte was new in watchos 4, the tslk was that apple wanted to initially restrict it for battery life reasons.

Spotify could have made a watch app that provided controls and had offline somgs. They didn’t, and kept shutting down spps that did, or buying them and shutting them. This was a major sore point against spotify on the apple watch subreddit. Even now they’re dragging their feet, iirc.


Their point is that Apple app could do that and it was unfair to block other apps to be able to do the same.


The watch is a new, battery constrained device. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to limit 3rd party apps for a bit while sorting out how to work with the size constraints.

I’m guessing apple will add lte support for 3rd party apps in watchos 6. Meanwhile, 3rd party apps have had the ability to make apps with offline support since June 2018. Most audio apps have added this.

Spotify....has not. What’s the holdup? Apple watch users are pretty frustrated with spotify: if all the other audio apps can do it, why haven’t they?

(Lte is an edge case: few watches have lte, and even fewer have an active lte plan. Offline audio is the main use case spotify still isn’t doing)


Ex-spotifier here. It's most likely that they wanted to use functionality available to Apple Music, but not any other app.


I don't know about the others, but Spotify is BSing about being blocked on the Apple Watch.

Until WatchOS 5 the APIs to do something like Spotify didn't really exist. There were workarounds, like by abusing the workout API, but unsurprisingly these has significant drawbacks, were unstable and Apple cracked down when they found API abuses.

Apple "blocked" Spotify only in that it hadn't (yet) released APIs that supported their use cases.

It makes me wonder how disingenuous their other claims are.

I do think services should have more options than Apple allows for accepting payment.


> - Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch / HomePad

But they've blocked every streaming music thing, right? It wasn't a vindictive campaign targetted at Spotify as this timeline is suggesting - no-one got to build streaming music apps for the Watch or HomePod IIRC.


I believe this is their point: Apple deliberately leaves those features unbuilt in order to give itself a market position that others can't compete with


Which raises the question: to what degree does a platform owner have a responsibility to support the businesses of others?

Rephrased, Spotify seems to think it has a /right/ to run its software on Apple platforms in an identical fashion to Apple's first-party software. Does that mean Apple has an obligation to provide an equivalent technical capacity for literally any software that runs on its devices? An app store? A payment provider? A cloud provider? A health data store? An update mechanism?


Microsoft used to be roundly criticized for supposedly building private APIs into Windows that Microsoft Office was allowed to use either because they were undocumented, or Office got the documentation far ahead of anyone else.

I'd say if you're selling $1200 computer devices, one principle of that is ownership and that you get to run what you want, not what Apple wants. We seem to have come a long way on this site from fighting Tivoization of embedded platforms, and unrepairable, unfixable, unhackable consumer electronics, to people making excuses for a super locked down platform, and not even on the excuse that it helps security, but from a philosophical standpoint that somehow Apple is morally right to do whatever they want.

Yes, you have a choice of not buying Apple software, just like you had the choice of not buying Windows and using Linux, or building a MythTV instead of a Tivo, but keep in mind, in the latter case, this was only possible because the CableCard standard was forced by law on the cable industry.

Apple can maintain their high levels of security and privacy without their 30% cut of subscriptions, it's a false dichotomy to pretend their behavior is anything but rent seeking.


>Microsoft used to be roundly criticized for supposedly building private APIs into Windows that Microsoft Office was allowed to use either because they were undocumented, or Office got the documentation far ahead of anyone else.

At the same time though, Microsoft wasn't preventing other developers from using those hidden APIs (if they could find them) nor preventing them from publishing their own competing apps. Sure, Microsoft's behaviour at the time was anti-competitive and sometimes even predatory, but they were never so on Windows to the extent that Apple is today on iOS.


> Which raises the question: to what degree does a platform owner have a responsibility to support the businesses of others?

I wish you'd stopped here because this is an interesting question, but the rest of your comment feels like it stretches things a bit.

What Spotify seems to be saying (correct me if I'm wrong), is that Apple does provide the technical capabilities for third parties to do as they're asking, but Apple is rejecting proposals purely on whim. It's not like there's not a API to stream music on the Apple Watch or play music through HomePod. It's all there. Apple's just blocking them from using it.


Once you publish an API you’re stuck with supporting it. When I’m hacking around with a library I wrote for my own use, I might do all sorts of things while I’m iterating but don’t want others to consume until they are fully baked.

The same thing about not allowing others to use “private APIs”. No guarantees are made about any methods that I didn’t make public. If I change that method in future releases, and your software that depends on it breaks - so be it.

Windows is full of backward compatibility hacks because one piece of software that wanted to use an undocumented method.

Apple has since day one had APIs that it used privately until they were fully baked and made public. Do you think that Apple waited two or three years to make share extensions public because of competitive reasons?


> Rephrased, Spotify seems to think it has a /right/ to run its software on Apple platforms in an identical fashion to Apple's first-party software. Does that mean Apple has an obligation to provide an equivalent technical capacity for literally any software that runs on its devices?

Yes.

> An app store? A payment provider? A cloud provider? A health data store? An update mechanism?

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes.

To do otherwise, is to invite platform owners to be (potentially abusive) monopolists with a license to favor their own services instead of promoting and maintaining fair competition in markets on top of that platform. In western societies, since the last century, that has been behavior which has been regulated by law and courts.


For comparison, Android keeps a very clear line between the 'Platform', and the 'Apps'.

Every API on the platform is available to all apps which have the necessary permissions.

Sure, it might look like Google has taken over key low level features of the device like updates and wifi location, but in fact from the platform perspective, all those components have an open API and can be replaced.

The only fly in the ointment here is some of the API's require powerful permissions which aren't allowed in store apps, but you can still sideload them, or use an alternate store.


This may have changed recently, haven't used an Android in a bit, but this wasn't true (and still probably isn't).

Specifically my company wanted to break our app into multiple apps and give a way for people to easily install the companions. If you send the user to the Play Store page, about 75% of users would dropoff, in user studies much of it was confusion about what to do once they saw the play store page.

Google has an api that is a much simpler flow than the full store experience which has much lower user dropoff. If you're curious where it's used, one example is the Google Drive app to install the Docs, Sheets, etc.

The API validates that the calling app is an app signed by the Google dev cert.

This isn't a security issue, you could just ship one app with all the functionality. It's clear they just wanted to reduce user drop off in a flow, but now provide that option to others.

I understand the potential for abuse even though the api still checked with the user. It wouldn't bother me if no one had access to the API, we'd just have to deal with it. But it felt anti-competitive that Google had it and we did not.

IIRC there are a few other similar non-security private APIs and they also felt anti-competitive to us. That said, it was no where near on the order of Apple, where it's commonplace on iOS.


I believe that API is in the play store itself. If your user used a third party store, you could ask them to give you an API to install other apps with no user interaction too.

As far as the platform is concerned, any app with the right permissions can install any other app. It just so happens that only the play store and other stores have that permission.


That's true; you're right that there is a open platform between the AOSP layer and the APK apps that run on top of it.

As you point out there is a fly in the ointment (which is enhanced by Google making it very difficult to ship with anything but the Play Store).

As an app developer like Spotify, the platform is the base of devices out there in the wild and how I build on top of them which, for me, is inclusive of the play services and play store.

Android definitely is a lot more open than iOS. But when the Play Store enforces a mechanism that favors Google, it's not of a practical difference to my livelihood than when the App Store has policies that favor Apple. If you have a really loyal following, like Epic/Fortnite, it's better than nothing. But even then the barrier to your users is huge and even the most establish companies with technical user bases will have a hard time crossing it. Nevermind the fledgling startups or developers with non-technical user bases.


Is it really a platform if it doesn't support 3rd party businesses?


Who gets to define the term platform? I think this is just arguing semantics.


I think that's precisely the point.

If the Apple Watch and WatchOS is a device then I expect it to only contain Apple software.

If the Apple Watch and WatchOS is a platform then I expect to be able to install 3rd party software on it.

The real question is how much feature-parity should 3rd parties expect when developing on another company's platform?


> to what degree does a platform owner have a responsibility to support the businesses of others?

Perhaps they should not be allowed (by law) to change the terms of the platform for X amount of time.


You can also ask if Netflix has a /right/ to send their videos to consumers using Comcast's network. Or if Bing has a /right/ to be accessible on Google Chrome.


Thanks to recent FCC rule changes, the answer in the USA is: "For Now...."


EDIT: This is no longer true, and doesn't exist in the guidelines

[---- obsolete info ----]

Yeah, it's a bit of a grey area.

However, App Store policies explicitly forbid apps that duplicate iOS and first-party functionality IIRC. Now that Apple has Maps, and Apple Music, and Podcasts, and..., and... should they enforce those rules?

[---- obsolete info ----]


> However, App Store policies explicitly forbid apps that duplicate iOS and first-party functionality IIRC. Now that Apple has Maps, and Apple Music, and Podcasts, and..., and... should they enforce those rules?

You should probably pull out the relevant quote from the guidelines. I don't think this is a thing anymore, at least in the way you're describing. If they did enforce it it would be a huge blow to the App Store.


You're right. This is no longer in the guidelines, updated my comment accordingly


> Apple deliberately leaves those features unbuilt in order to give itself a market position that others can't compete with

There's a vast gulf between "Spotify was blocked" and "Apple didn't spend time and money building a service that Spotify wanted".


This is for the lawyers to make sense of, but in electing to be a platform provider, they should be held to higher standards in my opinion.

They did indeed have "the service" in question, it was just limited to Apple's own offering.

It's a scenario not unlike net neutrality: an infrastructure provider that is also a content provider can put themselves or select customers in a position where free market forces are hindered or suspended in order to achieve a monopoly-like status.


> They did indeed have "the service" in question, it was just limited to Apple's own offering.

Again, there's a difference between "Siri can talk to our music service" and "We have a stable public API that 3rd party vendors can hook into to connect up to a music service". They're not the same thing, and one is a lot easier than the other.


None of the above was an argument about how easy or hard it is to build a service (though Apple has enough resources to build anything they want within the scope that they operate).

Given that they are a platform provider, maybe doing the bare minimum to get their own stuff working, but not enough to get any alternatives to work, is a strategic choice on their part.

"If Homepod only works with Apple Music, more people will switch"

No, a hardware manufacturer has no requirement to support any specific software. An infrastructure provider, however, has (in MY opinion) a requirement to support what they support to an equal degree, or it amounts to… market manipulation? Something not quite fair, some kind of abuse of power which is to the detriment of all other participants in the market, customers and companies alike.

Obviously, America as of today disagrees, seeing as net neutrality is not held in very high regard.

I look forward to roads that only support Fords, water pipes that only support Nestlé water, and stairs that only support Nike shoes.


> I look forward to roads that only support Fords, water pipes that only support Nestlé water, and stairs that only support Nike shoes.

Thankfully, America is not (yet) stupid enough to let private companies build our critical infrastructure, and thankfully "voice controlled speaker" is as critical as chewing gum.


From a layman perspective: Why can Siri make Apple Music play artists, albums, playlists, and songs but I can't ask Siri to do the same with Spotify?

Clearly the technology is there, but Apple is not letting Spotify use it.


Spotify should be able to do this using the API provided in iOS 12.


It's not about the tech, it's about policy.

Tech is there, https://developer.apple.com/documentation/sirikit/media_inte...

I'm sure Spotify has no problems with the knowledge of its engineers, I just found the APIs in 5 min. In fact, number 4 of this page explains your comment: https://www.timetoplayfair.com/facts/


Except they have a history of later opening up some of these features to others - see password managers, ~streaming~music~on~the~Watch~, etc.

EDIT: I thought you could now stream on the Watch but further research suggests that's still not possible. In summary, confusion.


Yes, every streaming music thing but Apple Music. Available in watchOS 4.1 (vs 5.0 a year later for spotify). And for HomePod since release AFAIK.


It's also funny because Spotify won't let other people integrate their streaming service on a device (even only for premium subscribers) if you don't follow a huge list of restrictions.


Feels worse to me than what Google was heavily fined for.


Can iOS natively or iTunes stream music through those devices?


> It blocked Spotify from using a podcasting API after it acquired 2x major podcasting companies

Is this talking about the Apple Watch-Podcasting issue? Until recently, podcast apps on the watch had issues saving where you are in an episode because they couldn't constantly run in the background; you could still play audio in the background without your app, you just couldn't watch the percentage played. Fitness tracking apps were allowed to run in the background forever, so some podcast apps told the API they were fitness apps to get around the restriction [0]. Apple later removed this loophole and created the APIs necessary for podcast apps to work on the watch [1].

[0] https://marco.org/2017/08/10/removed-send-to-watch#fn:pLK9h4...

[1] https://marco.org/2018/09/17/overcast5


It's pretty clear that Apple is using a dominant platform position to raise prices and block competition.

By raising prices and blocking access to competing services, Apple is acting with malice to consumer welfare.


> The issue of the 30% cut alone is enough for further investigation,

Not really, it's 30% for everyone, not just Spotify.


> Not really, it's 30% for everyone, not just Spotify.

As they mention on the website. That's not true. It's not 30% for Uber or Deliveroo. And most importantly, it's not 30% for Apple Music.


It's 30% for "in-app purchases" which is a specific API which allows one-click payment for one-time purchases or subscriptions ONLY FOR digital goods, and the payment goes through the iTunes account (eg: credit card).

If you buy a real world product or service, you need to use a third party payment service like Stripe (or Apple Pay, if you want), there is a 0% commission fee from Apple. This is why Amazon can distribute an app on iOS that allows to buy whatever you want without Apple getting a cut; well, anything but digital goods, like Kindle books, which in fact can't be bought from Amazon iOS app.


And most importantly, it's not 30% for Apple Music.

What do you mean it isn't? Apple Store could trivially take a 30% cut of the Apple Music revenue, and the only thing that would change would be the distribution of revenue between Apple Music and Apple Store in Apple's revenue reports. The total revenue would be the same.


Exactly, but Apple can run their streaming service as a loss leader because they still get to book the 30% revenue on the store side. Spotify can't recoup that 30%.

This effectively gives Apple an extra 30% margin for their streaming music service.


So in that case we shouldn’t allow any VC backed company because they are all pretty much running at a loss.

I definitely couldn’t start a ride sharing company when Uber and Lyft are being funded by VCs...


It seems that 30% is for features that are delivery in app, since Uber and Deliveroo are delivered outside app they have a lower cut. It's just commission cut rules by Apple.

Regarding Apple Music I'm not sure what that supposed to mean. I'm pretty sure that Spotify doesn't charge the same for "Spotify Premium" and "McDonalds" ads.


Unless "everyone" also includes Apple Music, then it's anti-competitive.


That’s like demanding newpapers pay full price for ad space on their own pages. Just absurd. What does it even mean, Apple owns Apple Music.


Apple have a monopoly on the distribution of iOS apps, so they are required to offer fair terms to all app vendors, including themselves.

Apple could charge themselves the 30% App Store fee for Apple Music, demonstrating that the App Store is a fair marketplace that doesn't artificially advantage Apple's own services. It would then be incumbent on Apple to prove that Apple Music is priced fairly, rather than being deliberately operated at a loss to squeeze other streaming music services out of the market.


NYT Newspaper also has a monopoly on distribution of ads on NYT pages, so should they charge themselves to put their own ads?


Yes. So costs of putting up an ad are reflected in the relevant departments. Large corps do this all the time, transferring money from the left pocket to their right pocket.

It's somewhat similar to net neutrality proposals. AT&T doesn't have a monopoly as an ISP. However, if AT&T starts/acquires a video streaming service, they should not give unfair advantages to their own service because they want to compete with Netflix.


And Apple probably does this too.

What does it change ? Nothing.


Not absurd. Different departments in the same company have budgets of their own. If a department wants to buy an ad from their own paper, it should affect their remaining budget, just as it should show up on the Ad department's revenue.


Sure, but this would not affect Apple music, it’s not like they would shut it down. The Apple eco-system is so popular because Apple takes a holistic approach, they wouldn’t mind at all losing money on Apple music if it increased iPhone earnings.


Don’t worry, Apple takes a 100% cut of Apple Music’s revenue


Which might be negative.


.. that would just be Apple paying themselves.


Technically it does? Apple could be taking a 30% cut all Apple Music subscriptions for hosting the application and processing the payment. Apple then gets the remaining 70%.


Do they actually take a 30% cut? If they're accounting in that manner, then it's likely that Apple Music is running at a substantial loss, which would constitute predatory pricing under EU competition law.


You have an overly simplified view of Apple Music.

It’s on multiple platforms, it’s tied to Beats, it has a relationship with iTunes Store, there is advertising involved etc. So there could be multiple licensing and revenue sharing deals that mean Apple Music is not running at a loss.

In fact I think it’s likely than you’re wrong.


Does it count as a loss if they’re both taking that loss on iOS users?


Apple does pay artists a much larger cut than Spotify. At e.g. 5000 streams Apple pays the artist ca 37 USD vs the 22 USD that Spotify pays out.


$22*1.30 = $35.1

Interesting, so Spotify could pay nearly the same simply by paying the 30% to artists instead of Apple.

And of course, those 37 might already be partly paid by Spotify anyway.


22*1.3 = 28.6


Even if it's for everyone, the point is: it's egregious. Even more so when Apple competes in the same space.


I don't see how blocking a company actively trying to monopolize podcasts from using the Apple recommendation API is monopolistic. Apple podcasts (either intentionally or just from neglect) have always been backed by open RSS podcasting.


-Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch

The newest version of WatchOS does allow it. The first generation of watchOS really didn’t allow any apps - just remote views of iOS apps (yeah I’m simplifying it).

- It blocked Spotify from building apps for HomePod

Apple doesn’t have any apps on the HomePod. Now we are going to force all single purpose devices to ship with an SDK?

- It blocked Spotify from building apps for Siri

Apple also just came out with any third party integration with Siri a version or two ago. Again we want the government to dictate the timeline when they build features for apps?

- It blocked Spotify from using a podcasting API after it acquired 2x major podcasting companies

Netflix also blocked its API from most third parties years ago. Can we sue Netflix?


- Apple blocked Spotify from working with Apple Watch

How? By not providing API's to do what they wanted? yawn Next?

- It blocked Spotify from building apps for HomePod

How? By not providing API's to do what they wanted? yawn Next?

- It blocked Spotify from building apps for Siri

How? By not providing API's to do what they wanted? yawn Next?

- It blocks Spotify updates on a regular basis

Wakes up Ok here we have the first real issue, BUT even with that said this is SUPER one-sided. We have only Spotify's word and given their liberal stretching of the truth (or outright breaking it in some cases) I'm not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

- It blocked Spotify from using a podcasting API after it acquired 2x major podcasting companies

I'm going to need more info on this because it is super vague.


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