The simple fact is that Apple is injecting itself as an intermediary in the payment process and extracting a preposterously oversized commission for no meaningful added value.
And it's easy to see that Apple knows what they're doing is wrong. They strictly prohibit developers from signaling that there's an extra cost for purchases made through Apple's system or that there are alternative payment options available. A well-informed consumer would be a clear threat to Apple's gravy train.
This system should have never emerged to begin with. It's highly unethical and, given the direction things are taking , will likely be found in violation of antitrust laws.
I mean, this story happens to be about Apple, but obviously other retailers could be, (obviously are), engaging in the same practice.
Same goes for Steam.
Both Apple and Steam provide discovery and network effects, which help to justify their cut, but, as Jason Fried mentioned, you can't opt-out of these discovery benefits with Apple.
A better analogue would be that you download WoW free from Steam, then take a subscription at Blizzard. Does Steam allow that?
It's not Apple's _dominant_ position as a delivery mechanism that counts - it's their literal monopoly on it.
The Steam apps are “sandboxed” as in you cant run them without Steam, they use their own executable that is tied directly into Steam.
Steam keys are meant to be a convenient tool for game developers to sell their game on other stores and at retail. Steam keys are free and can be activated by customers on Steam to grant a license to a product.
Valve provides the same free bandwidth and services to customers activating a Steam key that it provides to customers buying a license on Steam. We ask you to treat Steam customers no worse than customers buying Steam keys outside of Steam. While there is no fee to generate keys on Steam, we ask that partners use the service judiciously.
It seems like this is not the case.
You mean like every retail store - digital and physical?
Assuming you are in fact in the tech industry, you should know that near-zero marginal distribution cost is one of the core principles underpinning software economics.
I'm also not arguing that Apple shouldn't pass some of the costs it incurs to provide apps (e.g. APN, engineering costs, etc) on to developers and by extension on to consumers. But it should be priced fairly and transparently.
A flat 30% fee without the ability to itemize that for customers or signal the existence of alternative payment methods is just wanton, nefarious extortion.
The 'right' solution would be to charge a specific, itemized "Apple device usage fee" that's separate from and in addition to the primary fee for a service itself. Apple deserves to take a portion of revenue specific to the provision of a service to its users. I can't see an argument where it deserves to take a portion of all revenue developers receive.
But Apple is not permitting this because it would pull back the curtain on their rapacious practices and their customers, having already paid a significant amount of money for their devices, would almost certainly be quite angry about it.
Spotify is a good example of the distortion occurring because of this misguided system. They're charging customers $12.99 if they subscribe through the App Store instead of the $9.99 they would pay outside of it for exactly the same service. So, right now, some Spotify customers are being needlessly pillaged by Apple when, unbeknownst to them, they could get the same exact service at less cost. Spotify apparently had plans to email affected subscribers to alert them about this nonsense situation, but I don't know what became of that.
How many stores actually “transparently” tell you their markup?
> “There’s a rationale for this on console where there’s enormous investment in hardware, often sold below cost, and marketing campaigns in broad partnership with publishers.”
I guess it really just comes down to console makers acting like a partner whereas Apple acts more like a mobster running a protection racket.
I don’t think it’s any different from consoles. The main difference is that with a console you know what the deal is.
With an App Store app, the problem is you don’t know if Apple is going to deny your app on an inconsistently applied rule after spending 2 years making it.
Right now they are double-dipping, not because of value they are adding, but because of the power they have given themselves over the consumer/developer relationship.
The App Store is a service.
If you allow 3rd parties to sell something, you create a market. That market should be free and competitive.
If you want to keep it a service, don't allow 3rd parties in.
With consoles the primary justification was always that the hardware is sold below cost. This is purely to the benefit of the game developers, all the risk falls on the console maker, so they accept it for that reason. The iPhone is not only not sold below cost but its price has never fallen in the entire lifetime of the product, from what I recall.
Game consoles are not general purpose computers and have a much more narrow intended purpose. Apple themselves argue that the iPad is just as capable (or more so) than your typical computer, which means that we expect it to be capable of computer-y things which are inherently flexible and versatile, not hamstrung by Apple’s rent-seeking behavior.
This also isn’t about 100% transparency of Apple’s costs — saying it is misdirects. We don’t know their costs (though it certainly is below 30% of all revenue passing through in-app-purchases), that isn’t the issue. Requiring 30% of others’ revenue and being forbidden to even mention alternatives is another matter.
Again. Just like consoles and the Roku - the console makers get a cut of every game sold - even physical games. At one point, Nintendo limited the number of titles third party companies could publish and force them to use their manufacturing facilities.
No retailer just sells things at a markup that covers costs.
You keep bringing up video game distribution though, so let's roll with it. Pretend all of software was like video game distribution. How much worse would software be for users? Imagine FOSS on that.
And in effect, I did create a editor for scripts to run on the Xbox 360 many years ago so QA could tweak things, so it is possible, but developers just publish games. If the only 'apps' developed for the iPhone were games, would it stop being a general purpose computer then?
Also, didn't the PS3 have an official linux bistro for a while? Blue something?
Software would be better for the average user if PCs (and Macs) had tighter permission models - no viruses, spyware, adware, ransomware, surreptitiously reading your contacts without your permission, etc.
The distinction is video game consoles are not general purpose. Just like nobody is going to write an essay on an Pinball machine, nobody will (ordinarily) do so on a console. If a game developer need to follow special rules to get into the console market, that's par for the course.
In contrast, on Windows/Linux/Mac/Android I can run whatever software I damn well like without talking to Microsoft/Canonical/Google/etc. It is truly 'general purpose'. There is no required gatekeeper for these systems (as much as they are try to make themselves one). iOS stands in contrast to these - it is not 'general purpose' if I can't run whatever. If Apple decides some software is not allowed on the store that is not 'general purpose'. That is something else - gatekeeping. So when they advertise 'general purpose' that is only true until they decide they don't like something. And they can change their rules anytime they want.
To the 30% thing, every retail store has markups they don't advertise and that's perfectly fine. If Apple or a retailer wants to charge me for access to their store, I'm happy to pay.
But when they force a change to a product and company in arbitrary ways to suite their whims that's pretty concerning because it's a sign they are abusing their power in a very historically been-done-before way. Think about it - 50-100% of a target market is controlled by them. You can do whatever you want - why not charge 50%? 70%? There is no competition - it's literally whatever the highest is you think your PR department can get away with. Not sure how you feel about anti-trust, but sure feels like abuse to me.
You mean how Walmart forced the music industry to edit CDs or they wouldn’t sell them or how they force manufacturers to sell crappier versions of their products to meet a price point?
Or do you mean again how Nintendo is infamous about the strict content controls they have on games and have since the 16 bit days and no blood in Mortal Kombat?
Also, see how movie theater chains are saying that they won’t show studio’s movies if they start releasing straight to consumers now even though most movie theaters are closed?
We could also mention GameStop threatening not to sell MS consoles this generation because of their original intention to make games harder to resell.
iOS's app sandboxing and permissions model would work just as well if apps could be sideloaded.
Spotify charges a lower monthly price if you sign up on their website (and then go and sign in on iOS) than if you sign up through the iOS app.
Whether or not this hurts Spotify isn't at issue here; there are Spotify customers who are paying more than they have to because Apple refuses to let Spotify tell them about the lower price.
Of course this would be entirely reasonable if it was a conscious choice by those users, but Apple is intentionally keeping the market non-transparent, screwing their own most loyal users.
It's not the concept of retail is somehow unethical, but certain stores are certainly less ethical (in how they treat employees, customers, environment, etc) than others, and some of those stores are very widespread.
Also the thousands-of-years argument holds up pretty poorly for a lot of things.
I wouldn't mind one bit if there would be a general inquiry for practices of all app stores.
Last time I checked it was not close to 30%
Thus, retailer margin can vary anywhere from negative (doorbusters) to 1000% (i.e., alcoholic beverages).
An app developer is free to charge 43% more to still get their desired amount.
But since we are talking about software. How is all retail more relevant.
Frankly anyone who says this with a straight face is being absurd. Apple's commission isn't for "payment processing", promotion, any particular API, or service they provide on their platform. That they do all of those things makes it an attractive place to develop for and sell your product, but it isn't the reason why they get to charge 30%.
They charge 30% because they've amassed 1 billion extremely valuable users who are willing to spend money on apps in their marketplace.
Apps that are made up to 42% more expensive (NOTE: the 30% fee applies to all in-app purchases and the first year of subscriptions) in a way that's entirely opaque to those users. The fact that you think this is okay is the only thing I find absurd.
You also seem like someone who is for some reason predisposed to be an apologist for Apple's monopolistic business practices. You certainly don't represent what would likely be the average/majority sentiment of Apple's customers, were they sufficiently informed.
Well, maybe not apps, but subscriptions surely.
There's no developer on the planet that would agree to that deal if Apple couldn't use the customers from their phone business as leverage to extort developers on the software distribution side of things.
It's more like a bouncer at a club getting 15-30% of ALL revenue because they control the door.
Why do developers overwhelmingly give Google 30% of their revenue when Android users can sideload?
Should we also complain about the much larger margins that Amazon charges independent authors for Kindle? The amount Google charges for ads?
There are cases where 30% of revenue makes sense. For cheap, purchased apps it's a good deal because the cost of running that infrastructure is comparatively high. However, once you hit a certain volume of sales or move into subscriptions, the value of the services being provided by Google and Apple don't make sense and it would be better to run your own infrastructure.
Seeing what Epic was willing to do to get out of the Play store is a really good indicator of how bad of a deal it is at scale.
And I thought traditional retailers chose their own markup, didn't they?
Most retailers do choose their own markup. Ironically, Apple got sued for working with book publishers where the book publishers set the price and Apple chose the markup.
However, the book publishers wanted this arrangement because Amazon was selling ebooks at a loss devaluing the hardcover and paperback books.
I'm willing to defend Apple because I'm tired of disingenuous arguments from either parties with self-interest or FOSS advocates who have some ideological opposition to Apple's closed nature (and have since the beginning of the App Store and decades before that with Macs).
Apple's customers don't care about the margin structure or costs of app developers. The App Store has massively increased both the supply and demand for apps, and it has actually led to a decline in prices for software. Everyone knows this because they've been complaining about how they can't charge as much for apps as they did in the packaged software days.
I don't know anyone who would like the idea of paying an extra 15-30% for a product because of a do nothing middleman that's managed to monopolize a portion of the market based on demand aggregation.
It's literally the definition of what I've always understood anti-trust to be. Apple is using their domination in the phone market to manipulate the software distribution market.
The current tech companies (all of them) make 90s Microsoft look like a charitable organization. It's unbelievable to wander around the internet and see so many people advocating for systems that are terrible for the average consumer.
Wealth inequality seems to have an inverse relationship with average intelligence.
This is almost the textbook definition of extortion. "Hey, wouldn't it be a shame if you lost access to all these potential customers? You better give us 30% of your revenue."
But you do realize you could also be describing the credit card market?
But the typical credit card fee is ~3%, which is literally an order of magnitude less, and Visa/Mastercard/etc also don't prohibit their merchants from accepting other forms of payment.
They also contractually forbid merchants from taking actions that could make the fee more apparent to consumers, which drives up prices for non-credit customers, although there isn't a direct analog for Apple I can think of.
Has this changed over time, though? I often see a lot of brick-and-mortar merchants advertising different prices for cash/debit vs. credit. I probably see it most often at gas stations, but I see it in regular retail stores and restaurants sometimes as well. I moved to a new house earlier this year and even the movers offered a lower price for cash.
(hopefully the link works)
As far as physical stores, the publisher gets $27 out of the $60 for a typical game. The console maker gets $7 out of the $60. I’ve seen this sane chart other places.
The rest of those seem reasonable to me.
The publisher is basically your marketing budget, right?
Retailers' shelf space has a cost and is limited physically. They could be using the same space to sell literally anything, so I think whatever the price of that ends up being it's probably a result of competition across a ton of industries.
The licensing fee is ok too IMO since the console makers take a huge risk producing and selling the consoles as cheaply as possible. It also sounds like a well known, flat fee, not a cut of ongoing revenue.
The problem for me is when digital stores with a tiny marginal cost of distribution think it's reasonable for them to capture a huge portion of lifetime revenue. They're not doing that much. It's bad value and the only reason they can make it work is because they're in a position that lets them act like an extortionist.
It's the cut of every single transaction for the lifetime of a customer that people think is unfair. Ex: $27 to a publisher is fine if it's a one time fee and they're providing $27 of value by advertising etc.. They could never ask for 40% of revenue for all future transactions like DLC and microtransactions because there's enough competition that no one would use them and they'd go out of business.
And then the publishers also have to pay MS for DLC. I think MS still charges for delivering patches through MS Live. They might have dropped it.
You can grow your customer base dramatically with a smallish team of engineers/recurring engineering costs, but many of the costs surrounding them still grow in a linear way.
The same fate will probably befall Apple, too.
My only thoughts are that fastmail is also accessible through imap and has corporate accounts with centralised billing. If Basecamp add company accounts to Hay, which they have always said is coming later in the year, does that not fix the problem?
don't own the device (you bought it from them; you own it)
don't provide the network (you contract for that yourself)
don't provide the content
All this splitting hairs over exactly who they strong-arm and who they don't is beside the point.
Arguably, they have problems as well, but it's not an apples to apples (no pun intended) comparison.
One has a completely locked down ecosystem that people are worried to speak against lest they lose access to it.
The other has alternatives, albeit ones without huge traction. It does allow you to make decisions about whether Google Play gives value (discovery, etc).
All I want is being able to give to MY customers, who I paid MY money to acquire, a native app. Apple is refusing to allow this, unless I pay protection money. Textbook rent seeking
I can think of many exampled that have worked out. In some cases, apps like Gambling apps are not allowed to use the Play store at all, and yet manage to just fine and get installed directly as APKs.
It definitely varies business to business, and I'm not saying that I wouldn't put my app on Google/Apple, but that is because I do need the discovery.
In the case of Basecamp, they bring their own customers and network. This is true of a lot of big companies and Enterprise apps (some of which have exceptions already).
Does Amazon provide value with the Kindle? Does Valve with Steam? Amazon market place? eBay? The console makers?
The theaters don’t bring too much value as evidenced by them holding on by tooth and nail trying to convince the studios not to go straight to digital.
Steam: you can redeem keys purchased from other stores, install apps from other stores, and they don’t mandate using their system for in app purchases
eBay: do they have any policies like this? I haven’t heard much about them or made an eBat purchase in a decade.
Amazon Marketplace: There actually is a strong argument here that they capture so much of the market that opting out is not an option. This is very similar and already under much scrutiny.
Game Console: Also very similar to this. I expect they will lobby hard on Apples side for that reason.
Apple participates in Movies Anywhere Sling with Amazon, Google, Vudu, and a few other vendors. If you buy a movie from any of the participating studios, you get credit for purchasing for all of the stores.
You can also purchase physical movies from other places and redeem codes to get credit as if you purchased them from iTunes.
Apple doesn’t require that you must only use their subscriptions. You can subscribe outside of the store. You can every charge more subscriptions to make up for their 30%.
Of course you can opt out of Marketplace. You can set up your own website with places like Shopify.
Roku is infamous for not allowing content distributors (except for Netflix) to be on it unless they get a cut.
Hey is free to offer subscriptions at a 43% premium through the App Store and still get its full amount.
Apple is trying to force apps to go through the marketplace and their payment processing, however, also forcing them to take the 30% markup. The policy as followed here is "Everything you provide you have to provide via Apple's services so we charge you extra".
I'm perfectly willing to entertain arguments about the right amount Apple should charge for that, but it seems to be an all or nothing discussion, which doesn't seem really sensible to me.
The lengths folks go to apologize for Apples essential extortion is amazing.
Windows Phone largely failed because developers had abandoned the platform and "There is no app developed for that" ended up being common
So people aren't allowed to have opinions anymore?
"We've never asked for more than a third of your income, what's the problem?"
The only problem with this approach is that it's basically completely unworkable. But other than that minor issue, it's a great idea. Maybe the ad revenue side of things could be done, but the spyware side is hard to even come up with a theoretical valuation.
While it's theory only, one could even theorize gmail having to put a valuation on the user profile data gathered and give Apple a cut. Either that or stop surveilling its users.
Hey is currently only for individuals, there is no free option, every user must pay.
(I'm not defending Apple taking a cut of subscriptions. Just pointing out a difference.)
Which, from a consumer point of view I appreciate it. I like Apple subscriptions.
However, for the businesses selling the 30% cut is hard to stomach.
Hey is trying to do just exact same thing but surfing on the verbosity and not business power per se.
A smaller business or an individual has no option but to get screwed by apple because they have no power.
Shouldn't we be fighting for a level playing field?
Big companies such as Netflix, Disney etc. are drivers, they have impact on the user base. If Netflix stopped working on Apple's devices we would see huge outflow of users.
Hey on the other hand is a passenger. Sure, they might have 50k users in the queue, but them not being on Apple's platforms will probably shrink this number significantly. It's unlikely that Android users will switch to Apple because of the Hey experience.
From that it boils down to personal views. If one thinks that driver should have the same amount of power as passenger this scenario is upsetting.
Yet this is not universal view and I'd argue that the opposite view is the "norm". We have celebrities who can get more while spending less, specialists in the fields who have a lot of bonuses average Joe doesn't and well known businesspeople who have access to business which are out of reach. Do you imagine having 1.8b$ debt ? And yet Donald Trump was in that position long before he became POTUS.
Hey is exercising the same stuff. They want to become celebrity to slide. They don't fight for the change of rules. They fight for Hey to be approved.
This seems to be an unspoken policy change. I'm joining the outrage bandwagon now.
> What's infuriating is Apple's inconsistency. Some apps offer subscriptions outside of the app store and are still there (including Basecamp!)
That doesn't violate guidelines. Unless your app takes users outside of the app store to purchase stuff(including the subscription itself) without in app purchases.
Having an app requiring login is ok. It doesn't matter that the login is protecting a paid service.
Where did Hey take users outside of the app?
> 3.1.1 In-App Purchase:
If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, (by way of example: subscriptions, in-game currencies, game levels, access to premium content, or unlocking a full version), you must use in-app purchase. Apps may not use their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality, such as license keys, augmented reality markers, QR codes, etc. Apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.
”3.1.3(a) “Reader” Apps: Apps may allow a user to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as classroom management apps), provided that you agree not to directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of in-app purchase.”
Looks like for example Netflix app does even show a link to their registration page. You can only login to existing account.
I don't have one to test it though.
Hey doesn't do this and DHH was very explicit in the many steps they took not to step on this rule.
Are they? According to Protocol.com, which got in contact with Apple over the thing:
>Apple allows these kinds of client apps — where you can't sign up, only sign in — for business services but not consumer products. That's why Basecamp, which companies typically pay for, is allowed on the App Store when Hey, which users pay for, isn't.
But if I search for the word "consumer" in the App Store Review Guidelines, the only result is the following:
>Data gathered from the HomeKit API, HealthKit, Consumer Health Records API, MovementDisorder APIs, ClassKit or from depth and/or facial mapping tools (e.g. ARKit, Camera APIs, or Photo APIs) may not be used for marketing, advertising or use-based data mining, including by third parties. Learn more about best practices for implementing CallKit, HealthKit, ClassKit, and ARKit.
Is there another set of rules that actually covers the things that Apple says if the rules are "very clear"?
Does that mean Netflix is a "business service" and not a consumer product?
>Apps may allow a user to access previously purchased content or content subscriptions (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as classroom management apps), provided that you agree not to directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods are not designed to discourage use of in-app purchase.
According to Apple/Phil Schiller, any application not explicitly mentioned in this category must offer subscriptions as IAP.
>"We didn't extend these exceptions to all software," said Schiller. "Email is not and has never been an exception included in this rule."
Gmail doesn't actually have to offer Google One subscriptions through the Gmail application. I imagine they are covered by the "cloud storage" exception, which makes me wonder if Hey could also get around it by giving Hey users some cloud storage with their email subscription.
Netflix does exactly this. In fact, Hey uses nearly the exact same wording that Netflix does, almost word-for-word.
There are literally a dozen apps that I am personally aware of that require subscriptions and don’t allow in app subscriptions.
- Sling TV
- ATT Now (DirecTVNow)
- Youtube TV
- Microsoft Office
- Hulu Live TV (not regular Hulu)
Neither app functions without a separate, non apple subscription. The main criticism of Hey, from apples perspective, is that the app doesnt just work when you download it, but the same applies to netflix.
I personally think Hey could get around it by adding some other kind of feature to the app, like a way to read their blog. When it opens on IOS you have a "sign in" or "continue with the free version" and the free version aggregates basecamp marketing copies, as long as that free version isnt just a webview, but some enhanced native experience.
Can they also advertise the cost of their service, through the applepay experience, as "x+30% apple tax"?
With how much of their app is server side (nearly all of it, minus the translation from HTML to native,) I wonder how much they can get away with, without updating the client.
The other interesting thing about this dynamic is, Apple shipped Leopard with Ruby on Rails, which Basecamp created. So in the past, Apple took Basecamp's open source code to make OSX more valuable, but now when Basecamp wants to benefits its users, at no real cost to Apple, Apple says "not without paying us our cut." Maybe not morally wrong, but at least stinks of bad karma.
Because Netflix is the dominant one in the relationship, an iPad without Netflix is a broken iPad to the sort of people who buy iPads.
and email service without an iOS app is a broken email service so Apple intends to take advantage of that.
* Spotify offers free tier
* Kindle doesn't require buying books, technically you can use it to read documents that you send to your free account
* Netflix and Youtube allow to subscribe and pay via app-store
I'm not sure about the rest, but it seems that even Netflix and Amazon follow the rules.
iTunes billing for Netflix is not available to new or rejoining Netflix customers.
If you are attempting to create an account on an iOS mobile device, you can sign up on Netflix.com using a mobile browser and will be prompted to provide an alternate method of payment.
Neither does Youtube Live.
I'd be much more interested in seeing in change in real life before some silly app store.
> “You download the app and it doesn’t work, that’s not what we want on the store,” says Schiller. This, he says, is why Apple requires in-app purchases to offer the same purchasing functionality as they would have elsewhere.
To be clear, this is against the App Store rules for most apps. The exceptions here are apps that are viewed as ‘readers’ that only display external content of certain types like music, books and movies — and apps that only offer bulk pricing options that are paid for by institutions or corporations rather than the end user.
Schiller is clear on our call that Hey does not fit these rules.
“We didn’t extend these exceptions to all software,” he notes about the ‘reader’ type apps — examples of which include Netflix. “Email is not and has never been an exception included in this rule.”
Also, they got their first version through without any issues or a peep about this rule. And only when they needed to push a codefix is when they got held up.
If you're going to have rules, they MUST be applied evenly.
Smaller subscription video or music apps could use the same section in the App Review Guidelines for "Reader" apps to have an app without in-app purchases that you buy outside the App Store.
If you're just trying to read the Guidelines as legalese then it seems to me like there's some serious ambiguity with what exactly the "Reader" section allows.
It seems like Basecamp gets a pass based on the "access to professional databases" exemption. But at what point does a service that caters to consumers AND businesses cross over that line?
The App Store Review Guidelines have been a nightmare to parse through and the Review process an inconsistent mess for many years now. IAP really took it to a whole new level.
This is one of my biggest frustrations with App Review.
It's easy to convince clients to budget for a few days exploratory work that might be rejected, but they're less inclined to do so with the possibility of an approval not being permanent, and then having to sink a lot more money into reworking that functionality at an indeterminate point in the future.
Sometimes you get stung because you're genuinely trying to slip something through that breaks the rules, but other times you get a reviewer with an axe to grind. One app I worked on was in the store for 18 months before they took issue with the way we'd implemented subscriptions. They were also not happy that there were links to Amazon, which if you clicked around for a bit, would take you to Prime Video or Amazon App Store.
While technically mentioning "other mobile platforms" is prohibited in the review guidelines, in this case it was in user-submitted content that you could only find through search.
>If you're going to have rules, they MUST be applied evenly.
It's also possible that it is being applied evenly, it's just that the big guys negotiated private exemptions.
... which means it's not being applied evenly.
No thanks. Keep iPhones in their walled gardens where they are safe. Androids exist for experimentation.
That's fine too, don't strong arm me out of 30% while letting others get away with no paying that. Some people want a walled garden (you) and dont mind paying for it, others would like to install software of their choosing without letting Apple know what they install and by who.
Apple is not a monopoly, so I feel their attitude here is fair.
Believe me, the rules do make sense.
> “Application” means one or more software programs (including extensions, media, and Libraries that are enclosed in a single software bundle) developed by You in compliance with the Documentation and the Program Requirements, for distribution under Your own trademark or brand, and for specific use with an Apple-branded product running iOS, watchOS, tvOS, or macOS, as applicable, including bug fixes, updates, upgrades, modifications, enhancements, supplements to, revisions, new releases and new versions of such software programs.
> “Provisioning Profiles” means the files (including applicable entitlements or other identifiers) that are provided by Apple for use by You in connection with Your Application development and testing, and limited distribution of Your Applications for use on Registered Devices and/or on Authorized Test Units.
However in practice, for example, I use the Apple Developer Program with Cydia Impactor to build and install apps like Spike and xDrip on my kids iPhones (they are both T1D). It's basically point and click. 
 - https://spike-app.com/install-spike-using-cydia-impactor/
A quick list (surely more): Ring, car insurance, Amazon, Chewy, Mercari, eBay, Zoho apps, Intercom, Nest, various credit cards, Spotify, Netflix, YouTubeTV, Meetup, 1Password, Griddy, Dropbox, credit monitoring, grocery ordering, etc
Not to say anything is coming from this, but at least they do have enough money to make buzz.
There are countless examples of other applications that have done exactly what Hey is doing without being banned. This is not clearly against the rules. To the extent that it is against the rules, Apple has deliberately phrased them in vague ways to let them change the meaning later. It is the exact opposite of “very clear”; it is abusive. Even Apple fans like Gruber agree.
The Hey app copies Netflix almost exactly, even in the language used for the subscription? How is that very clear for a rule?
 "The Hey Email app is marketed as an email app on the App Store, but when users download your app, it does not work," Apple said in a letter to Basecamp CEO Jason Fried on Thursday. "Users cannot use the app to access email or perform any useful function until after they go to the Basecamp website for Hey Email and purchase a license to use the Hey Email app."
Edit: I usually don’t comment on downvotes but what the hell?
That's what the App Store shows me...
My guess is that those categories just don’t have the margins to support a 30% cut without charging more then other platforms.
An email service, dating all or games are basically arbitrary prices where every sale is making some money for the company. The store cut is annoying, but basically it’s still revenue.
Also, going to the press works. DHH is taking one for the team by fighting this.
To describe the App Store rules as pretty clear is just beyond. Come on.
I agree Apple is being inconsistent here, but not vis a vis gmail and outlook. Those are free services, so they’re not the right comparison. Apple doesn’t require IAP for these because there is no payment involved.
Netflix, on the other hand, proves that Apple does allow apps that are useless unless the user has a separate subscription.
"magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VoIP, cloud storage, and approved services such as classroom management apps"
How the hell they came up with this list is anyone's guess. Seems like they kind of tacked things on that they were concerned about completely removing.
Edit: Added statement about Gmail app working with non-Gmail email accounts.
I wouldn’t consider them business-only as most individuals interacting with the App Store have bank accounts, so that argument breaks down.
I wouldn’t consider them stictly “reader” apps as you can perform many non-passive things in many banking apps (make deposits, iniatiate transfers to and from accounts, pay bills, etc), so that argument doesn’t stick either.
You can’t use the app unless you have a (most of the time) paid account.
* Chastises them for making free apps in the past
* Reminds them they've had to distribute their apps for free (almost as if they should be grateful and now give them some money)
* States they would accept their app if it provided unrelated functionality or access to competitor products (who are oddly not subject to the same rules).
* Implies that everyone is following the rules but them (which is demonstrably false even if you accept the "Reader" and "Business" definitions they provide)
Also, according to DHH, they leaked this letter to the press before sending it to the Basecamp CEO. Nice.
The argument is so strange, it's almost as if "email" is a special term of art that causes Apple to categorize this app in a way that is not is not consistent with other SaaS products. Even with that said, there are no other similar email apps like Superhuman that are subject to these rules. If I was a Chat or Email based SaaS company CEO and I relied on the iPhone to complete my multi-platform value prop, I would be very worried about this happening to my already approved app.
Apple has never had to distribute any application for free since you need to pay $99 per year to have anything listed on the App Store.
That's pretty good revenue for troll/scam reduction.
Now do the same math for the actual number of active App Store devs.
And Apple has boasted about having over 20 million registered iOS developers. Who knows how many of them are actively paying the subscription at the same time, but it's probably still a very large number.
There's a very important distinction here. If Apple made their own in-app purchase API optional instead of mandatory, it isn't like every single developer would ditch it overnight. Apple's system is legitimately useful in a huge number of situations, and everyone knows that. It just isn't wanted _here_, and that should be okay.
Apparently 20% of Apple's revenue comes from their marketplaces (music, apps, etc), but in terms of profit it's probably significantly higher since the costs ought to be much lower than their hardware.
So it seems like there's a decent chance that at least third of their profit could get wiped out by PWAs in the long run. You'd think they'd be treating developers a little better.
I think that 30% then 15% commission are both way too high. Apple should be able to charge a modest commission fee to be on their App Store but that price is way too high. Maybe 5% then 3% would be more reasonable.
But the worst part about this is that Apple is so inconsistent with its enforcement. There is an anti-competitive element to Apple’s enforcement behavior that is very concerning. I’m surprised that Tim Cook has allowed this behavior. Long term this will hurt app developers and Tim should understand that.
- It's Apple's store - not a community project, fascinated how people seem to think they are accountable to some higher authority - it's also totally optional
- Apple is the one being consistent
- HEY is also built by one of the most attention seeking developers in the world, who's sole purpose seems to be criticising large corporations on Twitter
- I like ownership of my data - not a manifesto by a closed door company based on "promises" and feel good messages