The commission is not nothing, obviously, but misses a larger point.
Apple did to Hey what they did to our company. One day we submitted a minor upgrade for an app that had been on in the app store _for years_, a bugfix release, and they told us they would not publish it or any subsequent submission unless we add IAP to the app.
We would be happy to pay apple some fair fee to place our app in their store. We all understand that it's not a charity. But that's just not what apple is doing
here, or not the whole story.
They took an app that was _already_ in their store for years, and froze updates on it. That approach forced much of our company to stop whatever it was they were working on and implement IAP _now_. Mobile devs, backend devs, accounting, marketing analytics/funnelling were all affected. There would be no bugfix releases until that feature was added.
The implementation of recurring payments in Apple's IAP is quite different from that of other payment processors like Braintree or Stripe. As such it has added a lot of complexity to our backend services, and has sucked a huge amount of time from our developers, accounting, and from our analytics team. All so we can implement a feature we _already had in our products_ and were happy with, just their version of it.
We incorporated IAP in the fall of last year, but we are _still_ trying to digest it into our company, still refining how we handle their subs, still mitigating some mistakes we made in the our initial implementation. And their remain some unresolved question for us on the how best to do accounting and market funneling.
The media continue to fixate on the 30% commision, as do must of the comments in this thread. But the issue is that Apple does this by imposing the commission on apps that _already_ have huge sunk costs on there platform, going back years, that already have tens of thousands of users (at least in our case), and then one day send back a bugfix release with a letter that says 'if you want to put an update to this app on our platform, add IAP to it. Now.'
Silicon Valley succeeded, they billed an empire (multiple ones actually). They were amply compensated and justly so. It's time for regulators and the taxmen to step in (as with any new territory/market).
They could make you happy and grandfather applications in, but then that creates a different "rage" inducing scenario for new applications.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with their platform rules changes, the change was made, and now needs to be enforced.
A sudden change is just bad form if that was the case.
Here is the sequence of events for our company:
2012-ish: apple requires IAP be an option if you have payment subscriptions. This date might be slightly off, I think it was way back then.
2014-ish: We launch an app that has no recurring subs. So we are still in compliance with their terms.
2017: We add a concept of membership, with braintree managing the subscriptions. Unbeknownst to us, we are now in violation of their terms.
2019: Apple notices the subs, and freezes our app updates
So we were indeed in violation of their terms, ones they had made known long before. We did not know it, but we were. Apple let us know 2 years after the fact by preventing us from publishing a bug fix release.
I heard about this change about a month ago on a couple of news platforms. Specifically, I heard that Apple would be requiring apps which have out-of-app purchasing mechanisms to offer the same products via in-app purchasing.
Also, this is a remediation period. Existing apps aren't being taken down (short of repeated version update submissions which don't comply with the new rules), the new updates are simply being held to the new standard.
There were a lot of users that were angry that their application that worked on WinXP didn't work on Vista/7. The platform moves forward, with or without you.
Apple has used control of that marketplace to impose a technology that we would not otherwise use and adds no value to our product.
But I would suggest, for that point to really resonate, Apple would have to make some changes in how they enforce
these rules, and other aspects of IAP:
1. Provide a grace period
Apple blocked our app release one release after we did a major makeover on the app, switching from Objective C to react native to bring it in line with our 2 other apps. We expected to experience teething issues and quickly release bug fixes as a result. We could not. Given how it went down, we had to implement IAP as fast as we could, giving us a fair amount of tech debt.
2. Make sure the rules are enforced equally for all apps
See linked article for details
3. Allow developers to pay an entry fee for placing their app in the Apple App store as an alternative to implementing IAP
Apple is forcing developers to use a technology that they dont want, one that some developers may feel degrades their ability to provide the best product to their customers. They are using their position as the gatekeeper to the app store to do that.
Let us into the app store with a fee instead of forcing us to expose a feature we have no control over ourselves.
4. Improve their API
The truth is, their 'API' isnt really an API, in the sense that say Braintree or Stripe give you. You are provided a 'receipt', which is really a window onto a state machine. The 'receipt' changes over time and tells you the history of the subscription. But that history is incomplete. For example, the history wont tell you the amount of a given transaction, it's just not there. You have to deduce it from the associated payment plan. But that is hard too, since the payment plan price may change over time to test the market.
Another problem with their implementation is that Apple does not send webhook events for some subscription events -- they only send send webhook events during state transitions of a subscription. So for example if the user makes a monthly payment, there is no webhook sent, since their subscription did not change state. But we need to know these things as it impacts our messaging with our users, so we are forced to write daemons that poll apple to update the receipt and see if any new events have occurred that may require user messaging.
It is a cumbersome and awkward 'API', one I do not belive many companies would voluntarily choose were they not forced to do so.
4. Give us more control over IAP
We have a 'customer is always right' approach at our company. If a user asks for a refund, they're probably going get it. Unless they purchased something using IAP. We have no control over an IAP subscription -- for those, we must direct the user to contact apple and see if they can get a refund there. Apple does not have a 'customer is always right' approach to their users. Should they refuce a customer a refund that we would have given, that blows back on us.
That is really the tip of the iceberg, there are other things we have to cede control over to Apple that effect our relationship with our own customers, especially relating to marketing and testing price points.
As a consumer, no. I want both options, but I don’t want my phone choice to force some development team to be under the barrel of a gun
12% covers the overhead costs of the stores and still allows a healthy profit for the monopoly owner.
I hope that next on the target list is Valve, who charges a 30% regressive tax on Indie games but allows big-budget AAA games to get by with only 20% tax:
This is the major issue in cases like this, who sets the number? How do they calculate it? How do you know if Apple will be able to sustain an app store with that number? I'm not saying they can't, but will that mean, for example that their approval process for apps won't be as vigorous and we get lots of scam apps?
The worst possible thing here is if some random number is set by some random person who thinks they're _very clever_.
I suspect part of the problem is that Apple could be creative with its finances and make sure that just about any cut that isn't 30% means they can't sustain an app store. Apple earns an insane amount of money, they could get by with 0% commission just fine, but it's not in their interests to ever admit that.
Sure, 12% is made up, but the result of just about any negotiation is a made up number that sits somewhere between what one party wants and what the other party demands. It's just the nature of it.
On Apple you don't have that choice so the onerousness of the store policies effects consumers by proxy but the lack of freedom for users directly is far worse.
Honestly the EU should threaten to force a requirement to allow third party applications to run, Android clears that bar already, Apple not so much.
I like your idea of 12% but can we make it 12.5% (pieces of eight..).
> On Apple you don't have that choice so the onerousness of the store policies effects consumers by proxy but the lack of freedom for users directly is far worse.
This is one of those "popular on HN because it impacts developers" points. Everyone I know is extremely happy with their iPhone in terms of apps and the appstore. Allowing a flood of apps will not make it better for a lot of developers - ones that followed the rules and didn't make shovelware. Now good apps will get drowned out in a sea of garbage.
Have you seen the state of app discovery in the App store nowadays?
Threaten? They should go straight ahead and mandate it.
And yes I agree that should be the case, having a side channel like that makes the App store behave better because if you piss users/developers off enough they will go around you so then you have to compete on ease of use, discovery.
Bypassing security review. Next thing you know, a goodly number of the world's phones have become surveillance devices, bank account emptiers, DDOS zombies, and bitcoin miners.
Whether the benefits of a side-channel for liberties outweigh the negatives of such a future is a worthy discussion, but we ought to at least acknowledge that the walled garden has some merits above and beyond Apple's stock price.
Phone makers should not be able to sell their phones, only lease them, since there not yours in the first place.
But another thing is reviewing apps looking for dark patterns in the UX. That is not relevant to the hey.com situation, but it is one of the things I think needs to be done by humans at this point.
Next: You are speaking of “Freedom Zero,” the freedom to own your own hardware (and software, ideally). I am 100% in favour of everyone having Freedom Zero.
But! I think it’s a little like freedom of speech on the Internet. If every single social media site everywhere has moderation, and bans users, and every hosting company rejects web sites for %reasons%, then nobody has freedom of speech.
But if there is genuine choice, if some users can hang out on HN—where there is moderation—and some users can go hang out on (not listing names) where they can talk white supremacy and billg’s conspiracy to implant microchips in vaccines and why women have the real power in the world...
Well, then HN doesn’t have freedom of speech, but the internet as a whole does.
My feeling is that when a single walled garden reaches a certain dominant size, then it really impacts freedom zero. I’m not sure that Apple is there yet just because it makes a lot of money. Users still have a real choice in devices and ecosystems. I’m Apple, my own brother is Android.
But I agree that there is a point at which a company can become a de-facto monopoly. I don’t agree this means “over their customers.” A mall has a monopoly over those who enter, but that’s not relevant until either all the malls take over an entire town’s shopping.
But yes, “Freedom Zero” matters, and yes, there could be a point where a single company becomes dominant enough that users don’t have a realistic/reasonable choice when buying devices.
If you want to sell an iPhone app, you have absolutely no choice but to go through Apple, and that's where the real problem is. --They make it pay-to-play for devs and prevent customers from making their own decisions on what to put on the devices they own.
I’m a relatively experienced dev, but even I don’t have the tools or time to figure out whether some app is safe. So when I had Android hardware, I mostly didn’t install apps.
My kids and parents don’t even have the experience to recognize that an app could possibly be malicious; they wouldn’t be able to figure it out even if they had the source code.
So I buy Apple hardware for all of them, specifically because I like Apple’s gatekeeping. Because 99.99% of app developers might be great people, but if you have an open system, it’ll be abused, and I have better things to worry about.
I think that Android provides the best of both worlds: gatekeeping on the official app store, and the option (with warnings) to install from other sources. I believe that families and enterprises can also disable third-party installs.
The last Android phone that I had was a Galaxy Note 4. Along with the bloatware that Samsung pushes and can not be uninstalled, there was an app called Peel Remote. This app is also published to Google Play Store and updated from there.
So, after updating my apps from Play store to latest version, as you are supposed to do, at morning I woke up and saw my home screen was changed and showing an ad. Also, I realized, sometimes a full screen ad pops up, randomly when I was using the phone. After a lot of investigation, I found out the uninstallable app that is included in the phone, Peel "Smart" Remote (the irony), which is published and updated through Play store, silently decided that showing full screen ads and replacing my home screen with ads was a good move, through an update.
There is NO WAY that an update like this could be pushed to Apple's App Store.
I am not sure how or when it has improved but my trust was breached and it was not restored still today. There are a lot of junk/fearmongering/placebo applications in Play Store, e.g. "RAM Cleaner" or random "Anti Virus" applications.
Apple should relax their requirements, sure, but I am really willing to stick to the Apple store to prevent stuff like this.
I understand this clause is there to protect customers from shady apps that try to trick customers to pay for non relevant things (e.g. app asking people to purchase something else to activate the app outside of app store), while it is too convenient for Apple to guarantee that they will get their cut.
And you don't think it's weird that you have to buy hardware to get the software you want?
I think software needs hardware to run on. I don’t get the comment.
Are you upset that console manufacturers control who publishes games or software on their platform? None of the current (or past) major consoles allow third-party unapproved software (without bypasses), leading to the same situation.
All software is not equal.
Would you say that gatekeeping video games is equal to gatekeeping software that could be essential to people's lives(finance, health, social media, etc)?
The problem with allowing third party stores is that doing so makes social engineering attacks impossible to stop.
I don’t want to prevent others from trusting other authorities, which is why I think an alternative in the form of Android is essential.
But we need a platform which is not open to social engineering attacks because a lot of people need it.
To me the solution seems more with being able to choose which OS I can put on some metal. iOS is very sepecific OS for a specific metal, it shouldn't need to cater to everything.
The thing about Android and windows in the past (about IE and GApps) is very different in Apple's as it is selling a combo. That metal-runtime integration, those envirnment consistency, that cathedral instead of bazaar, is why people buy iphones, not Androids or Libres.
The App Store is already at 15% for recurring subscriptions, so this isn’t much of a stretch for either party.
Finally - does anybody know how users unsubscribing and resubscribing affects this? I do this a lot with services if I'm not using them in a partiular month - when I resub is the counter back at zero and I need 12 consecutive months before the developer drops to 15% comission?
Even if the fee is only 1%, it will still tip the scales in favor of their products and services. That's 1% more that Apple can use to get better deals, better marketing, better prices. Long term as the market matures they should win.
They can impose any fee they want, but they should not actively obstruct different revenue streams and different payment mechanisms. I'm OK with an in-app Spotify subscription being €14.28 if it clearly communicates that €4.28 is the store and payment processing fee (VAT included), and allows for different payment options. It's no different when I choose a Paypal vs Credit Card vs wire transfer. Sometimes the consumer may go for the convenience of the more expensive payment mechanism, but that should be the buyer's decision.
Which is to say 12% is a fairly low number.
I dont have a problem with 30% cuts per se, I have a problem with Apple forcing IAP, applying rules when ever they see fit aka Hey and Fastmail / Gmail Case, dictating price because you cant have your product more expensive than via the web.
Given the recent iPhone 11 pricing was actually lower than expected and Apple doesn't seems to be pushing ASP anymore, I would not be surprised if Apple moved some cost over to App Store department. Namely how the App Store revenue will support iPhone / iOS update model for 5 years that is much longer than industry average on Android.
However, the bigger move is just letting consumers pay how they like, without apple taking a cut.
Apple has a huge user experience advantage by being baked into the OS and can be a default option. It definitely doesn't help any consumer to prevent users from being able to use their payment method of choice, and preventing the app maker from having transparent payment methods.
I switched to Android years ago because of how irritating it is to have to go around apple to pay for things.
I believe at least some of the time they also do currency conversion for you which typically nets another 3%
Of course they could always charge a variable commission based on the funding source etc and also charge less than 30 still (eg Apple Cleary thinks it can do 15%). But their cut is not always as simple as 3% or less.
There's definitely benefits on being listed on the app store and developers should have the option to weigh the benefits against the cons to see if it makes sense to allow Apple to dictate their publishing methods and cuts they're taking vs self publishing, but that's currently not an option.
What governments should do is make sure that markets work. The global app store duopoly with it's uniform 30% revenue cut is an egregious example of a dysfunctional market that allows rent seeking and absuse of power.
App stores should compete based on their own merit. OS platforms should be forced to offer a range of competing app stores with equal visibility. Then we'll see how much customers actually value Apple's app store.
If you think that dealing with one set of App Store policies designed to benefit the store owner is a problem, how does having to deal with multiple stores with different rules solve that problem?
I'll happily read the policies if that gives me a choice to not agree to everything and anything a global duopoly of digital overlords demands.
The imbalance of power in this broken market is stacked against us small developers in the most dystopian fashion imaginable.
And maintain different versions to comply with the different stores requirements?
Upload in different ways to each store?
Deal with different liabilities that the stores allow to pass through to you?
Respond to bad reviews through all the different stores interfaces?
And for what? What percentage saving do you expect to see? Other stores will not be free.
Deal with when one of the stores gives your app away for free as part of a promotion that you agreed to without realizing it in the small print somewhere?
I don’t disagree that the current situation is bad for independent developers.
But competing stores will only makes that vastly worse.
I’d like to see people actually say what a competing store would do better to help indies.
I would expect roughly 10% to 15% revenue cut, far more favourable terms, less bullying, less paternalistic content restrictions and above all the option to say no to any individual app store that makes egregious demands.
They have us by the throat. One mistake and you're out. You can be banned for life without recourse. Your career may be over, your skills worthless.
This is completely unacceptable.
You still have to support the Apple store otherwise you lose half your sales.
The effective commission is now 20%. So you pay 10% less commission but must deal with 2 stores.
That’s with just a single additional store taking 50% of the business, which is an unlikely scenario.
Consider that it is inevitable that new stores will not all be independent.
Google and Amazon will immediately open stores if Apple is forced to allow 3rd party stores.
Will their cut be lower than 30%? I see no reason for it to be. Google play is 30% right now. Maybe it will be 25%, but they have no reason to minimize the commission.
Will they get significant traffic? Yes - they both have the ability to push their stores via their giant advertising platforms. They will also use the opportunity to push browser based platforms that they control, and which will further fragment the user experience.
Why would they need to dramatically improve terms for developers?
Neither has any record of doing so.
Would they allow all kinds of App? No. They don’t right now. Why would they in future?
So you’re going to have to deal with all 3 of the big stores.
Now assume some independent stores get funded which actually do offer better terms for developers.
What percentage of the market will they realistically get?
And how can you benefit from their ‘less egregious demands‘?
If you want the percentage of revenue from the Apple store or from the Play or Amazon stores, you will have to meet their demands.
Therefore you will either make a lowest common denominator version that complies with the restrictions of all stores, or you will need to maintain multiple versions.
Requiring Apple to allow multiple stores will be more expensive and more restrictive and force developers to deal with even more rules.
It is in no way good for indie developers.
Yes, I'm sure of it. For instance, Microsoft's fees are just 15% because they are less powerful right now. The more stores there are, the less powerful each of them would be and that would create an incentive for all of them, including the incumbants, to cut fees and offer fairer terms.
We might well see new entrants beyond Google and Amazon - people like Microsoft, Stripe, Puddle, Shopify, Valve, Facebook or startups that don't exist yet. Maybe the content side and the payment/billing side of stores would be run by different companies. Who knows.
As soon as you have credible alternative stores with equal visibility, the most profitable customers will leave the incumbants if they don't relent on fees. Small developers will be able to tag along, because everything else would be seen as obviously unfair.
If you claim that the balance of supply and demand has absolutely no bearing on prices and terms, then I will never be able to convince you. But you're going against every single historical example of how markets work.
I agree that the balance will end up with some stores with reduced fees. Perhaps they will all be forced down to 15%, but you if you are denying that those with greater reach will have pricing power, then you are the one who is going against every single historical example of how markets work.
However unless there is another monopoly outcome - I claim that the result would be utterly destructive to independent developers.
You have now posited the requirement to support as many as 8 stores. That alone will easily offset the benefit of paying 15% less in commission for small developers.
Every app release will be more expensive, and that ignores the fact that the overall system will be less efficient, since every release will result 8 separate app reviews, etc.
Commissions will go down, but costs will go up.
All the benefit of the lower commission environment will be transferred from independent developers to larger corporations for whom the cost of releases is a smaller percentage of their total.
It’s also worth pointing out that Android already allows alternative stores, and yet Google somehow manages to keep charging 30% for the play store, and there are no common alternatives in the US.
How can your theory be correct when this clear counterexample exists? For that matter why hasn’t Google just reduced the commission to 15% or even lower to induce developers away from iOS? Surely they could have done so at any time.
That's a surprising read of what I said. I named a couple of companies that might be interested in running a store. I do not belive for a second that all of them will, nor did I suggest that that developers are required to support every single one of them.
I highly doubt that there will ever be more than three general purpose stores per platform, and perhaps some specialist ones that most developers don't use (e.g. for games, enterprise apps or to serve specific countries).
That and the threat of possible new market entrants will be enough for stores to compete a little bit more for developers and lower their fees from the current egregious rent seeking levels. It will also reduce the risk of getting banned outright from your target platform.
It seems the only point we really disagree on is the additional burden developers would face if there was a bit more choice. I understand what you're saying, but I believe your fear is grossly exaggerated.
Yes, reviews will cost a bit more overall. But that will easily come out of the incredible margins of current oligopolists.
Of course in principle they would be able to choose, but in practice, by doing so they give up a percentage of revenue.
If price competition brings commissions down to say, 15% on average, developers must support a combination of stores with a minimum combined market share of 85%, just to break even on where we currently stand.
Even if the majority of purchases are made from a few large stores, developers will likely be worse off unless they also support some of the smaller ones, and even then, the fragmentation means that the full cost saving of the reduced commission will likely never be realized.
And in this world where there are 3 major stores and some smaller ones. Every serious developer will be required to support all of 3 of the major stores to get close to the current revenue.
The improved margin just isn’t that much once you start losing access to addressable market.
On top of this, as I have said elsewhere, to actually get into all these stores, your app must comply with the superset of regulations.
I think it’s fair to assume that that Apple, even if they are forced to reduce commissions, will not be likely to ease regulations significantly.
The notion of a safe, well policed store, is a core value and one of the reasons people choose the brand.
Even if they only retain 20% of app sales, developers will still need to comply with their regulations if they don’t want to be worse off than before, and in addition will have to comply with whatever the other stores require.
I don’t think there is any gross exaggeration here.
There just isn’t as much gain to be had.
It would be a different matter if Apple could be pressured into reducing margins without fragmenting the store landscape.
My hope is that they do so pro-actively.
I doubt that. I think if there were two or three major app stores, almost all consumers would use all of them.
And even if they didn't, I would still feel far more confident committing to a platform where one particular corporation cannot take away 100% of my customers over night for some frivolous reason and ruin my entire business.
Another upside is that I wouldn't depend as much on the ranking algorithm of one specific app store. My livelihood would simply be far more secure if it wasn't so completely dependent on the whim of one or two global corporations.
I don't have to comply with a superset of regulations. If I'm making something that is only allowed on specialist app stores (such as porn for instance) then my users will find me there. That's better than reaching 0% of users.
For example - if it becomes a duo or tri-opoly there is no reason for them to race to the bottom on commission - remember the store’s customers are the app buyers, not the developers.
Stores from Amazon or Google simply wouldn’t need to lower commissions as long as they had more than 15% of the customers to bring to the table.
I agree that the ranking algorithm is a problem and I think Apple should at the least provide an alternate storefront API, but you contradict yourself here by saying you’d be more secure if You weren’t dependent on the whim of one or two global corporations, because you also said you think two or three stores would be used by almost all consumers.
If you are a porn developer it’s true that you’d only need to comply with the rules of a specialist porn App Store.
However the vast majority of apps are not porn and are of mainstream appeal. All of these apps would have to comply with the superset of regulations so this is not a counterargument.
Breaking up the App Store will simply harm the majority of indie developers. I grant that it may help porn producers.
An app store ballot with mandatory permission for third party stores (save perhaps a small list of rules such as not a dedicated piracy service, but with no editorial lines at all) would be the best.
Then Apple's app store would have to compete in the market. If customers love it's curation as much as some people claim it has nothing to worry about.
Imagine if just 30% of users choose just one other store.
Developers would lose 30% of their revenue if they didn’t support that store.
Now they have a bunch more work to do, for no extra money.
If you assume a multiplicity of stores, then this problem gets multiplied.
The amount of extra work is trivial.
They would receive substantial extra revenue - stores wouldn't have to race to the bottom with IAP revenue, could do things like upgrade pricing, and the margins would fall to a fraction of what they are today. They could make their user experience better than the current mess of having to go to the web to purchase things and then come back to the app, boosting purchases. App stores would have to compete in providing useful toolsets for developers. Developers could attract new userbases of topics frequently censored by Apple, of which there are many.
Independent developers are being choked by the iOS app store and there would be a financial bonanza for them with more stores.
Developers would have to support any store with customers. New stores would not be developer friendly. They would belong to people with the reach to get the stores to be downloaded.
Guess whose stores those would be - Google’s and Amazons.
There will be no bonanza. No amazing indie stores. It will just be 3 bad stores racing to the bottom, and making things harder for people.
What’s so special about 12%? How would it cover the costs for every platform? Why shouldn’t capitalistic companies in a capitalistic market charge more (like 30%)? Book publishers and Amazon routinely take significantly much higher commissions. So why is the App Store to be treated badly while letting the other industries and companies continue their practices?
While they didn't invent the App Store as a concept, they did popularize it, and built the software platform (iOS) that allows the apps to run, as well as built the tools and frameworks (swift, Xcode, etc) for building said apps, as well as built the hardware that the software runs on (iPhone), and then spent billions in marketing to popularize the idea of using "mobile apps" in the first place (ie. Remember there's an app for that?).
In addition, when you sell on the App Store, you get free distribution in front of the highest income, most desirable segment of smartphone buyers--because that's the customer base Apple has invested billions in building and cultivating over 40+ years.
Given the above, how is 30% extortionate vs. 20%? It is their platform. Anybody can choose to only create apps for Android instead.
The percentage is irrelevant. The fact is they don't have a choice.
> It is their platform.
No, it is people's computers. Why should Apple be allowed to monopolize iPhone consumers? People should be allowed to run whatever software they want on the hardware they bought. The fact Apple created the phone shouldn't give them the right to establish harmful monopolies around it.
Apple gets away with these rates because they restricted the freedom of their users in order to prevent competition. Revenue generated by creating and leveraging monopolies are always objectionable, even if it was 1%. It would be fine if Apple's store offered enough value to justify a 30% cut even in the face of competition.
They didn't buy hardware, they bought an ecosystem experience.
And anyway, we don't hold that principle across all devices with code in them.
- Including microwaves or refrigerators?
- What about game consoles?
- What about the emissions control systems in our automobiles where bad code causes cancer?
The iPhone and iPad are in a new "What's a computer?" category: appliances.
Repeating the propaganda of one of the largest corporations in the world, I think, does little to advance the argument.
In any sane modern system of property rights, people bought the hardware. That entails ownership of the device.
Presently there is a disconnect between hardware purchase and ownership that does not occur with non-software goods. This is a legal oversight.
The "right to repair" and "right to modify" etc. did not need to be explicitly granted historically because there was no disconnect. Today they do, and so they should.
> What about the emissions control systems in our automobiles where bad code causes cancer?
The law prevents pollution, not EULAs.
Italian for soul is ‘anima’, that which brings the body to life.
The human mind, body, and soul are one, so too the mind, body, and soul of the machine — for machines that benefit from soul.
There's been much written on this subject, especially by the FSF and GNU: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-hardware-designs.en.html
> And anyway, we don't hold that principle across all devices with code in them.
Who is this we? I hold that principle and so do many free software advocates.
Tampering with and disabling emissions systems is already illegal.
> What about game consoles?
Whoever wrote the software must take responsibility for the impact it causes on society. If the car manufacturer's code is defective and causing excessive emissions, the car company will be held accountable for that. Same reasoning can be applied to others. If the user replaced the company's well-tested software with their own, the user should be held accountable for the results. If some car performance tuning business wrote custom software for cars, they should be held accountable for the results.
Give people power and allow them to take responsibility for their actions. People should be free to accept whatever defaults they get but they should also have the power to change things if they want to.
So ultimately both developers and users are voluntarily choosing to use or develop for iOS. iPhones have maybe 15% global market share of smartphone devices so plenty of people are choosing from the alternatives, so I don't think the anti-trust argument can even seriously enter the conversation.
Producers of physical products have no natural right to force supermarkets to carry their products, nor to dictate terms to supermarkets.
They didn't do it for charity though.
> In addition, when you sell on the App Store, you get free distribution in front of the highest income, most desirable segment of smartphone buyers--because that's the customer base Apple has invested billions in building and cultivating over 40+ years.
It's like saying that Google should get 30% of every website's revenue due to them indexing large chunks of the web.
Also, Apple directly profits by having a large amount of apps available for their hardware customers.
Maybe Apple should be paying developers to write apps?
Or is the problem just that they became too popular?
Also, the Google analogy would only work if websites were directly built on google's platform. Google did not create HTML, doesn't host your website, and doesn't provide the hardware and browser software for you to access it through.
They are already, every time someone buys an iPhone because of the large supply of apps that exist.
> Also, the Google analogy would only work if websites were directly built on google's platform.
They do. They benefit from Google's crawling and indexing infrastructure which they researched, developed and host on their hardware.
> Google did not create HTML, doesn't host your website,
Also tangentially, in the AMP standard Google does host your website.
> and doesn't provide the browser software for you to access it through.
They provide Google Chrome which is exactly that.
In a market economy, popularising a concept and taking risk should only be rewarded to the degree that it gives you a headstart over the competition. That reward should peter out over time as new competitors enter the market.
If the market structure (for whatever reason) turns out to be such that new competitors can no longer enter the market then that is a dysfunctional market that doesn't serve its purpose.
Clearly the network effects that govern operating systems are so strong that the likelihood of new market entrants is extremely low. App stores don't compete on merit. They derive their pricing power from the fact that market forces have ceased to exist.
So the question is whether we should allow the handful of companies that dominate operating systems at any given point in time to leverage that power to set prices in related markets without any restriction.
At what point does that result in rent seeking that frustrates risk taking and innovation?
- you are forced to purchase an apple computer to push to the app store (which are more expensive)
- you are forced to use the app store to deploy to end-user phones that they bought. There’s no other « app store » than apple’s one, because it’s forbidden by their app store guidelines in the first place
- you are forced to pay and register your company on the app store to deploy on iOS devices inside your own company.
- they can, and do, remove your authorization to deploy your own app on your consumer’s devices at any time, for any reason,without any appeal possible to a third party legislator. And thus, they can kill your business at any time (and they did many times).
It’s a totally controlled environment in which you pay the apple tax over and over again, for having the privilege to be f*cked over at any time, for any reason.
I’m never going to develop on non cross-platform tools ever again.
It seems rather naive to believe believe that "simply create/move to Android" is a viable solution. There is no easy or even cheap way to switch between Apple and Android if you don't like one or the other. It's simply not a viable, let alone reasonable choice/option And, again, both of the options consist of corporations that are so mutually aligned in basically all ways that they may as well be divisions of the same corporation; which they essentially are … akin to the various corporations the European aristocracy used to enrich themselves on the backs of their own serf/slave class as well as the people of various places all around the world.
If one looks back on history and laments what was done then … but does not realize that the very same strata of society are doing the vary same types of things using the very same methods and machinations to achieve it … is simply being herded by these global corporations that are dominating us all, just as they divide and pitch us against each other in order to control and distract us from the shackles they are placing on all of us.
You may shrug and dismiss lamentation about 30% vs 20%, but that's basically no different than saying; what difference is 1000% markup vs 900% markup in the company store of the mine/factory that you are essentially a prisoner/slave on with only theoretical/imaginary, but no real or practical alternatives.
We are in a kind of digital, online tyrannical regime and most people seem to not realize that as they are too distracted by the constant two minutes of hate being fed them by the tech tyrants who fear more than anything else that we all realize what they are really up to. As Zuckerberg once put it (I witnessed it myself) "I want facebook to replace the internet". Did he say that in support of self-governance and free speech?
3.1.3(b) Multiplatform Services: Apps that operate across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site, including consumable items in multiplatform games, provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app.
Any reason why they wouldn't just do this instead of trying to fight Apple on their (in this case IMO pretty egregious) rules?
"You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase." (https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/guidelines/)
> 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.
Yes, telling customers they can simply get a discount online is prohibited. Yes, they have rejected apps for this before.
Also, DHH is now using his megaphone on this issue.
Linking as i think the comments apply peripherally
Honestly, if it comes down to a game of chicken, who has more to lose? Netflix, Slack, Spotify, and other subscription apps who still get a ton of revenue from non-Apple sources? Or Apple, who now has to deal with a deluge of irate iPhone owners who want their popular apps?
Almost seems like it would be appropriate to have a union of iPhone app developers and collectively bargain.
And no, Spotify (market cap $36B) is not going to win a game of chicken against Apple (market cap $1533B). Apple users aren't going to switch to Samsung, they'll switch to apple music or w/e.
And also paradoxically allowing other stores with fewer restrictions actually means more restrictions for developers.
This is because if you are forced to support all the stores, your app must comply with the superset of the restrictions.
Apple must improve the store policies to support developers, otherwise the web will just win in the end.
However requiring them to support multiple stores will just kill off indie development even more.
Youtube Premium is one high profile example of this. They charge more on iOS but can't tell you that you're overpaying for convenience of using IAP.
A breakdown or mention of Apple's cut is prohibited.
Apps are the goods
App Store/Apple is the buyer
Obviously Apple is allowed to charge a fee. The App Store costs serious money to run -- to develop, maintain, support.
But when the App Store is the only place apps can be published for iOS, and more than half of worldwide mobile app revenue is made there, there's no competition.
Nobody else can go and create their own separate iOS App Store with lower commissions. But the kicker is, there is a real consumer benefit to that -- the entire iOS world is built on a premise of security and privacy that only comes from having everything locked down and controlled by Apple, from a secure enclave to approved apps.
There are really only two solutions here:
1) Legislation to define this as a special kind of monopoly situation (a new definition of monopoly, at least in the US) and create some kind of profit cap where Apple isn't allowed to charge more than x% over revenue. But which feels pretty icky -- the government stepping in to tell you you're not allowed to maximize profit like any other business. And what's the legal basis for deciding whether the "allowed profit" is 5% or 50%? 10% or 12%? 0% or 100%? You can invent an argument for any number you want, but ultimately it's entirely arbitrary.
2) Legislation to require Apple, Google, Microsoft, and all OS's generally to allow third-party fully-integrated app stores. But which will obviously do serious damage to the reputation of the iPhone (and mobile devices generally), when people start to associate them with buggy malware apps that drain your battery and use dark UX patterns to trick you into giving them all your location, microphone, etc. permissions.
But both seem pretty gross, totally non-market, government-intervention. But Apple's 30% cut is also pretty gross at this point.
It sucks there's just no obvious, elegant, good solution here.
With respect, this feels like a goose-with-the-golden-eggs scenario. If we take away Apple's App Store revenues, won't their investment in iOS suffer? Which means they'll make it less attractive? Next thing you know, Apple has joined the Android market in a race-to-the-bottom.
That would be a nice windfall for Google and Samsung, but if their revenue reflects the value users place on their products, all we've done is remove an option from consumers, and the end up with less choice.
I'm not sure we can disrupt their business model without taking something away from consumers.
1) Make it required to be transparent about where the pricing goes: All in app purchases must break out Apple's share and the developers share. The idea being that it becomes more difficult for Apple to sell such profiteering to the general public... who actually have the ability to vote with their wallet and move to another platform.
2) Make it illegal for apple to force subscriptions to external services be available using the in app purchase framework. This allows developers to avoid the fee (at the cost of the convenience to their users).
3) Make it illegal for apple to prevent the disclosure of cheaper options elsewhere, perhaps while allowing them to prevent directly linking to such options. (Allow the statement "Go to our website for 30% off!", but actually linking to the website within this statement is ok for apple to prohibit)
4) Require the same fee and enforcement for all developers.
The combination of these puts downward pressure on Apple's fees by forcing transparency and putting the cost of high fees on Apple, rather than on the individual developers. It also evens the playing field by preventing sweetheart deals with large companies.
Otherwise, I assume, apps would just skirt all fees as standard practice.
Why is this such a popular opinion? If the security of your system relies on manual curation, your system is _fucked_. Security should be based on the user granting permissions, and the system communicating those permissions in a way that is clear and understandable. Which, fortunately, (as far as I am aware), it is.
Now that being said, a market-based solution would probably be structured very differently, something like $1 a year per thousand installs, plus $200 per any app update that changes features (isn't just bugfixes/performance), plus a 6% cut of sales. It's highly unlikely that paid apps would be able to subsidize free apps the way they do now.
So while there would be winners (like Basecamp), there would also be big losers (hobbyist/independent free apps).
The compromise is to let Apple/Google pick their poison.
1) Zero/fixed low commissions but (almost) total control.
2) Any commissions but relaxed control.
Before it was railroad monopolies. It took a decade or two, but Washington brought antitrust action against them. I'd argue the delay is a good thing within reason as we see how new industries evolve. Too long and you strangle commerce. Too short and your forced changes strangle innovation or are ineffective.
The simplest is forcing Apple to allow 3rd party app stores. That may have the unfortunate side effect of making apple's App Store less secure if the fees charged are forced down below what it costs to do good security reviews. But it's not like any % revenue guarantees 100% perfect app reviews.
Offering IAP isn't a problem. Heck forcing IAP isn't a problem, IF there is a way avoid it - and the best way is to force them to charge .99 but allow outside IAPs.
But they choose the worst possible method: forcing a customer to go outside the App Store.
Sometimes the Problem is the business model not as much the overhead costs.
What is not, is the inflexibility of then App store’s pricing models, and the single storefront for all kinds of App.
EDIT: meant 'lower' not 'higher'
I'm sure that App Store creators can chime in and expand more on that with real numbers on their balance sheet and what they mean in terms of being able to afford rent on a monthly basis.
They're paying for that convenience - don't want that? Fine - just like Prime Video - pay on the website, not the app.
Edit - welp, ok, take it back, seems like that's what Hey was doing all along.
>There’s no SDK that you need! You’ve got everything you need if you know how to write apps using the most modern web standards to write amazing apps for the iPhone today.
Before the app store, Jailbreakers were already distributing apps for the iPhone. The only reason there are no competing app stores for iPhone os because apple prohibits it. Over on Android there are competing stores. The smaller have very small market share, yet they do exist and have other rules. Apple is using the fact that they make iPhone to force developers to pay a 30% cut.
Let me rephrase the question. Should a company be allowed to extract as much money as possible from consumers simply because they benefited from an economic environment that cannot support a large number of competitors?
Besides, what did Apple actually build? They didn't write those apps. The people/companies that did all the actual work were the ones that "built" the platform.
Their phones aren't free, they are some of the most expensive. Plus user doesn't have an alternative app store on iPhones.
Apple+Appstore is actually a repeat of MSFT+IE monopoly and should be broken up as such
The terms of the App Store haven't changed (outside of the 1yr sub provision) in years. They knew this before making their app.
The founders of Hey are seasoned professionals. They knew they could manufacture a scandal and it would put their new company in the news.
There is no such thing as bad press... especially when it freely promotes your app launch.
Also, said enforcement isn't equal across apps offering similar services (ie Basecamp vs Hey)
They went into this with eyes wide open.
You cannot really opt not to use the App Store if you want to create apps for that platform.
> If you think that will impact your product, then this confirms that the App Store provides value
I'm not sure it necessarily confirms that. You might want to use it because it adds value. You might need to use it just because it's essentially a monopoly (if you want to reach iPhone users, that is).
If users could directly download apps without going through the store _or_ they could use the store, and people chose to publish their apps on the store then, yes, I would agree, that demonstrates it provides value, and it's reasonable to Apple to charge for that.