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You’re Paying into a Broken System Whenever You Buy Something on iOS (onezero.medium.com)
163 points by quark33 47 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 224 comments



>On no other platform would we accept a scenario where the owner of that platform dictated not only the tools developers can use, but restricted the ways they talk about their products and pricing. We would call it unfair, monopolistic, and overbearing. But on our smartphones, it’s just a fact of life.

I am pretty sure game consoles have been doing this basically since their existence. None of them allow you to make 'A' rated games for example. (Considering the topic of the article, it should be obvious I am referring to "restricted the ways they talk about their products and pricing" here)

Retail stores keep some amount of control over signage, I doubt Walmart would be particularly happy if a sign said you could buy X device cheaper directly from the manufacturer.

In reality Apple is continuing a trend that is normal for store fronts, digital or physical.

However, the "walled garden" of Apple is largely why I stick with iOS. I don't want to be forced to trust every company with my credit card information (a developer implementing their own payment system will be an immediate delete for me, with very few exception... like Amazon for obvious reasons).

Also lets not forget that we keep seeing reports that iOS users are more likely to spend money than Android users. I would argue that the increased income from users makes up for the 30% cut.


What? I'm a console developer. I can use any PC I want to deploy software to the console. I can use Intel, AMD, or any other x86 compatible chip (mainly because I don't want to deal with the headache of cross compiling). I can even choose the compiler I use and the IDE. Sure the debuggers they ship run on Windows, but that's just the tools they know how to write, and they are damn good tools.

iOS in comparison is downright draconian.


The people down-voting and arguing with you are missing the point entirely.[0]

Yes, console makers have monopoly stores on their platforms. Even if you include physical copies, because of the licensing platforms, it's still the same basic idea. (They're also criticized by some for these reasons.)

The difference is that those platforms are not using those quasi-monopolies as leverage to force developers to use their tools. Could they? Yes. But you can't use the capability someone has to do something to defend Apple actually doing the thing.

[0] - The down-voters seem only to disagree with you. That's not what a down-vote is for, and voting this way actively harms the discussion.


> [0] - The down-voters seem only to disagree with you. That's not what a down-vote is for, and voting this way actively harms the discussion.

...

> Please don't comment about the voting on comments. It never does any good, and it makes boring reading.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


If you use a cross-platform tool like Xamarin or Unity, the only step of the development process that requires macOS is the publishing-to-app-store - and debugging on actual iOS hardware, if need be.

So it's not that bad, you can do most of your everyday work on whatever OS you prefer.


It is bad. Macs are expensive relative to how much usable silicon you get, and supporting a studio that needs to support iOS is tens of thousands of dollars to Apple's pocket I'd rather not spend. Contrast to Android which lets you cross compile from any OS and platform.

Also, if you think developing in Xamarin or Unity can be done off platform with some last minute debugging and ship... then you're in a reality many of us wish existed.


So develop for a cheaper platform. First it was complaints that Apple takes too much money from the app sales, now it is Apple's hardware requirements are just too expensive.

I get it, Apple takes a 30% hit and it is a lot of money. But managing your own payment platform and sales is going to consume 15% already, so I don't want to hear about how outrageous this is. No one accounts for what they are getting for their 30% when they whine about how Apple is being unfair.

Apple is a boutique brand that has a vast customer base of people who don't mind spending money. Want access to that? Pay! This is not a unique formula, look at an NFL franchise.


Right, you can deploy your game to any console from a variety of IDEs. The end user who purchases your game, if on a console, not PC, has to purchase it through the console maker's store, they have no alternatives (generally). Want that newest Fire Emblem game on the Switch? Head on over to the eshop!


It is an issue on game consoles too, just because it has somehow become accepted it doesn't mean it isn't an issue that you cannot run whatever you want on your own hardware. "Others are doing <bad thing> too" isn't much of an excuse.

Also note that it isn't all game consoles, there are various open game consoles, though since they are not made by huge companies with huge marketing budgets they are not as popular (perhaps Atari's new Linux powered console[1] will change that, but we'll see). However their existence means that games consoles are not synonymous with locked down walled gardens.

[1] https://atarivcs.com/


It's almost as if there is a very large hacking scene for game consoles because people want to run whatever they can on the hardware they bought. Let's also not forget the whole Other OS fiasco with the PS3.

I'm sure if the next Xbox had the ability to run Windows 10 it would sell like crazy.


> I'm sure if the next Xbox had the ability to run Windows 10 it would sell like crazy.

Or even better if it was a true OS, like Windows 7.


HN, aka No Fun Allowed


I wish game consoles were open, but I don't care as much because they're single purpose. A PS4 is not designed to be your primary computer.

An iPhone, by contrast, will be many people's primary or even they're only computer. What does it mean for our society if a single company has control over what that computer can display?

I see this issue as broader than just competition—I think it's analogous to free speech.


There is a moral/philosophical connection to free speech and the app store pseudo-monopolies (code as speech), but it also happens to be very concrete in Apple's case: you literally cannot tell customers through your app what other alternatives might be used to pay you.

(And before someone comments about how this doesn't conflict with the 1st Amendment, you are obviously correct; but free speech is as much a societal value as a legal construct, and is not limited to the Bill of Rights as its sole champion.)


You view this as a bad thing. As a consumer, I view it as a good thing. I’m not sure if folks remember what “apps on mobile” were like before Apple came along, but it was the goddamn Wild West. The fact that it’s walled in, that I’m not going to get pwned, that my parents won’t (and won’t be tempted to by the promise of an extra $0.99 saving) is to my mind, a good thing.

If all this competition that the article talked about was such a good thing, apps would be cheaper on Android, and I, as a consumer, would switch. Fact is, the fact that Tinder et al are now bypassing Google’s mechanisms isn’t a good thing to me at all. It’s more the reason to stay on iOS.

The article writer is pissed he can’t get access to me without paying Apple’s toll, but what he doesn’t understand is that I am like it like that.


If Apple allowed side-loading tomorrow, their curated App Store wouldn't disappear. You would absolutely have the choice to only download software from the iOS App Store, where Apple is checking everything for you.


I don't oppose the App Store existing. I use it myself, and it's generally a great experience for the reasons you describe.

However, I don't think that a link that says "Click here to start your Netflix subscription" threatens that experience in the slightest; it's only a threat to Apple's revenue model. (While there are legitimate concerns about fraud/phishing/etc, that can be reviewed on a content level by Apple, as they already do in other respects.)

There are perhaps arguments against allowing side-loading; even if the process is cumbersome for non-techies, there remains a "dancing bunnies" [0] problem that might lead to malware on Grandma's phone (or, just a very poor software experience).

But even there, I'm not convinced that there isn't a reasonable tradeoff. While the needs for macOS and iOS are clearly different, the former has a very reasonable default that allows unsigned executables, while discouraging them to non-technical users, and giving a great experience buying and installing software through the App Store. (Strictly speaking, one can pseudo-sideload on iOS via XCode if one has the source, but at the cost of $99!)

I think a more reasonable policy might be requiring all apps to be code-signed (so malware and pirated apps can be shut down), but allow side-loading with a great number of scary warnings. Most people will still prefer the App Store experience, and as with the Mac App Store, the increased audience will usually be worth the 30% cut (which, by the way, if faced with "competition" from side-loading, may be pressured down into a more reasonable 10-20% range.)

Whether it's Apple, Nintendo, or Amazon, any platform that makes itself a mandatory middle-man between third-party buyers and sellers is rent-seeking extraction at best, and a net economic loss at worst (preventing value-creating relationships from existing at all). In my opinion, smart and reasonable regulations of such marketplace platforms would be a win for both economic growth and personal freedom.

[0] https://blog.codinghorror.com/the-dancing-bunnies-problem/


> but free speech is as much a societal value as a legal construct, and is not limited to the Bill of Rights as its sole champion.)

Where, in the US, is the requirement that everyone has to let anyone say anything enshrined? AFAIK, it's not, and is (very) often confused with the Bill of Rights version.


It's enshrined in you and me. :) Law is not the only mechanism for upholding cultural values and norms.

One important distinction is that free expression is not limited to the "right to say anything"; it also includes the right to listen to the expression of others. See, for example, the rich history of librarians resisting turning over records of who reads what books, which could result in a chilling effect where people are scared to read controversial material.


> What does it mean for our society if a single company has control over what that computer can display?

this is literally every major OS right now.... Mac, iOS, Android, Chromium, Windows....

> I think it's analogous to free speech.

what? no it isn't. these are proprietary, private sector companies who fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders, not government entities.


> this is literally every major OS right now.... Mac, iOS, Android, Chromium, Windows....

No it's not! I can run whatever software I want on Windows, Mac, Android and Chromium.

> these are proprietary, private sector companies who fiduciary responsibilities to their shareholders, not government entities.

I am not accusing Apple of literally breaking the first amendment. I do, however, think their actions have consequences for our society and democracy.

Imagine if side-loading books onto a Kindle was impossible, and Amazon implemented an App Store-style review process for everything sold on the Kindle store. Would you consider that a threat to free speech?

Well, consider what happened when someone made an iOS game about Apple factory workers in Foxconn: Apple killed it [1].

Now, it is absolutely Apple's prerogative to determine what is allowed on their storefront, just as any retailer can decide what to stock on its shelves. However, by completely blocking any form of side-loading, Apple is making decisions about what type of content their users are allowed to see on their devices. That's a problem if the iPhone is someone's primary computer, and perhaps their only computer.

[1] https://kotaku.com/there-was-an-iphone-game-about-foxconn-un...


> No it's not! I can run whatever software I want on Windows, Mac, Android and Chromium.

Just as you can on Safari!


Sure, and it's great that they provide that option, but it also severely limits the capabilities of what an app can do. I also don't think it's a coincidence that Apple has been dragging its feet on support for progressive web apps.


Just as you can on Safari!

Web applications can't do peer to peer networking, period. Nor can they interact with arbitrary hardware devices you decide to connect.


The First Amendment of the US Constitution is restricted to the government. Free Speech is a wider concept than that.


Why do we chain ourselves to such a limiting construct?

Companies; S,C, LLC. They did not exist, and by request they were willed into 'personhood' at the signing of a government pen. They were not required to approve the incorporation request. So, I ask this:

Why do we not enforce incorporated entities to also abide by the Bill of Rights as being extensions of the government?

They certainly weren't born, and there's no corporate death penalty. So it tells me they're an extension of government, as they were willed into being with their explicit consent.


> Why do we not enforce incorporated entities to also abide by the Bill of Rights as being extensions of the government?

because they are extensions of the private citizens that own them

your extension is accomplished when government entities under the US Constitution are significant funders or owners of these entities


I don't want private companies to be beholden to the same standard of free speech as the government!

Barns & Noble should be able to decide what types of books to put on their selves. Hacker News's moderators should be able to make decisions about what types of content lead to intellectual curiosity. And while I strongly believe all software platforms should allow sideloading, I also think Apple's curated, "safe" App Store is a great (optional) service for consumers who want it.


I agree, these companies have a heavy influence on governments through lobbyists and campaign financing.


It's a bit of stretching saying that Windows and even macOS, and I'm obviously not counting Linux in that, have the same walled garden than iPhone.


It makes more sense to think of iPhones/iPads as consoles. They're just as closed down and controlled. Some people are fine with console gaming, many are fine with limited computing on their phones.

If you're not, there's a lot of Android phones, varying from open to extremely open, for general purpose computing.


So the console isn’t a general purpose computer but the iPhone is? By whose definition?


You typical developer on iOS is targeting a broad spectrum of hardware (even within the iOS line, the software is able to run on various iphone skus dating back possibly 7-9 years).

Console? When I ship a PS4 build, it is THE PS4 BUILD. It has optimizations designed to maximize the memory buses that ship with the PS4 and the PS4 only.


Unless you have to optimize for the PS4 and PS4 Pro. But, what does ease of development have to do with one being more of a computer than the other?


I'm telling you the difference between a console (or embedded platform) versus a general computing device. There is a blurry line to be sure, but the smartphone and a gaming console are clearly on opposite sides of the line. Consoles have dedicated hardware for antialiasing, texture streaming, etc.


And iPhones have dedicated hardware for cellular, video decoding, decryption, a dedicated GPU, motion detection, face detection, etc....


Are you implementing code for them? Virtually every computing device available (your desktop included) is an SoC.


Yes there are APIs targeting the GPU, the Mx coprocessor, the hardware decoder (https://developer.apple.com/documentation/videotoolbox), etc.

But why is that relevant to how one is a general purpose computer and the other isn’t?


How many people use a game console as their primary computer? What about their phone?


Well, if they are using the phone as their primary computer, it must be good enough. How is Apple stopping people from doing what they want to do with their phone?

And before you bring up an esoteric development scenario, I assure you that developers aren’t using their phone as their primary computer.


You could label the same of almost any toolset. Look at rechargable tools in construction.

Look at the IP protection around John Deere equipment.

While none of this is especially good, it's hardly a unique problem.


I would like those examples fixed as well. There needs to be stronger rights to repair, and with that allowing for right to run software on devices. With an increasingly digital world it is becoming more and more equivalent with free speech.


Right, the author just forgot about every game console existing.


And that they were posting on Medium for maximum irony.


You can write a game and all at once target Xbox, Playstation, Switch, PC, MacOS, and Linux. You can do physical releases. You can upload your game anywhere, even provide it for distribution on your own website. Everyone has choice in the equation.

App stores are vampiric parasites and need to be dismantled. Either that, or these companies need their phone monopolies taken away.


And all those platforms have revenue sharing requirements.

You can’t distribute a Switch, PS4, or Xbox One game without giving the respective companies a cut of your sale.

Windows and Mac are the only exceptions, but you won’t get far without publishing to a digital store unless you can afford to drum up a whole lot of name recognition all on your own (also costs money unless you hit the lottery like Mojang did).


Even when you do a physical release - you still have to get the blessing of the console maker and pay a fee.


That is mitigated by the fact that there are so many options. Gaming is an open space with tons of competition. All of the audience isn't glued to a single platform or two controlled by a single entity.

Gaming companies fight to win over gamers and developers. Not so for Apple and Google with their walled fiefdoms.


So instead of two competitors you have four (three consoles and the PC). Three of which have the same “walled garden” that Apple has but with a much larger barrier to entry and much stricter controls?

If you release a game on disc. The retailer + distributer get at least a 50% cut.


But it's not true.

There's absolutely no restriction on game development machines except that the provided tools (probably) only run on Windows.


But you can only sell your Xbox, PS4 or Switch game through Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo (correspondingly), and you have to agree to their terms and pay whatever cut they want to take of your sales price.


Well that by itself is a big restriction.


It's not an intentional one though, it's just what the tools happen to run on. Sony aren't going to come after you if you run their SDK in a VM or something.

Apple intentionally restrict developers to only use Apple hardware and software to keep the ecosystem contained.


And you can build Xamarin apps on Windows. I think the point is more about what you can put on a console, the content restrictions, marketing etc.


>Also lets not forget that we keep seeing reports that iOS users are more likely to spend money than Android users. I would argue that the increased income from users makes up for the 30% cut.

And arguably, a big reason for this is trust. Users feel more comfortable spending money in iOS specifically because it’s a walled garden and Apple vouches for the trustworthiness of the developers in it.

It’s telling that stories about devs behaving badly within the App Store (like the weird VPNs and parental controls that are basically enterprise MDM tools) get way more traction than stories about this.


> None of them allow you to make 'A' rated games for example.

The sad difference is that we don't care much about 'A' rated game, but we do care about useless 30% surcharge and more trouble on how to pay.

If you do care about 'A' rated games, I will gladly push your campaign and not argue whether it's a legitimate concern or not.

> I doubt Walmart would be particularly happy if a sign said you could buy X device cheaper directly from the manufacturer.

I agree completely, which is why I wouldn't expect Apple to accept on the app store (the market) to let description or screenshot talk about how it can be cheaper somewhere else.

Outside of the app store though, on the apps themselves, they shouldn't have any control over what the app say over where you can or cannot buy something. They don't own the device, it's mine. they may own their app store, that's fine, they are hosting it, but they don't own the device.

> a developer implementing their own payment system will be an immediate delete for me

Same goes for me and I'm on Android. The difference is the liberty to make that choice.


It's interesting that you cited retail. In retail, there's an actual cost to stocking items, especially in areas visible to the customer. No such cost exists on the app store, in fact Apple makes you pay extra to advertise for what retailers offer for their 30%.

App stores and retailers are different. There's almost no cost to list an app (for Apple, Google) and yet they charge a 30% fee. Apple, especially, is a text book anti competitive, monopoly in their terms and it's enforcement.

Also, the app store would be just as successful if not for their draconian rules, Mac is proof that ecosystems can thrive without Apple's stranglehold. The app store choke hold is all about the money


Almost no cost except:

- Credit card processing fees

- Hosting the content (yes minimal but can't be ignored)

- Approval process (the people)

- "Editors" that create the curated lists every day

- Developer support hours (technically you get with the yearly subscription but I doubt that actually covers the cost of those hours).

- The engineers building the developer tools (Xcode, the developer portal, TestFlight, etc)


> - Credit card processing fees

Around 1.5%. Probably even cheaper for the big fish.

> - Hosting the content (yes minimal but can't be ignored)

S3 charges $0.0007/GB and $0.00000004/request for downloads as their baseline. Assuming a typical app size of ~50MB, each download would cost $0.00003504. Updates would be even cheaper, since they are usually tiny delta packages.

> - Approval process (the people)

A problem that they imposed in the first place.

> - "Editors" that create the curated lists every day

See above.

> - Developer support hours (technically you get with the yearly subscription but I doubt that actually covers the cost of those hours).

Then charge the actual cost for support, or improve the documentation? It doesn't exactly seem fair to make the competent developers subsidize the people who bog down the support department. (Or, if it's actually common to use these, to use their monopoly to force devs to use a platform so awful that they actually need to call the support.)

> - The engineers building the developer tools (Xcode, the developer portal, TestFlight, etc)

Which are self-imposed problems and/or inferior to free third-party tools.


You may not see any of the behind-the-scenes costs that Apple has to pay for in supporting the ecosystem, but it is a well-known fact that Apple intentionally prices their software and services pretty close to cost, because they make their real profit on hardware sold and the software and services are just used to try to help drive hardware sales.

So, that 30% cost is really just the price of doing business in this ecosystem. It is entirely your choice as to whether or not you participate in this ecosystem.


> So, that 30% cost is really just the price

That's wildly inaccurate. It's easily disprovable: Apple's costs aren't proportional to the pricing of software sold through it's stores. Does your refrigerator maker charge you as 30% premium on groceries stored in the fridge, or are there limitations on what groceries you can stock there?

The app store is wildly profitable, and Apple admits as much. While I have no objection to profits, we're all here discussing the issue because it's a tool used to unfairly thwart competition, impose monopolistic & unfair trade practices, which is why the EU and supreme Court, and possibly FTC are all involved in various complaints against Apple. If your fridge maker isn't allowed to regulate your groceries, Apple shouldn't be arbitrarily blocking and price gouging apps on their platform.


I don't know if you're aware of this, but in retail it's not unusual for the producer to pay the retailer for the space. Next time you're at the supermarket take a look at how many units of something are lined up on the shelf and notice the height of them. It's not random or an accident, it's all by contract.

If Apple were like Safeway then you'd have to pay them a few hundred grand to even be in the store, AND you will pay the 30% markup, AND guarantee a certain level of marketing spend out of your pocket (a portion of which will go to vendors/services they specify), AND if you don't make certain sales numbers they simply delete your app.


So there is no cost to maintaining a digital store, payments, employing reviewers (who actually work for Apple and are not outside contractors), developing an SDK, etc.?

The Mac software ecosystem isn’t exactly “thriving”. That’s most of the reason that Apple is trying to bring iOS developers to the Mac.


Besides video games you could add movie rentals and sales, tv show rental and sales, music sales, PPV events, book sales, Steam...

While I do think it's high for recurring revenue every retailer is in that 30% range or higher.


> Besides video games you could add movie rentals and sales, tv show rental and sales, music sales, PPV events, book sales, Steam...

Can you be more specific? I know plenty of places to rent 'A' movie for example. I also know plenty of alternative to Steam on PC, yet none on iOS device.

If you talked about games on console that can't be 'A' rated. I would agree completely that it's wrong and I'm pretty sure that almost everybody would agree. We just don't care about not being to play 'A' game on console.

If you do care, believe me, I would gladly say that what you are doing is positive. I won't say, well what about X other place that doesn't allow something else.


Consider if you upload a book to Amazon to sell they are taking anywhere from 30% to 65% of the sale. Or if you rent a movie from YouTube i'm sure they are taking some percentage in that ballpark and sending the rest to the movie studio.

My point is that all of these digital platforms are taking a percentage that is in that range. Apple probably gets called out the most because it's open to anyone, popular and it's fees are transparent but it's really the same across most digital platforms. I'm not saying the percentage isn't high but Apple isn't an outlier when it comes to the fees.


> Consider if you upload a book to Amazon to sell they are taking anywhere from 30% to 65% of the sale.

What about Barnes & Nobles? What about your local library? The difference is competition/choice.

I'm not even arguing about the 30% on the shop or even the existence of fees. Fees makes sense if they add something. They are well in their rights and it's fine that they do it in the app store.

What I'm arguing about is forcing them to use that as payment gateway IN the app. That's not value added, VISA does it for 2.5% (and less) already, Paypal too. That means that they directly remove choice to gains from you.

Buy a magazine over Amazon and see if inside there's an offer to subscribe using others means. Go on Uber on Android and check if you are forced to use Google Wallet.

> Apple probably gets called out the most because it's open to anyone, popular and it's fees are transparent but it's really the same across most digital platforms.

You are not calling out others, you didn't even named one in your comment. You are justifying their fees by the competition that does similar fees. You may want to change how you formulate your comment if your goal is really to call them out.


Most console makers make NO money from selling the console itself, zero, nada, because they count on people buying enough games to make up for it, that's almost the opposite of how Apple works, where the extremely high margin they get for each iPhone is their main source of revenue and on top of that they do this thing of charging 30% for each transaction.


That 30% is specifically designed to be a little bit above the cost of running the system as a whole, but not much.

As you point out, they really don't make much in the way of profit on their software or services -- almost all their profit comes from selling the hardware.

So, 30% is just the cost of doing business in the ecosystem. If you don't like that, you don't have to participate in that ecosystem.

It is entirely your choice.


> That 30% is specifically designed to be a little bit above the cost of running the system as a whole, but not much.

Unless you work in the finance department at Apple, you have no way of knowing this. And if you do, disclosing this is a fireable offense.


On an android you have the option to pay individual developers but rarely would you find the opportunity let alone the need.

On the web you can trust someone like paypal for what thats worth instead of a million websites.


> I don't want to be forced to trust every company with my credit card information

This problem is solved with Paypal.


Considering PayPal's numerous issues, I don't think that using it as a credit card substitute for online purchases is that great of an idea.


...or Amazon. I have problems with PayPal, but I still trust Amazon to transfer money to vendors. In any event, even if you do trust a company, they may not trust you.

Bed Bath and Beyond had done everything right to capture my purchase: They hosted the wedding registry, took care of the couple's address, and by not allowing me to select "I'm buying this somewhere else" kept me from leaving to where I could possibly get the item cheaper.

But BB&B requires Verified By Visa, and I require my credit card provider to not be stupid about security, so my card was declined. I turned right around and bought the item on Amazon.


Why would anyone trust PayPal? They still owe me $900 from 2005 when I was the victim of a reverse scam. (Buyer claimed i scammed and never sent it; they refused to investigate or accept my tracking info as proof)


To me this just verifies that diversity is better than uniformity in these scenarios. That's fine if you don't trust PayPal because of your own experiences, but why should we be forced to use Apple Pay?


Nobody forces you to use Apple Pay.


That's seller problems. As a buyer I never had any problems with Paypal and I don't store money there, so I don't see much risk for myself.


I don’t actually care. The cardmembers are never liable for fraud.

I don’t use my debit card for online purchases at all however. If someone steals that and uses it, I’m out of pocket until the bank resolves it, which can take days.

With credit cards, and Amex especially, they’ll simply reverse the fraudulent transactions and overnight you a new card.

Someone skimmed my Amex when I was on a vacation in Japan, charged about ¥700k on it. One call to them, they froze the transactions and in roughly 16 hours I collected a new card in the hotel lobby.


Except who trusts PayPal? They can lock you out for no apparent reason with little recourse. I refuse to buy from sites that use PayPal exclusively.


And modern banks that offer their customers "one time use" credit card numbers that you load up with an exact amount, and expire after a few hours if not collected on by a third party.


Stripe gets no love? :)


Stripe doesn't offer this as a consumer service, does it? Stripe Issuing is offered as a US invite only program to businesses.


And now you have two problems.

But at least the worst is better than most everything else.


You haven’t heard about all of the issues with PayPal for over decade?


Any payment system have issues. I've experienced good stories with Paypal, when they refunded me my money without much questions. Much better than my bank.


As an end user I approve of the walled garden. I don't mind the limitations on other forms of payment. I think it helps prevent fraud and insecure transactions, and I like the freedom and ease of use that comes with knowing that apps on the ios store went through a fairly substantial review process.

As a developer (though it has been a few years since I wrote code for mobile) Apple's tools, documentation and libraries were so much better than Google's, though that may say more about Google than Apple. And I approve of app store revenue supporting those tools.

But 30% is really, really high. I don't work for Apple, or Google for that matter, so I have no insight into what portion of the money goes to the services mentioned above, but it seems to me that even 20% would be pretty hard to swallow, and 30% seems unreasonable.

I would love to hear from someone with actual knowledge of this how much of that app store revenue is profit.


As an end-user, I don't trust that 'fairly substantial review process'. There have been so many stories about apps collecting data that is not in the interest of the user, that I trust apps from F-Droid much easier than apps from the large App-Stores.

Sounds a bit irrational, but I don't think it is (at least at the moment).


As an end user I _do_ mind the walled garden.

There is at least one App (ProTube) that I can't use just because some Company (Google) got Apple to kick it out of the AppStore.

I also can't download Torrents or use Emulators. There's no justified reason - Apple just doesn't want me to.

And there's nothing I can do, because the alternatives are far inferior (at least for my use cases).

I can only hope for regulation.


>As a developer (though it has been a few years since I wrote code for mobile) Apple's tools, documentation and libraries were so much better than Google's

This is still very much true IME, Android Studio has much more frequent random issues and is generally slower and harder to work with than Xcode (I use both every day)


>But 30% is really, really high

Interestingly, that's about the average income tax rate. I wonder if Apple and Uncle Sam both independently came to the same conclusion that that's the highest amount that they can get away with without hitting the tipping point.


It's not Apple it's everyone. Sell an eBook on Amazon - 35 to 70% royalty. I'm sure there are some outliers but most are right in that range. I think physical products seem to be less than digital ones: Ebay ~10%, Etsy ~5%.


30/30/30 splits are extremely common across all industries.

https://www.nuvonium.com/blog/view/how-to-price-your-product...

Basically a $10 product had better cost $3 to make, $6 for wholesale, and $10 MSRP. If you're outsourcing manufacture, then you're likely adding another layer in there for a 30/30/30 split.


Where did you get that average income tax rate figure from? It seems high. But regardless, because of the U.S.'s income disparity, I don't think looking at an average here is a meaningful comparison.


> I think it helps prevent fraud and insecure transactions

I got an amazing service to offer you, it's a debit card with 30% fees that will prevent fraud and insecure transactions!


The documentation isn’t great, I’m learning Core Data at the moment and it’s unclear and riddled with mistakes. Google’s must be terrible if it’s worse.


It is. It's really, really bad. Their platform overall is also a lot less... well, good, frankly. You end up bringing in third party libraries a lot for basic stuff if you don't want life to be a living hell of re-discovering reasons people don't use some of the built-in stuff, or stumbling over years-old hundred-comment bug reports that remain unresolved (you'll still hit some of those, just less frequently).

Support for major Google features and initiatives often sucks—Material generally, and as of a couple years ago their Maps library was worse than the JS version in some important ways, such that you'd end up calling out to javascript if you needed something as little-used as, say, address components (rather than one big address string). Yes, seriously. This is a pattern for them. I don't get it, but that's the way it is. Android's not built on a great foundation, and sees a surprising amount of neglect and half-assery in its ongoing development.


Never understood why anyone would use Core Data for anything. What are you using it for?


Persistence, I might end up abandoning it but I felt I should at least try it first.


Apple has a profit margin of 37%.

2017 the App store revenue was ~50 billion, which means Apple made 15 billions from fees.

Their net income was ~50 billion, too, which means 0 App store fees would reduce their profits by 30%.

Not sure if all numbers are correct, but I guess this should give us a ballpark feeling of what we are talking about.


Putting together margins on their hardware and software products just can’t be right.


Why?

The profit margin is a number that includes everything. I compare this to the revenue they make from app store fees. If they stop taking that revenue, their revenue decreases by exactly that amount, their expenses stay the same, so their profit also decreases by exactly that amount.


> Here’s the thing: If you’re a developer for iOS or macOS and want to charge customers money, the Apple-provided payment tools, which demand a 30% cut, are the only ones you’re allowed to use. It’s not even a discussion.

Why does macOS keep getting offhandedly roped into these discussions? Not only is the Mac App Store not a requirement, it's rarely used.

Maybe Apple intends to change that some day, but that's speculation, not reality. And frankly, from where I sit, people have been predicting the demise of macOS sideloading for nearly a decade now, and they're still waiting.


Probably because part of the ios appeal is the insanely smooth interoperation between your mac laptop, your appple watch, and your iphone. If you already have a mac because, say, your work got you one (which in the tech industry is ludicrously common) then getting an iphone if you're shopping for a new device makes a whole lot of sense.


And? Tons of apps on MacOS aren’t in the AppStore.


So what? The question was why macos gets mentioned, this is why. There is deep interoperation between ios and macos that Apple themselves relies on to sell users a better total experience than can be achieved in isolation.


>Maybe Apple intends to change that some day, but that's speculation, not reality.

I'd say it's pretty obvious that this is a desired outcome on Apple's part. You can either wait until it's too late or bring it up before it's happening.


Based on what? Have Apple executives said anything on the matter? Even vague warnings? You're relying on your own interpretations of their intentions.

Over the years, Mac's defaults have changed to protect inexperienced users via restrictions like Gatekeeper and SIP. Apple has never attempted to make any of these systems mandatory. All it takes is a few terminal commands to gain complete kernel-level access to my system.


> Have Apple executives said anything on the matter? Even vague warnings?

Because companies never lie or say that "we're not going to do XYZ" until next week/month/year where they go "XYZ is the new awesome". Expecting companies to be honest is like placing a cat near a canary and expecting them to be BFFs, especially when the topic is something that people have negative concerns about.

It is MUCH better to be explicit and loud about what you do not want to see before it happens, than try to reverse a situation after it has already happened. You lose nothing by doing the former, even if there were never plans to do what you fear might happen.


I tend to look at things from the lens of social capital. If I'm always yelling about something, it desensitizes them when something bad actually happens. The "boy who cried wolf" is the downside, and being explicit and loud about something that hasn't even happened and (to most people's eyes) isn't in the works... It marginalizes you. A lot.


I don't think they ever will do that with Mac, and will be a key reason the platforms remain separate. They have to realize how popular Mac is for developers, going down this path would completely remove that market for them.


So if it is the “desired outcome” why is it taking them over a decade? The Mac App Store was introduced in 10.6 - 7 releases ago.


I obviously agree with you, but tiny nitpick—the App Store was not introduced in 10.6, it was added in a 10.6 point release. So your "7 releases ago" statement isn't quite accurate, although it depends on how you count.


The scenario you propose would eliminate the ability to develop apps for iOS. Are you suggesting Apple is actively trying to kill the iOS app store?


Why would eliminate the ability to develop apps for the iOS? You could be able to download a development environment "app" from the Mac App Store just like now. You'd be a bit more confined inside the environment itself, but there is nothing that would prevent developing applications with Apple's own tools while disallowing installing anything outside of MAS.


Any ability to execute arbitrary code is the ability to bypass the MAS. What's more, it's nice and efficient - iOS apps in development are compiled right to x86 machine code for the "simulator" that is little more than a thin VM.

100% of the projections I've seen about MacOS becoming a walled garden have been from people that don't actually have any real familiarity with Apple's ecosystem as developers.


There are all sorts of restrictions Apple could place on software compiled "unofficially" with Xcode. For example, they could automatically sign it with testing certs that automatically expire after 7 days.

macOS is a more open platform because Apple has decided to leave it that way, not because the property is literally essential for development.


They already require periodic resigning of self-signed side-loaded apps on iOS, it doesn't stop even relatively casual users.

(That's actually the funniest part about all this, now that I think about it. While everyone is wailing and gnashing their teeth about some speculative possibility that macOS ends up locked down like iOS, Apple has been making iOS more open.)


> it doesn't stop even relatively casual users.

Huh?

Is there a significant number of power users who are resigning their apps every seven days? I find this somewhat hard to believe, given just how annoying it is, combined with the three-app limit.


I didn't even know there was a three app limit on it. Most people don't use very many apps. But yes, quite a lot of us routinely sideload apps on non-jailbroken iOS devices.


So how would Apple enforce code signing on code that ran on top of a VM like Java or C# or scripting languages?


By not allowing JITs, just like on iOS.


So you really think Apple is not going to not allow the Mac to run any scripting language or program that runs on top of a VM? Do you think they are also going to take away shell access?

They are also not going to allow any Electron apps?


> So you really think Apple is not going to not allow the Mac to run any scripting language or program that runs on top of a VM?

No, I don't, double check which commenter you're replying to. :)

I'm just arguing Apple could lock down macOS if they wanted to, without making iOS development impossible.


iOS allows JITs.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. You're using bad or outdated second or third-hand info with no regard for the game of telephone involved in getting it to you, nor the anti-Apple zealots obfuscating the truth on its way.


Are you sure? I admittedly can't find a definitive source on this now, so perhaps the restriction is more nuanced than I realized.

What I do know is: if you try to use more intensive emulators like PPSSPP on a non-Jailbroken iOS device (via a developer account, enterprise cert, or similar), you will not get acceptable performance, because the emulator is forced to fall back into an interpreter mode.

Even on Jailbroken devices, the hacks required to make JIT work cause weird issues: https://github.com/hrydgard/ppsspp/issues/9186


The only JIT “restriction” is App Store policy. No downloaded code is allowed unless it’s JavaScript (and runs, as it happens, on one of the JITs iOS has built in). This is policy, not technical limits. You can even install a Python environment and code in it. And, as it happens, write code that downloads other code to be evaluated. Because you did it on your device with full knowledge. Not the developer who put it in the App Store.

I’m not even going to try and address whatever weird issues a console emulator might have, those always have problems being ported to non-x86 platforms, especially when they include a JIT. As it happens, dynamic recompilation of machine code not designed for that purpose can be pretty damn hard. Take a look at the posts the Dolphin emulator team make about the fun they encounter.


> I’m not even going to try and address whatever weird issues a console emulator might have, those always have problems being ported to non-x86 platforms, especially when they include a JIT. As it happens, dynamic recompilation of machine code not designed for that purpose can be pretty damn hard. Take a look at the posts the Dolphin emulator team make about the fun they encounter.

This isn't that! The JIT works when you remove iOS's sandbox (by Jaibreaking). And this applies to every iOS console emulator.


Oh, that's right, it's because iOS normally doesn't allow dynamic code modification in memory. That's not an iOS specific thing at all, Apple is just one of the few companies willing to make that nod to security.


> I'd say it's pretty obvious that this is a desired outcome on Apple's part.

I don’t see that. Why do you think it will happen?


Disagree. Every system has problems. Look at what happened with Zoom — unrestricted access to your entire user account on MacOS, for them to do whatever they want. Normal people should not have to even think about a virus or malware scanner on their system.

I like where Apple is going and I like the iOS model. Most of all, I know that people like my parents will be better protected from malware and spyware and crypto extortion.


> Look at what happened with Zoom — unrestricted access to your entire user account on MacOS, for them to do whatever they want.

Are you saying that if they were applying the same walled market as what they do with iOS, the Zoom issue wouldn't have happened? That seems doubtful to me.


Except this ignores the fact that there has been spyware and malware on Apple's store. Which perhaps gets removed eventually, but what about services that sell your data to the highest bidder without Apple's knowledge? Apple's offered security is relative to their definition of security. All it takes is your parents to install a malicious app that passed the app review. Deferring to Apple as some sort of security baby-sitter is just lazy and blind to the truth.


Like I said, no system is perfect. But let’s be real — which OS model is likely to better secure them and limit the damage? It’s objectively clear it’s iOS. iCloud backups make recovering from the damage much easier too. Backing up MacOS or Windows is still not easy.

Even if they installed a malicious app on iOS, the damage is still limited because of the security model of iOS.

I definitely understand the concern of centralizing everything around one provider, but I’m just pointing out that these systems win because, on the whole, they are a better experience for users. It’s why Facebook wins, and it’s why closed systems continue to crush open ones.


> It’s why Facebook wins, and it’s why closed systems continue to crush open ones.

There's a bit too much going on in your response, so...I greatly disagree on many levels and I feel this statement is a good lead as to why.


The spy/malware problem on the App Store is tiny in comparison to what you see on almost any other platform. Even if something nasty slips through review, it's access to the iOS device is very limited and gated through permission pop-ups.


Sure it's gated through permission pop-ups but I guess anecdotally my family members usually just try to tap as quickly as possible to get through prompts/pop-ups, regardless of what said prompt is asking, in order to accomplish their original goal in the app, not consider security requests.


When Apple is alerted to the problem they remove the app from all devices so I don't have the visit my parents and audit their devices or clean it up for them.


And if Apple never are alerted to the problem? Then your parents still have a malicious app on their phone that no one knew about. Security doesn't start with "I trust Apple" it starts with an understanding of risks.


I know its snarky but complaining about Apple's walled garden via a post on Medium makes me chuckle.


It's especially funny to me, since I apparently have exceeded my monthly premium medium article limit - and would need to pay to actually read this.


I didn't even know that was a thing before clicking on this article


Does "open in a private window" work?


Yes, but, why should I have to do that? I'm not even angry at Medium, business do what business have to do. But why do people willingly post their content on Medium where it gets walled? To begin with, there's WordPress - and countless other alternatives.


I think you need to opt in for your article to be behind paywall and if you do that you get some share from that. So it is basically people wanting to make money from what they write.


Ah ok, so everyone is being rational - that's awesome to hear, thanks! :)


I am happy buying stuff from the iOS store. It's convenient, quick and easy. No objection as an end user.


Apple doesn't allow me to buy anything on my iPhone, as I got my phone in New Zealand, have a British Revolut CC card and phone number, then was in the Netherlands for a while, and am now living in Ireland.

I had to switch the region to Netherlands to install the (free) RyanAir app (why?!) which was rather annoying since then it started offering Dutch suggestions for stuff (which I don't want).

I can't add my UK CC to my account though as it's not a Dutch one, so I switched to the UK region, and then it errors out with "your account is not valid for use in the UK store. You must switch to the Dutch store before purchasing". Why ...? I don't know.

I had a similar problem with the RyanAir app: I switched to Dutch store and then got "your account is not valid for use in the Dutch store. You must switch to the New Zealand store". I forgot how I fixed that.

The reason they have all these restrictions is presumably so I can't use a cheaper store to but stuff.

While this isn't the sort of "broken" that the article talks about, effectively, the iOS store is broken for me. That's always the problems with these kind of restrictions: they also block legitimate use for people who don't fall neatly in your expected audience. I had similar problems ordering a new charger for my ThinkPad in NZ, as I had to use a NZ-based CC to get it delivered to a NZ address :-/

I find this kind of bullshit a super annoying way to waste my time. I never had these kind of problems with the Android store, and as soon as there's an updated Android phone that's not larger than some TVs I've owned (iPhone SE is good size) I'm getting an Android phone again (not that I have a particular love for Android, it's just "less bad").


I can't add my UK CC to my account though as it's not a Dutch one, so I switched to the UK region, and then it errors out with "your account is not valid for use in the UK store. You must switch to the Dutch store before purchasing". Why ...? I don't know.

Because content licensed for a particular geographic region.

I mix regions, too. It's not rocket surgery. You just have multiple iTunes accounts, which are as easy to create as buying an iTunes card while you're in that country and loading it into a new account.

I have US, UK, French, and Japanese iTunes accounts, and have no problems making purchases from any of them because each has an independent country-specific payment source.

You can have up to five on a device. It's something Apple has supported from the beginning.


Nothing you said is easy; it's all a massive PITA and incredibly user-hostile. I do appreciate the advice, but I just want to do normal things without jumping through hoops. I don't even use iTunes; do I have an account? Don't know, and frankly don't care either (I've given up on it).

Here's how everything else works: I see a price for something, I decide I want it, I fill in my CC number, and I have it. No need to go to a physical store and juggle accounts and credit cards and whatnot.


Nothing you said is easy; it's all a massive PITA and incredibly user-hostile.

1: Scroll to bottom of iTunes screen. 2: Click the flag. 3: Choose new country. Doesn't sound that dramatic to me.

I don't even use iTunes; do I have an account?

If you don't have an Apple account, then what is it that you're complaining that you can't make a purchase from? iTunes and Apple accounts are the same thing.

I can't add my UK CC to my account

The account that you say you don't know you have? You're going to have to make up your mind when you rant.


> 1: Scroll to bottom of iTunes screen. 2: Click the flag. 3: Choose new country. Doesn't sound that dramatic to me.

Which doesn't fix anything since then it errors and says I need to use the Dutch store.

> If you don't have an Apple account, then what is it that you're complaining that you can't make a purchase from? iTunes and Apple accounts are the same thing.

I creates an Apple account; so that an iTunes account? iTunes is for buying music, no? I don't even have iTunes on my phone. You seem to think that it's normal that people know all this stuff like "Apple account is also your iTunes account", but that doesn't follow at all.

> The account that you say you don't know you have? You're going to have to make up your mind when you rant.

I can't add it if it's in the Dutch region, so I switch to UK region, add it, and then it says my account is only valid for the Dutch region when I actually try to make a purchase.

The purchase I wanted to make were Irish ordinance survey maps for hiking, which is not tied to the Netherlands at all, so you tell me...


It’s also an edge case.


I could be wrong, but I think that's more because of restrictions from the countries themselves than Apple. I don't think Apple would put unnecessary restrictions in if not for the legal requirements from various countries.


From what I’ve heard, much of that kind of awkward regional nonsense is left over from the origins of iTunes as a music store which required heavy amounts of country specific logic dealing with per region restrictions as a result of licensing deals.


It is not leftover, it applies to applications as well as music and videos. Apps can price themselves per region, or even not be available outside of set regions. There can be multiple reasons for this including third party content licensing or support reasons.


I’m unhappy because Apple has prevented me from using my phone how I want to. I recognised Spotify’s published complaints against Apple 2-3 years before they spoke out. I vowed to never use or buy Apple Music, Apple Watch, HomePod, and even a new iPhone because Apple were degrading my experience with Spotify compared to their own services. They deliberately created an unfair playing field on their platform in order to make more money.

This problem is the same. How can Spotify compete with Apple in a completely separate industry like Music when Apple takes a 15-30% cut? How can Netflix compete? Apple is using their position to expand into other areas of business.

This is bad for competition, and what is bad for competition is generally bad for people.

Sure, Apple has a great, safe experience with the store and in-app purchases, but that is no reason to prevent other flows. Why can I not decide for myself whether to use an App’s “alternative” payment system?


Apple doesn’t take a cut of a Spotify subscription. Spotify hasn’t allowed in app subscriptions for years.

Can I sideload music and integrate it with my Spotify library like I can with Apple Music? Can an artist get included in the Spotify library without giving them a 30% cut?

Apple is introducing cellular streaming in WatchOS 5 and music intents with Siri in iOS 13.

This problem is the same. How can Spotify compete with Apple in a completely separate industry like Music when Apple takes a 15-30% cut? How can Netflix compete?

Netflix also stopped allowing in app subscriptions recently.


I feel like you missed the point. The choices are: give Apple 30%, or do not even so much as hint to the users that they can subscribe on the website. Either option cripples the service compared to Apple’s service.


No, the parent poster said that Spotify and Netflix had to give Apple a cut. Not only do they not have to, they don’t anymore. The parent post stated something that was factually incorrect.

Seeing that Spotify still grew steadily after not allowing in app subscriptions. It doesn’t seem like their growth was harmed.


Spotify can write their own OS and build their own hardware if they don't want to be second class.


> I’m unhappy because Apple has prevented me from using my phone how I want to.

We’re you unaware of that before you bought your device? If you buy a vacuum cleaner and discovered it doesn’t toast bread, are you blaming the vacuum maker?

You know what you get when you buy Apple, there are hardly surprises.


Well yes, I was surprised. I purchased my iPhone ~5 years ago, before they really got started selling services, and information about this issue was not really broadcast back then as far as I can remember.


I used to be happy, but now, not so much due to the increasing trend of subscriptions. Yes I know developers have a living to make, but when you end up potentially paying $50 a year for an SSH client it no longer works for me. Why not charge a realistic one-time fee for an app and then I'll gladly pay.


Does this have anything to do with Apple and their walled garden though? To me it sounds more like a business opportunity to make a SSH client and sell it at a realistic one-time fee to people like you (and me by the way) who are sick of subscriptions. But can’t that be done within he current ecosystem?


One issue is that apps seem to require much more ongoing maintenance just to continue working on iOS. Most of the Windows software I bought 10 or even 20 years ago would probably still work on my current PC, but apps I bought only a few years ago are no longer working for me or have become unavailable on the app store because the developer stopped putting in continuous effort to keep up with iOS.


Imagine if they had a refund process like Android. I'd buy way more stuff. But because I can't try an app and make sure it's not fake or advertises it does x but really only does y I'm scrooge mcduck. I've bought way more apps on Android because of this.


There is a refund process[0]. I generally don’t play games on my phone or use non-essential apps so I haven’t used it often but it has always worked for me.

[0] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204084


https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204084

Not as instant/universally approved as Google's system but there is a process.


That's clunky and annoying. Just being able to delete the app within 2 hours is what I'd like.


Not to mention it prevents piracy and it is significantly more safe than downloading off of random websites.


Great! Let the iOS App Store compete in the free market on its own merits. I suspect it will do quite well—it's installed on all phones by default, and consumers trust it (for good reason).

The App Store should not be the only way to get software on an iPhone, sans literally hacking the device.


But it does. There are other phone platforms I could buy. Flagship android hardware is quite nice, and similarly priced. And in the past Apple has outcompeted to death windows phone and WebOS and Palm OS and BlackBerry, all of which had more open app distribution models.

I want to Apple to be the benevolent dictator of what software is on my phone, And I am willing to pay higher up prices, and put up with missing features in order to protect their revenue stream in exchange for that.


> I want to Apple to be the benevolent dictator of what software is on my phone, And I am willing to pay higher up prices, and put up with missing features in order to protect their revenue stream in exchange for that.

You could still exercise that preference even if Apple opened its platform to (easy) side-loading or other app-stores: you'd just choose to use only Apple's route for software installation.

If the Apple App Store is only one of many ways to install apps on an iOS device, then there's no issue with Apple charging whatever fees it wants. The problem here is the anti-competitive nature, since all roads lead through that same App Store -- you have to choose another phone entirely to avoid the Apple tax.


They are competing in the free market. Users are free to not use their software and there are many other choices.

You seem to be objecting to the manner in which they compete.


> They are competing in the free market. Users are free to not use their software and there are many other choices.

Users are not free to use other software on Apple hardware.

The operative question is how we define the market. Is the operative market "all smartphones," or are iOS devices distinct enough to qualify as a market of their own?

The answer isn't clear to me, especially because there are a variety of soft barriers. Even if "all smartphones" is the relevant market, phones are expensive; it takes on the order of $1k to walk away from an iPhone X in favour of an equivalent Android device.


> You seem to be objecting to the manner in which they compete.

I absolutely am! There is such a thing as unfair competition. As I see it, Apple is using their existing dominance to create barriers to entry for new players.

I'm free to avoid Amazon too, but as increasing amounts of society move to Amazon as the de-facto web store for everything, how reasonable is it to fully boycott them? Sure it's possible, but it would be a substantial life commitment.


Both Samsung and Huawei build more phones than Apple does. There are more Android phones than iOS phones, so exactly who has market dominance? No one is forcing you to buy Apple products. I'll take a more secure and privacy focused platform.


Many of us are boycotting Amazon by accident, I don't think it's a substantial life commitment. What have you wanted to buy from Amazon that you can't find elsewhere?


Apple is using their existing dominance to create barriers to entry for new players.

The number one phone manufacturer is Samsung, not Apple. Huawei is number two.


How did they achieve dominance? Perhaps it’s because of the very features that you consider bugs?


Seriously. If not for Apple's ability to keep apps from fucking with device performance and battery life (too badly, anyway) and to make their OS and overall app ecosystem relatively secure & reliable, I might as well save money and buy Android. Then just not use my phone anywhere near as much, and be less happy when I do, I guess.


Wouldn't you be happier if prices were 25% lower?

Maybe you're not objecting because you don't know how much better the alternative could be?


if the alternative is a malware-infested google play store where every second app phones home 900 times a day or whatever, i think i'll pass.

I'm making my iOS walled garden choice with open eyes.

I'm happy to sideload apps if they're worth it; so far the only one i found that I cared enough about to do this with was Blink, and i wound up buying it on the app store afterwards so the developers could get their cut.


I’m not objecting because I know the alternative of not using a walled garden (Windows and Android) and I have wasted too much of my life dealing with its issues. I’d pay 25% more if I had to because the time it has saved me and my family is priceless.


Prices on the iOS AppStore are already almost unsustainably low.


The user will never get the benefit of savings up the chain. That's not going to happen so don't act like it's an option.


Your views don't change even after learning that most of your purchases that are to support developers are being skimmed by 30% ? (similar situation to Steam but at least their development tools are nearly bug free, and really help development)

The problem here is that they also charge 100 or $50 just to start developing on their platform...


> Your views don't change even after learning that most of your purchases that are to support developers are being skimmed by 30% ?

Why would that matter in the slightest? If I'm a developer and I figure I need to make $4 off every sale, I just price my app at $6. It will make apps cost more to the end-user, of course; the end-user can then decide whether they want to pay in cash to Apple (via app purchases) to develop iOS, or pay in lack of privacy to Google to develop Android.

What makes me angry about this sort of post is that _right now I have a choice_ -- if I want to pay with money instead of privacy, I choose Apple; if I want to pay with privacy instead of money, I choose Android. Articles like this are clearly meant to _take away my choice_, leaving "pay by privacy" the only option available to me.


So did you buy software from retail when they were taking 60%? Do you buy music when the artist only gets pennies? Do you use Spotify where the artist gets even less?

Do you realize that it costs thousands of dollars to develop for either the Playstation or Nintendo and you have to sign an NDA? Do you buy console games?


skim: informal, steal or embezzle

This isn't skimming. This is a business agreement. The developer should understand the business agreements they enter into.


There is no charge to start development for iOS. The tools are available for any Mac owner.


Sorry, this time I really don't get the downvotes. Did I say anything incorrect? If so, please correct me. If not, why am I downvoted?


Because there are many on here who consider paying $100 for being able to distribute on the App Store outrageous. They don't realise that just putting in 1 hour of your development time to create something usually costs more than that.


The point is, you don't need to pay to develop an app, you only need to pay for submitting it into the app store. So perhaps I should have added a disclaimer to my statement and not just limit it to precisely what I expressed.

I did not intend to make a statement about the submission fee.


You're right, you can download and get started for free. But it costs $99/year to distribute on the App Store...


The mobile app markets are operating at such scales, that there's a literal avalanche of scammers and assholes waiting to take advantage of you.

There is zero chance that I would send personal info or payment data to some no-name app and even most of the other well known apps.


Correlation may not be causation, but I have a four year old CC that is just used for online subscriptins and purchases (netflix, hbo, apple, amazon, intuit, airlines, phone).

Friday AM, I threw caution to the wind and used it at a smaller retailer site and software vendor. Within an hour I had a notice from my bank that my cc information had been exposed and a new card was being sent to me.

I don’t like a world where I have to be paranoid and minimize the vendors who get my sacred numbers/business, but from the headlines and experience not many others are willing to be paranoid enough about security for me.


> There is zero chance that I would send personal info or payment data to some no-name app and even most of the other well known apps.

Then don't...

It never stopped me from giving my credit card number to Amazon. I gained quite a bit from that and never had to give 30% to Apple to gain from it. I did have to give 2.5% to Visa though, but they did provide a pretty good service to justify that 2.5%.


I had a while ago calculated the actual download cost with S3's pricing on what each ~100MB Spotify update would cost if it was self hosted. Assuming each paid and free Spotify customer on the iOS platform updated the app was something to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars depending on how you estimate the marketshare of iOS for Spotify versus their other platforms.

What the App Store provides is not valueless, quite the opposite in fact. It's an entire system of distribution management.

Is it monopolistic? By definition, no, because Android is the #1 smartphone platform in the world.

Is it great that Apple has provided no alternative way of downloading software to the iPhone and iPad? No, that's not great either, but users knew that from day one (when the iPhone had no App Store at all).

In reality, iOS is no different than a game console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, and yet we consider those closed marketplaces completely functional and normal.

If Apple was the only company making smartphones or if they even made a plurality of them, perhaps this would be a problem.


> Is it monopolistic? By definition, no, because Android is the #1 smartphone platform in the world.

This depends on how you describe the market. Is the market smartphone users or is it iOS apps? If you are in the market to buy an iOS app, you must go through apple, which would suggest it is a monopoly. IANAL but this has precedence - think of the “windows browser market” that Microsoft was raked over the coals about. The fact that you could buy a Mac or run Linux didn’t appease the courts IIRC.

I find a lot of value in the iOS App Store and think it is just like a game console, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be viewed as a monopoly _for iOS apps_


Microsoft was raked over the coals because they actually possessed a pure monopoly.

In 2002 Internet Explorer had a 96.6% browser marketshare. [1]

In 1999 Microsoft Windows made up around 95% of desktop operating systems in use. [2]

In terms of antitrust law, IANAL but, I think you'd have a harder time convincing a court that the App Store is a monopoly of any sort. I don't think you can just break down markets into sections like that and claim they have a monopoly on that section.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#On...

[2] https://money.cnn.com/1999/01/19/technology/microsoft/


The value is that Apple allows distribution. Distribution could be handled any number of ways for considerably less. It is only valuable (especially at 30%) because it is the only one allowed.


One might say the same thing about any retail store - that distribution of my product could be done considerably less than what that store is asking for. But the whole calculation is that the value of distributing somewhere is weighed against the opportunity cost of not distributing there.

Apple's < 20% global marketshare isn't anywhere near enough to make the assertion that customers don't have alternatives.


Even if Apple takes 30%, that’s still 70% that the app developer wouldn’t have if the App store didn’t exist. Without the App Store we would still depend on publishers to put us into stores, ask any author how that worked out for them.


Sorry, but the blog post is a hard sell. It's obviously from an app developer that would prefer not to jump through the hoops of the App Store, but as a customer, I like it.

It's not perfect but it appears to be much, much better than Google version.

What I don't like is the limited app discovery, and the bad rules in terms of apps just taking names and causing a lot of confusion so that I'm not sure if that's the app I really want to install.


It's worth going back to the App Store reveal video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo9cKe_Fch8

30% might be high, and there's certainly a case to be made for conflict of interest in the Netflix/Spotify arena, but the App Store is solving a lot of problems: it's a single, universal way to get an app out to every iThing, it manages updates, and there's no nickel-and-diming in terms of processing fees or hosting or anything like that.

I thought it was in that keynote but maybe not: I remember someone comparing a 30% cut to the costs associated with getting a physical copy onto retail shelf, and if I recall correctly it was in the same universe.


> Posting article ranting against walled gardens on Medium

The irony here is palpable ಠ_ಠ


App Store cash is often significantly discounted. You can often buy $100 iTunes cards for $83 at Costco, for instance. This spurs on a lot of spend on the platform given that it becomes a staple gift choice for a lot of younger relatives.

Further this is all very hand-wavy about abuse without mentioning the benefits that very same platform provides. It makes the whole discussion around it completely specious because it's inventing a victimization.


"For each card processed, a developer will pay an average processing fee of around 2% to 3%"

My understanding is that credit card processors, Stripe for example, charge $0.30 + 2.9% of the transaction amount. So for an $0.99 purchase that is roughly 33 cents. On large purchases your statement is true, but in-app purchases average $0.99.


This is one reason why microtransactions are often aggregated by either pre-selling a pseudocurrency or credit or by having the seller essentially extend you credit and capture payment after several microtransactions have gone by. You can see this on iTunes and the App Store; if you buy a song, you are unlikely to get billed for the song immediately. Apple will quietly keep a tab open for a few hours (or days!) and then wrap all purchases into a single transaction, which is much more economic for them.


There are many facets to this. First of all, the App Store performs a range of services. Payment processing, the app review, hosting. For the user it is a trusted platform, where credit card numbers are not transmitted to arbitrary locations on the web, the app review and the ability to withdraw malicious applications do offer quite some protection.

From this side, the App Store fee can be justified. Whether it is reasonable or to high depends on many parameters. A fair solution would be to have the fee start at 30% and decline with sales numbers, as the review process doesn't increase. Of course, large commercial entities, who do have their own servers/payment processors and don't need a trusted site to host their apps are less happy with the policies.

But beyond the discussion about the fee, there is the aspect that Apple prevents all software installations from outside the app store. This is something which has to change as Apple isn't only protecting against malware, but also limits a lot of benign applications from being available on iOS. The first thing coming to my mind is Termux, which would instantly make an iPad much more usable. And extending that, a whole range of development tools could run way better on the iPad than it is allowed on the App Store. Just imagine a Linux VM running on the iPad...

Apple should (or should be forced by regulators) to offer a Gatekeeper-like solution on the iPad/iPhone which gives the users a reasonable amount of control about their devices.

And there is of course the content question. Apple tries to enforce their idea of "morale" onto the users. This is fine for their storefront, so to say, but there should be a section in the App Store for adult content. Especially the safe payment process would make this a very attractive service. If Apple wants to keep the "service" story alive for the App Store, they should craft their services according to the user demands, not to their ideas of what users should consume and install.


I believe Apple users choose the Apple ecosystem specifically because they value the protection the App Store provides. I can't even imagine the nightmare if every app was allowed to redirect me to their website, register there and enter payment information before I can start using their app. This system would be abused as hell. The in-app purchases are transparent (I can review all my transaction in one single place) and I can approve my child's purchases remotely.

Also I am sure if the roles were switched, Spotify would no way in hell allow Apple Music to be priced the same way on their App Store for their ecosystem users. It's hypocrisy.

I agree 30% might be too much, but it's their App Store, their users, their infrastructure, their public trust at stake, their rules.


The restrictions and policy applied by Apple and to some extend Google makes it very hard to get traction, particularly for smaller developers.

It feels extremely risky to develop high-budget new apps in this environment as there is a real chance the app will be rejected in order to comply with hard to understand limitations or end up not being allowed to be published at all.


Apple's ecosystem is one of the best out there actually, pretty seamless experience with little flaws here and there that are ok to live with or they get fixed slowly.

Compare that to the alternatives and you'll find it marginally better


You could replace iOS with Android, altough it is even more broken though. Just in worse ways. Hello arbitary dev account bans with no human to answer. Byebye privacy.


"monopolistic"? doesn't Apple have around 10% market share?


I noticed that the author published this on a website that implements a paywall, doesn't allow much control over the look of their column, and tries to make you log into an official Medium account to read. I wonder why that is, if they're championing the open ecosystem so much?


all this whining about things not being fair. they created it, you use it. stop whining. I dont like it, I dont use it, simple.

It didn't exist before, it doesn't need to exist, and its purpose of existence is not to be fair to you.

this country is turning into a bunch of bitches


Is anyone familiar enough with Medium to know why someone would publish their blog on the platform, and lock users behind a paywall in order to read their blogposts?

Do they get a cut? I'm not even sure of price, but just see a screen that lets me know I've hit the end of my "Member Preview".


I pay taxes



He is complaining about payments in Apple Store using annoyingly paywalled medium.

As an iOS Developer I think that's 30% cut is fair and it works. Just look at sales numbers on iOS vs Android. Most of sales comes from iOS. As a user I hate then devs decide to skip MacOS store. For me it means I have to use some 3rd party payment and license management solution so they can save some money.


"Solution"

Something something "... should..." something something "... should..."

That's not a solution. That's not even hope. That's dreaming.




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