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[dupe] Apple Threatens to Remove App 'Hey' from App Store over No In-App Subscriptions (macrumors.com)
347 points by sixhobbits 29 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 348 comments




It's baffling to me. I can buy a USD1k+ device and still not be able to install on it the apps I want because the manufacturer doesn't want me to, and this is legal? Such horsecrap.

People get annoyed when folks on the internet repeatedly bring up Libre/Free software and software freedoms, but just look at this shit.

There's essentially no way for me to install an app on my iPhone if Apple doesn't want me to, even though I paid over $1000 for it.


Even more baffling is that i can't just install a program i wrote myself on a device i own without having to get it signed and have that signature renewed once a week.

Like, what's the point of having a non-programmable computer?


What's the point of having a non-programmable dishwasher ?

And the answer is because people don't think of phones, dishwashers, TVs, cars, gaming consoles etc as computers even though by any technical definition they are.


iPhones are designed to run apps. They are general purpose computers even if their name says otherwise.

Comparing them to dishwashers is ... well you can't.


You're being dishonest.

A phone is not a dishwasher, a phone is a phone. We have examples of modern phones and computers that allow users to install their own programs. It's only Apple that refuses to treat its customer's with respect.


With all respect, I think "dishonest" is a mean-spirited choice of words.

Sure, we have examples of computers that allow users to install their own programs, but we also have examples of computers that by and large do not: video game consoles. It's been clear from very early on that Apple thinks of iOS devices as "application consoles."

Furthermore, while a phone clearly isn't a dishwasher, what about a smart TV? The LG OLED that I have sitting in the living room proudly proclaims it runs WebOS when I turn it on, but as far as I know, there's no way for me to put my own software onto it even though it would surely be capable of running it. I'm sure there are people who are upset about that at least in principle, but in practice most of us don't really care too much about that. The comment sections of reviews of LG TVs are not filled up with angry cries about how LG refuses to respect its customers.

There are arguments about whether Apple should treat iOS devices as equivalent to consoles. For instance, I don't think it's intrinsically bad to have started that way but as time goes on there are purely practical arguments against continuing it -- and it seems actively detrimental to where Apple wants to take the iPad. But I don't think "this shows Apple doesn't respect its customers" is a particularly useful takeaway here; the vast majority of customers really aren't jonesing to sideload apps.

Last but not least, while this whole "the platform must be open" is a favorite hobby horse of HN -- and, to repeat, I am in favor of letting people sideload iOS apps! -- it's slightly orthogonal to the beef Hey has with Apple here. Yes, if Hey could sideload their app that would get around the problem, but the real question is whether Apple is being fair by saying that Hey can't be in the store unless they allow their subscription to be bought with an in-app purchase. This is demonstrably not a standard they've applied universally, and it's dubious whether it's a standard they should have at all.


> video game consoles

Huh? I used to make DIY games as late as early 00s, for GBA, Sega Dreamcast and PS1.

Is that no longer possible with modern consoles?


For Microsoft you can't do it with the Xbox 360.

All Xbox One can acts as a DevKit but you will need to pay a 20USD ont-time fee to get a developper account that will allow you to use their SDK and various tools.


You are repeating the same mistake the OP calls as being "dishonest" (although I agree that this is a bit overreacting). Why do you keep comparing phones with other appliances such as dishwashers, video game consoles, or smart TVs?

As the grandparent comment clearly says: We have examples of modern phones [...] that allow users to install their own programs.


I explained why I was making the comparison in the post: Apple clearly (at least to me) conceived of iOS devices as application consoles, analogous to game consoles. If you don't think they should have conceived of them that way -- and I'm pretty sure I also addressed that -- that's fine, but I genuinely don't think my comparison of iOS devices to game consoles is dishonest. I think it's literally the way Apple intended them to operate. You may think that they shouldn't intend them to operate that way, and I might agree, but that's really a different argument.


> Why do you keep comparing phones with other appliances such as dishwashers, video game consoles, or smart TVs?

For many (most?) people, their phone is just another appliance.


The point is, you should compare phones to other brands of phones. It does not make sense to compare an appliance to just another appliance.

Would you be happy if your coffee machine boiled the water but did not actually make coffee, because that's what electric kettles do? It's just another appliance; but it's not an electric kettle, it's supposed to make coffee.


> You're being dishonest.

I don't think it's fair to say that the user you replied to is lying intentionally. There's nothing in what they said to suggest that. You may not agree with them, that doesn't make them a liar.


Maybe "intellectually dishonest" would be a better term. I do think they are being intentionally misleading by putting iPhones in the same category as washing machines, while conveniently forgetting that Android and Windows exists.


A better analogy would be a dishwasher from BigCorp that only allows you to wash dishes approved by BigCorp.


It’s a conspiracy from Big Dishwasher to take over the entire dishware industry.


oh wow, i am just getting my feet wet so thanks for saying. i am basically just ignoring iOS for now and am able to run my unsigned apps fine on the mac without me having to open a developer account.

that's such a let-down!

i was planning to re-write the reminder app on my phone for myself because i have a unique way of using it and i thought it would be a nice app for just me...


> run my unsigned apps fine

You probably agreed to some terms and conditions to use xcode however.

I don't know if you can "route around this" with something like brew and add a dev toolchain without xcode.


> i can't just install a program i wrote myself on a device i own without having to get it signed

Same with a Firefox extension.

(I'm not defending Apple. Apple is wrong and Mozilla is wrong.)


There must be some way to do it. I'm running an extension I wrote on my Firefox. Up to date and all. The extension is on the "store", but the edition I have installed isn't, and it's definitely not signed.


Not really the same thing, for two big of reasons:

1) Getting your Mozilla extension signed is free, but you have to pay just to develop an iOS app

2) You can install unsigned extensions on nightly and developer builds, which seems perfectly reasonable. Stable and secure for the general public, bleeding edge + customizable for those who care.


> You can install unsigned extensions on nightly and developer builds

Have you tried using one? You get daily nag popups to install today's developer build. I'm trying not to switch to Chrome entirely, but every Firefox release makes it harder.


`sudo dnf update` is the first thing I do every morning, so that's never been a problem for me. That does seem annoying, though. Sometimes Mozilla is its own worst enemy...


> but you have to pay just to develop an iOS app

Apple changed this a year or two ago. You do not have to pay to test apps on your own phone.


Mozilla will not let you publish an extension that they disagree with politically.


> i can't just install a program _i wrote myself_ on a _device i own_ without having to get it signed

You're moving the goalposts.

But, because of the fact that you can run unsigned extensions on nightly builds, there is nothing stopping you from distributing your unsigned extension through github or bittorrent or anything else.


No, you moved the goalposts.

The original person you replied to said "Same with a Firefox extension." not a "nightly or developer build of Firefox extension".

If you can't get an extension on a regular build of Firefox, you might as well not be able to do it because for most users installing nightly or dev is a big problem.


Firefox is free, it's technically possible to build a version with different rules about extensions.


You paid $1000 knowing that you couldn’t install arbitrary software. You had a choice. You could have bought an Android like 85% of the world.


Microsoft was fined for just shipping an OS with a default browser. You were still allowed to install any browser you wanted.

If Microsoft was found guilty, I don’t see why Apple is innocent.


Microsoft also had 95% market share and was fined for not allowing third party OEMs to ship alternate browsers and even charging them for PCs shipped without their operating system.


The was quite literally no alternative to Microsoft in many scenarios, and windows enjoyed a >95% marketshare. You simply couldn't run a business if you weren't running Windows.

iOS has <15% marketshare, and millions of people transition back and forth across platforms regularly. I was on Android, now I'm on iOS, and tomorrow I could be on Android if there was a compelling case.

Apple is abusive, and needs to be reigned in, but comparing iOS to the late-90s Windows situation betrays a misunderstanding of the situation in the 90s.


I don’t think it is fair to count iOS market share by comparing it to all androids devices. Should be between iOS and total android flagship devices. Also, last I read 2-3 years ago, Apple profit crushed all android makers profit. Maybe we should use this for market share?


So now we are going to make a carve out for “all devices over $x”. Users have a choice between Androids “open ecosystem” and Apple’s “walled garden”. The consumers made a choice to spend more on Apple’s devices using their own free will. Do we really need the government to tell them that they made the wrong choice?


You don't need to carve anything. The market under consideration is not phones. It's phone application publishing and distribution and it is mostly a duopoly.

Abuse on this market will most likely affect content producers more than users. It's not about consumers'choices. It's about the impact the current situation has on the rest of the market.


There was a podcast about how US monopoly law has always been focused on consumers and not producers, but this is the best summary I could find. Notice the focus is on consumer harm.

https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/09/antitrust-law.as...

Antitrust laws also referred to as competition laws, are statutes developed by the U.S. government to protect consumers from predatory business practices.

If these laws didn't exist, consumers would not benefit from different options or competition in the marketplace. Furthermore, consumers would be forced to pay higher prices and would have access to a limited supply of products and services.


The goal of antitrust law was initially to promote competition. That benefits the consumer because competition leads to either lower prices or improved differentiation.

One of the most famous early use of the antitrust is United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. in 1948 which ended the studio system. It was about vertical integration and how the studios used their power to both bully small cinemas and prevent competition on the production side. As you can see, there is no consumer in sight.

The Chicago School of economics pushed very hard for narrowing the scope of the law (obviously) but that's a fairly modern take.


IOS is probably closer to 50% marketshare in the US and perhaps near 90% in younger demographics. Anti-trust doesn't require a perfect monopoly, only consumer harm.


Tough to find good, recent data on this, but by and large, the trend skews in the other direction. iOS is proportionally more popular than Android among older people.

Old (2013) data: https://www.statista.com/statistics/271228/android-vs-iphone...


I hate to be the [citation needed] guy again, but the iPhone came out in 2007 and the first Android phone came out in 2008, and you're citing data from 2013. Those phones were five to six years old when that data came out, and that data is now seven years old.

In 2017[1], the iOS/Android market share between people 18-29 and people 30-59 seems to be almost identical, and while the market share of people 60+ shows a bit more of a bias toward iOs, it's not a super dramatic difference. In any case, I think this mostly reflects that there are way, way more Android phones available at a huge range of price points than there are iPhones, and if you don't have a whole lot to spend on a new phone you're more likely to get an Android. Because it's pretty difficult to get a new iPhone for less then $350[2] and most of them are in the $600+ range, its audience tends to skew older just because older people tend to have more money.

[1]: https://www.statista.com/statistics/911113/smartphone-os-sha...

[2]: The iPhone 7 is currently on sale for $350 through carriers, but the cheapest iPhone Apple admits to still making is the iPhone SE at $400.


I sadly can't view your statista link at all, it seems entirely behind a paywall.

> its audience tends to skew older just because older people tend to have more money.

Yeah, I didn't comment on the cause, but I expect that's a big reason for it.

In any case, it's still a far cry from near 90% iOS use in younger demographics. (I edited my other reply slightly - I didn't mean to imply that Android has a 90% marketshare in younger age groups, just that it's proportionally more popular than in older age groups.)


Huh. I am certainly not paying for Statista, so I am not sure what's going on there -- maybe they're one of those sites that only lets you look at a few links before trying to charge you.


How is the consumer harmed? If Apple’s “walled garden” was harming consumers we should see lower prices for Android apps.


Right, I buy an Apple device for myself and my whole family exactly because the ecosystem is a tightly integrated walled garden.

There’s nothing anti-competitive or anti-consumer about walled gardens per say. Walled gardens are consistently chosen by consumers because they make devices easier to use and maintain and the user experience more predictable through actual enforcement of consistent UI standards.


There is a consumer harm when Apple Music doesn't have to pay 30% cut to App Store while Spotify and the likes have to. That's a huge competitive advantage to Apple. Not to mention Apple can simply advertise their own Apple Music Subscription inside the default Music app and gain market share just like Internet Explorer did.


Spotify hasn’t allowed in app purchases for years. It doesn’t pay a 30% cut.


They don't do that because Apple doesn't allow you to do that. Not because they don't want to.


I’m sure every company would like to sell stuff for free and bypass the retailer’s markup.


They already get charged $100/year for doing that.


A whole $100 a year? How much do you think the slotting fee is for your typical grocer? Do you think wholesalers pay retailers only $100 a year and then get no markup?


Not a developer's problem if $100 isn't enough for Apple. They are free to charge a fair price and get rid of their anti-competitive behaviour.


Google makes billions of dollars as the gatekeeper to advertising on their Search engine.

Apple makes (fewer) billions of dollars as the gatekeeper to their App Store.

Google probably takes more than a 30% cut on the ad revenue that they place on 3rd party sites.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect analogy (that would be a contradiction). But in general companies make a product, they get to derive revenue directly by selling the product, and/or they can derive revenue by selling access to the users of that product.

Google gives the Search engine away for free because they can make way more money selling advertisers access. Apple increasingly is giving their phone away free-er (lower margin) because they can derive more revenue by selling access to services like App Store.

It’s their store. They created it. They sold it with the rules they created being clearly displayed on the package. They actually believe those exact rules to be a huge competitive advantage for them.

I believe the rules should be clear and evenly enforced, and they should not discriminate based on things like political/religious viewpoint or basically content beyond maturity rating/obscenity/hate speech.


Your analogy falls apart when you consider the fact that Google is being sued for the behaviour you just mentioned. No reason why Apple shouldn't be treated in the same light.


It’s now “anti competitive” for a reseller to markup the price of items it sells? Physical retailers charge both a markup fee and slotting fee. Every console maker takes a cut of games sold both physical and digital. They also charge thousands for their developer’s kit.


Video games are not essential services, even if video game industry dies tomorrow nothing much will change. Smartphones are not the same, Apple can easily wipe off half the companies on top 100 list if they decide to shut down their app stores. That is too much power in the hands of a single company with no regulations.


Wow smart phone apps are essential services?

Console makers could also wipe out game studios if they shut down.

If Apple shut down the App Store iPhone users would buy Android phones - like 85% of the rest of the world.


I think you might be surprised.


iOS has a 60-65% market share in the USA. Monopolies are not world wide. They are per country. There is no world government

https://gs.statcounter.com/vendor-market-share/mobile/united...

https://gs.statcounter.com/vendor-market-share/tablet/united...


Browsing marketshare is not equivalent to marketshare. StatCounter captures browsing, and iOS users measurably browse more (for a variety of reasons - more powerful devices, more integral usage, a better experience, etc).

In the US, iOS marketshare is around 45% and trails Android (which is around 50%).

Both platforms have enormous support across virtually every service. It is demonstrably easy to transition between platforms.


Android is not a phone vendor. Samsumg, LG, Sony, Motorola are phone vendors. Wrong comparison. Apple has the largest market by far of any phone vendor.


I don't know what that 15% figure means (the number of devices?) but that's probably irrelevant. As of 2019 App Store's total revenue is $14.2 billion vs Google Play Store's $7.7 billion.

It looks more like 65% vs 35%, if we exclude other app stores.


So now we need the government to get involved because poor little Google can’t create a compelling ecosystem?


No. We need government involved because Apple are using mafia methods to extract 15-30% revenue out of app developers who do not even want to use the App Store but are forced to do so if they want to cater to smartphone users. If Apple is sitting on 65% of the app revenue worldwide they must surely be viewed as a monopoly.


How is this different than what console makers have been doing since the 80s? Nintendo not only charges a fee for each third party game sold, it also forced third party game makers to use its manufacturing facilities.

If Google can’t make a competitive ecosystem, it only has itself to blame.

Also revenue has never been the deciding factor on what a “monopoly” is.


To be found guilty of illegally abusing your monopoly power, you must first have a monopoly.


Time to change the definition to oligopoly then


On that note

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateoflahertyuk/2020/06/07/micr...

>Microsoft has just issued a new strike to Google Chrome by handing its recently launched Edge browser to all Windows 10 users via Windows Update. In a stunning move that will bring Edge to millions of users, it will be available on Windows 10 versions 1803, 1809,1903 and 1909, according to Microsoft.


So, if Apple had 85% market share this would have been not fine then? At what marketshare do we decide it is fine for them to not do this? We can always ask the user to look for an alternative.

Honestly, this whole think has stunk for a long time. iOS is a platform and it is dominant. It severely reeks of monopolistic behaviour when they use their leverage on one platform to gain advantage in a new one. Apple Music doesn't have to pay the 30% tax while also getting free product placement from Apple as compared to something like Spotify.


There's no requirement in law that all technology businesses need to hew to any particular philosophy or ideology of computing; no one has to be "open". This has always chafed a lot of tech people because Apple is successful while being "closed".

The only thing that would change this is if Apple was found to be "dominant" or have "monopoly power" in a "relevant market" as held by a court.


But aren't they a dominant power already. Android can have 80% market share but the app store revenue reality is 2:1 in the favour of iOS.[1]

Isn't it anti competitive for a new service like a movie streaming app to be at a competitive disadvantage financially than if Apple decides to launch their own.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/2/4/21121558/google-80-billion...


>But aren't they a dominant power already. Android can have 80% market share but the revenue reality is 2:1 in the favour of iOS.

A regulator/prosecutor will certainly try to argue they're dominant! But market power is measured by market share, not share of revenue. That'd basically find anyone that sells high-end products in any category as a monopolist.

>Isn't it anti competitive for a new service like a movie streaming app to be at a competitive disadvantage financially than if Apple decides to launch their own.

Apple is not barred from competing with anyone in the App Store, just as Walmart isn't banned from competing with any of the vendors they stock in their stores.


> But market power is measured by market share, not share of revenue.

Actually market share is routinely defined as share of revenue. It often makes more sense than number of units.

> That'd basically find anyone that sells high-end products in any category as a monopolist.

High-end products have high margins but low volume. High end producers are rarely dominating their market by share of revenue.


Care to name a case in the last 40 years where “a monopoly” was defined by revenue?


As dominant position is clearly defined using market share with market share being understood as both unit market shares and revenue market share, I will go with all of them.


So you can’t....


I think I should reword my comment. How is App store revenue example of app being "high end". It just shows it is more profitable for a developer to be on iOS as they probably get 2/3 of their revenue from it.


That argument is going to be a winning one. Apple achieved market dominance by charging three times as much for the same product - those bastards. It’s not Apple’s fault that the entire Android ecosystem is a commoditized race to the bottom.


I didn't quote the revenue of iPhones, I quoted the revenue of app developers from the respective stores being 2:1 in favour of iOS.


So now that evil monopolist not only convinced people to pay three times as much now they convinced those poor more affluent consumers to give developers twice as much.

Cry me a river....


Actually yes. Instead of thinking that you're buying an iPhone, you're buying an ecosystem that includes the app store, iMessage, iCloud, etc... If you don't like that option, there is Android.

Consumers go in knowing that is the ecosystem they are buying into. Developers also go in knowing the same. Neither are forced, and have other options that are relatively comparable.


Well, Apple also benefited from those apps being there, it is not like only the app developers benefited. The biggest complaint against Windows Phone used to be the app ecosystem and eventually that's what killed it as well.

Phone market being essentially a duopoly, I don't want a independent service developer to be financially disadvantaged to compete and eventually the platforms owning all the big money making services.


Yes. Users have choices. You don’t have to have the nanny state to protect you from buying devices that don’t meet your needs.

Apple Music doesn't have to pay the 30% tax while also getting free product placement from Apple as compared to something like Spotify.

Spotify hasn’t allowed in app payments for years and don’t pay the 30% “tax” either.

Are you also against every grocery store having store brands and “slotting fees”?


What about scarface74’s new fancy music app with negligible market share and no legal team? Will Apple show any mercy and not collect their duties?


You mean like Tidal?


Yeah, exactly the kind of thing he was talking about.

Tidal had the backing of Jay-Z and several other artists.


"Are you also against every grocery store having store brands and “slotting fees”?"

I don't have any insider knowledge of the industry, but since COVID has been a thing, I've noticed that there are brands appearing that are local or regional, that look way better that what I'm used to, and so I'm asking myself if maybe there was something messed up or even corrupt about the distribution system before. If these brands can step in in a crisis, why didn't the store carry them before?

I don't have a really well-formed point, just a vague sense of vindication that yeah, markets (like an app store) are run by people, and maybe they're not run in the best manner and it isn't obvious. I think markets are valuable, just like computers, as tools to solve optimization problems. But like computers, they can fail to solve your specific problem, or have uncompetitive performance. Like computers, they're complex and you can easily be snowed about how well they're functioning if you're not immersed in details.


Well, Spotify doesn't allow it to so that it doesn't have to pay the tax. Everyone wants to make the signup flow as easy as they can, do you think they would not want to increase their userbase.

If we didn't have nanny state to protect us probably Microsoft's dominance would have went unchallenged and you won't have the plethora of different services that we see.


Right because after the ruling , Microsoft became a shell of its former self, lost its position as one of the five most valuable companies in the US and lost its dominance in the desktop operating system and office productivity market.....


I guess it made more of an impression on me when Apple surpassed Microsoft in market cap.

I could be off, but I feel like there was a time when the valuation of Microsoft was something like 100 times that of Apple, and Apple wasn't even leveraged like we expect companies to be now. I remember when it seemed like every story about Apple in the WSJ called them "beleaguered" or something similar.

And then, to have them some back and surpass Microsoft, while it was a triumph for Steve Jobs, it also did kind of seem like Microsoft had been hobbled. Especially because while Apple had broken out of its rut, Microsoft's stock price was stuck going nowhere for a very long time, post 2000.

Now Microsoft is having its own renaissance, but a lot of people thought it had lost its way.


Microsoft wasn’t hobbled by the government it was poor execution first in the media player market and then in the mobile market. Nothing forced MS to come out with the failed Plays4Sure initiative and then the Zune.


It just becomes speculative now but many would argue that did help the other big companies in that group you talked about to grow. https://www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/9/6/17827042/anti...


Google was dominant way before Chrome existed. Apple never did gain significant market share on the desktop and became profitable first with music and then mobile - MS tried to compete in both. Facebook success had nothing to do with the anti trust trial and neither did Amazon.


A similar ruling did work to increase browser diversity in Europe with the ballot. I wouldn't argue that the US's wrist slap is evidence that anti-trust is worthless. Consider if Standard Oil, company towns, or child labor were still common in the US. Without regulation it's possible we'd still live in that nightmare once called 'normal'.


That was a Pyrrhic victory. “Browser diversity” paved the way for dozens of profitable companies releasing profitable competing products.

In the real world, Microsoft and almost everyone else threw in the towel and just used Chromium because they realized there was no point in trying to make a browser engine.

Firefox is only barely hanging on while most of its revenue comes from a competitor (Google) and Apple just went its own way after supporting Safari on Windows for awhile.

The legislators - as usual ignorant of tech - didn’t do anything to curb MS’s power or control over operating systems and office productivity apps. Where they made and continue to make much of their money.


50% in the USA. And next to nobody releases apps for Android only precisely because of that number.

The problem has way more to do with how this affects developers then how it affects consumers. The amount of control that Apple has over the US market is the reason why they should be targeted by an anti-trust investigation here.


Good luck proving antitrust with such a small marketshare.

You also fail to share that iOS developers are paid much much more when compared to android and they only have to target fewer devices and versions which makes developing much much easier than the fragmented cluster in android.


Google Play also has a 30% fee. The only prominent app that I am aware of that tried to get around the fee is Fortnite by releasing outside of the store.

Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony also get a cut of every game sold - even physical games.

US monopoly law has never been about producers. It’s been about consumers. Are consumers really better off with the insecure by design desktop operating systems? How much malware, ransomware, and viruses have there been on Windows? I’m not excusing Macs. The only thing that makes them safer is few people bother about writing malware for them.


What google play does not have is a ToS that requires you to use the Google Play billing and forbids you from talking about other ways to pay for the app. (Google play does have a lot of restrictions around this, but it's not quite as draconian as apple's. what basecamp is doing here would be allowed on the play store)


So Google Play should be bringing in a lot more money if Apple’s policy is hurting developers. Obviously, it’s not.


You are treating App store as a product while in reality it's a platform like Amazon. There are two sides to it - merchants (or developers) and users. Both sides should be treated fairly and right now Apple is leaning more on consumer side while screwing the developers.


That argument is really going to fly with a juror. Apple is being too consumer friendly.


Why not? Merchants do that all time to Amazon. How are developers different in this case?


How has that worked out?


Just because injustice is happening doesn't mean you keep letting it happen "just because it's happened in the past too". It's not a reason to not speak up against it. Speaking up against it and making everyone aware is the first step in seeking justice. Just keeping mum about it wouldn't change the status quo.


So it’s “injustice” that Apple is being “too consumed friendly”?


Not sure how many times I have to repeat the same things, you keep circling back to same rhetoric again and again. Apple's app store is not a B2C business, it's B2B2C business. They are supposed to make sure the developers get a fair deal even if means the consumers don't get the best of experience.


That’s not how “consumer protection” laws work.


Merchants have laws too, you know? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/13/technology/amazon-bezos-i... https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/29/business/corpor...

Both these companies are not even monopolies in the countries they got sued in.


What does that have to do with the US? Apple’s marketshare is basically non existent in India.


If Apple gets attacked for this around the world, the change will come to the US.

I’m looking forward to it because Apple is one of the most petty companies I’ve ever had the displeasure of being forced to deal with as a mobile software dev in the US where they have a huge market share.


Right because the US usually falls in line with countries like India and Japan. Just look how we have modeled our health system and social safety net after Japan.


Right, because that's exactly what I said.

Apple won't want to have 5 different systems for 5 different regions of the world. They'll streamline everything into one app store model that works for everybody.


That number is old and outdated. iOS is 26% right now - https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide


Sure, I had a choice, but I would have a better choice if we legally compelled Apple to open its platform.


Why don’t we just have the government come out with “Five Year Plans”?


There's miles between this idea and that. This is more akin to requiring ingredients labels on foods; there is a burden to the company, but it doesn't distort competition, and it provides clear consumer wins.


It's just basic consumer laws like any others, no need to bring out the red scare.


Why not just keep it simple. Why not have a government run cell phone company that meets the need of the people?


Or why even have regulations anyway? Why not allowing cars to be sold without seatbelts or products without warranties? I think you can find the answer yourself.


Yes because car safety is comparable to a few geeks whining about Apple’s “walled garden” when their are literally hundreds of phones running Android.


That's just missing completely the point, user rights needs to be there whether you care about them personally or not, like any other right.


The user has a right to buy an Android.


Or a $399 iPhone SE


Your outrage would've made a bit more sense a decade ago when the App Store first came out. But since then it's now the standard for platforms to restrict what apps can be installed.

For example you can't install any apps you want on a Tesla, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung TV, Sony Camera.


Many of us were outraged a decade ago. And we were told "you're being paranoid, this is only for phones", when it was obvious that mobile computing was going to take over almost everything.


It's a very good thing that they sanitize their App Store for the 95% of users that just want convenience. It's a very bad thing that Apple puts blocks every step of the way when you want to sideload an app, even if you made it yourself for your own private use.


> It's a very good thing that they sanitize their App Store for the 95% of users that just want convenience.

I would content they don't even do a particularly good job of that. Sure, there's almost no outright malware, but the overwhelming majority of apps are shovelware. (And why do they need ads in the app store? If the search is good, ads are purely a detriment to users.)


This is a textbook display of normalization of deviance!


None of those platforms (Tesla, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung TV, Sony Camera) are general purpose computers. Your phone is a general purpose computer.

For all of Google's faults, and there are many, it is still to this day possible to install any software I want on my Android phone. I recognize that in the wrong hands this can go wrong, but there should always be an escape hatch, even if that escape hatch is buried under a hundred "Warning what you are doing could be insecure" dialogs (and they should be).

That being said, things aren't all peachy on the Android side: My understanding is that third party app stores for instance rely on the user's phone being configured to accept code from unknown sources -- instead it should be possible to acquire a Store in a safe and secure way, and delegate to that store the ability to install software from that store, without requiring Unknown Sources to be on. Maybe this has changed recently, I hope someone will pipe up to correct me if it has!


At least on my phone, the "Install unknown apps" permission is per-source. So the F-Droid app is allowed to install software, but my web browser isn't.

There still isn't a bulletproof way to download a new store in the first place, though -- I ended up temporarily granting "Install unknown apps" to my browser, downloading and installing the app from f-droid.org, then revoking the permission from my browser.


This rings a bell. Glad to see there's some improvement here.


>Your phone is a general purpose computer.

This might be a useful distinction but it isn't for the law. There's no particular requirement that "general purpose computers" behave in a certain way.


I didn't say there was. Doesn't mean we shouldn't hold these vendors to account by not buying their products


> you can't install any apps you want on a Tesla, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung TV, Sony Camera.

None of those are general use computing platforms. The only real analog to iOS is Android, where you can install anything you want.

Don't pretend like Apple is blameless.


How is that not anti-competitive?

Microsoft lost the browser wars because of the technical and legal restrictions to uninstall internet explorer and install other applications.

How is this not a similar restriction where I cannot install whatever application I want?


Apple doesn’t control 90%+ of the smartphone market. Windows did for PCs.


The parent comment is not asking whether or not Apple has a monopoly. The question is whether or not Apple's behavior is anticompetitive, which, incidentally, is exactly the question the law asks.

Perhaps because of the Microsoft case and its incredibly high profile, there is an extremely widespread misconception that the scope of antitrust law is limited to monopolies as Microsoft had in the 1990s. This is false.

If you're not familiar with the difference between the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, the former is the one that deals with monopolies. The latter, however, deals with a variety of anticompetitive practices that do not require a monopoly, such as predatory pricing.

Being one of the world's few trillion-dollar companies, Apple has wagered, successfully thus far, that no one will challenge its practices in court. Perhaps if Basecamp can rally Spotify and Netflix together, that will change.


Yep, only ~60%

https://gs.statcounter.com/vendor-market-share/mobile/united...

Monopoly laws are country specific. It doesn't matter if Apple doesn't have a monopoly in the world. It only matter that they have one in a specific country and that that country decides to enforce.


Market share doesn't determine whether a company has a monopoly in the US market. That said, if that's what did determine it, Apple would be in the clear.

Android has the majority share of the market in the US and has for a long time.

51.8% as of September 2019, to Apple's 47.4%, according to:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/266572/market-share-held...

And 46% for Apple as of the first quarter of 2020, according to:

https://www.counterpointresearch.com/us-market-smartphone-sh...

The statcounter.com site you linked to is a notoriously mediocre resource if you're looking for data that is accurate and representative of a market.


Android is not a phone vendor. Samsumg, LG, Sony, Motorola are phone vendors. Wrong comparison.


Google has been fined for the same thing on Android[1].

The reason Apple gets a pass is more or less a loophole in the law. They have no manufacturing partners, no oems, nothing. They maintain 100% control over their hardware and software.

If Apple did have third party phone vendors, the way they manage iOS would absolutely earn them some fines. But they can't be 'anticompetitive' if they create such a walled garden that they don't even compete with anyone.

[1] https://www.npr.org/2018/07/18/630030673/eu-hits-google-with...


No one's arguing about monopoly over the smartphone market. They're talking about Apple's monopoly over iPhone app installation sources.


Standard != right

The same argument could be made for many things that used to be considered standard. Remember when lead in gasoline was standard? Remember when radium in paint was standard? Remember when arsenic in food was standard?


> Tesla, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung TV, Sony Camera

Those are very specialized devices, unlike a "pocket computer" which is what smartphones are.


Teslas have a web browser, video/media applications, games, and basic DAW. That's a bit more than just a "specialized device", and almost sounds like a computer.


That doesn't make it any less outrageous!


The fact the problem is getting worse is cause for concern not dismissal of the argument

Do you find this trend acceptable and desirable


We’re at a minimum for individual rights and liberties at the gain of corporate interests.


We may be at the lowest levels seen in recent times, but I'm fairly confident it is not a minimum because it can go still lower.


But Apple enforcing this rule also creates a better experience for their customers (they can sign up without having to leave the app). This really an argument between two companies about who gets paid for originating the sale.


Then the apps should be able to add a line item called "convenience fee" that si equal to the amount apple is charging them.

The reality is though apple wants to hide their extortion of their customers, if every in-app purchase had a 30% apple tax applied to it the customers would be very upset with apple


Is it? What if 30% is given to customers instead of Apple when they subscribe the app outside of AppStore?


But Apple did not start this trend. On consoles for decades I could only install approved software. That never made the consoles any less useful. In fact, it gave a guarantee of quality - even literally in the form of the ‘Nintendo Seal of Quality’, that determined what I was buying at the very least wouldn’t mess up my console.

Similarly, unlike the Play Store; I can feel confident downloading virtually anything from the App Store. Sure, there has been some crap ware, and apps basically designed to exploit money from you via IAP, but I have never hit or seen actual malware like I have on Android.

So, I find this desirable, yes. I am lucky enough to have a developer license for iOS and can literally install whatever I want. I use the Provenance emulator to emulate Sega games virtually every day. I could never get that from the App Store. Yes, I had to pay a $99USD privilege for that. I’m okay with that. It costs wayyyy more to get a license and devkit to develop on a console.

I would never want my actual primary mobile phone to ever be vulnerable to malware I could easily download, I will more than happily pay for the privilege, and I am statistically not alone when I see it as a feature, not a bug.


>>That never made the consoles any less useful.

It did to me and many others, which is why I do not own any consoles and only Play PC games

>>Similarly, unlike the Play Store; I can feel confident downloading virtually anything from the App Store.

Good for you, that is not the argument. I have no problems with them running a curated store, I have no problems with them shipping the device with only that store.

I do have a problem with them prohibiting any and all competing stores, or prohibiting people that bought the device from doing what they want to it

See you can have your nice little safe space and never escapes from the Safety of Apples Guided Cage, just do not force that on the rest of us.

Apple's polices should be (and hopefully soon the courts will agree they are) anti-trust violation


It’s not forced on you. You can buy an android device if you want the freedom to install any software at all, no questions asked.

Just like no one forced you to buy a console for gaming, no one is forcing you to buy an iPhone for mobile computing.


and you once again missed the point. We limit things a business can do to a consumer in a number of ways, in the US the best examples of that come from the Automotive world where Manufacturers are required by law to allow open access to diagnostic data (ODBII) and required by law still honor warranties even if the device (the car) was serviced by a third party

I am absolutely a supporter of extending this consumer protections types of laws to the consumer electronics world (some already apply as many parts of the warrany law apply to all products not just cars)

I find it extremely ironic that many people here advocate for government intervention in all manner of things but never when it comes to Apples Anti-consumer practices... no no no.. dont touch apple

//for the record I have never and will never own an apple product, I am consumer advocate.


I would love to be able to build and install any apps I want on my Playstation.

But then I remember that I live in the real world where piracy exists and companies aren't charities.


Okay but this is missing the point. The issue with the Hey app is that Apple is inconsistently applying their rules, allowing big players like Netflix and Spotify to not use Apple subscriptions, but trying to force a smaller developer to give up a third of their revenue for following the exact same model. This seems like an unfair and deceptive business practice on Apple’s part and good fodder for a lawsuit.


I don't think a charity would be selling a thousand dollar phone, so you're right, Apple is not a charity.


Also there is still $1K+ feature phone in the old time, like Vertu


In addition to your argument being a blatant example of whataboutism, it’s also the worst comparison ever. The iPhone is a general purpose computing device unlike any of the examples you’ve given.

A monopoly over a platform people depend on for almost every aspect of their life is alarming. A monopoly over PlayStation games isn’t nearly as troubling as a monopoly over iOS apps.


What makes the iPhone general purpose and those others not? Certainly all of them run general purpose CPUs and operating systems, though locked down.


Here’s a good quote for you: “The answer to 'where you draw the line' is literally always 'somewhere.' You draw it somewhere.” How would you not think iPhones are general purpose devices?

Using a general purpose CPU and general purpose OS does not make the whole device “general purpose.” You’re playing word games here.


Sure, I think iPhones are general purpose computers. You seem to think that

>Tesla, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung TV, Sony Camera.

are not general purpose computers.

So what causes that difference in classification?

As I said, it's not a technical difference - those products all have fully general-purpose hardware and software inside them - so the difference must be something else.

You said:

>The iPhone is a general purpose computing device unlike any of the examples you’ve given.

>A monopoly over a platform people depend on for almost every aspect of their life is alarming. A monopoly over PlayStation games isn’t nearly as troubling as a monopoly over iOS apps.

If I understand you right, you're saying it's fine for Playstations etc to be restricted in what software they can run, because they're not general purpose devices, but because the iPhone is a general purpose device, it should be allowed to run any software its users want.

But that doesn't make any sense. Why isn't a Playstation a general purpose computer? It certainly could browse the web or run all the same software as an iPhone. Why am I not able to do that? Well, because it's restricted in what software it can run!

That's the point I was obliquely trying to make.


I genuinely don't see the confusion here. It's totally feasible to make special purpose devices with general purpose HW and SW. In fact, it's totally feasible and common mainly because of costs. Just think about what happens if people classify devices according to your rules. Some fridges are going to be classified as a general purpose device because, guess what, they run Linux the general purpose operating system on general purpose ARM CPUs.

> Tesla, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, Samsung TV, Sony Camera

They're not all intended to be used for personal computing. Are you going to replace your smartphone with any of these devices?

> If I understand you right, you're saying it's fine for Playstations etc to be restricted in what software they can run

I'm not "fine" with it, and I wish Sony hasn't done that. However, restrictions on a gaming console doesn't warrant the same level of attention as it does for a smartphone.


I agree on your outrage, hopefully lawsuits are formed as Apple does not want to seem to budge. When the iphone first came out back in 2007/08 jailbreaking was pretty popular to get unlicensed apps on the phone, but try to update iOS when a security fix etc came out and watch the whole phone go back to factory defaults. I gave up years ago on installing anything not on the app store.


AFAIK jailbreaking is also legal, but Apple certainly tries very hard to keep you under its control. I was never much into Apple stuff, but helped friends and family with jailbreaking their iProducts over the first few years, but they also eventually got tired of the patronising attitude and are now using (rooted) Androids. They all bought Apple because of the alluring marketing and fashion-oriented design, and I bet that's why we continue to see such popularity with Apple products; the majority of people just don't look beyond the pretty face and fashion statement.


You are voiding your warranty if you jailbreak.

edit: seems what I read in the Apple forums was wrong


That is a common misconception, but is actually not true.

Source: I used to work at the Genius Bar, with a stint in APAC AppleCare Retail Service Operations, and have confirmed this very question on one occasion with superiors in the US AppleCare operations team (= the people who come up with all standard operating procedures observed by the Genius teams around the world).

That said, what is true (and may be misrepresented both by overzealous employees (one reason I went to some lengths to confirm it) and/or misunderstood by customers) is:

- Apple Retail may (and often will) ask customers to restore their phone to a non-jailbroken state on their own (as opposed to doing it in store, for them) if they came to the Genius Bar for issues that have a potential root cause in software, and refuse service until the phone is reverted to a non-jailbroken state.

- as with any intentional physical damage to the device, in the event that a software modification resulted in damage to the device that cannot be undone by restoring to stock iOS, Apple may choose to either charge you out of warranty repair/replacement pricing OR even refuse service. I am not aware of any jailbreak tweaks that would cause irrevertible damage, but I never dug deep into all the possible tweaks, have not jailbroken a device in years and am generally out of touch with the iOS ecosystem these days.

Caveat: I switched jobs 3.5 years ago, so this stance may have changed. I consider it unlikely given my experience, but I am happy to hear evidence to the contrary :-)


That would be illegal in the US.

> Provisions that tie warranty coverage to the use of particular products or services harm both consumers who pay more for them as well as the small businesses who offer competing products and services

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/04/ftc-s...


You knew that when you purchased an iphone.

I know this and I simply don't care as an end user. All I want in a phone is something that I never have to fiddle with or configure, and it will just work. I've been happy with the 4s, 6, and X I've had over the years. Very minimal complaints, since nothing is ever perfect.


The point of having user rights is that it's there even if you don't need them personally, it's not only about yourself but all the ecosystem around it, and that's why these companies must be forced to respect user rights.


Every time I see a new device on the display stand, I am saying to myself: the device's owner is the one who has a root access to it. This is never the case with iOS devices.


> There's essentially no way for me to install an app on my iPhone if Apple doesn't want me to, even though I paid over $1000 for it.

For $99 per year you can install whatever you want on your iPhone. Cydia Impactor makes it extremely easy to do, and even provides workarounds for not paying the $99 if you don’t mind doing a little more work.

This is also used as the basis for a thriving black market in hacked apps unfortunately (but not exactly surprising).


> For $99 per year you can install whatever you want on your iPhone.

Does it not get automatically removed after 7 days?


That’s if you are using a free developer account. The $99 account gives you a provisioning profile valid for a year.


This is most likely the pressure Apple is facing on services revenue as their hardware sales decline. The UX on the services side of Apple is extremely poor right now. It's incredibly difficult to see and manage your ongoing subscriptions, hard to cancel, and notoriously easy to accidentally subscribe to things (back when fingerprint authorization first came out—slightly better nowadays).


You've supported this practice in a first place by buying Apple device.


This is why I never buy iPhones, been with android since dumping iphone 4


People should be free to buy and sell whatever kind of phone they want!


You are absolutely right. Unfortunately people only find this outrageous if Google or Microsoft do it. They are ok with Apple playing the role of a self-appointed benevolent dictator.


> I can buy a USD1k+ device and still not be able to install on it the apps I want because the manufacturer doesn't want me to

Yes. Good.

Sure it might benefit you and me, but Apple is designing their devices for normal people. Normal people don't care and likely benefit from the quality control of everything going through the curated App Store.

I agree that this kind of behavior sucks for you and me but we are a tiny niche audience. It's unreasonable to expect our needs to be catered to over the majority.


> ... likely benefit from the quality control of everything going through the curated App Store.

You might be right in other cases, but in the context of TFA Apple's curation is not being beneficial to anyone but Apple.


They aren’t being consistent. Basecamp is monetized identically and is in the App Store. So is Fastmail. So is Slack. Etc.


They could literally sell broken phones for 20k$ and it would be legal (if properly marketed)


Yeah, on the flip side my $200 Moto G7 just got Android 10.0 which was unexpected...


Correct you can't install app on the apple screen stand Pro, it is only a block of aluminum.

[Yes USD 1k+ civilized country count taxes]


You would jailbreak your phone


> It's not entirely clear why Apple is requiring Hey to provide an in-app subscription option when it allows Netflix and Spotify to decline to offer in-app purchase options while still having their apps in the App Store .

I realize this was a rhetorical gesture, but it really highlights the power of leverage and how few can wield it against the Apples of the world.


If the App store has terms we should all get them. Its a bit silly that you have to use leverage against Apple to get Netflix and Spotify their own rules.

That is how Netflix and Spotify get a monopolistic advantage over their competitors too.


Yep, "not entirely clear"? It is crystal clear - they get special treatment because they are so big/powerful. That is life.


There are few who can. Thanks, European Union


Even more great news ahead of my move to Spain


Hmm, Spain lost Google News entirely and all similar sites because they tried to wring money out of Google (sorry, make them pay a 'link tax') and Google walked away. Not sure Spain is a great example of your point.


Why not make Apple users go through a web app?


I think it's not that complicated, it's the Fight Club argument. Apple's carve-outs for certain companies are likely calibrated such that those companies have some revenue X that they would lose if they paid the tax, some legal cost Y to mount a challenge, and there's some likelihood of wining on the merits P.

If Apple dropped the exception, the expected value of winning a lawsuit is P * X, so as long as P * X << Y, it's unlikely they'll be sued.

For companies like Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify, and others, the amount they would lose in revenue to Apple's tax is likely much more than the cost of mounting a formidable legal challenge to Apple's practices. Apple would like to protect those practices, so its in their best interest to carve out exceptions - no matter how absurd - to companies that are large enough and could make a claim of anticompetitive practices. Apple's tax applies to me, but not for thee (richest companies in the world).


Apple can't innovate anymore so they have this rent seeking behavior. I'm going to move away from the iPhone, and make my parents do the same. I hope you die a swift death of Yahoo, Apple, if you continue this behavior.

Also what the hell is the United States government doing? Are they blind? Cmon' if someone important is reading this, you know its time to punish Apple for this. This should be unacceptable behavior and needs to be investigated. Spotify, Hey, Netflix and other smaller companies need to band up and take Apple to court over this.

Apple is now a fat old rent seeker fart. This is a large indication that their shares are now overvalued.


> Apple said that sign-in only apps are allowed for business services, but not consumer products.

So... Netflix is now a business app and not a consumer app..? Whaaaaaat?


You don't spend your office hours on netflix and your evenings in your email client?!


That’s probably more common now more than ever.


Only way to survive with a toddler running around


Apparently the distinction is that Netflix is a "Reader" app, whatever that means.


It means that the value does not lie solely in the app itself.

Apple also doesn't charge for Uber, Ticketek, Deliveroo, Grubhub etc.


I would argue the distinction there would be that you're subscribing to a general web service rather than a specific app, and that the app is just one of the ways to access the service.

But that doesn't really explain what is going on here, since the same should apply to Hey.


Seems to me then it would apply to this app as well, as the value of the app is the Email Client and their Workflows which are server side

The email client is just a interface for the server product just like Netflix, Uber or any of the others


You're completely dismissing the value of end user experience. Which is kind of odd given that BaseCamp's main point of differentiation is the experience.

It's akin to saying all cars are the same because they have 4 wheels and an engine.


Apple (via the app store) has never charged for physical goods and services only virtual (bits) - e.g. ebooks, game coins, etc.

Uber, Deliveroo, and Grubhub are not delivering virtual goods.


The difference is one of power. Netflix could be make or break for apple customers. Hey is not.


Probably legal ramifications as well due to Apple competing with netflix


Tell me about Spotify!


Hmm, so Netflix, Audible, Spotify are "reader apps" - as a user you only consume content and don't create it.

What about Microsoft Outlook then? Microsoft charges for Exchange and Outlook is interface to Exchange to consume AND create content.

Any way, I look at this, its inconsistent applied rules by Apple.


It's completely inconsistent.

For example, I have a Fastmail account that I pay $50/year for, and that needs to be paid via Fastmail's website.

I also have the Fastmail email app on my iPhone that I don't need to pay anything for, and that I can use to sign in to my Fastmail account.

I'm a big fan of Fastmail, and don't expect to use Hey, but it seems an almost identical use case and an identical market.


it certainly looks like the fastmail app is pretty much identical to this. login screen to gate off any use of the app; quite inconsistent.


I'm pretty sure if you purchase your Microsoft 365 subscription in-app, Apple gets a huge chunk, which is pretty despicable...

It looks like MS just swallows the extra cost given that Microsoft 365 Family costs the same $9.99 from the iOS app and directly from the website.


Software is 100% margins. How is it despicable that the party that originates the sale gets a share of the proceeds? Apple doesn’t get anything if Microsoft originates the sale on their own properties and the user simply enters their username and password. Getting paid for enabling the sale of goods and services is a completely normal thing in all aspects of business.


Maybe they could add the option to buy within the app, but charge the user the 30% markup too. And let the user know they can purchase outside the app for a discount.

Kind of like paying cash instead of card at a restaurant.

Edit: Interesting replies. But selling physical goods is an exception to the Apple tax. Maybe they can sell you a magic coin for $1 and ship it to you and that magic coin also coincidentally authorizes you to use the app...


> And let the user know they can purchase outside the app for a discount.

I expect that's not allowed either. Look at Audible. There is nothing that tells you that you have to sign into the website to buy books, because Apple won't allow it, and Apple will take a 30% cut if Audible does it in-app. They rely entirely on users having prior knowledge that (a) you can buy books at all, and (b) the app is just a player, and the store is on the website.


YouTube premium does it.


App Store Review Guidelines 3.1.1 In-App Purchase [1]:

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

[1] https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/#pay...


No surprise the EU has opened an anti trust investigation. Just because you put verbiage in a contract does not make it legal.


I would be curious to see legal opinions of past anti-trust cases most similar to what is before us with App stores.


Could they send an automated email?

You install HEY, sign up for a free trial, and the first email you receive is an ad to sign up on their site for a discount.

If you sign up with the app, it’s 30% more.


AFAIK this is specifically disallowed in the Apple's TOS and will get your app banned.

Edit: Oops, my recollection is almost 10 years out of date[1].

[1] https://appleinsider.com/articles/11/06/09/apple_backs_down_...


It is true that now you can charge different prices on and off platform (and I believe Spotify was doing this at one point). But you still can't have your app link to or mention the option to do purchases outside the app.


Companies do that, but you have to scrub all references to outside app purchases from the app itself. I've had app reviews fail on both Google and Apple for mentioning things like that.


What if they offered the subscription as an in-app purchase that was so expensive ($1,000 per month?) that users would realize it must be available cheaper elsewhere? If I ran into a subscription like that my first reaction would be to google it. Then I'd find out what the situation was, and purchase externally for the regular price.


I believe this is technically prohibited by TOS (incidentally so is charging a service fee to use a credit card but most skirt by that with a "cash discount")


In the US it's not (universally) illegal to add a service charge for credit cards. What is disallowed by federal law is having a "minimum purchase".


Sorry, not illegal, against the terms of service for the merchants utilizing Visa, MasterCard, Amex, etc.


If any company has a stranglehold on the media through its own PR, it's Apple. But still, I'm happy this story has simmered up — it's well-documented in the developer community, but I think the general public ought to know the hoops Apple makes developers jump through to offer their iOS apps to people.

Now, if only Apple would acknowledge this developer treatment next week, at their Worldwide Developer Conference. But I'm not holding my breath.


I don't mind that Apple curates the app store. I find it a useful service for stopping malware and stuff like that.

I DO mind that Apple is forcing companies to give them a 30% revenue cut even when the companies fully comply with all their rules. The line about "consumer" vs "business" apps is obvious horseshit, otherwise they best be kicking out all those other consumer apps like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, etc


"I'm going to make one of those unpopular opinions, but alas, it must be said: It is far easier to just drop Apple support entirely."

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23286883


Going by that logic, it's far easier to just not build an app in the first place


As someone who cherishes privacy (can’t use Android with continuous Google tracking) and abhors walled gardens (Apple), I think the market is ripe for a new player.

Is it the natural course of things that every public company will eventually turn the screws on its customers to keep showing quarterly growth? If so, it is but natural to expect that they will be replaced by better competitors.


> can’t use Android with continuous Google tracking

Google sure seems to offer a lot of privacy options to disable tracking. What is missing that you want?


Yeah, but it ends up hurting usability to a large extent. Also, I’m at a point where it’s tough to take Google at it’s word about location history etc.

With Apple I’m more comfortable letting them have my data, just because they have a better record with privacy, at least.


The market is ripe for a new player. You're not the norm, youre the exception.


I agree that most people don’t care about privacy, but also consider that in the many years it will take for any competitor to emerge (even if they started today), the situation will have improved.


This is great advertising by Hey.


media plan going very smoothly.


Easily biggest US antitrust issue in tech.


I'd much rather we let capitalism destroy Apple.


30% does seem a little bit high. What justification does Apple use for charging that much?


Because they have a monopoly on App Stores on iOS devices

Edit: clarification of Apple’s monopolising


Is Wal-Mart a monopoly too, since I’m not allowed to walk in and set up my own shelf of goods to sell? Serious question


That’s the wrong comparison. In this context your opportunity is to create an entirely new supermarket in the same country.

No one can create a new App Store on iOS devices.


The equivalent would be buying an Android phone, which many people do (in fact more than have an iPhone).


I see that as equivalent to opening your Wal-mart competitor in a different country... there’s no competition.


If we are going down this line, I can also make some new arguments. Why do you think MS bundling IE was bad then, sure they had more marketshare than iOS but they were just improving the end user experience and now every platform comes with a browser by default.


Apple does not have a monopoly on phones. Far from it in fact.

If you are referring to the App Store itself well no hardware device I can even think of, apart from a computer, allows competing stores.


Android?


Yeah, apart from installing APKs from the internet, you also have F-droid which is an entirely separate app repository, along with official stores from Samsung, Amazon and other OEMs.


Cynically: because they can.

Benefit of the doubt: Apple provides a great deal of value for app creators in the form of documentation, development software, a distribution network, payment provider, etc... all of which costs money.


> the form of documentation

their documentation is some of the worst out there. android on the other hand has some of the better documentation. that said i prefer apple products but as a dev their docs are woefully bad. basically just a dump of the class header comments and not enough conceptual documents coupled with some information is mentioned in the wwdc videos and basically nowhere else. The richest company on the planet could use to hire some technical writers.


If they can charge anything, aren't they leaving money on the table-- why only 30%? To be clear, I would personally disagree with an increase, but I ask in the context of running a maximally profitable business.


Not necessarily, there's a breaking point where it can't be profitable anymore to be on Apple's platform if they charge to much. That needs to factor in the money that people have to spend and the margins of the businesses making programs and services for the platform. If they charged say 70% and expected the businesses to just raise their prices then all the sudden any in app purchases and subscriptions become incredibly expensive on Apple's platform. That will drive away users from both the services and from Apple devices shrinking the size of the market for everyone there. If they existed in a vacuum (no android, no way to do out of app purchases, etc.) then things may look very different. That's the point where they'd be explicitly using their monopoly power to control prices. They can still be doing that before that point of course but it'd be very easy to prove in that hypothetical.


Access to a exclusive market of people with buying power.


Which implies that as the user, you are the product, being sold by Apple (and Google) to the app developers for a 30% vig.


It's comparable to Google's charge and only slightly more expensive than other merchant providers.

I still consider it quite extortionate however considering app devs are adding to the ecosystem and potentially driving sales.


You can install APKs on Android. The Play store isn't necessary. On iOS, however, you have no option but to use Apple's AppStore.


> only slightly more expensive than other merchant providers.

which merchant accounts are charging that? last i saw it was typically a transaction fee of ~35¢ and around a 2-3% fee on the rest.


30% is the standard "platform" fee for many distribution platforms.

For games (as it is a domain I know): Steam, Playstation Network, XBox all charge 30%.


Because if you don't offer your app on their app store, you get hardly any users, and make no money at all. 70% > 0%.


Those iTunes gift cards in stores are not cheap.


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