Today and always, a free app brings Apple $99/year for a developer account, which is mandatory to publish on the App Store.
As a point of comparison, in 2019, Apple did about 50 billion in sales , which means they made about $15 billion
In 2018 (latest I could find numbers for) they reportedly had 20 million registered developers  so that's another $2 billion. That's 3.5% of their 2019 net income of $55 billion  (of course there are costs to running the app store, distribution, etc that aren't accounted for in here).
It makes me think of Costco -- whose membership fees make up nearly all their net income . Don't make money from the thing, make money from enabling access to the thing -- well or I guess in Apple's case, make money from both.
This is also the reason why I dont buy the argument about App Store 30% cut bringing you the development tools. Those are well covered by the $99 and more. Now thinking about it, I would be surprised if the reviewing of Apps were not covered by the $2B annual developer fees alone.
Keep in mind that the term "registered developer" is fairly ambiguous. Does it include non-paying developers? Does it include all developers under a single business account (e.g. at one of my jobs, I was a registered developer under a broader organizational account)?
The point would still stand though that the total revenue from Apple Developer subscriptions would not be insignificant (perhaps insignificant to Apple’s overall revenue, but still enough to be a sizable startup’s budget on its own), which I should have noted in the original article.
Their documentation suggests otherwise (scroll down to “Benefits and Resources”). “Safari Extensions distribution” and “Software distribution outside the Mac App Store” are listed on the column of the 99 USD fee.
Just remembered that Safari now only lets you install extensions from the App Store, so that would actually make sense if a paid developer account is now required.
There’s yet another reason why Safari has so few extensions.
From an App Store revenue perspective, the $99/year seems incredibly insignificant compared to what any tiny percentage of sales from SaaS subscriptions would look like otherwise. That would have been a better way to frame it.
Granted I've only had to do that twice in a decade, but I can still develop android apps on any old equipment I want.
Per Apple's specs page , these devices are supported.
> MacBook (Early 2015 or newer)
> MacBook Air (Mid 2012 or newer)
> MacBook Pro (Mid 2012 or newer)
> Mac mini (Late 2012 or newer)
> iMac (Late 2012 or newer)
> iMac Pro (2017)
> Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
There weren't any "MacBook"s manufactured between 2013 and 2014 (inclusive). The only model year of the iMac Pro ever manufactured is 2017. All trash can Mac Pros and forward are supported, but not any of the tower style models.
As a side note, I'm quite impressed that my 2012 doesn't feel like it aged at all. I'm still doing Max quality, non vr gaming on it.
Even if Apple made $0 off of all apps, apps are a complementary product to their devices. Apple knows this, it's part of why they always tout all the apps they didn't make. Every app you find useful on your iphone makes it more valuable to you, and keeps you in their ecosystem.
The real reason for the fee is just to stop spammers on the App store. It probably blocks around 99% of them, without the fee I'd wager the appstore would be unusable.
I was a student and signed up to tinker for about $99/year under that tier for access to xCode (and they sent me a free t-shirt for every new version of OSX.
I think you could spend a lot more money for a full enterprise dev account.
Not that I fault Apple for trying to profit from this creation of theirs but the ambiguity and lack of standardized enforcement is problematic.
I don’t even like Hey. I’ve posted about why.
However, I can’t differentiate between the Hey app and Fastmail. Allowing one without the other seems crazy to me.
> “We understand that Basecamp has developed a number of apps and many subsequent versions for the App Store for many years, and that the App Store has distributed millions of these apps to iOS users. These apps do not offer in-app purchase — and, consequently, have not contributed any revenue to the App Store over the last eight years.”
Which shows how unlikely Apple is to back down here, unfortunately.
Edit: do the math -- $99/year x 1 developer account versus even $1 for the app for a modest number of users. you're dealing with a fixed price versus a scaling factor.
That is an incredible fee to pay for a digital good. I looked into this expecting the author to be just outright lying. There is one factual inaccuracy (Amazon and the ebook author split proceeds after accounting for VAT/delivery charges), but it is substantially accurately.
Your example is one. Printing, distributing, storing, displaying, and shipping physical books was expensive. Booksellers got ~50–60% of the book price for their trouble. Given the cost of doing business, it was a fair and reasonable price. All those costs are near zero now. Booksellers still want their 60%, because they can. They prefer to keep all the savings and pass none downstream.
The same is true for digital distribution, banking monthly and transaction fees, TI calculators, "convenience fee" for printing your own ticket with your own printer at home, ...
Until recently, brokerages charged exorbitant fees per trade. This is even though trades were effectively free for them and they were earning money in other ways. The status quo of charging for something that would naturally be free was preserved for decades, before a new kid came to the block and ruined the party for everyone. Now the consumers are much better off.
We as the consumers should demand and try to make more of this happen.
Robinhood has truly disrupted the brokerage market. But I'm curious about their viability now that a ton of mainstream brokerage have also dropped commissions.
Many banking packages in Canada have a low number of debit transactions (like 4 or 12 or 20) per month for free and charge a fee ($1–$2) after that. It's not like debit card transactions are costing them anything (they actually get transaction fees from merchants). But they can get away with it, so they do it. It's just another revenue stream. The natural price for an additional debit transaction is also free. If they drop the fee, I would not be worried at all about their viability.
If authors aren't using Kindle Unlimited, then using such sites and pushing it to their readers on social media (might even offer lower cost because of higher earnings) might atleast be a good start.
Amazon’s Kindle store pricing is incredibly steep and demanding on authors. At least now you don’t have to make your book exclusive to Kindle in all markets to get the Amazon’s cut down to 30%, but it’s still wild.
This is to say they cannot deny you updates or access to icloud but if you modify your software so as to prevent it from working that is solely on you.
This would make it impossible for Apple to prevent third parties from offering their own app stores which could offer devs their own terms.
It's exceptionally likely that prices would stabilize under 10%.
Personally I think its great that I can write some code publish an App and Apple looks after a lot of stuff for me, would I like it if they charge less, sure - but its a level playing field, everyone on the App Store pays the same, so just add 30% to your price and move on. As a user, I like that I can reasonably trust the apps I download from the App Store - and thats who apples customers are, users, not developers. If you want to use apples service then you have to pay a premium, if you don't like it you can probably go to android (I'm sure this is Apples position).
And that’s the problem I think. SaaS already has all these other costs, from hosting to account management to cross-device development, none of which the App Store help with. The App Store does offer native app developers value, in licensing, distribution, updates, and more—none of which apply to the SaaS model. Which is where I think part of the conflict comes from: SaaS developers incur the costs of building SaaS, get little-to-no value from the App Store, and so find the 30% fee more frustrating.
Edit: and upon thought, SaaS actually competes with their business model.
Imagine if Amazon was the dominant platform, and they were the ones charging an App Store fee, but somehow that included AWS fees as well...
But the developer APIs/processes for dealing with in-app purchases are brutal and virtually unchanged over the past 5 years.
If I think about how much time I'd spend building and managing all that stuff on top of building my app, I wouldn't be surprised if 30% was actually a pretty good bargain.
I would love if Apple lowered their percentage, but I don't feel particularly ripped off by it.
> QA in the form of the review process
They are checking that you aren’t breaking _their_ rules, they’re not looking out for you. This is akin to companies telling you their HR/legal department is there to help you. They are not, they are there to protect the company.
> I would love if Apple lowered their percentage, but I don’t feel particularly ripped off by it.
The problem is you don’t get a choice whether you think they are ripping you off or not
As a buyer, it’s awesome to be able to use Apple manage the payment process. I am able to cancel recurring services far more easily (I don’t ever want to call someone or mail something), and I trust them to be more secure with my payment info.
I'd go as far as to say Mobile Safari is actively bad at the technologies required to build a compelling web application so that they don't threaten their cash piñata in the app store.
You're very lucky if your potential market isn't fond of the Apple ecosystem
For instance, people developing games mainly for windows is the only reason I'm not running a full Linux box right now (maybe some day, c'mon proton...). If MS made releasing on windows hostile enough to make a non-trivial number of people consider releasing titles linux-only, I would abandon it in a heart-beat.
For that, Apple deserves to be paid for it but only if new users are referred from the App Store–an affiliate commission. That 30% is more than worth the extra marketing and customers you wouldn't otherwise have gotten. For anyone that isn't referred, the fee shouldn't apply.
If it were closer to just payment processing + an affiliate cut (say 3% plus a 7% affiliate cut) perhaps it’d frustrate devs less. And for what it’s worth, Apple does take only 15% on subscriptions after the first year which gets closer.