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[dupe] Apple Rejects Appeal of Email App That Blasted Store Rules (bloomberg.com)
41 points by g_p 27 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 37 comments

I love how Apple pretends the way people get these apps is by browsing the appstore interface and “discovering” them instead of jumping into it from a webpage or google search.

Who is downloading and using HEY by searching for email apps in the app store?

Basecamp knew what they were doing here - there's no way they can be in the wrong by the community, which comes off as disingenuous to me. They either:

1) win, and are seen as "David beating Goliath" , or

2) lose, and Apple comes off as the bad guy trying to fleece a private company.

(They could also lose because they weren't clear on the actual policies, a la the "malice vs. incompetence" rule of thumb. However Basecamp and its team have been in the game long enough to know what to expect with the App Store. I don't KNOW that, but that's my analysis here.)

My argument around this goes back to market share: iOS owns, at best, 25% of the global market share for mobile operating systems [1]. Android is 3x that.

If you don't like the platform policies, they're a minor share of the market - you don't _have_ to use them.

"But $s3r3nity, that is where the paying users are!"

Yes, and the spend per person for lamborghini owners probably is much much higher than Prius owners, even though the latter vastly outnumber the former. That doesn't mean the former needs to support any company that wants to make a carplay / carOS service.

[1] https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide

EDIT: grammar / spelling

They specifically didn't know though. Basecamp is distributed without an option to buy a subscription via IAP, and never has had that option. If you do not have a Basecamp account, you get little more than the logo smiling back at you. When Hey got rejected, they asked what the difference between Hey and Basecamp was, and Apple said it didn't matter.

As I read more articles about the situation, I'm starting to come around on the idea that it _is_ possible. Nevertheless DHH and the team are pretty experienced for me to immediately buy into that theory.

Yet, let's say this were true, or even the most likely scenario. Now you have 3 scenarios, ALL of which portray "Apple = bad, Basecamp = good."

When I see something that one-sided, I'm immediately suspicious that there's something missing here that we're not seeing...

Perhaps that's because that's what's going on and those are the only real ways to look at this.

So basically you are admitting your favor for apple is so strong you can not possiblly believe Apple is the bad actor in all this

HEY is far far far from the only example of Apple abusing their position as gatekeeper to iPhone users

I don't think the car analogy really applies, for the reason that there aren't very many third-party services in a car, and not much demand by customers to install software in their car. Cars are essentially a single piece of equipment, where the car itself provides the primary value, and the number of people customizing their car is fairly small.

In comparison, with computers there's a much clearer separation between the device itself and third-party integrations. Almost everyone customizes their computer by installing software on it, and the computer and OS itself don't provide the main value - instead, it's a tool to run different software applications on it, and so Apple's attempt to control third-party software based on the fact that they make the hardware and OS is an attempt to use their power in one market to interfere in another, rather than just an attempt to control their product.

And to take this further: supposing that cars were people's primary computing devices, and everyone began using apps on their car, I would argue that car companies would be obligated to let people install the apps of their choosing.

I think the market share argument also tends to ignore the economics of how the software business works (and as you stated, all the high-paying users are on iOS, because they're generally higher-end devices than Android). If I create a new service that Apple won't allow, and it's only available on Android, iOS users aren't going to switch no matter how good my service is (because that involves spending hundreds of dollars on a new device and transferring all your other services, which is a ridiculously high bar to clear). And without those users, the chances of my service surviving are much lower, so it's most likely going to disappear from Android as well. The result is that even though Apple has a minority market share, they end up controlling the entire ecosystem. And in turn, that means that when consumers are choosing a phone, they don't actually have a free choice to avoid Apple's policies, because even if they buy an Android phone, Apple's policies will affect the services available to them. (And since the available services end up being the same, more people buy iOS devices for various reasons, which increases Apple's power even further).

Yeah, but what about app store revenue? I think there the proportion is inverted: in 2018 it was supposedly 48B vs 24B in favor of Apple.


> Basecamp knew what they were doing here - there's no way they can be in the wrong by the community, which comes off as disingenuous to me.

Let's assume that everything has been calculated. That DHH knew this would happen and that the whole thing was going to blow up the way it has.

On that assumption, is it truly disingenuous to anyone but Apple? It seems like it only benefits customers and smaller businesses, at least economically.

I can see the argument that the in-app purchase API is better and easier for customers to use. I actually really enjoy paying for things with Apple Pay. That benefit makes sense, from a consumer perspective.

On the other hand though, a 30% commission benefits only Apple. If this was a 5% cut it would be expensive, but comparable to Stripe and Braintree, which fall in the 1-3% range. Even a 10% cut would be similar. In this scenario, Apple would get a substantial amount of cash, users would get the Apple Pay experience, and it would be easier for developers to stomach the cost. The fact of the matter is that the 30% amount is entirely arbitrary. That cost is either eaten by customers or by developers, and doesn't benefit anyone but Apple.

Running the App Store isn't free. I can definitely see them asking for some amount of cash for bandwidth or maintenance, and I can see justifying _some_ percentage fee or some proportional fee. It's just that for a lot of people, 30% is exorbitant for the value offered.

In Europe you have VAT around 20%, so about 50% of what the user's pay end up in the developer's account.

Also it's Apple's decision to subsidize all the free app with fees from the paid apps. Why not charge some fee to free apps after 100k / 1 million downloads or something instead of having all the burden on the paid apps?

They decided it's worth it to have this free stuff on the app store to juice up their numbers, so why should it be so expensive for paid apps developers?

I'm not sure the support developers get from that 30% cut when they have app store problem really feel like it's worth it.

There are so many more reasonable fees level and structures they could try, but no. They're stuck to that level from 2002 when apps were new.

30% is exorbitant for the value offered.

The value offered isn't the service of processing the payment or being listed in an app store directory. These are small things. What you're really paying for is the ability to access the iOS market: one of the largest and most successful platforms in the world. That has tremendous value.

yeah, but it's kinda self limiting. If the fee was 5% maybe netflix would still be offering subscriptions in the app. And there might be more paid app in the store. And spotify might not be pushing for antitrust in Europe. The kindle app might offer in app purchase.

How many developers look at the fee, see the app they want to make and realize they would never be able to charge enough to make it worth it after the cut and the sales taxes? I think that's one reason the iPad software is not the success it could be.

Indeed, it is entirely possible that Apple is charging too much in some cases and reducing the quantity of interesting apps that might otherwise be built.

While running the app store is not free. People seem to forget that with out the app store then no one would buy the iPhone at all. Or a much smally subset of people would. I bet the number of iPhone that have zero apps is nearly 0

This idea that the only value the store has to apple.is the fees from app sales is missing the actual value of the store

It makes the iPhone more valuable allowing them to charge a premium price for the hardware

Their push of security and privacy in the store give the ecosystem more value. I know many people that have choosen to by iPhone over Android for this policy.

The appstore is one of apples market separataing feature to sell the iphone

> My argument around this goes back to market share: iOS owns, at best, 25% of the global market share for mobile operating systems [1]. Android is 3x that.

When you enter a store and get robbed by the owner, 'well don't go to that store anymore' is not a very good response, because before you know it, every store will decide to rob you and what happens then?

That's why we have a legislative branch of government that makes laws to protect citizens from one another and a judicial branch to interpret the laws to make sure we're doing what's best for everyone involved.

This is a ludicrous comparison. I don’t go into a bodega expecting the owner to rob me. But Apple is crystal clear that this violates their terms of use: I don’t even need a paid developer account to see those rules, just Google.

A mafia can be crystal clear what their fee for 'protection' is.

We have a legislative branch of government that has ruled 'protection' fees illegal.

You and many others seem to be failing to grasp this point - just because you write something down and call it terms of use, does not mean those terms of use will not or cannot be overruled by the legislative branch of government.

They can be overruled and many people feel like they should be overruled in this specific instance.

These rules are arbitrary and incoherent.

But, if Hey adds custom domain support (which they're planning to do anyway), does that make it a business app, and therefore acceptable?

Hey already has a "for work" page up on their site: https://hey.com/work/. I think they're trying to play this card as much as they can, but I'm not sure it'll work.

It's DHH. Simultaneously love and hate the guy. He knew he was breaking the rules.. knew there would be a big dust-up over it he could fan into a bunch of free press for his launch. Knowing how to work media like this is what separates people like him from people like us.

I think he's in the right. But also agree it's a lot of PR he's enjoying. Last year he fought against Facebook "delete your account", a couple of months ago how more companies should offer remote work (pointing to their book/ebook). 20 tweets/day attacking big companies, he's used to that, has the audience and press contacts.

Oh, so do I. I hope he wins, I'm just saying he's already won in the most important way. No one would have heard of Hey, now it's news. 1B worth of marketing, at least.

Pretty clear. Not saying they are _good_ rules, but https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/18/interview-apples-schiller-...

It's even worse if they decide to selectively enforce the rules. I don't know what point you're trying to make here.

While I get that, there's hardly a company on the planet that doesn't give special deals to large partners. It feels like a bit of feigned surprise that people are shocked when Apple negotiates special rates for Netflix etc. Well, yes; that's what almost everyone does.

One country should decide to fine Apple. The fine should be a tenth of the market capitalization. Problem solved.

Do you think something like this might happen?

Somewhat confused why Superhuman doesn't seem to have this problem yet Hey does? They're both email clients that have monthly billing, yes?

Superhuman doesn't let you sign up for an account (you just sign in with Gmail), so maybe that's a difference?

This is deeply unethical on Apple's part and honestly feels like a harbinger of an Apple I find as distasteful as any other megacorp only interested in profit

Requiring apps that are selling digital content to fork over 30% of their revenue is shitty. Apple could do right by their customers: if they didn't fleece developers in the app store, most developers would use the native Apple payment API.

Apple is abusing the power of having a blessed app store, and they should face anti trust for this.

I don't really care what you think about David or his cofounders, Apple is in the wrong here.

This piece is paywalled, but it's worth the price of subscribing for the month: https://stratechery.com/2020/xscale-and-arm-in-the-cloud-hey...

But his Twitter coverage is good too if you don't want to pay: https://mobile.twitter.com/benthompson/status/12736306188913...

On the contrary, Apple doesn’t force apps that are selling digital content to fork over 30% of their revenue. That is the “reader” category of apps that are allowed to have an outside subscription, e.g. Netflix, Kindle, Spotify...

The apps that must offer the subscription within the app store, such that users benefit from visible and pro-consumer recurring billing practices, are those where you are subscribing to the app’s functionality, not to content.

I think we as a developer community should be using this momentum as much as we can. It's just economics: being able to publish apps on the app store and not having to take a 30% revenue hit would change the calculus for many indie and small shop developers. 30% can push many hobby apps into full time ventures for people. How many better apps and happier developers would we get if this were the case?

I'm glad that DHH has a loud voice, but Basecamp has a lot of developers and I'm sure that when push comes to shove, someone will fold. I doubt it will apply to everyone, though. It would even be easy for Apple to grant an exception and let Hey continue (much easier than changing the policy for everyone).

Is there any reason why we, as a community, shouldn't push as hard as we can here?

Are you aware of how much Steam takes? Or the Microsoft Store, or Walmart...

Steam: 30% for the first 10M in sales, 25% for 10M-50M, 20% for sales above 50M

Windows Store: 15% or 30%, depending on the product/platform

Epic Store: 12%

Amazon app store: 30% in most cases

Play Store: 30%

Does Walmart actually sell apps?

Apple recurring: 30% year one, 15% years two and beyond

Of my dozens and dozens of app subscriptions, all are only 15% to Apple.

And also, god help me as a consumer if I had to manage those individually by going to dozens and dozens of different places.

Walmart et al makes a significant percentage of their money selling positions on the shelf and in-store promotions. The actual margins on product sales aren't nearly as high as a premium products placed within good eye-range at high trafficked parts of the store. Which are almost entirely major global brands.

One way things are 'free' on the internet or at least cheap is by letting the top 10% of products pay extra in a win-win sort of situation, largely subsidizing the wider 90%+.

I think what we're seeing here is Apple spotting a major money maker and saying you're not getting a free pass anymore and have pay like one of the big boys.

That, or Apple has to change their model somehow, which I think would be largely unattractive to their business interests and its worked fine so far with everyone else.

> “it is much safer to be feared than loved because ...love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.”

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