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?