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.
You pay for your account on Spotify's own web site, which bypasses Apple getting any cut at all.
Netflix has done the same thing.
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.
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).
(An "email me a payment link" button would almost certainly get rejected by Apple)
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.
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.
Deezer music went another route: you can pay for your subscription through an iOS device, but you'll pay a higher price.  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.
The exact words used by the Audible app for iPhone: This app does not support purchasing content. Instead, add to your wishlist.
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)
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.
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.
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 jordanthoms's explanation is correct.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is why geeks make horrible product people.
And ratings have never been faked....
I think it's perfectly reasonable for governments to update their terms and agreements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These dollars are most certainly coming from VC funding. Most of these businesses aren't (and will never be) profitable.
1: they're likely refining the process of obtaining one of these certs after the recent news reports on business fraud
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 . This is in my opinion ridiculous.
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.
If not, how is it any different from the phone?
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.
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.
*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
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.
Apple is simply erecting gratuitous roadblocks for rent-seeking purposes.
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.
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?)
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 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.
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.
It is everyone's full legal right to do whatever they want with their phone. Including downloading apps from websites.
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.
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.
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.
Here you go: https://consumerist.com/2009/02/14/apple-wants-to-make-jailb...
That is a clear example of a bad actor.
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?
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.
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.
> 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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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?
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.
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.
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 ).
If I were a game developer could I install any software on my game console?
Let’s not make an analogy. Can I install any software on the computers in my Tesla?
"How is it fair for Price Chopper to undercut Rice Crispies with a similar, cheaper product?" no on says this...
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.
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.
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!
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.
It would be the poster child of an anti-trust case.
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.
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.
That's easy enough to circumvent.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
But if you're dealing with a $100+ per year subscription, the fee goes down to a modest processing cost.
App doesn’t download - Apple’s fault.
App doesn’t work - App developer’s fault.
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.
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.
They've still got to at least cover bandwidth (minor) and payment processing.
Because that worked so well for Windows with malware,viruses, and ransomware.
Why not only allow to use their payment system?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is confusing for users.
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.
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.
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]
To get $9.99 (for the first year at the 30% rate) it'd be
Spotify fee: $9.99
Apple fee: $4.28
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).
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.
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.
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.
Besides, how far will a book publisher get if they can’t sell on Amazon.
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 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?
> 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.
<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.
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?
Unfortunately we cannot build a similar tool for Android, as Amazon blocks the Kindle Cloud Reader on all Android devices (including the Kindle Fire).
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)
Any idea some where to to find the other hidden combinations ?
I suspect we (Kindle) we're either the trigger for the in-app purchasing store, or really accelerated plans around it.
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?
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Perhaps they should not be allowed (by law) to change the terms of the platform for X amount of time.
[---- 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?
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.
There's a vast gulf between "Spotify was blocked" and "Apple didn't spend time and money building a service that Spotify wanted".
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.
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.
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.
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.
Clearly the technology is there, but Apple is not letting Spotify use it.
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/
EDIT: I thought you could now stream on the Watch but further research suggests that's still not possible. In summary, confusion.
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 . Apple later removed this loophole and created the APIs necessary for podcast apps to work on the watch .
By raising prices and blocking access to competing services, Apple is acting with malice to consumer welfare.
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.
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.
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.
This effectively gives Apple an extra 30% margin for their streaming music service.
I definitely couldn’t start a ride sharing company when Uber and Lyft are being funded by VCs...
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.
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.
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.
What does it change ? Nothing.
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.
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.
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).
Apple doesn’t have any apps on the HomePod. Now we are going to force all single purpose devices to ship with an SDK?
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?
Netflix also blocked its API from most third parties years ago. Can we sue Netflix?
How? By not providing API's to do what they wanted? yawn Next?
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.
I'm going to need more info on this because it is super vague.