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Apple Music on Android requires its own payment details to avoid Google 30% cut (support.apple.com)
865 points by rydre 27 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 388 comments



Note to the people asking why this matters:

Legally, if you take a position in federal court on X (i.e., that it's okay to ban external transactions by apps using your app store), and you are found to be doing not-X in an analogous situation (i.e., setting up external transactions to avoid fees in your competitors' app store), the court can rule against you in the original case...and then sanction you and your lawyers for wasting the court's time proclaiming X...and then legally bar you from asserting X in those proceedings, or related proceedings.

Courts are generally okay with some form of alternative arguments, (i.e., I didn't do Y, but if I did Y it was legal for me to do so), but they absolutely will not accept contradictory arguments by the same party (It's okay for me to do Z but I won't allow others to do Z in the same situation).


Obviously if Apple owns one platform, and Google owns the other platform, it is not actually the same situation.

The law does not require that Google and Apple run their online stores the same way, or that Apple interact with Google's store the same way they choose to run their own store.

In fact it's arguable that a free marketplace encourages and depends on different companies taking different approaches to meet customer demands.


Analogous != same. It means its very similar factually.

The law does not require that Google and Apple run their online stores the same way, or that Apple interact with Google's store the same way they choose to run their own store.

That's correct. But the law does require them to run the stores in a way that does not violate antitrust laws. Apple is violating antitrust laws by forcing companies to use Apple Pay as a condition of using the App Store (i.e., leveraging dominant/monopolistic market position in one market in a non-competitive manner over another market). Apple cannot then do the same thing it prohibits in its own app store in the Google Play Store, which has similar rules, because both of these actions have the effect of taking legal positions.

In fact it's arguable that a free marketplace encourages and depends on different companies taking different approaches to meet customer demands.

Which Apple does not permit. It's literally Apple's way, plus a 30% cut for doing nothing, or you're not even allowed to play. And that's exactly what antitrust laws were intended to prevent.


>That's correct. But the law does require them to run the stores in a way that does not violate antitrust laws. Apple is violating antitrust laws by forcing companies to use Apple Pay as a condition of using the App Store (i.e., leveraging dominant/monopolistic market position in one market in a non-competitive manner over another market).

The reason why everyone has to narrowly define the market to "Apple has monopoly power in the iOS market" is because they don't actually have monopoly power in smartphones and are mad about that fact. Defining markets are a major part of antitrust cases and just because a prosecutor or regulator is willing to do it doesn't mean it will actually work in court.


Defining Apple as a monopolist on iOS is like calling Ford a monopolist in selling radios in Ford vehicles. No one thinks it’s a violation for Ford to include their own radio (built by a 3rd party like Bose - same as an app) in a Ford truck, and offer you an expensive upgrade to that radio (say also by Olufsen - also like a better App) if you want it. No one demands that Ford allow a different vendor to sell you a compatible radio through a Ford dealer and for Ford to not take a cut of the purchase price. And if Ford says that installing a third party radio without their authorization voids your warranty or otherwise makes it impossible to do so, it’s generally accepted to be OK. This analogy is at the core of Apple’s defense and it was brought up in previous anti trust cases like AA v. Sabre.


> if Ford says that installing a third party radio without their authorization voids your warranty or otherwise makes it impossible to do so, it’s generally accepted to be OK

This has been generally illegal in the US since 1975: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/2302 (section c)


Interesting and I was wrong. While that might make for a good case why Apple should be compelled to allow the side loading of apps (especially since an App can be sandboxed and couldn’t possibly damage the device, a key criteria in the link). It still makes it hard to win an antitrust case against Apple. If you defined the market for Ford radios as to only include Ford-manufactured vehicles, then every single car company is a monopolist. Defense would push back that Ford competes against GM and Tesla, not against Bose and Sonos (in my prior analogy), so as long as consumers have choice of cars, then Ford shouldn’t be subject to antitrust actions and remedies in regards to radios.


There is nothing that would indicate side loading alone would be sufficient for applications wishing to forgo the App Store. Fortnite on Android is an example of an application which started out being side loaded but eventually conceded that there were too many platform restrictions for that to be viable.


Apple does allow side-loading apps today, but with restrictions that make it unsuitable for consumer applications - requirement for an enterprise provisioning profile, applications expire after a set period of time, applications are expected to be deployed via Xcode, etc.


> And if Ford says that installing a third party radio without their authorization voids your warranty or otherwise makes it impossible to do so, it’s generally accepted to be OK.

No, not really. In the EU for example, a unauthorized change to one part can legally never void the warranty to an unrelated part.


And if Ford says that installing a third party radio without their authorization voids your warranty or otherwise makes it impossible to do so, it’s generally accepted to be OK.

Don't know where you live, but that is not true in the U. S. "It is generally accepted as" against Federal law.


Technically, I think it, unfortunately, is true that companies can say that in the USA and many other countries.

Companies can say things they know aren’t true, misleading customers. They even often can make it hard for customers who know their rights to exercise those rights.

I think it would be an improvement if such actions were punished harsher and more often.


That's not exactly the same scenario. If Ford allowed installing radios only via Ford and allowed other companies to sell radios via Ford, but then artificially restricted said radios so that its radios would have an advantage then it would apply, and I suspect that people would be upset.

Here's IMHO a better analogy: Apple is running a mall, while also operating a chain store operating in said mall. Apple Mall allows competitors to Apple Chain Store to rent stores in the mall.

However, it turns out that for some reason, there are "Beware of Leopard" signs near the competitor stores. Also, the public area near them is never cleaned or maintained, except for signs promising cheaper products at the Apple Chain Store (and the leopard signs of course).

Would that be legal? Apple Mall is hardly a monopoly. Despite losing the location, the other stores could move. None of the agreements specifically bans this.

For some reason though, I don't think that would fly - the other stores have a reasonable expectation that after paying rent Apple won't sabotage them. Just like companies paying for the Developer License and Apple Store tax have a reasonable expectation Apple won't unduly hinder them for its own products.


> That's not exactly the same scenario. If Ford allowed installing radios only via Ford and allowed other companies to sell radios via Ford, but then artificially restricted said radios so that its radios would have an advantage then it would apply, and I suspect that people would be upset.

This happens all the time. Integration of the radio and climate control system/navigation system. Custom wiring for the speaker system and accessory systems. Dashboard cavities which are a non-standard size.


Not remotely comparable. Ford may not facilitate creating such a radio, but prevent it either. A company could figure out everything and sell a radio to a client without paying Ford or being sold to the customer by Ford or going via Ford at all or even losing warranty.

Ultimately, being a marketmaker comes with responsibilities. If Apple wants to close iPhones and support only Apple software they could do that. But as long as Apple operates an App Store and does not allow other methods of install, this comes with the legal obligation to play fair.


Sure, and if someone makes a radio that fulfills all of these functions, then they can sell it.


The federal trade commission disagrees with you, and if this is the crux of Apple's defense they are in a bad spot.


The FTC can agree or disagree. Until a judge decides it doesn’t matter.


Except there are hundreds of Cars manufacture to chose from, easily portable, and all share the same public road transport.

You have two system to choose from, Apple and Google.


Your analogy was good until the part about warranty, which isn't relevant to Apple.


Apple does not have a monopoly in the smartphone market, but it does have a dominant position there and a monopoly in the tablet segment where it does the same thing.


"Monopoly power" and "dominance" mean the same thing. One is used in the US, the other in the EU. You're going to have a tough time getting a court to agree that Apple is dominant in smartphones in the EU.


> You're going to have a tough time getting a court to agree that Apple is dominant in smartphones in the EU.

No you're not. The definition of dominance in the EU is primarily that you're in a position to materially affect market pricing, which I think is actually pretty easy to demonstrate in Apple's case.

Overwhelming market share isn't required, and there are several cases that have found companies to be "dominant" where they had less than 50% market share in the EU.

(As a good demonstration of this Google's own competition law settlement on Android apps pre-installation in the EU. Google do not approach anything like having a monopoly market share in the EU either, but they still settled because they were going to lose.)


> The definition of dominance in the EU is primarily that you're in a position to materially affect market pricing, which I think is actually pretty easy to demonstrate in Apple's case.

Is it? App Store prices have been a race to the bottom for years, yet it's clearly in Apple’s interests to keep the prices high, both to keep their revenue from the service as high as possible and to stimulate the app economy. If they had control over the market pricing, why did the race to the bottom happen and why haven't Apple stopped it?

If the argument is that they don't care about the revenue and they actually prefer the prices as low as possible to add value to their hardware devices, then why are Apple charging 30% and not 0%?


I don't really agree that's relevant to be honest. The affect on pricing can be quite wide. For example, the EU will not have an issue finding developers who will say they priced their product 30% higher on all platforms than they otherwise might have because they knew the had to pay the Apple surcharge and Apple do not permit you to charge extra to cover their cut (except then they sometimes arbitrarily do! But that's not what the terms say).


Apple had those clauses (I believe they are referred to as ‘Most Favored Nation’ clauses) but I believe removed them after the US E-Book settlement.

They still may be attached to marketing and partnership opportunities I believe, though - you might not be featured in the store if you charge iOS users more than android or web users, just like they will probably not advertise a new movie or album if Amazon is allowed to sell it for a lower price.


A monopoly means you're pretty much the only viable supplier/provider for a particular segment of the market. A dominant player is someone who isn't an outright monopoly, but nonetheless has a sizable market share and can influence pricing, competition, (i.e. by its patent licensing terms and deals with key component OEMs), the ability to set or influence standards etc.


I too feel a little weird about "iOS app ecosystem" as the definition of a market that matters for anti-trust regulation, but at the same time consider that smartphones are not fungible goods. People generally choose iPhone vs. Android for particular reasons, and then often stay on those platforms because of features that aren't available on the competing platform, or just because they've succumbed to ecosystem lock-in. Switching to the other platform isn't just a matter of swapping out a piece of hardware: it involves installing or finding workalike applications, often manually re-entering data, and sometimes losing access to DRMed purchases.

Given that, "iOS App Store" does start feeling like a market that should be regulated as its own entity.


Name one popular app that is not cross platform? How many apps have people paid for on iOS that are not subscription based and work on both platforms? Most money from apps Ecome from in app purchases from whales of pay to win games or subscriptions. How much data would really need to be “manually re-entered”?


That's fair, but doesn't invalidate all the other reasons why switching from iOS to Android is prohibitively difficult. It's laughable to suggest there's no lock-in at all. And some people just like iOS itself.


Apple has control of the iOS App market. It is a pretty large barrier for a customer need to switch platforms to get an app that Apple has denied access.

I am not a lawyer, but that sure smells like the potential for monopolistic control.


This is like saying 7-11 has a monopoly on what is sold in 7-11 stores.

If I want a copy of the King James Bible and 7-11 chooses not to sell that, I have to leave 7-11 and go find another store that does. Yes, that's a barrier I have to go through to get my Bible. Should the government make it 7-11's responsibility to solve that for me?


I'm not certain how this is considered to be analogous - is the assumption that other retailers would need to forward customers to 7/11 when 7/11 carries a good a client is interested in?

As a possibly better analogy... Let's say I run a Flea market and also direct sell some items to customers. I charge independent retailers a fee for setting up a booth in my market space and don't excise that same fee from my own booths. Then I go to open a booth in a local mall to help sell some of my directly vendored items and raise an exception all the way to city hall that the mall attempting to charge me for running a booth in their property is impeding the free flow of commerce and hurting the local economy - while I continue to charge booths in my market space for operating.


> and raise an exception all the way to city hall that the mall attempting to charge me for running a booth in their property is impeding the free flow of commerce and hurting the local economy

Except Apple has never made that argument to anyone. They simply added a way to pay for their subscription directly in their app rather than in the Play Store; Something Google allows.


If I lease space to you on a profit sharing based model (i.e. you don't have to pay any standard rent but you need to forward 20% of what you make in lieu of rent to use the space) and you start giving product away to customers for "free" but then force them to pay the actual price under the table then you're committing fraud. Whether you think 30% of transaction value is a fair price or not for the costs of running an AppStore (I don't think so - it's ridiculously high proportion-wise) that's the agreement. Apple comes down hard on people who run microtransactions via alternate payment methods in application on their platform and yet that's exactly what they're doing in the Play Store - it is something that Google allows, but it would violate Apple's ToS.


There is no prohibition to allowing subscriptions outside of the App Store - even at a lower price. Apple is saying you must also allow subscriptions in the store. Whether you agree or not is different.


I don't think this is a particularly good analogy.

If 7-11 doesn't sell a bible and I want to buy a bible, I go to another store that sells bibles and buy one there. It's not like my house will refuse to allow me to bring a non-7-11 product inside.

If the iOS App Store doesn't sell a particular app, then I have no alternative (aside from "buying a different house", which IMO is unreasonable), because Apple doesn't let non-App-Store apps onto iOS devices.


For a literal bible you would have options, because you can use a standard format like ePub or PDF. Your limitations come if you try to mandate your own DRM, since the platform won’t understand it.

For an annotated bible application, you would have the option of a web-based application, which has certain trade-offs.


A big chunk of the arguing in an antitrust case is about how the relevant market should be defined. A plaintiff bringing a suit against Apple might define it as "the market for iOS apps", but Apple's lawyers would argue for something much more broad, like the "the market for computer software". My hunch is that the court would probably land somewhere in the middle like "the market for mobile apps." Apple's still a big player there but far from a monopolist.


Yes and the consoles have control of their market and Amazon has control over the Kindle.


To what extent is this about Apple and not also about Google who is the other party of the deal? In that case the market is unquestionably the whole smartphone market.


> plus a 30% cut for doing nothing

It's not nothing. Maybe not worth 30% but it is worth something. They run the store, buy the servers and pay for the bandwidth. Pay the engineers to develop and manage the infrastructure. Run the app certification process. Maintain the security of the platform. etc.

If they can't charge their 30% cut, they will need a different business plan. Possibly charging app developers directly for access to the app store. They are not going to just give up their 30% and do nothing.


There should be a difference between a 30% cut of an app (of which apple can say their toolkits and os development are part of the product offering) and a 30% cut of a subscription, especially a multiplatform subscription. if you could buy netflix with applepay, but then 90% of your netflix usage is not on apple devices, apple collects on that entire subscription.

Subscriptions should be priced more like a credit card transaction fee. They could have marginal brackets that increase slightly at scales, to account for bigger apps possibly causing more backed development work.


I appreciate this comment, especially the end, because what I have sorely missed in most of the discussion on here and on Twitter are suggestions on what to do instead. If Apple is using monopoly power to bully iOS developers, what should Apple do? Charge subscriptions at 0%? Flat fee? Is 15% good? If they use Netflix on non-Apple hardware, should it be a revenue share?

I'm not saying Apple isn't breaking the law, I just really wish there were more suggestions on solutions on what they should do instead. So for that, I appreciate you helping me to see it in a more nuanced way.


There is a difference. Subscriptions only pay 30% of the first year. Every year after drops to 15%.


if you buy something with apple pay the business does not pay a cut. if you buy something with in app purchases or in app subscriptions then you pay the 30%


They already charge developers to access the App Store. And I think any iOS/Mac developer will tell you that the cut they are taking is not being re-invested into making the developer or the App Store experience better for developers or users.


Apple would not need a different business plan.

Apple currently has $192.8 billion cash on hand. If Apple took a smaller cut, they would simply have a few less billion dollars in the bank. Many, many individual developers and small business would have a little more money in their bank accounts. The small businesses are more likely to be actively put this money back into the economy then the idle billions in Apple's bank accounts.


As a point of reference, HumbleBundle charges 5% for the Humble payment widget. They handle hosting your data, all the payment systems for taking payments from most of the world, handling chargebacks on your behalf etc etc.

If you want to sell your game on the Humble Store on the other hand, well then they take a 25% cut. That’s the value in being able to deliver a customer.

Apple’s fixed 30% cut is effectively saying: our brand is more important than yours in delivering customers to your App. The imprinteur of being in our App Store and bringing you a customer is worth 30% of your income. Your ability to deliver your own customers is irrelevant; we’re taking 30% either way. Unsurprisingly this sticks in the craw of some companies.

The fact that Apple’s systems make it almost impossible to effectively communicate with your own customer is an even bigger problem for a customer-focused company who’s income & branding depend on a close relationship with their customers: those companies are completely stuffed by the Apple App model & are the reason the App Store has not lead to the explosion of innovation some of us expected - it’s just not possible for a company to sustain themselves outside a very narrow set of income generation patterns.


> Possibly charging app developers directly for access to the app store.

This is already the case. $100/year USD to get the privilege of being on the App Store.

Actually, getting on the App Store is not even guaranteed after you pay the fee, since you still need to pass their review process.


They require you to use their store, servers and bandwidth. It’s not fair to claim that’s value provided to developers when they are forbidden to not use the infrastructure.

My costs for direct distribution on Mac are ~8% and are absolutely dominated by payment processing - and that’s only because I choose to use a merchant of record instead of Stripe to save on VAT accounting costs. The rest of distribution costs are peanuts.


Yeah... I guarantee you that Apple customers appreciate the consistency of the App Store, especially the payment systems.


You're nitpicking a particularly irrelevant point the parent made in support of the overall argument, which doesn't work.

I agree that running a payments platform is not nothing. The issue is that there is zero competition in the space of iOS payments (very convenient for Apple that they get to make the rules and also benefit from them). That harms consumers because sellers will often charge more to account for Apple's 30% cut (and if Apple bans charging more on only their platform, the seller has to raise prices for everyone, which hurts their non-iOS user base). An alternative payments processor might charge 20% or 10% or even less. Healthy competition in that space would benefit consumers, while forcing Apple to charge a fee more in line with the actual cost of what they provide.

(There are certainly downsides; Apple has done a lot of work to ensure the security and privacy of their payments solution, and other processors may not do as good a job. And without restrictions, it's the seller who decides what processors to support, not the buyer, so the buyer doesn't get to -- for example -- choose to pay a little more to keep their information in Apple's care.)

Perhaps a good compromise would be for Apple to require that apps support Apple's in-app payment system, but allow other payment methods in addition, and also allow sellers to charge more to users who use Apple's system. If customers don't value whatever Apple is providing for the extra fee, Apple will be incentivized to charge less.

> Possibly charging app developers directly for access to the app store.

They already do this, via the yearly developer fee.


> Maybe not worth 30% but it is worth something.

If Apple allowed the market to set the price, we would know what this activity is worth. They don't, that's the issue.


> Possibly charging app developers directly for access to the app store

Err, Apple does charge to develop for their platform.


Which Apple does not permit. It's literally Apple's way, plus a 30% cut for doing nothing, or you're not even allowed to play. And that's exactly what antitrust laws were intended to prevent.

I wouldn't say Apple or Google do nothing. Their Argument is we provide the infrastructure and developer tools so we're going to take a slice off all your sells to keep this stuff up and running. Even the Amazon App Store takes a 30% cut.


If you aren't using their payment systems you aren't using that specific infrastructure or dev tools though. This isn't about someone wanting Apple's (super nice) payment system for free, it's about Apple forcing them to use it instead of their own solution.


If the antitrust laws were designed to prevent that (they weren't) then there's been a massive failure in enforcement because nothing has changed since Apple launched the App Store in 2008. In reality laws don't require platforms to be "open" or "closed" or dictate how you're supposed to make money. And that kind of regulation would be bad for dynamic markets and competition.


If you look at Spotify's allegations[0], than things did change in 2015 when Apple launched Apple Music, creating a conflict of interest for Apple. Anyhow, anti-trust moves slow. The trust cases against IBM took more than a decade, and the case against Microsoft also took a few years.

[0] https://timetoplayfair.com/timeline/


"Conflict of interest" isn't illegal. Apple has been competing with app developers on their platform from the first days of the App Store. If Spotify is somehow trying to suggest that Apple should be barred from doing so, that's not going to be possible under antitrust laws.


Conflict of interest itself is not illegal, but it does legally restrict Apple from doing some things.

For example, providing private APIs to Apple Music would straight fall under the Microsoft precedent, same for not allowing other apps as default programs. Apple Music would have to use the same store review policies, and Apple may have to separate divisions so AM pays the same store tax (but internally).


> then there's been a massive failure in enforcement

I think basically everyone who works on anti-trust issues would agree that this has indeed been the case. Not just with Apple, but with anti-trust law in general.


> Apple is violating antitrust laws by forcing companies to use Apple Pay as a condition of using the App Store

I think you're mixing up Apple Pay with in-app purchases. Apple Pay is for real-world purchases. In-app purchases are for digital goods or services. If we're talking about music streaming, we're talking about in-app purchases, not Apple Pay. Apple don't force you to use Apple Pay for anything, in fact they won't let you use Apple Pay in this situation.


If Apple is violating antitrust laws with their own store, it doesn't matter whether their use of the Google store is consistent with their own behavior. And if they're not violating antitrust law, that inconsistency also does not matter. I think you're mixing up legal concepts that are not dependent on one another.


That’s absurd. If I run a shop and I require an ID check at the entrance then it doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to shop myself in stores which don’t require ID checks.


That's not the right analogy. It means you're not allowed to sue someone else for requiring an ID check in order to let you shop there.

I'm not a lawyer, but I'd be surprised if this defense was particularly robust anyway. It seems you'd just have to argue that there's some slight difference in the situations and that's why I'm doing something that guy shouldn't do. But either way, you're not taking away the correct message from his example.


> Apple is violating antitrust laws by forcing companies to use Apple Pay as a condition of using the App Store (i.e., leveraging dominant/monopolistic market position in one market in a non-competitive manner over another market).

Can you point me to the specific law they are violating? From my understanding antitrust laws really aren't that clear and it depends on the situation and their control of a market. For example, you need to prove that they have a monopoly that hurts consumers. They may have a monopoly on iPhones but not mobile phones in general. My point is you are saying they have specifically broken the law, but I think that has yet to proven and is certainly not cut and dry until it's in court.


".e., leveraging dominant/monopolistic market position in one market in a non-competitive manner over another market"

This is a very common thing that is brought up in anti-trust law cases. That is what he is referring. It is regarding anti-trust law.


Certainly in the EU you are not required to demonstrate a monopoly.


Every Apple ID requires a form of payment associated unless you specifically set it up without one.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204034

An Apple ID has nothing to do with Apple Pay. Apple Pay is a separate service you can turn on if you want to, or, not.

The crazy ideas people have about Apple & anti-trust mostly have to do with pretty much everyone not really understanding Apple service offerings.


Apple Pay does not take a 30% cut. And this entire out of context screenshot is misleading. If you want to say they’re doing it to avoid Googles 30% cut then you’re free to your opinion but what’s really happening here is you’re adding a payment method to your apple account. It’s the same as google allowing me to modify my payment methods on their services using an iphone app.


> Apple is violating antitrust laws by forcing companies to use Apple Pay

Just to be clear, afaik there has not been a ruling so far that asserts this, so all you can say is that in your opinion they are in breach of anti trust, but they have not actually been found to be guilty of that yet.


>Apple is violating antitrust laws by forcing companies to use Apple Pay as a condition of using the App Store

No, it's not. They do not require the use of Apple Pay. It's baked into the infrastructure of the product. No one is forced to use it.


if Apple was in fact “violating anti-trust laws”, don’t you think that would have been a problem for 12 years?

Random HN users can’t declare that anti trust laws are being violated and make it a fact. If Apple is violating the law, so is every console maker.


>Obviously if Apple owns one platform, and Google owns the other platform, it is not actually the same situation.

Let's look at a situation where Google is seeking to protect it's own cut of the action.

>“After 18 months of operating Fortnite on Android outside of the Google Play Store, we’ve come to a basic realization,” reads Epic’s statement. “Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.”

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/21/21229943/epic-games-fortn...

This behavior is much more troubling from an antitrust perspective than "Apple is being a hypocrite".


Apple literally puts technical measures in place to ensure that it's 100% impossible to download outside software.


This has never been a secret.

Google literally spent most of a decade preaching that the "freedom" their platform afforded to sideload software was a major competitive advantage, and then attacked a developer who was making use of that freedom to make a large profit without giving Google a cut.


But you could still do it, you just get a lot of warnings that you probably shouldn't unless you know what you're doing. AFAIK I can't do that on my iPad at all.

Also, with Fortnite specifically, they proved the worries right immediately: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanwhitwam/2018/08/25/epic-gam...


Epic is obviously exaggerating. Android lets you enable local app installs in like 2 clicks including a safety message. Complaining about this is like complaining about windows UAT (I expect Epic will complain about that next).


There were a lot of complaints about UAT when it was first introduced, claiming it was too confusing for casual users. It was a factor in the huge unpopularity of Vista.


Anyone could get a developer account and compile the code and deploy it to their phone if the app owner released the source code.


This could be a crucial argument in that it distinguishes between the essential freedom of device owners to decide what software to run, and the freedom of device manufacturers to decide which apps to sell in their stores and at what terms (still subject to anti-trust laws).

Unfortunately, the $99 annual fee per developer account nullifies any possible mass-market sideloading possibilities. (Imagine what could happen if sideloading apps from source was free just highly impractical, and HEY turned their rage into a free Apple developer account management & sideloading SaaS offering.)


While there are restrictions, free developer accounts can support installation onto your own devices.


Jailbreaking the device is free, easily reversible, and allows you to run any software you like.


Makes sense for Apple to make developer accounts free while publishing to the store cost money.


> The law does not require that Google and Apple run their online stores the same way, or that Apple interact with Google's store the same way they choose to run their own store.

That's actually what the court cases are for, and I'm not sure they've actually completed? It feels like you're asserting how you feel it should work out when it hasn't completed yet.


This is true: lots of folks are asserting that X or Y behavior is an anti-trust violation, and it might be, but that hasn’t been shown legally yet.


I'm not aware of any court case that seeks to define whether Apple and Google must run their stores the same way.


> Obviously if Apple owns one platform, and Google owns the other platform, it is not actually the same situation. > > The law does not require that Google and Apple run their online stores the same way

Yikes, no. It absolutely does! The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment is probably the most cited and least controversial of the Big Important spots in the constitution.

It is not possible for a law or court decision to find differently for different plaintiffs or defendants under the same circumstances. Period. Full stop. This is like con law 101.

For a court to square this they'd have to cite exactly the reasoning that makes it OK in one case but not the other, in a way that is much more involved than "just because", as you seem to think.


> > Obviously if Apple owns one platform, and Google owns the other platform, it is not actually the same situation.

There's your different circumstances.

> It is not possible for a law or court decision to find differently for different plaintiffs or defendants under the same circumstances


This doesn't sound right, so let me try to form an example to get at what is the issue I'm seeing.

Let X be "It is okay for me to ban my customers from using discounts."

Let not X be "It is okay for me to use discounts offered by another restaurant."

This doesn't feel like a particularly contradictory situation.

Maybe the issue is that we skipped a few too many steps, because there isn't anything particularly illegal about Apple only letting apps doing certain things (like not bypassing their store) onto their store. The issue is that this is occurring in a larger situation where there are concerns about being a monopoly. I wonder if we build out exactly why what Apple is doing might be wrong (basically the argument they are having to defend against by claiming X is okay) we can see it isn't an issue. But at face value it feels to be taking a very broad view of what constitutes hypocritical behavior to the point it renders the notion useless.


Sounds like the issue is, "I created a set of rules and ban users who try to bypass them, but I recognize how bogus/harmful to a business those rules are because I do my utmost best to bypass those exact same rules when I'm in the position of a user on someone else's platform."

The contradiction is in trying to support the rules with one hand while resorting to the same bypassing tactics they decry when they're in the position of a business on someone else's platform.

edit: typo.


I'm pretty sure google allows you to do this though, so Apple isn't bypassing any "rules" on android.


Perhaps the parent's use of "contradictory" wasn't so great; I would say "hypocritical" would be better. This isn't about doing anything legal or illegal, or violating or not violating anyone's terms of service. It's simply pointing out that Apple, when given a choice, would rather use an external payment processor (in order to pay lower fees) when building an app for a platform they don't control... while at the same time denying people the ability to do that on their own platform.

To me, that sounds like a compelling argument in a hypothetical anti-trust suit against Apple where a plaintiff is claiming that Apple's requirement to use Apple's in-app payment system for all payments in iOS apps is anti-competitive behavior.


> It's simply pointing out that Apple, when given a choice, would rather use an external payment processor (in order to pay lower fees) when building an app for a platform they don't control... while at the same time denying people the ability to do that on their own platform.

Apple explicitly allows apps like Spotify and Netflix to use external payment processors on iOS via their developer guidelines.


Yes, apps like Spotify and Netflix (sorta; some of the rules around the "reader exception" seem arbitrary and selectively enforced), but not all apps. Not sure what the point is you're trying to make here.


The rule being bypassed is the 30% Google tax by using in app transactions through the pay store.

They just don't ban the alternative practice.


I'm just amazed that no one on both sides is following the prisoner's dilemma scenarios


This is the contradiction:

Apples’s defense of its in-app payments rule is that having a single payment system owned by the platform used by every app on that platform provides the best experience for users. According to them, Apple isn't being greedy but rather they are ensuring their users have the best experience on their platform.

But if a single payment system for a platform is such a great user experience, why does Apple not offer that superior experience to their Apple Music customers on Android?

Of course, one could argue that Google's refusal to require apps on their platform to use their in-app purchase system means that superior user experience of a uniform payment system is out of reach regardless of what Apple does with their own apps on Android, so maybe it's not a contradiction after all.


I think its more "It is legal for me to ban coupons at my store" and then suing another company for not letting you use coupons at their store. I'm not 100% sure though


Has Apple sued Google for this, though? I haven’t heard of any lawsuits over this between the companies.


I think in this case, the hypothetical lawsuits would be between companies that make iOS apps and Apple. The companies that make iOS apps want to have their own payment system where Apple doesn't take a cut.


Right, but Apple could just say Google has different policies... they never argued that google legally had to allow them to accept outside payments. They would just say "Google could have prevented us by policy legally, but didn't want to."


Isnt it more like I am banning all my customers to use coupons on my platform. Then circumventing this ban and using coupons on another platform anyways.


It's not about differences in actual behavior or contract terms, but about differences in assertions what behavior is prohibited by a particular law.

Let X be "That other marketplace banning me from offering discounts is a violation of antitrust law".

Let not X be "Me banning vendors in my marketplace from offering discounts is permitted by antitrust law".

You get to pick one and only one position of those - but in most cases there's no conflict; you can ban some practice in your marketplace (and assert that this ban is permitted by law) while at the time doing the same thing yourself in other marketplaces which haven't banned it - as long as you're not legally challenging their right to ban that practice as well, if they should choose so.


I THINK the situation is more...

Let not X be "It is okay for me to use discounts at another restaurant that bans discounts."


Does Google ban bypassing their stores on Android?


Their policy explicitly permits it for this category of sales.


A judge can still indicate this behavior as proof of hypocrisy and reject Apple’s argument, even if it’s not prohibited by the other app store


Apple permits external payment processing for this category as well (Spotify, Netflix)


Mostly for in-app payments of a bunch of variants, primarily for digital content, yes.


I think the initial analogy of discounts is flawed. Its more like

Let X be "It is okay for me (Costco owner) to require customers use CostCo credit cards only"

Let not X be "It is okay for me to use my non-Safeway credit card at Safeway"


I fail to understand this position.

Apple Music is in the same position as say Spotify on Google's platform as a third party media service. Is the implication that they should operate differently or be held to a different standard than Spotify?

I don't believe Apple has argued that collecting alternate payments in-app would be an undesirable for third party developers on the App Store - just that they don't wish to support it (for multiple reasons).

This also comes from Apple and Google having different starting points in their mobile platform - Apple already had a huge account and micropayment billing base for the iPhone by basing the App Store on the iTunes Store.


> Is the implication that they should operate differently or be held to a different standard than Spotify?

Currently this is the case. Apple Music is held to a different set of rules and standards than Spotify.

When Apple Music wants to collect their customer's money from within the Apple Music app, they can do this practically for free - they don't need to forfit 30% of their revenue of that sale to another party.

When Spotify wants to collect their customer's money from within the Spotify app, they cannot without having to forfit 30% of their revenue.

Apple Music gets to play by different rules and is not held to the same standard as everyone alse on the App Store.


Yes, but not on Android. On Android they have the same treatment as other apps.

It’s hypocritical that they get to benefit from the more* level playing field in the Play Store yet force others on their platform to a restrictive policy, but it doesn’t seem contradictory. They are following the Play Store policy and are asking developers in the App Store to follow their policy.

The real question is whether or not their policy is legal.


I suspect the surrounding context is Apple threatening to yank the Hey app for bypassing Apple's cut by not using IAPs for managing subscriptions.


Apple is both the developer of Apple Music and the operator of the iOS App Store.

Apple's Apple Music app is using a tactic on the Google App Store, while Apple's iOS App Store is blocking certain third parties from doing the same.

The implication isn't "Apple Music should be barred" but rather "If Apple is working around the 30% cut in other companies' walled gardens, maybe they shouldn't be blocking apps that try to do the same to Apple's 30% cut in Apple's iOS store"

This is showing up today because of Hey's rejection (https://twitter.com/dhh/status/1272968382329942017 more context)


Is Apple actually technically the owner of both or are they using some "partially controlled former subsidiary" related BS to try and duck out of responsibility?


It's worth checking before blindly downvoting:

The seller of Apple Music on the google play store is Apple Inc https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.apple.andr...

The developer of the iOS app store is also Apple Inc: https://www.apple.com/ios/app-store/ (check the copyright at the bottom)


Can you link to something that goes into more details about this principle, or give us some search terms? Stated as broadly as you have done, it doesn't sound right to me.


Judicial estoppel: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judicial_estoppel or the alternate name the article give, "estoppel by inconsistent positions".

More generally, the thing known as "common law": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_law Note that "common law" does not mean "law that is common", at least not on an international scale; it is a specific legal system. As the Wikipedia article says, there are several others.

A super super high-level summary is that common law systems take more account of intent and precedent, whereas civil law systems tend to interpret the law exactly as written. A common law judge is more able to look at a litigant and take into account any sort of hypocrisy of their positions whereas I think a civil law judge in this situation would be more likely to simply take the case as is without such external considerations. But, let me again emphasize, that's a super-high level summary.


Thanks. I'm familiar with the distinction between common and civil law, but that does not seem sufficiently specific to my question to be very helpful.

The link to judicial estoppel is helpful, but seems much less broad than the gamblor956's claim. Judicial estoppel involves a party presenting contradictory arguments in separate court cases, not just hypocritical behavior by the party. (gamblor956: "if you take a position in federal court on X... and you are found to be doing not-X in an analogous situation...").


Judicial estoppel is a lot broader than the 3 paragraph Wikipedia page. It applies to the same court case, to separate court cases, and to actions occurring outside of a courtroom that would affect a court case if such actions have the effect of contradicting a legal position a party is taking in court.


But even when I look at other sources that emphasize how broad it is, they do not seem to think it applies to general hypocritical behavior. First, it seems restricted to statements (arguments, testimony, etc.). Second, those statements seem to need to relate to communication where there is a notion of "taking a public stand", e.g., your account of an event to your insurance company, or your explanation to a government auditor.

> Courts have held, for example, that the timing of the inconsistent statements is not necessarily determinative. Therefore, both statements need not have been made during the course of the same pending lawsuit. Nor is it absolutely necessary for both statements to have been made in court proceedings. For example, prior statements made to local, state, and federal agencies, or to insurance companies, if sufficiently inconsistent with a later position being taken before a court, can give rise to a judicial estoppel.

https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a2c93368-28d7...

From everything I've read, just behaving hypocritically is not enough.


But so far, you haven't advanced any theory of how Apple's behavior here ("we use external payment in Google's app store") contradicts any legal position that Apple is taking in any court case.

You can't be claiming that Apple takes the legal position that external payment handling is illegal in all app stores?


Apple makes eg: Google music use Apple pay in Apple ios store, taking 30% cut. Apple will kick out Google music from app store for not using Apple pay, giving Apple 30% cut.

Apple circumvents Google pay, and Google 30% cut in Android app store.

Apple thus admits by own action that Apple's enforcement of apple pay and 30% cut is fine for anyone to circumvent, because they do the equivalent thing themselves.

And they should not be allowed to kick anyone out of the ios app store for circumventing Apple pay?

Apologies if I misunderstood your question, but that was my takeaway from this thread?


This is so much nonsense. Apple circumvents Google pay pursuant to Google's policies. Apple has different policies in its own app store. So what? Those are not related facts.


If there is a case testing the enforcability/validity of the limits enforced by the app store, it might be?

I'm not certain if the app store model has been tested in court? As in - can you actually, legally build a walled garden?


Yes; I was answering the "give me a google term" question (which is a good question I fully support; it sure as heck isn't obvious the answer is "estoppel" to an English speaker), not "here's a full explanation of the concept" not-asked question. I'm not competent to give the latter.

Further edit: I was also showing this is a principle in common law. It seems to be pretty rare for a case to be resolved with an explicit resolution that cites the basic principle, and for every principle you can find any number of places where it seems to be violated. Instead, these general principles are just ambiently in the air at all times, so to speak. I wouldn't expect the court to explicitly rule "case dismissed because of judicial estoppel"; I would expect it is something that factors in to the general environment of the trial, rarely in the foreground but constantly in the background. You are going in with a weaker position arguing that entity X shouldn't be doing Y if you are yourself doing Y in a manner that a reasonable person would find comparable.


I do appreciate it. Your comment definitely advanced the discussion.


Come oooonnnnnn...

Obligatory disclaimer for everyone else: IANYL. Mostly, because armchair lawyering on the internet is the worst.

That said – sure, estoppel is absolutely an important part of the judicial/common law canon. It's also often a last ditch effort when multiple other theories of the case fall through. In fact, before estoppel was mentioned, I thought OP was going for unclean hands, which might be truly the last hail Mary, and absent much more, estoppel is equally far down that list.

Not sure which is worse: Dunning-Kruger here or if OP is actually in a position where (s)he should know better. All the Wikipedia and common law cites make me thing maybe a foreign attorney best case scenario.

tl;dr: Extremely broad but rarely used as such legal principle is cited as reason Apple is legally DOOMED! From that misleading jumping off point, OP gleefully takes the giant leap to asserting that an otherwise novel and highly disputed antitrust case involving the App Store et al. is open and shut when it very much isn't.


Sure, but it's not as broad as hypocrisy in general. Hypocrisy is not against the law.

Apple is clearly being hypocritical by trying to do to Google what they try to stop other companies from doing to them. But that is a basic sort of hypocrisy common to markets--e.g. I want to get paid a lot for my work but I don't want to pay someone else a lot to do work for me.

If you look at any contractual relationship--which is what app stores are--you can be sure that each party is trying to get the most and give the least. That's not judicial estoppel.


Wouldn't it all depend on the contracts/agreements in place? If Google has a different agreement than Apple, why would the same terms apply?


It undercuts Apple's argument that they "need" to have this limitation in place, since clearly their largest competitor doesn't "need" to do it.


Subscription media apps on iOS are allowed to use external payment processing.

A hypocritical position would be having users do initial sign-up (including creation of an Apple ID with billing information) in-app on Android.


They would not and do not apply.


Dueling monopolies share only fleeting similarity with the appealing properties of markets.


It's not about the TOS, it's about Apple taking the position that Google's requirement is anticompetitive in the Play Store but that Apple doing the same thing (actually worse, since Google allows third-party stores to be installed) in its own App Store is not.

That can be used against them in an antitrust proceeding...in US courts. I don't know how the EU handles judicial estoppel since AFAIK it's only a feature of the UK-originated common law system.


When has Apple argued that Google's Play Store is anticompetitive?

Apple's more likely to argue "Google's TOS lets us do X, our TOS doesn't" or something along those lines.


"Youtube" Lawyer (Viva Frey) was making the same argument this week of such a contradiction.

Google banning Federalist from its ad network for having racist comments on its articles.

Google having plenty of racist comments on its own youtube, but still running ads on those videos.


This does not fit with my understanding of estoppel (I am a lawyer).

There are specific rules that apply to the different types of estoppel, and they would not be met where Apple is dealing with app developers pursuant to the App Store dev agreement in one case and dealing with Google under the Google Play TOS in the other case.

It might be relevant if Apple claimed that Google is acting as a monopolist by engaging in XYZ behavior, but Apple’s lawyers are smart enough not to make such an argument.


The law doesn't have a hypocrisy clause like that.


The court of public opinion does though.


In this case they are following the rules on the other platform. Just like they expect their own rules to be followed on their platform.


It's very relevant to note that Google Play's terms around in-app billing[1] are far more liberal than Apple's.

> Developers offering products within a game downloaded on Google Play or providing access to game content must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment. Developers offering products within another category of app downloaded on Google Play must use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment, except for the following cases:

> Payment is solely for physical products

> Payment is for digital content that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g. songs that can be played on other music players).

That second note is critical here and the example quite literally describes the exact situation here as an exemption.

[1]: https://play.google.com/about/monetization-ads/payments/


First of all, my stance here is that Google is pretty reasonable with their guidelines compared to Apple.

My biggest issue in the iOS vs Android debate is that apple is behaving monopolistically and Google isn't. Using the respective app stores give publishers an inherent audience to distribute/sell content through. I don't think it's unreasonable for Apple/Google to try to profit off of the audience they've built. Where I have an issue is that if you don't want to sell on the Play Store, you don't have to. You can install APKs from anywhere and there are even alternative app stores that are completely within Google's ToS. With Apple, you have to sell on the app store or not at all (I know Enterprise apps exist, but it's not the same).

I think Apple gets away with this because they're not selling digital content, they're selling a service/subscription.

One thing that drives me up a wall about Apple is that you cannot purchase a Kindle book in-app on an iOS device. So if you're in the kindle app and want to buy a book you need to actually go and check out on a web browser (true for both the Amazon app and the Kindle app). On Android, you can do whatever you want.

I'm pretty sure that Apple is going to lose this one. We need an open, fair ecosystem for publishing apps.


Apple is a minority player in every single market in the world, including the US. You can't have monopolistic behavior without a monopoly. You can't be a monopoly if you are not the market leader.

People want this to be a legal issue but it's just a market issue. If people don't like these policies they shouldn't buy Apple products or release apps on Apple devices.


>Apple is a minority player in every single market in the world, including the US.

While I heavily agree with the rest of your reply whole-heartedly, this specific part isn't entirely correct.

You are correct that Apple (when it comes to smartphones) is a minority player worldwide, but it isn't the case in the US, where it sits at a comfortable 58% smartphone market share [0], thus making it a majority player.

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


That link does not load for me and it contradicts Statista[0] so I am not sure exactly what to believe.

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


I believe the OP is using "market share" as porportion of revenue" of the marketplace and not actual number of users.

I'm highly skeptical that iOS is greater than 50% of the US market based on the endless web analytics I've looked at through my career (and that >50% goes back a number of years in their stats).


>You can't have monopolistic behavior without a monopoly

This is wrong. Monopolistic behavior is anti-competitive behavior that doesn't require having a market monopoly.

Think of it as a pattern of behavior that moves you towards having a monopoly.


>This is wrong. Monopolistic behavior is anti-competitive behavior that doesn't require having a market monopoly

okay, sure. but it's only illegal when you have a monopoly.


In the U.S.

E.U. does not require a dominant market share to fine companies for monopolistic behavior.


It does, but: "In the AKZO v Commission case,[79] the undertaking is presumed to be dominant if it has a market share of 50%. There are also findings of dominance that are below a market share of 50%, for instance, United Brands v Commission,[74] it only possessed a market share of 40% to 45% and still to be found dominant with other factors. The lowest yet market share of a company considered "dominant" in the EU was 39.7%.If a company has a dominant position, then there is a special responsibility not to allow its conduct to impair competition on the common market however these will all falls away if it is not dominant." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly


Which market would Apple be moving towards having a monopoly in, in the App Store policy case?


The mobile app market, there's only two companies in this market anyways, it's not that hard to prove monopolistic behaviours.


Who loses when Apple doesn't allow other payment systems on it's phones?


That's literally every company trying to increase their marketshare.


Anti-competitive behavior is different than typical growth operations.


I agree, that's my point. Growth moves you towards having a monopoly, but growth by itself is not anti-competitive.


It is not wrong. It's not monopolistic behavior without a monopoly. Anticompetitive behavior can lead to a monopoly and that type of behavior can be considered illegal. However, this behavior from Apple is not an illegal attempt to control more of the market. If anything it is net negative for Apple and their marketshare.


This boils down to semantics:

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/monopolist.asp

>In many jurisdictions, such as the United States, there are laws restricting monopolies. Being the sole or dominant player in a market is often not illegal in itself. However, certain categories of monopolistic behavior can be considered abusive in a free market, and such activities will often attract the monopoly label and legal sanctions to go with it.

While it is correlated, monopolistic behavior is not always from a monopoly. Suppliers in free markets can still exhibit monopolistic behavior without being a monopoly.


I would think Apple has a monopoly either in selling iOS apps to consumers or, if you argue you don’t buy from Apple (but I don’t think that would hold under EU consumer law) in providing services to sell iOS apps to consumers.

A ruling on this might be tricky, though. It would have to argue that “iOS apps” are a separate market, that this is detrimental to consumers, and would have to phrase things in a way that there’s no collateral damage.

For example (possibly a very bad one; I’m not an expert in any law), theaters and music festivals typically sell their own tickets, passing on part of their revenues to performers. If, as is often the case, their show is unique, that might be called a ‘monopoly’ somewhat similar to what Apple does (sell iOS apps, passing on part of the revenues). They would have to find an argument as to why one thing is allowed while the other isn’t, and it can’t be “because we feel it’s different” or “because we don’t like Apple”.


Apple advocates always point to Apple capturing the vast majority of the profits in the mobile market but when discussing antitrust issues it's only units sold that matters. You can't have it both ways.


What tablets are out there that make Apple a minority in the tablet world?


Not in Switzerland as far as I know, they have very slightly over 50% apparently.


[flagged]


It is irrefutable that Android is the dominant player in mobile[0]. It isn't even close. Android is near to a legitimate worldwide monopoly while Apple is a bit minority player in comparison. These are just facts.

[0]: https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/iphone/iphone-vs-android-...


Google's stance here looks good on paper, but the reality is very different.

Fortnite was the most ambitious attempt to distribute outside of Google Play. Here's what Epic had to say:

> After 18 months of operating Fortnite on Android outside of the Google Play Store, we’ve come to a basic realization: Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third-party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.

And Epic gave up and put it on the Play Store.


I didn't realize that epic came back.

I also understand why Google is doing this. (1) the obvious money making reasons and (2) legitimate security concerns. Remember the days of accidentally undertaking a zillion browser tool bars? I feel like making it painful to install from 3rd parties help combat that.

I do think there can be a better solution though. Like some sort of signing process by Google to make you a trusted app that can be revoked in the future if they find you to be malware or whatever. This is kind of sounding like an app store though :)


That all seems very reasonable. Apps downloaded from other sources are much more dangerous than apps downloaded from Google Play.


Ok, sure. But the claim was that Google is absolved from "behaving monopolistically" because they permit ex-Play Store distribution. In practice, it's so onerous that not even a brand as strong as Fortnite can make it work.

Whether you prevent ex-app-store distribution through fiat or through engineering, the result is the same. So I don't think the distinction is important.


I don't know why you would think that, there's no additional guarantee on the Play Store.


If it makes some people in this thread feel better, Google also acts in many ways that are breaches of competition law, just in different ways!


But nothing compared to anti-competitive measures and dishonest marketing of apple.

Apple puts severe restrictions on developers, that they should develop on macs, that they should use Apple's IAP features, that they should provide 'sign in with apple' (although last one may be reasonable). They even tried to prevent cross platform application frameworks some years ago, by mandating that apps should be written in C/C++/ObjC.

And the dishonest marketing is well known.

Apple promoted swift, fine. But, since they couldn't implement GC in swift because Cocoa interop, some apple people (or maybe fanboys, apple's negative cost marketing strategy is its cult) attempted to make it look like ARC is competitive advantage against Android.

Apple is a patent troll. They sued samsung for some trivial things. They trademarked the word 'app store'. They patent trivial programming language features like optional chaining.

Apple is much more harmful than Google. HN defends web technologies and apple apparently because many here are invested in it (although often they are at odds). But please don't support a patent troll like apple.


But it says "on other music players". It doesn't really specify, but I would say that "Spotify" is the music player, and you still need to use it whether it is on the browser or other platform, but it is still "the same music player". I guess that the second case is more related to buying digital content, say an image, music, video, where you get the actual right to use that image, music, video on any platform. But I could be wrong.

In any case, as other users mentioned, if Apple music really lets ANY developer create an application that may reproduce the purchased content, then it may look fine.


I will say it does seem a bit ambiguous, but I believe their intention is similar with how they view physical products.

I believe their intention is that once you download an asset (e.g. song/video/movie), it's a tangible, portable copy that's yours to do freely as you will regardless of device.

You wouldn't be able to play music downloaded via Apple Music directly on just any generic music player (like a car stereo or a CD player) due to DRM and other various restrictions, so I don't believe that this would be exempt from that condition.


I take "on other music players" to mean other devices. If you have an Apple Music account, you can listen to the music on your MacBook, your iPhone, your iPad, and apparently also your Android phone. All of these devices are functioning as music players when you're playing the music you pay for on Apple Music.

The same goes for Netflix. Google does not try to take a cut of Netflix revenue even though you can only watch Netflix shows and movies through the Netflix first party application. You can, however, watch Netflix on many different devices.


I'm interested in whether allowing Google Play In-app Billing is sufficient to meet the requirements (while also allowing external payment), or if the requirements are supposed to mandate Google Play In-app Billing as the sole possible method of payment. It's not clear from the policy page.


From the policy, emphasis mine: "MUST use Google Play In-app Billing as THE method of payment."

They could be clearer that those words are significant, but in practice this is what the policy is.

Which is what you'd expect because the whole point of mandating that form of payments is to take the 30% cut (for digital goods meant to be used primarily on Android devices within apps downloaded from the Android app store).


> Which is what you'd expect because the whole point of mandating that form of payments is to take the 30% cut (for digital goods meant to be used primarily on Android devices within apps downloaded from the Android app store).

That may be a very large portion of the point, but it's not the whole point. For example, if you pay for additional functionality in an app using Google Play In-app Billing, then you can unlock that functionality again on any phone as long as you're signed in to the same Android account. If you paid externally, you can't do that.

Note that this directly lowers revenue from the 30% cut of in-app purchases, by removing some people's need to repurchase content they bought in the past but lost access to.


Some apps were temporarily delisted from the Google Play store because they dared adding a donation button that doesn't go through IAPs.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/google-pulls-open-source-android-...


Other apps offer in-app purchases where you have the choice of in-app or external payment.


But the second doesn’t apply - you can’t listen to Apple Music with a different app, you have to use their app.


You can listen to it in a browser. You can use an iPad. There are many ways to use Apple Music that do not involve an Android app.


This, but to take this even further, MusicKit and the Apple Music APIs even allow for 3rd party Android apps to play back purchased content.


https://developer.apple.com/documentation/musickitjs

MusicKit JS lets users play songs from Apple Music and their Cloud Library inside your JavaScript app. When a user provides permission to access their Apple Music account, your JavaScript app can create playlists, add songs to their library, and play any of the millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog directly in a browser, with no ...


Also note that Google allows third-party payment gateways via the Google Play API – Netflix, as an example, dodges the cut with a custom implementation of Stripe! It's a lot more work to implement, but developers actually have the option.


I really don't understand why people are defending Apple on this. It seems shameful of a $1.5 trillion company to do this to developers. Even more so when they themselves don't abide by their philosophy. They are extracting out a competitive advantage from this on other services like Spotify or Netflix( even without this they have a big one at app discovery and pre installs on iOS). Kudos to Google for allowing the developer to choose the app store/payment method.

Are you guys really fine with living in a world where one/two companies own everything you consume? This sounds like an antithesis to the hacker culture I would associate at least HN crowd with.


Imagine for a second distributing an app in 175 countries around the globe including all the tax details. I think it's fair to participate on such a global platform and a price for it.


The whole issue is about choice. If what Apple is offering you is worth the 30% cut they ask for, you will pay it. If it is not, you should be free to use your own method and take care of the details like tax yourself. Cross platform things anyway have to solve this problem on their own.


Yes, that worked out very well in 00’s with windows mobile. /s

People don’t understand the power of consumer friendly digital experience


Works out just fine on macOS.


I mean it works but “fine” is a pretty low bar for the point of using computers. I say this as an owner of about $50k of macs in my apartment.


> Cross platform things anyway have to solve this problem on their own.


Works fine on Android


We have and continue to distribute apps around the globe without Apple acting as a necessary middle man. It should not be a required service.


Apple apparently believes that whether that's a fair price should be up to the publisher to decide when publishing apps for Android, but it doesn't believe that the publisher should get to decide that when publishing on the App Store.


Agreed!

Google worked hard to set all of this up. Apple should pay Google for using the Google global platform.


30% cut for distribution seems ridiculously high—why not 3% or 0.3% or, best of all, a flat fee? Costs aren't even proportionate to the transaction amount. They don't even allow proper microtransactions which might make the fee make sense compared to processing with a credit card. What differentiates this from extortion?


There is a difference between distributing an app and forcing people the developer to pay for the underlying service it offers.

Especially if you opt to not use any of said platform services.

App distribution != online services. They are two distinct markets.


I agree on the ethos you are taking about. I personally prefer that choice, not everyone does.

You also have to understand when you buy into apple's philosophy the experience you sign up for is seamless where you don't need to worry about who controls what, that requires you to sacrifice choice ,

- I cannot choose to change my RAM or hard disk or other h/w to vendor of my choice on a MacBook,

- I cannot choose my own Desktop Environment or Kernel I boot in MacOS.

- I cannot choose how sign-in or payment is handled in Apple.

Payment handling allows them to provide the same experience to all apps for refunds or other problems etc. Is it worth the sacrifice ? depends on what you value the most.

Many people do not want or need these choices, Apple is designing products for those people, If you value your choices as I do, you should not be using Apple in the first place. I don't blame Apple for setting stringent rules to give that experience to people who are willing to pay for it.


Well, I have a lot of Apple hardware, think they generally do a decent job on the OS, and mostly appreciate the fact that the app store has rules that keeps it from turning into a dumpster fire.

But I don't see how that applies here. There's too many random carve outs for me to take this as being in good faith. If you can trust 37Signals to handle their own logins and payments for one app but not another, you're making stuff up.


Not defending apple, I value having the choice personally.

From Apple's perceptive allowing one vendor and not another is going to difficult, next vendor may not be as trustworthy as 37Signals, it is considerably easier to say no other system than theirs. They have never traditionally encouraged ecosystems unless they have been forced to.

I am not saying it is right, but it is consistent with their product philosophy.

Same reason they absorb features from apps into the OS itself, it sucks for the developer, but it benefits the user. For example having the flash light as OS feature than an app is considerably safer, better experience.


I’m okay with Apple forcing apps to support in app purchases or Apple Pay or whatever — the fee is the really gross part. If it were nominal it would be more reasonable.


People keep writing about businesses like they are surprised they aren't moral entities with consistent moral logic. Businesses take whatever action or position they can to maximize their results. The more power the business has, the more they can leverage that power to get what they want. This should just be the default assumption at this point and we should talk about if that is ok for society, not keep feigning surprise at the offense of the day.


This faulty logic is deeply ironic, since it's an expression of irrational negative emotion, which is what it's accusing others of. It's so common and so unchanging, I can paste an old comment I wrote about it (just substitute "corporations" for "wealthy and powerful people"):

The "why are people surprised" line is a huge red flag for me that a person is not arguing in good faith. Accusing people of being "surprised" as an implication of naivete seems to be a very common tool of redirection when people are defending something perceived by others to be immoral or otherwise harmful. I'm not sure why such a particular angle became so common, since it seems so obvious to me that what they are calling "surprise" is indignation/anger. It seems to be exaggerated from the general notion that the stronger a reaction is, the newer it is, but obviously that's faulty. I may hear the same story of wealthy and powerful people behaving badly every day, but it doesn't make the behavior any more acceptable with each occurrence, and so my anger does not subside, no matter how un-surprised I am.


> when people are defending something perceived by others to be immoral or otherwise harmful

well, i'd usually be just as surprised as the parent that people on this site are still getting surprised by it, and i sure as hell am not defending the company doing this.

all publicly traded companies should be considered amoral by default. if they take moral action, then they dont do it because of morality. they do it either because they wish to portrait themselves as moral for publicity or they have another way to profit off of it. the thing which would surprise me is that people still dont expect that.

in this particular case i'm not surprised though. hn readers are extremely positive of apple, no matter what apple does.


Well put.

Just cause it's happened a 1000 times doesn't mean people are numb.

The protests out there are evidence of this.

Yes, some people know some cops in some places are gonna be huge dickheads, but it doesn't assuage our feelings, when a bad experience happens.

Nobody should get used to having to experience a shitty situation through no fault of their own.


Well said. This is something I've been noticing a lot lately but you put it into words better than I could have.


Apple does not present the 30% cut as a machiavellian reality of business. They describe it as a fair, reasonable, and mutually beneficial practice. Apple’s practices on the Google play store suggests that they are arguing in bad faith.


Is it incumbent on Apple to act in the best interest of Google? Because that’s what giving Google a 30% cut would do. Google could demand it, but they haven’t.

I don’t go to a car dealership and ask what the maximum price they’re willing to charge me for it.


"People can be moral but businesses are amoral" is not the right summary. Businesses (and governments) are composed of many people, and there's no reason to expect in general that the actions of such a collective are consistent in any sense, not just a moral sense. Businesses and governments frequently undertake sets of actions that cannot even be reconciled as pursuing a consistent set of selfish preferences.


Amoral doesn't mean immoral, it just means without regard for morality. Corporations in their purest form can lean towards amorality, because profit motive / share price is the only real job of the board and executives. Of course, most businesses in the real world are not 100% cut-throat: they are staffed with real humans making decisions, and if nothing else, are at least cognizant of bad PR.


I am not confused about the distinction between amoral and immoral. I chose my words purposefully.


> This should just be the default assumption at this point and we should talk about if that is ok for society, not keep feigning surprise at the offense of the day.

This is almost good, but doesn't take into account the fact that everything is equally like this. The sociology professor who constantly tweets about racial hatred makes their job more prominent. The president who tweets about the Chinese virus engages their base.

It's not just some businesses, because that behaviour of businesses is driven by the fact they're run by people. It's just how some people behave.


The faulty logic is people proclaiming businesses as a single entity and not made up of a multitude of people with varying moral standards and opinions. We shouldn't be surprised that businesses aren't morally consistent when the people in them sure won't be.


Indeed they are compelled to maximise profit (the business leadership), else the shareholders will replace them. In fact I believe there’s even a US law to this effect.


>In fact I believe there’s even a US law to this effect.

No law in the United States of America compels businesses and their leaderships to maximise profit for shareholders.


I used to think this too, primarily because I read Cryptonomicon and it states as much. But it’s simply a myth, and one that I wish would die.


Boycott WWDC everyone. Trillion Dollar companies don't play by the fair rules.

Apple Music on Android requires its own payment details to avoid Google Play's 30% cut. Apple has accused Match, Epic, and Spotify of wanting a 'free ride' while taking one themselves.


Apple's claims of a "free ride" frankly seem ludicrous. There seem to me to be 3 issues at hand here.

1. The magnitude of the 30% charge, and the level of justification this has.

2. The ability for Apple to itself be a provider/competitor to those on the marketplace, such that they are not paying this 30% fee (and can immediately be 30% cheaper).

3. Whether Apple should be allowed to run a marketplace that operates on a whim, unwritten and ever-changing rules, informal policies, and no significant judicial remedies - if Government tried to retrospectively change the rules on you, you can sue them, and win. Apple can decide to eject you from its platform at its whim, and you are forced to accept this to use the platform.


Or Google should just remove the app. No reason, no comment, nothing. Just remove the app and say too bad.


Ah yes, the Apple approach. I like it.


Let's be real, it's the Google approach too. Though I don't generally hear about this from developers, people who make their livelihoods from publishing videos on YouTube are frequently hit with automated takedowns of their content/channel with little-to-no recourse.

This is a problem that crosses brands-- we need to push for better treatment of creators and developers alike to make this stop.


and Apple to remove Google from it's store in escalation?


or go to WWDC and just make this the topic of every Q&A


"Apple" is not a single monolithic entity. The engineers who will be working their asses off to create and present WWDC have absolutely nothing to do with the business decisions of the App Store. Do not bully them, and do not waste the time of other participants who will have genuine engineering questions.


The published guidelines are incomplete at best. The real rules seem to be arbitrary and aren't applied consistently. All of this talk about how "business services" get treated differently, enforcement changing in March, none of this is written down or available anywhere. It's a guessing game.

Building an app that follows the published rules and then finding out that the rules that matter are actually wildly different, digging through twitter threads and blog posts to try to figure out what's allowed- frankly those are the wastes of developer time that bother me more.


Those engineers enabled this outcome.

It is perfectly reasonable to ask why they facilitated immoral actions.

There is a code of ethics all computing professionals should use to consider their actions.

https://www.acm.org/code-of-ethics#:~:text=The%20Code%20incl....


It is perfectly reasonable to ask why they facilitated immoral actions.

Are you seriously proposing to give the presenter for the Core Audio session grief over this? IMO, that's just being a jackass "because purity". Or something; I'm at a loss to truly categorize such behavior.


I think it's very relevant to ask the folks actually building the stuff what they think.

If Apple won't answer questions about the platform through the proper channels, might as well go through the wrong channels. We're not going to get less of an answer.


Off topic, but do you know if there's actually going to be a CoreAudio session? I've been doing a ton of reading on it over the past year and I'd love to tune in.


Without looking at the schedule, I cannot say. I simply typed the first “Core” framework that came to mind at the moment.


> It is perfectly reasonable to ask why they facilitated immoral actions.

Should you be held accountable for everything any company you ever worked at has done or will do?


maybe boycott safari instead. or just don't optimize for it


I must politely decline your invitation to participate in the pitchforkings. Apple is still better than Google or Microsoft for me.

As a user I still think Apple is the least evil. As a developer I still prefer their platforms.

Your recent comment history is full of negging on Apple and I think this is one of those neg-waves that magically appear just before every WWDC, every year, like clockwork. Only 3.5 days to go, and I couldn't be more excited!


Slight thread hijack. I believe Apple deserves all the developer backlash it's currently receiving, I hope it helps them turn themselves around. I say that as someone who actually enjoys using and developing for the platform(s). What would it take to get them to take notice of these issues? Mass app store strike? Can a sizable group of developers push app store updates with a blank screen and some demands laid out? It doesn't (and won't) even need to get past app store review for someone to take notice, get some high profile players on board who have a beef with Apple already (Basecamp, Spotify)... Or pull their apps altogether?


Given the strong emotions around the topic, I've been a bit afraid to ask this question - is what Apple does really that different than traditional retail? In FMCG there are difficult hurdles to jump over to get on the store shelves. The stores don't have an obligation to put anyone's product on the shelf. They can also module what the cut of the revenue is. I'm not sure I have an opinion on what Apple is doing, but isn't it worth asking if it's really that unique in the economy? I welcome feedback on if I have a major blind spot here.


I think the difference here is that Apple is the only retailer for someone to install an app onto an iOS device. It prohibits anyone else from setting up a retailer, through policy-based (not technical) restrictions.

You cannot install an app on an iOS device, except from their store. Apple won't let you install an alternative store. Therefore their app store is a monopoly store, and should be regulated as such. (Is the argument being levelled against them.)


Well, Walmart is the only retailer in a Walmart store. Only Walmart is permitted to retail in a Walmart store.


But Walmart isn't the only store to go to in meatspace. If you have an iOS device, you get the Walmart of apps and only the Walmart of apps.

This is the problem.


It can be very difficult for someone to switch between iOS and Android. They're called ecosystems for that reason.

There's the obvious problem around apps and protocols. If you've been using them for a long time, your apps, their connectivity to each other, personal data etc is likely to be locked into Apple services & devices, or Google services & devices, in a way that is difficult or even impossible to move over (I know people with data they can only access now if they buy a license to apps they can no longer run).

More subtly, for example there was a recent article about how people in some places experience a social penalty if they aren't using iOS, because the difference is visible to others in terms of protocols used for instant messaging.

In my view, the great difficulty of switching and the penalties of switching mean that both Apple and Android ecosystems are, more or less, separate marketplaces, and each one has a strongly dominant player that should be subject to anti-trust measures.

Basically if you build a platform ecosystem, expressly design to lock-in users especially in ways that hugely affect their lives, that comes with responsibilities you don't have in a free and competitive marketplace where your users can switch with low friction.


But you're choosing a definition of the world that's too narrow -- "if you've already decided to go to Walmart then Walmart is the only store that can sell at Walmart."

Why isn't "the world" the smartphone market where there are plenty of options?


I think the underlying sentiment is that you've bought the device, so you should be able to do whatever you want with it. And there's no technical reason that your choice of device should preclude other stores.

For a more meatspace example let's say you own a car with full self-driving capabilities. Now, the manufacturer of that car also runs a chain of grocery stores. It would be problematic if the car refused to drive too a different store. "If you've already to decided to buy a Walmart car then Walmart is the only store that you can go to."


well put


There are essentially two options for smartphones, for tablets it's closer to one. Remember when Microsoft got in trouble for bundling Internet Explorer in Windows? Seems quaint compared to what Apple is doing now.


> Why isn't "the world" the smartphone market where there are plenty of options?

At a certain point in debates like this everyone ends up over-examining analogies to a point where it isn't useful. To be a useful parallel you'd need a world where you can only buy two types of car and each one only lets you go to one type of shopping mall, or something like that. My point is, that isn't how either the real world works or how smartphone app stores work, so it's a debate over nothing.


> plenty of options

There are two options, and one of them is provided free of charge by the world's largest advertising company.

The state of the smartphone OS market is so wildly different from the general-merchandise retail market as to render any comparisons meaningless.


Not only are there only two options, there is a high entry fee to each option, and you can only choose one at a time even if you wanted to pay this entry fee twice. What percent of consumers are willing to carry two phones in their pockets?

So you can compare this to if you could only buy things at two different stores, each store has a hefty membership fee, and you were effectively locked into your decision for at least a year at a time.


Because an iPhone is not the App Store. This seems fairly obvious?

"the definition of world is too narrow" is a pretty weak argument.


I buy an iPhone, knowing what App Store I'm getting. I don't see the issue, I chose to buy into this ecosystem.


Walmart actually does allow multiple retailers in Walmart stores.

Such as Coca-cola (who even has to stock their own inventory), and those shops and restaurants that are at the front of every superstore location.


It is more like "Fordmart" is the only store you can go to in a Ford car, I think.


> Walmart is the only retailer in a Walmart store

It's not like people have to choose whether to exclusively shop at Walmart or Target, like they do with phones. Reasonable people don't own both an iPhone and an Android.


There are multiple things retail does. Discovery and sales is one of it, but no one does what Apple wants to do with IAP.

Imagine that you buy a DVD player at Best Buy. That's cool. Best Buy decides the markup, where it puts it, how much it puts in promoting it, etc. That's also cool. You are OK with giving the with 30 % of your DVD player sales. After all, shelf space, promotion, etc. isn't free.

Now, imagine Best Buy hears that you sell DVDs by mail. People are already buying your DVDs and you are shipping it to their door, so you don't feel that it's worth your time and effort to "sell" them through Best Buy.

Best Buy is not happy with this. They say that for ANY DVD for the DVD player in their store, NEED to offered in their store AND you need to pay the same fee for which you get placement, promotion, etc.

You don't want to sell your "Mail in DVDs" in Best Buys, you don't want or need them promoting your DVD, they will never touch, manage, offer support, etc. for these "Mail in DVDs", but you HAVE to sell them in Best Buy because if you don't, then they will just stop selling your DVD player.

In short, they are in the business of selling DVD players, but want a cut of all "Mail in DVDs" because your customers bought the DVD player through them.

This is what Apple wants to do for any app that offers digital content / experiences that might not want to use their services. How is that OK?


Best analogy ever known.


It's not unique in the economy; it's not even unique in the software economy: video game consoles have the business model that they sell the hardware and make money by having a monopoly on the software that runs on them.

The questions are, do we want phones to be like video game consoles with a walled-garden marketplace, or like general purpose computers where the manufacturer does not exert control over the entire software economy. There are arguments for both, but I think the former stifles innovation.


Even with video game consoles and their walled gardens, consumers don’t totally lose out because consoles are sold nearly at cost (at least when first launched), sometimes even below cost.

Meanwhile Apple wants you to buy their $1000 phones AND wants you to pay an extra 30% for all software and digital services.


For the retail analogy to work, it would be like if Best Buy suddenly told Microsoft that because their Xbox allows people to subscribe to Xbox Live, Best Buy must get a cut of that subscription for every Xbox that's purchased in their stores.


This would be an absolutely perfect analogy. Maybe Comcast should get a cut too. In the end, Xbox Live is using its network to run the service.


Leave even traditional retail aside, is it that much different than what pretty much every gaming console does? I am aware that there _are_ people who are ideologically consistent in disliking the walled gardens of both iOS devices and popular consoles, but I have never actually seen the level of heat/vitriol that Apple gets targeted at, say, Sony or even Microsoft for the PlayStation/Xbox ecosystems respectively. I suppose it's due to people seeing games as "frivolities" even though the PlayStation Network for example pulls in the same ballpark of revenue as the App and Play Stores.


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