But this is the oldest position in the book and is a fight that comes naturally with commercial activity -- everyone wants to not have a middleman, and fight against it.
The question is, are you entitled legally to have some certain % charged to you? As a matter of "fairness"? Is a platform that controls access to a fraction of mobile device software sales an exclusionary monopoly? Has that prevented you from selling software elsewhere, or exercising your trade as a programmer? I personally (and I have no financial interests either way) think the issue is not as principled as some people make it out to be.
>2. “Multiplatform Services: Apps that operate across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or your web site,... provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app. You must not directly or indirectly target iOS users to use a purchasing method other than in-app purchase, and your general communications about other purchasing methods must not discourage use of in-app purchase.”
Apple is dictating what I can tell my customers in "general communications" where Apple is not involved. That's not a free market, it's abusive. If a customer comes to my site from a search I should be able to say "Here are the purchase options. Please note that Apple takes 30% if you purchase through their store. If you purchase direct, our processing fees are only %2.5".
In that statement, I'm not making any judgement call on whether Apple is good or bad. I'm simply stating a verifiable fact. If the value proposition of Apple's store has benefits to the consumer then its merits should stand on their own.
For the record, I believe the App store offers many solid benefits to consumers. I'm just saying we should let the consumer decide if the benefits of the App store outweigh their other chosen criteria.
TL;DR Apple has no business inserting itself in my customer communications on my own website so long as I only state facts.
Edit: This is from the perspective of say, an eBook author or MacOS developer. I realize that iOS apps can only be purchased through Apple so the point there is moot.
Doordash or other delivery apps tell restaurants they can't hint to their customers to order outside of the app. In fact they monitor communications with restaurants to ensure it's not happening, which is pretty gross. Uber/Lyft don't allow drivers to see who's asking for a ride and then ask the customer to pay outside of the app. If you're an eBook platform app, are you going to allow authors to hawk their books with a first teaser sentence "feel free to buy this eBook from my personal site instead of on this app"?
I wouldn't say Apple is "inserting itself" into a transaction where it has no business. The app developer agreed that in offering the app, Apple's terms would be agreed to, and those include not offering or suggesting methods to circumvent the financial transaction that the app is directly relevant to.
 Edit: I realize that my TL;DR above didn't capture this important nuance, I've updated it.
Everyone that argues against the rule that says you can't advertise in your apps ways to bypass the App Store for payment are basically arguing that they should be able to free ride on the platform, something discussed in this study.
>In addition, for their business model to be successful, digital marketplaces often have to
rely on rules that prevent customers from free riding on their services. Free riding involves
buyers and/or sellers avoiding fees after the platform has helped connect them, which
means that the platform is not compensated for the successful match and the use of the
platform’s technology, tools, and services to facilitate and promote valuable transactions
between buyers and sellers. A review of the policies and rules of large app stores and
online marketplaces that distribute physical goods and services — marketplaces for which
the risk for free riding is particularly high — shows that digital marketplaces routinely
forbid behaviors aimed at avoiding fees.
>In addition to the commission on paid apps and in-app purchases of digital content,
services, and subscriptions, Apple imposes guidelines that govern the use of the App
Store. Among those policies are rules about in-app purchases to prevent users and
developers from free riding on Apple’s App Store services and investments. Apps cannot
explicitly steer app users away from in-app purchases — for example, by providing external
links that bypass the App Store.
Ultimately, a mobile app  will be purchased through Apple. Should they get a commission? Of course. But since they didn't provide the "discovery" or lead generation it should be much less.
 I'll use mobile apps in this particular example because it's less ambiguous.
It's not any platform, it's a platform which actually has a monopoly.
Amazon is a "platform" for selling boxed software but they haven't got a monopoly on it. You might make a few extra sales from being on Amazon than not, but even most of the sales you make through Amazon would only be diverted to Walmart or Best Buy or your own website if your software wasn't for sale on Amazon. If they insisted on paying you 30% less than competitors, you would make more by refusing them and then losing 10% of those sales while 90% of them get diverted to other distributors who take smaller cuts. Which in turn prevents them from doing that, because getting the normal distribution margin in a competitive market is better for Amazon than getting nothing.
That isn't true for Apple because there is no diverting those sales to a different distributor because there is no other distributor. You can sell a Windows app to the same customer with a Windows device through any number of distributors, but nobody but Apple distributes apps to iOS devices.
The more narrowly you define it, of course you can make anything seem like a monopoly. Whether that narrow market is truly what is in dispute, is the question.
But you should listen to Thiel's talk on this -- is a restaurant that is the only British food outlet on Main Street, Springfield a monopoly over the British restaurant industry on Main Street?
Which brings you to the question of substitution. If the only British food outlet on Main Street, Springfield raises prices by just a modest amount, does that cause a significant number of customers to take their business elsewhere? If so, they haven't got a monopoly and the "elsewhere" is part of the same market, which in that case would presumably include restaurants serving different types of food or which are still in the same general vicinity.
So what's the substitute for the App Store? If they raised prices, could developers switch to Google Play instead? Well, no. Developers need both at once because they each reach different customers. If Apple charged too much a developer might abandon the iOS market entirely and use only Google Play instead of using both, but none of that business from the App Store could get moved to Google Play because those customers don't have Android devices and Google Play doesn't distribute iOS apps. They would just have to lose all of that business, not substitute Google Play for the App Store by moving the customers over there.
Compare this to where you stop selling your boxed software to Amazon but continue selling it to Walmart and Best Buy. Most of the people who would have bought your software on Amazon still want it, so they just buy it from some other place. The same customers. Your iOS customers can't do that because nobody else distributes apps for their devices.
Also notice that they did this on purpose. Suppose the owner of the only "British food outlet on Main Street, Springfield" is also a landlord who owns 20% of the land in the city. They don't have a monopoly on land, but then what they do is build a wall around the portion of the city they own, so that it's a two hour drive around the wall to get out of their domain. Then the competing restaurants that had been "one street over" are on the other side of the wall, which puts them in a different market (can't substitute them anymore), so now they've got a restaurant monopoly.
It's like having a regional monopoly. Even if Google has 80% of the world market, if no one but Apple has a store in California, they have a monopoly in California. If you (or any of your customers) live where they have a monopoly (i.e. have an iOS device) then no other app distributor is reasonably available.
Obviously they could change that by not restricting iOS users from using other app distributors. They separated iOS app distribution into its own market explicitly and on purpose, but that's still what it is. "Windows app distribution" might be its own market but Microsoft has no monopoly on it.
Like your comment proves by the way.
The market is mobile phone devices and each device owner is free to set their own rules on their devices.
Apple is just a big supermarket chain, and like any supermarket chain gets to choose what comes on the shelves, don't like it? Go to another digital supermarket and get a law book for your jurisdiction.
That's a vacuous statement. Is anyone working at Apple or benefiting from Apple's monopolies any less biased? The essential question is rather if such behavior is fundamentally anti competitive and contrary to the spirit of the law.
Why was Microsoft's installing Internet Explorer on their own OS a cardinal sin worthy of punishment, while Apple is getting away with behavior far worse than Microsoft's, yet it goes unpunished, so they get encouraged to behave even worse. I guess it's all about proper lobbying nowadays.
App developers are highly likely to claim that the platform is monopolistic because they would benefit from such a decision. And argue from a "principle" point of view, when really all it is is a price dispute.
Not necessarily, but developers will have a higher margin, which will allow them to continue developing their apps and increase their quality, because they don't have to waste their time thinking about X ways to increase their tiny margins of the product, so they can survive for a little bit longer.
>App developers are highly likely to claim that the platform is monopolistic because they would benefit from such a decision.
Apple is highly likely to claim that the platform is not monopolistic because they would benefit from such a decision. See? the statement can be easily inverted, again it's a vacuous statement. Is their behavior anti competitive and in violation of the spirit of the law? That's the essential question.
It probably wasn't, which is why the government didn't follow through with the breakup of Microsoft.
Shortly after the government claimed that Microsoft was a monopoly that could not be competed with, Microsoft was outcompeted in a number of areas that the regulators never anticipated, including Google Chrome taking over the browser market, as well as other areas Microsoft directly competed in such as search and smartphones.
It makes you wonder, how can a company be an unassailable monopoly yet get its butt kicked by other companies competing in the same market?
The DOJ sued Microsoft in the mid 1990s. Chrome came out in 2008.
Since 1992, there has been "free" distribution online for software (e.g., Quake launched this way in 1993), and makers of software were able to find their own distribution models without retail in the middle. This is also how the entire web happened, when Netscape Navigator launched in 1994.
To compare pricing in mobile app stores to things like brick and mortar boxed software is a mistake. It ignores the internet entirely, and how the industry worked for the 15 years before the iPhone launched. There are much more price-efficient models than this.
Apple App Store charges 30%, and it's the only way to publish a native app on iOS, but the Google Play Store charges 30%, too, and Android supports sideloading. The Windows Store and Steam both charge 30%, too, even though it's trivial to download games for Windows from any web site.
It would be reasonable to guess that Apple would exploit its market position to charge higher rates than the Google Play Store or Steam, but that hasn't happened, and it doesn't seem like it's ever going to happen.
Apple (or any platform) provides a service for people / companies to voluntarily develop software to offer to the users of that platform. What cut they take is an agreement entered into based on people's assessment of the costs and benefits provided, and people are free to decline it and take their efforts elsewhere. Their terms for their platform are not hindering people from competing and offering services on another platform. Each developer is free to make his/her own judgement about whether that commission is tolerable and desired, for the value created.
If the agreement if free and voluntary, Apple could set any price it desires. You, in your own business are free to (and probably generally also try to) set the maximum price you desire. By some similar logic, all apps should charge the same price to be seen as fair. What principle says that one platform's price has to be in line with others? It's what your offering can justify, and what people are willing to pay, with free choice.
The market for Android and Windows app stores has settled on exactly the same rates as iOS apps, which is exactly same rate as game-console platforms that have only one exclusive store. 30%, across the board.
Android alone is sufficient evidence that sideloading doesn't force the dominant app store (Google) to lower its rates to compete.
That's probably the easiest way to discredit this report, their Windows Store numbers are wrong if they're claiming all sales are charged 30%. Microsoft only charge 5% for a sale referred from another website, and only 15% for a sale that originated in the store:
Google seems to already be out in front of the likely ramifications. I got a Google survey last week asking opinions on spinning the Play Store off as a separate non-Google owned company, how much I would pay to use the Play Store, and opinions on competing sideloaded stores (eg Epic Games Store, Amazon)
* 30% on games
* 30% on all sales in Business and Education stores
* 30% for Windows 8 devices
* 15% otherwise
That said, the MSDN has never been free. The software used for development and testing are only available with annual subscriptions. This include all Windows operating systems; applications such as Excel, SQL Server, and Exchange; cloud services such as Azure and Windows Store; and the venerable Visual Studio (not VSC). The old MSDN has morphed into Visual Studio subscriptions at several levels. I pay $800 for the Professional level.
> Apple does much more to earn their 30% than say GrubHub given that iOS apps rely heavily on Apple tools and technologies to create and distribute apps.
Microsoft provides the Community edition, which is only free for small business up to 5 developers or specific cap of revenue, beyond that you must buy the professional/enterprise/architect edition, or an MSDN yearly license.
Is it your view that Apple has an ethical responsibility to ship cross-compilation build tools for Linux? (Is that because it's unethical to ship a closed-source operating system with a closed-source build tool?)
I have worked on an open source game, we cross compile for macOS on Linux without any Apple hardware.
As far as I understand - or have been told, this violates some Apple license terms.
For example, does your open-source game notarize your macOS builds? It's easy in Xcode, PITA on Linux, and if you don't, your game is difficult to launch on macOS 10.15 Catalina.
If you know the right people, you can get access to complete toolchains built in secret for compiling iOS apps on Linux. It's a lot of engineering work but not technically impossible. But it's all very hush-hush because going up against Apple in court is terrifying.
macOS's license terms forbid running it on non-Apple hardware (even in a VM), and Xcode's license terms only permit running it on macOS, but people can and do compile iOS and macOS builds on open-source operating systems in a purely open-source reverse-engineered stack.
It's just more practical to use a Mac for CI than it is to reverse-engineer the iOS toolchain.
As I said, you've got to know the right people to get access to the stuff I'm talking about. (There are also other conditions, such as you can't be a current or former Apple employee.)
Whether they would have or not is beside my point. The app marketplace for Apple's platforms is inextricably tied to their technology. A restaurant and a hotel don't have the same relationship with the platform that a macOS or iOS app do.
Apple is trying to show regulators that they're not the only ones taking a platform-wide 30% rake.
Who's footing the bill is relevant to the later