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The App Store is a monopoly: Here's why the EU is correct to investigate Apple (protonmail.com)
237 points by waldohatesyou 49 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 582 comments



As a consumer, I am 100% in favor of the way run the app store. I don't want to give random apps my credit card. I don't want to have 18 accounts to keep track of. I don't want to have to call telephone support to cancel my account. I don't want malware in my apps. I don't want apps to have my email if they don't need it. I don't need another middleman for content companies license and distribute. Everything Apple is doing is helping make a better app store for me.

Pro-consumer behavior almost always looks like anti-publisher behavior.


It's not like someone will force you paying without your consent.

If you don't want to give random apps your credit card, don't give it to them. Why do you oppose other people's right to do that, if they need it?


Beyond the security of not giving our credit cards, and the convenience of not having 8 different game updater/launcher clients, Apple’s App Store policies also limit 3rd party software’s ability to fuck up my devices in a myriad of ways.

If they’re forced to open up to 3rd party stores, I hope they can do it in a way that prevents Adobe from running 8 background processes to make sure my license is current and there aren’t any font updates to download and to make Reader launch faster by keeping it in memory all the time, or whatever it is they do with their Creative Cloud client stuff.


An operating system that actually empowered you would give you the tools and options to prevent that, while also letting you run whatever software you desired.

I will never understand people's desire to be handcuffed by Apple. Give me control over my own device god damn it.


If you want to work on your ultimate phone environment as a hobby, there is Android. If you want things to work just the way they are with the fewest surprises and least amount of finagling use Apple.

I use macOS instead of Linux for this reason: last time I tried updating the production packages on a Linux box it took me hours to clean up the mess that X11 left behind.

Don’t criticise my walled garden just because you want to experiment with weed salad in your community garden.


Whether a system "just works" or it requires finagling is or should be an orthogonal discussion to whether it respects you as a user.

Its reasonable to ask for both.


My walled garden respects me as a user, but I am the kind of user the walled garden is maintained for.


Whether you take out your own garbage or Apple does it it’s still garbage for you to clean up. Some people want to throw money at Apple to take care of the garbage for them.

If you give apps the right not to do things like AppleID they’ll take it and the App Store would be a highly inconsistent experience for people who want to do no thinking about how their device works. There ought to be some middle ground but consumers are the ones who will have their boundaries encroached unless an entity ruthlessly minds the border...

For the degree of opening you leave companies will extract that much concession from your users.


Rest assured that despite the somehow surprisingly recent blind support for Apple here, there are people too that want to own our devices.

I can just hope that the EU is successful in stopping all of Apple's trickeries ranging from 2.5mm headset jacks, ports, OS slow downs, mysterious battery underperformance, app store, the list just goes on.


> headset jacks

You want the EU to regulate whether a company wants to put a headphone jack in their devices?

> OS slow downs

iOS has gotten faster over time [1].

> mysterious battery underperformance

It's common knowledge that this was an honest engineering mistake because as a phone ages, the battery cannot support the max voltage of the processor. Apple now lets you enable full performance with the understanding that your phone might shut down on you when you need it most.

> app store

Which we've determined not to be a monopoly as Apple is a minority player in the mobile device space.

> the list just goes on.

So you've suggested 4 things, 3 of which don't apply and 1 of which (headphone jacks) would be gross governmental overreach.

It seems to me that you just want the company to burn and you want the EU to regulate the hell out of everything in your life.

For example, deciding whether I want to put a headphone jack on my next device is my choice, not the EU's choice, and it would be tyrannical and innovation-stifling to let them have a say over something like that.

It is very reasonable for you to just buy something else if you don't like an Apple device, since Apple is not a monopoly in the mobile space. However, neither you nor the government should have the right to force Apple to develop a product you like. Apple does not exist to satisfy your whims.

[1]: https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2019/09/ios-13-the-ars-techn...


The problem with the battery thing is then Apple can give the appearance that their phones have some speed profile when in reality it’s more complicated, even if the complications are in their sum a calculated benefit to the consumer.

However, I’m not really sure that other companies are contextually more honest to consumers in their advertising, or that such standards in communication even exist for the American marketplace. It’s hard to criticize Apple for the details when the bigger story is their great relationship with customers.


> Apple does not exist to satisfy your whims.

I never said so. In any case, I don't need you to tell me what to do.

I vote with my wallet and I don't buy Apple products anymore.

The government does not need to regulate it, the market itself will do it just like it did with Microsoft. On the meantime, I'll let you keep finding excuses for Apple's shady practices.


> You want the EU to regulate whether a company wants to put a headphone jack in their devices?

> So you've suggested 4 things, 3 of which don't apply and 1 of which (headphone jacks) would be gross governmental overreach.

There is precedence for the EU mandating Apple change their hardware practices:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidphelan/2020/02/11/apple-ch...

> So you've suggested 4 things, 3 of which don't apply and 1 of which (headphone jacks) would be gross governmental overreach.

Here's a 5th one:

https://www.macrumors.com/2020/05/29/tile-writes-to-eu-accus...


In your first source: letting the EU regulate the charging cable would have been provably dumb and absurd. Lightning was years ahead of Micro-USB when it was released and served as inspiration for USB-C. Just another example of how government overregulation would harm innovation and industries.

The second source is Tile complaining about the privacy warnings in iOS 13. It’s laughable. Customers are turning off abusive always-on surveillance thanks to iOS 13 notifications and this is hurting Tile. Working as intended.


Regardless of the prudence of the EU regulating the cable, the very fact that they have weighed in on the subject shows that hardware decisions are within the court's purview, and so would headphone jacks, presumably. One's opinion of said prudence is up for debate, certainly.

The Tile situation is TBD, pending Apple's release of AirTags. Will iOS user location notifications pop up as frequently in Apple's first party Find My app as it does in Tile's app? Stay tuned!

Also, the letter mentions the matter of Apple removing their previous Tile store presence (presumably in favor of AirTags), which is within their power but brings up the matter of Sherlocking. Sure, Sherlocking is legal- but is it ethical? Is it right when Facebook scouts other apps to duplicate it in their app? Is it right when Apple does the same to preexisting apps in its App Store? At the very least, these legal cases- whether you think them prudent or not- bring them before the public for examination and discussion.


> I can just hope that the EU is successful in stopping all of Apple's trickeries ranging from 2.5mm headset jacks, ports, OS slow downs, mysterious battery underperformance

Entirely unrelated, and it's 3.5 mm by the way.


2.5mm jacks exist but iOS devices have never used them. I think some feature phones did that back in the day.

Personally I've only encountered them on a pair of headphones where they're a step up from a soldered on cable, but more annoying than a standard jack would be. It's also recessed really far in with a very narrow twist-lock connector, so isn't compatible with any cables except the special one it comes with.


You can run third party apps and Steam on macOS-equipped laptop computers just fine. Why it should be any different on pocket or tablet iOS computers?


I appreciate that iOS does not allow software to require this.

Yes you can avoid the giant mess of 3rd party launchers on Mac, but only by writing off huge swaths of the software market. Want to run Photoshop? You get to have the Creative Cloud client.

The current state of iOS software is that I never have to go into Task Manager and see what junk has inserted itself as a startup item, whether anything will break if I don't want its update/license client running in the background, or worry about whether it really quits when I quit it or tries to stay resident in the system tray.


The current state of iOS software is that you can't run Signal in China. Or torrent client anywhere.


Okay, and why is it your fundamental right to be able to do either of those? On what basis should a company be compelled to implement that functionality?

You can always buy a device that allows you to do those things, after all. It's not like Apple is the only device vendor out there, or even a majority device vendor.


Because if I own the device, manufacturer should not decide what kind of apps I can run.

See: a user in China owns the iPhone and wants to run the app.

Apps developer wants a user to run the app.

And only Apple doesn't let it happen, on the device that it doesn't own anymore.

Regarding your argument, "do not buy it", of course I don't buy it! But that doesn't make this position of Apple right, and I'm glad that lawmakers might put an end to this malicious practice.

Returning your argument, if Apple wants to control what users do with the iPhones, perhaps they shouldn't give up their ownership of devices and shouldn't sell them.


Then don't download apps from a hypothetical secondary iOS App Store. You literally have the same option as people in this thread who say "just don't buy Apple."


I'm aware that I can avoid installing a second store and not run any software that comes from it. The issue I'm pointing out is that software that's currently available through the App Store could move exclusively to alternatives if given the option.

Like that time when Epic Games said "We don't want to use the Google Play Store, so if you want to play Fortnite you have to install it from the Fortnite Installer". And then we immediately had this: https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/112630336?pli=1

> This vulnerability allows an app on the device to hijack the Fortnite Installer to instead install a fake APK with any permissions that would normally require user disclosure.

If they could switch to Fortnite Installer on iOS I assume they would. Would it have security holes? Would it do other annoying things that the App Store doesn't let them do?

Repeat those questions for a hypothetical Microsoft iOS Store, Google iOS Store, Amazon iOS Store, Steam iOS Store, Ubisoft iOS Store, EA iOS Store, Pokemon GO Installer, Nintendo iOS Store, iOS Minecraft Launcher, and I'd expect to see more security vulnerabilities and/or hostile behaviors that Apple doesn't allow.

It's a tradeoff. I know the current system isn't perfect, but I worry that forcing Apple to allow other stores to do their own thing will be worse in a variety of ways.


But then, simply don't run that software. Vote with your wallet. Use a competitor that remains on the App Store. Why deprive others of the choice, in favor of a single entity in charge- a single point of failure? I thought it was a truism in tech that monocultures are a bad thing?


I'm voting with my wallet to have an iPhone where there's no Fortnite Installer instead of Android where there is.

Believe it or not I had an Android phone before and decided I like Apple's system better.

If it were my only computing device and I needed to run a bittorrent client I acknowledge it would be a problem, but like I said elsewhere in the comments, it's a trade-off.


I agree there's a tradeoff. And that in the scenario where Apple allows alternate app stores, there would also be tradeoffs. But I disagree with your view that it would have to resemble the situation on Android. I feel that the Apple brand and the inherent security features of the iOS environment- which aren't simply the exclusivity of the App Store and the App Store Review process- could lead to secondary stores that are carefully curated and have a higher bar of security than the ones you see on Android. In fact, one could very well imagine companies entering into a new market and providing secure app markets that try to beat Apple at their own game (such as searchability). For one thing, there's more money to be made with iOS apps, and perhaps that could lead to greater investment and higher quality stores.

I view the dismissals of "secondary app markets will just be like insecure shoddy secondary Android app stores" to be both pessimistic and lacking in imagination at the potential for new businesses and innovation to be created if Apple just gives up a little bit of its dominating power.


Oh but see then third parties who's software _I_ want so badly and would sacrifice my ethical position to acquire might choose not to distribute on Apple's app store because it's anti-competitive. Well shit.


the convenience of not having 8 different game updater/launcher clients

Obligatory glance over at Steam goes here.

Apple’s App Store policies also limit 3rd party software’s ability to fuck up my devices in a myriad of ways.

It would be a much safer solution if Apple's operating system limited 3rd party software's ability to do things it shouldn't. Trying to filter malware at the app store level might improve your odds, but it's not a robust, scalable solution to malware and it never has been.


> Obligatory glance over at Steam goes here.

• Steam (Valve)

• Uplay (Ubisoft)

• Origin (EA)

• Epic (Epic)

• Galaxy (CDProjekt)

• LoL Launcher (Riot)

• Battle.net (Blizzard)

• Twitch (Amazon)

• Minecraft Launcher (Mojang)

Probably others I'm missing.

Can't wait to have a whole home screen dedicated to different app stores because each one has a single exclusive game that I wanted to play


So why not build a standard mechanism to install and update 3rd party software into the OS? It's hardly a radical idea. There are plenty of solutions to that problem that don't involve monopolising the distribution of all software on the platform.


I agree in principle that this would be OK, except part of Apple's vetting processes is making sure apps aren't accessing private APIs.

I don't want to download a game and find out that it's secretly spinning up a background spyware process to monitor the screenbuffer and sending the screenshots off to god knows where.


Surely the solution to that is not to have your OS expose "private" APIs that allow abusive behaviour? It's not as if they aren't widely exploited even on the official app store today.

Once again, trying to filter malware at the app store level is not a viable strategy for robust, reliable security, and it never has been.


Presently, security researchers are already finding both major apps doing this on the Apple App Store (Facebook accessing the camera on the News Feed), and spyware apps happening on secondary Android stores (also on the official Play Store). Sounds like an opportunity for more security watchdog businesses.


The recent camera and clipboard things aren't private APIs, so the review process isn't looking for them being used in sneaky ways. I do appreciate iOS 14 adding a user-facing indication so we can tell when it's being abused though.


That's already the case with chat clients, or social media, and many other categories of app. Such is the price of competition and variety.


> Apple’s App Store policies also limit 3rd party software’s ability to fuck up my devices in a myriad of ways.

And also makes apps like Tasker impossible, which from my side of the table is too much.

There should be a button somewhere in iOS called "safety belts off" and I should be able to do anything to a device I bought.


Most people are naive about how applications will coerce them into doing things against their best interest when given the ability, such as a request while installing, requesting access to parts of the system that reveal PII. Most people do not have the knowledge to evaluate how these things play out. Apple via the app store at least does some work to mitigate this and when they do fail, are able to fix it.


You are making the case for the app store to exist, not for it to have no competitors.

Let's suppose that Apple's store is infallible. Well then the availability of other stores won't matter, will it? Apple will approve everything good and reject everything bad and you'll know that anything not in their store is bad and have no reason to ever look at another store even if they exist.

But suppose they're not infallible. They reject something good when they ought not to. Well now you gain something from the other store, because now you have the option to install it anyway. You don't have to -- you only would if the other store has a sufficient reputation for not distributing bad things -- but you could. Or you could still continue to refuse anything not in Apple's store. It only gives you a choice.

And the existence of the choice creates competitive pressure. It makes it in Apple's interest to do a better job for you, because they don't want customers turning to other stores because they've rejected something they shouldn't have, or because they're charging monopoly rents to developers etc. So they spend more resources to reject only what's bad and not what's good. They charge lower fees, so that more money goes to developers and you get better apps. And then even if you still don't want to use the other stores, their existence makes Apple's store better for you.


I don't see this playing out on Android where other stores exist. And lets take this to the brick and mortar model. 30 ish% of the end user price is not a lot, when many products are at least 100% markup.

But first, we know the App store isn't infallible, but it has an incentive to have more false negatives than positives. It is able to correct past mistakes and does do so.

But as far as competitive pressure, that argument is mute as long as there is no way for the "normal" owner/user of a device to evaluate the market. By the time the bad actor is exposed, it is often too late. The other side is that one only has to look at the Play store to see that there are so many copies of original apps that it is obfuscating them. One cannot find the legitimate app. So until most people are able to be informed and evaluate the apps, it isn't in their favor to want alternative stores.

Also, one has a choice, buy or don't buy the device. Apple does not have a majority of sales in phones, not even close. Also, you can side load any softare you want. It's a service that is paid for , but for free it's 7 days per install.


There is a massive difference between 30% on sale price and 100% markup. The more important point is there is competition in regards to markup. The 30% is obligatory.


> I don't see this playing out on Android where other stores exist.

How do you mean? The Play Store and the App Store both have malware:

https://www.wired.com/story/apple-app-store-malware-click-fr...

But the Play Store is a lot less likely to reject things it shouldn't, it doesn't try to extract a percentage of third party revenue from services like Spotify or Netflix, and there are useful and trustworthy third party stores like F-Droid. It's better.

> And lets take this to the brick and mortar model. 30 ish% of the end user price is not a lot, when many products are at least 100% markup.

Brick and mortar stores have expenses for in-town real estate and sales clerks that Apple doesn't, which is where that margin goes. It's unavoidable for that sales model, but that doesn't mean it's a good thing -- and it's the exact reason why online retailers like Amazon have been kicking their butts by cutting that margin down. And even they still have significant warehousing and shipping expenses for physical products that the digital products Apple distributes don't.

Margins like that are costs to be eliminated where possible, not excuses to impose the same costs where they don't otherwise even exist.

> It is able to correct past mistakes and does do so.

Right, so can you point me to the best BitTorrent app in Apple's store?

> But as far as competitive pressure, that argument is mute as long as there is no way for the "normal" owner/user of a device to evaluate the market.

If this were true then it wouldn't do you any good because then people would have no way to know not to buy an Android phone and enable a shady Russian app store full of malware. Fortunately it isn't (and people doing that is quite uncommon), because we have all the normal mechanisms to determine whether a store is trustworthy -- the reputation of the store operator, third party reviews, opinions from savvy relatives or your company's IT staff etc. And the store itself is still curated by the operator, so you only have to do this for the store operator when enabling one, not every individual app. And you would still have the option to use none but Apple's, if you like.

> The other side is that one only has to look at the Play store to see that there are so many copies of original apps that it is obfuscating them. One cannot find the legitimate app.

So the Play Store doesn't always do a great job. This is a pretty good argument that the level of competition there is pretty weak too -- other stores exist but not many people use them. Still, what stops Apple from doing better than that, competition or not? There is no consumer demand or competitive pressure to approve duplicate garbage apps that nobody actually wants, and Google only does it out of laziness.

> So until most people are able to be informed and evaluate the apps, it isn't in their favor to want alternative stores.

They still wouldn't be evaluating the other apps, only the other stores. It might be reasonable to consider F-Droid (and therefore the apps it distributes) trustworthy but not some store nobody has ever heard of operated by anonymous second world foreign nationals.

> Also, one has a choice, buy or don't buy the device.

That isn't a choice, it's more than one choice, anti-competitively required to be made together. I could want to use iOS on Apple hardware but install an app which is only in the Play Store, and that choice doesn't currently exist.

> Also, you can side load any softare you want. It's a service that is paid for , but for free it's 7 days per install.

This is obviously not a viable alternative or your entire premise would disintegrate because it would be a vector for malware, and then what's the point of excluding other app stores?


But why Mac OS still allows competent users to buypass the security restrictions? Is it because they can't screw over MacOS users ? Or for some reasons the people that use Mac OS can be trusted but when you give the same user an iPhone his IQ drops and we can't trust him.

Come on, let's be honest this is in the first place in Apple interest, if Apple needs to sell in China then they made sure they handed over Chinese users data to the government, now if they want to sell in EU they would need to also put a bit of effort into it(I have no idea if EU market is smaller but money is money)


The same could be said the other way around. Why force a private company to open its system? Apple built the entire ecosystem and you want to force them to open it up to your desire. Why is that ok?


For the same reason antitrust laws exist. Monopolies need to be prevented to maintain a healthy economy.


How is Apple a monopoly? They own a system and manage the rules around it, that is not a monopoly. Will you force car manufacturers to let you install any system in the car? Why can't I install any app on my car?


The same way Hollywood studios that controlled the movie theaters. Studio monopolies were teared down and Apple's monopoly should be teared down too.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Paramount_P....


Because it is acting against the interests of the users.

Would you still support Apple's position if, say, Apple would roll out update to iOS with new EULA, which would require you to give up your firstborn son for a Satan sacrifice?

Of course, you can refuse, but the device that you supposedly "own" would effectively stop functioning (obsoleted iOS devices lose their usefulness very fast: try doing anything with iPhone 5).


I would sell it and buy a new phone. Do you think Apple competitors would not pay you or accept the phone as part of payment if Apple did that? The problem is people think they are smarter than everybody and can tell you how to manage things. The market is smarter than anybody or any group of people. You cannot force a private company to cater to your beliefs of how a system should work. People buy iPhones knowing there is only one app store. And, as an iPhone user, is an advantage. I know that my grandparents and parents using an iPhone will not screw it up, or at least the possibility is smaller compared to the alternatives.


They're saying

> given that I want to use and pay for a piece of software, I would rather pay through Apple

and you're saying

> if you want to pay through Apple, then don't use and pay for the piece of software


But that's how you get from one to the other. By refusing to use something else, the developer would have to sell through Apple in order to get your business. If they want your business, that's what they'll do.

Meanwhile other people may choose to do something else, e.g. because they would rather that more of what they pay go to the developer (where it's plausible that it be used to improve the software) than to Apple (which can't productively use any more money than it already has). And who are you or Apple to get in the way of this transaction between two independent and consenting third parties?


What happens when an app you use leaves the App Store? Now you’re stuck between purchasing it with a third party payment processor or not using the app. When every app must be on the App Store, this isn’t an issue.


Many apps, if not a large majority, would start doing this. That destroys the convenience and user experience. If every app does this there isn't any consumer choice about it.


Perhaps, but Apple would still have an edge on tight integration with the OS resulting in a quick and frictionless user experience. If that wouldn't cut it for some developers, so they would bother themselves building a separate processing, well, then Apple would probably have to lower their fees.

Personally for me, as a developer of applications, I could care less about 30% fee. I find it reasonable. What I DO care about is restrictions on owning the device and users' inability to run any app they need - even if it is not vetted by Apple. In part it is because I happen to live in an authoritarian country which government loves to block apps in the AppStore.


Anyone can get a developer license and run whatever stupid apps they want. That seems like sufficient opt-in that you are likely competent to assess the risk of the apps you're installing.


So you are suggesting users in China apply for a developer license and build their own build of Signal and Protonmail apps? Really?

And how would said users receive push notifications for their apps from Signal?

UPD: oh boy, and I forgot to mention that such users would also have to buy Macs - you can't build a 'stupid app' for iOS without XCode, which runs only on Macs that support the latest version of macOS.


So now are you suggesting that the government force Apple to release XCode for Windows? Linux?


What makes you think I'm suggesting that? I was simply ridiculing the idea of forcing users to acquire developers license.

The right way, of course, is to allow third party appstores and app sideloading. Just like we have it on macOS - and it doesn't look like someone was made unhappy because he can run Steam and buy Sketch directly from the developer.

Someone besides Apple, of course.


Not forcing people to be a developer to sideload apps isn't addressing the elephant in the room that you need to have a Mac ($800+) to build them. Your solution would best be 'allow downloading and installing .app packages from websites'.


I don't quite understand why you are addressing this to me. I believe I was quite clearly against forcing users to build apps and to allow them installing apps from everywhere.


That might be the fix, remove the 7 day limit and also lock it as a setting with dire warnings.


No, Android is an existence proof that this will not happen. Users in fact hate it, so apps mostly stick to in app purchases.


Only because of the 30% cut. Very few apps would start doing it if the App Store took a cut similar to what Stripe takes.


Exactly. Apple's market power derives from the consumers that trust it to represent them in negotiations with publishers. The decision to "not give every app your credit card" is made by consumers when they purchase an iPhone.

Purchasing an iPhone is an act of collective bargaining by consumers against publishers that otherwise would hoover up their private data. "If you don't like it, you can always live like it's 2004, before smart phones" is not an answer iPhone customers accept.


That's not how it works, apps follow what customers want - Android exists and apps go trough play store and Google payment.


The problem isn't how they run their store -- the problem is that they are the only store.


They also favor their own apps or downright remove the competition.


Can you name one category of app that Apple sells where there aren’t competitors on the App Store?



You mean Apple removing apps that literally let a third party control your phone and spy on everything you do?

Were you also against Apple disabling enterprise certificates when Google and Facebook were using it to spy on users - not just their own employees?


You mean the apps that Apple was fine hosting on their platform and taking their 30% cut from up until Apple decided to create a first party app that can control your phone and spy on everything you do?


Actually screen time limits are all done locally and sync between your devices. It in no way allows Apple to record what you are doing.


That doesn't distract from the fact that analogous third party apps in this category was wholeheartedly permitted on the App Store until Apple decided they wanted their own app in this space.


So because Apple once allowed spyware they should always allow spyware?


Well, they should have cracked down on that spyware earlier, and their failing to do so until they had a competing app to push both casts their motivation behind banning those apps as suspicious, and calls into question the supposed "quality" of the review process. At worst, they did it to Sherlock competitors. At best, they were negligent, their review process is overrated and does not do enough to protect consumers against spyware. It is on them to justify their poor timing.


So you propose that Apple never crack down on them? Apple loss money by giving away a free alternative instead of taking a 30% cut.

What next? Are you going to complain that Apple made it harder for advertisers to track you?


Apple should have cracked down earlier, simpler as that. The fact they didn't makes them look like hypocrites. I'm aware that it's impossible to go back to earlier and crack down then to not look like hypocrites. So it's important that going forward they are less capricious about enforcing App Store guidelines and don't make themselves look bad.


So the argument went from “Apple harmed a spyware developer” to “Apple should have harmed them sooner”.


Yup, that's where I heard it from. Had this streaming in the background the other day. The amount of anti-competitive behavior they had on these companies that I hadn't even known about was astounding.


So you think Apple should have allowed spyware? Would you install that on your phone?


Web browsers.


Apple makes money from not allowing third party web browsers?


Apple makes an absolutely exorbitant amount of money from this, mostly from Google because Safari on iOS is essentially the only browser that matters on the platform and Google is willing to pay through the nose to get themselves in that prime spot. (We'll see if that amount lessens with iOS 14.)


Of course it does. Apple makes a huge amount of money from native apps. Apple also prevents web apps from competing with those native apps by restricting the capabilities in its browser and by not allowing anyone else to offer an alternative browser with more functionality.


So there should be a large amount of successful web apps on Android?



So this is going to be the year of the dominance of the web app after close to 15 years?


You asked if there are a large amount of successful web apps on Android, I provided evidence that points to the likelihood of it happening on that platform over iOS, due to official first party interest and efforts and improving them. You're moving the goalposts, and arguing just for the sake of arguing.


You said “more likely to happen” not “has happened”.


There are many successful web apps, period.

Just not on iOS, if they need the "wrong" functionality.


Where are these financial successful web apps?


Sorry, not going to respond further to obvious trolls.


If Apple is holding back PWAs then you should be able to find some successful ones for the platform that has 85% of the market.


If there were multiple stores, chances are that the app developer would choose the least restrictive App Store. So maybe Apple’s App Store rejects an app because it’s doing something sneaky, but some other App Store isn’t as rigorous and publishes the app. If you’ve ever been in the situation where you’re the IT person for your extended family, don’t be surprised when your grandmother tells you that she needs help with some weird problem with her phone and you track down that it’s some app that she got from an alternate App Store. That sort of situation is not a good user experience and isn’t good for the Apple ecosystem. The walled garden is a feature, not a bug. If you want a different experience with more choices, there’s Android - seriously.

Neil Cybart wrote this in a July 6th newsletter: “Billions of people use Android smartphones. However, the press views Android as so inferior to iOS that it’s not a viable alternative for Apple users. That ends up saying more about the competition failing than Apple users suffering from Apple possessing too much power and success.” I had a hard time believing that when I read it, but maybe it’s true.


> the press views Android as so inferior to iOS that it’s not a viable alternative for Apple users

It's not just the press: switching to Android would have very negative drawbacks to many Apple users, even if you don't consider it to be strictly inferior. It would be like pointing a sports car owner to a minivan and saying that they should buy that when they complain about their manufacturer removing buttons from the dashboard. (More accurately, assume that the only sports car available was from one manufacturer and you had to move over to the minivan or you have to ride a bike everywhere.)


If anyone could create their own store, someone would create a store that accepts anything with no review, no privacy and no security enforcements, making the whole idea of greenwalled platform pointless.


This is like complaining that it's unfair that only McDonald's are allowed to sell inside a McDonald's.


There are thousands of different restaurants to choose from.

There are only two pocket computers. And they're both beating people up over protection money.

Moreover, computing used to be free like water. These companies locked it down so you have to go through them.

Imagine if you had to pay McDonald's to open your own restaurant.

Imagine if every restaurant in the US had to do so.

Imagine if McDonald's gathered data about your customers.

Imagine if McDonald's saw what worked about your restaurant, copied it, and then hid yours from consumers.

It's not okay. This is one of the worst abuses of the American consumer and small businesses in history.

Edit: I think we're all being downvoted by corporate brigading. Every one of my posts is being downvoted. I made a compelling and respectful argument, and note the lack of rebuttals.


I'm not sure what the laws are in Europe, but in the US, there's nothing inherently illegal about being a monopoly. The illegality begins when one tries using the monopoly to gain an edge in other markets. Arguably, Apple has monopoly power in the market they built so nothing wrong there.

If you're trying to make the argument that maybe we should change the laws to make monopolies illegal, it would be easier to discuss if you define what the guiding principle is. Are you saying companies shouldn't own more than X% of a market? Companies should comply with a set of practices? etc

Here's why it's difficult when you just use anecdotes. Consider your example, restaurants. Restaurants are a local industry with lower barriers to entry so naturally you have thousands to choose from. Online marketplaces tend to be global marketplaces with very high barriers to entry. So comparing restaurants to the App Store is a stretch at best.

A better example might be a national every day low price store like Walmart. So let's try your examples with them.

Imagine if you had to pay Walmart to open your own store INSIDE Walmart ... sounds reasonable.

Imagine if every store that wanted to open a store in Walmart had to do so ... again, reasonable. Starbucks pays to be inside target, Wells Fargo inside Safeway, etc.

Imagine if Walmart gathered data about your customers. They do, and again reasonable.

Imagine if Walmart saw what worked at your store and copied it and hid yours from your consumers. This happens as well. Consider Equate, Walmart's private brand. Or Safeway select. Basically the same thing.


I think we fundamentally disagree about Apple's behavior.

> Arguably, Apple has monopoly power in the market they built so nothing wrong there.

Apple embraced the web and the internet, then extinguished it as a means of getting software to consumers.

> Online marketplaces tend to be global marketplaces with very high barriers to entry.

This is false. The web is a free for all.

A better analogy for iPhone and Android being marketplaces is x86 and ARM being marketplaces. Can you imagine having to pay to run your code and your commerce on CPUs?

Phones should be utilities.

> A better example might be a national every day low price store like Walmart.

I don't know. There's Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Whole Foods, Kroger, REI, Dick's, CVS, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, ...

Why don't Netflix and DHH try to sell their wares there?


> Apple embraced the web and the internet, then extinguished it as a means of getting software to consumers.

Not sure why this is relevant to EU regulation.

> This is false. The web is a free for all.

Somewhat. The web is a free for all and is part of the high barrier to entry for online marketplaces. I probably should qualify that as a serious online marketplace for third parties.

> Can you imagine having to pay to run your code and your commerce on CPUs?

Sure can. It was called the 90's. I remember paying per cpu/per end user licensing fees to run things on my own cpus.

> Phones should be utilities.

As an opinion, I can't really argue this.

> Target, Home Depot, Lowes, Whole Foods, Kroger, REI, Dick's, CVS, Dollar Tree, Dollar General,

These are great examples that continue to make my point. * almost all have private brands that compete brands they sell * many allow stores in their stores (which they charge for) * they collect data on those stores (within their stores)

BTW, my intent is not to convince you. I normally wouldn't have responded at all, but since you seemed genuinely curious why you weren't seeing responses so I thought I would give you my perspective.


> There are only two pocket computers.

There are thousands of powerful smartphones on the market, from many different companies and even countries.

> It's not okay.

I'm okay with it.


> There are thousands of powerful smartphones on the market, from many different companies and even countries.

You're being deceptive here. Apple App Store and Google Play Store are what we are talking about. There aren't many other avenues that can reach consumers.

> I'm okay with it.

You're okay with me having to pay hard earned money to Apple and Google? Having to work that much harder? To be unable to afford to lean into scaling? Because that's awful.

Fuck that.

These companies are anti-entrepreneur.


> You're being deceptive here. Apple App Store and Google Play Store are what we are talking about.

I'm using your own words - you said 'pocket computers'.

And you can load your own applications onto Android, can't you? So use that!


> There are thousands of powerful smartphones on the market, from many different companies and even countries.

There are only 2 major OS's.


And doesn't one of them allow your own apps? So why don't you use that one if that's what you prefer?


I understand that, but your original argument was disingenuous.

The central question at hand is the App Store monopoly, and your argument was:

> There are thousands of powerful smartphones on the market, from many different companies and even countries.

But that number willfully misrepresents the current state of the market as it pertains to the current discussion because all but one of those powerful smartphones only operate on one other OS, and by extension, one other App Store regime.

Whether this OS duopoly is acceptable is the whole debate.


You know what the “mono” in “monopoly” means right?


No, I'm an idiot, please explain it to me.

Of course I know what it means — the argument is way more nuanced than "hurr durr there are 2 and 2 > 1".


It actually isn’t. When you have a choice between paying a premium and paying half as much like 85% of the world. It isn’t a monopoly.


I encourage you to read the original article.

Couple things:

1. The argument isn't that it's a monopoly, it's that it's arguably monopsony. The issue is less that users don't have the choice to buy the phone they want with the OS they want, it's that developers/suppliers are unable to access a huge chunk of the market without being forced to pay 30% of earnings.

2. While it's closer to a "duopsony" than a "monopsony", it gets a little more complicated when you look at the level of each regional market. In the US, Apple's market share is closer to 50%.

Maybe it's not anti-competitive for there to be only 2 app buyers on the market, but maybe it is. That's the debate, and it's by no means clear cut.


The duopoly controls distribution. That's the classic definition of a cartel.

Google and Apple are a cartel.

They made the world worse than it was for software distribution. It used to be open in the 90's and 00's.


The definition of cartel requires collusion. This is reason 101 that HN posters make horrible lawyers.


There are two pocket OS systems.


How is a Mcdonalds restaurant (which McDonalds owns) in any way equivalent to my iPhone (which I supposedly own).


Nothing prevents you buying Android phone if you do not like Apple policies. The policies were in effect when you bought your iPhone.


If you go to a a McDonalds and get upset that you can't buy Pepsi, you're unreasonable.

If you buy an iPhone and get upset that you can't install your own apps, you're unreasonable.


The MacDonalds its not yours, while your iPhone is.

There's a big difference between the two, and the key difference here is ... Property.

But i like your example because its shows the mindset that the iPhone you bought, is in the end the property of Apple, not really yours, and that you are "fine with it".


You can do already do whatever you want with your phone from the point you receive it in the condition Apple sell it to you.

But you cannot require that Apple do work to build support for third-party app stores. Property rights do not extend to forcing other people to do labour for you.

If your phone doesn't come with support for third-party stores when you buy it then I don't see how it would be your right to have that feature added.


> But you cannot require that Apple do work to build support for third-party app stores. Property rights do not extend to forcing other people to do labour for you.

You and I can't, at least not directly. But governments certainly can, if they deem it in the interest of the citizens they serve.


> You and I can't, at least not directly. But governments certainly can, if they deem it in the interest of the citizens they serve.

Tyranny defined. “Do what we tell you to do, it’s ‘for our citizens.’” That’s how you get Australia forcing companies to backdoor encryption.


Apple does work to prevent third-party app stores from being on their platform.


On the contrary, Apple does work to ensure users are protected from uncurated code. That incidentally challenges third party App Store models.


If you buy a home in a neighborhood with a restrictive homeowners' association covenant, you still own your home even though you're not allowed to paint it blue and put plastic flamingos in the yard. You may not like those restrictions, but they're the restrictions you literally bought into.

I really think this is a more accurate take than "Apple restricts what you can do to your device therefore you don't really own it." Yes, they restrict what I can do with the device, but yes, I really own it. And bonus: f I decide those restrictions are too much to bear, well, buying a new phone is way easier than buying a new house.


Using your analogy, there's is a boundary that can even be considered reasonable. In the example you gave, you know the limits, when you bought and you thought they were reasonable.

But suppose that they define which cars you need to have to live in that neightborhood? You would start to think that now they are being unreasonable..

The thing is, Apple can change those "ok, now this is unreasonable" things behind your back without you even being aware of it. How can you know that you would want that car that the "owners" of your neighborhood did not allowed that car seller to offer you? (And no, this is not a stretch, remember that your digital life is a whole big dimension of your life, imagine a centralized point of control)

You wont feel as you would if they forced you to a limited set of cars, but there are a lot of damages happening by allowing them to do as they please, and not only about your rights as a owner of the product, because there are developers and other technological, social and political issues happening with those decisions being made like that.

Unfortunately it cant be compared as just a house that you have not full control of it, because in that case it would most "damage" you in the end.

The decisions Apple are making hurting digital and material property rights have broader implications to the society in general.


Your iPhone OS is not yours. It’s an unfortunate thing, the way that licensing works, but that’s how it is.

A more apt analogy is perhaps that you’re a McDonalds franchise owner, and you can’t serve Subway food there.


I think this analogy would work if you think in terms of opening a Apple franchise, and being able to sell only Apple products.

The problem here is a centralized point of control, that basically controls, or can eventually exercise this control to define in the end how you experience your life in the digital realm.

As the subtraction, or whats left out, will happen before, people wont even notice whats being taken from them.

That's why its hard to compare to anything that happened before, because its unparalleled.


Well, you chose to own an iPhone knowing it didn’t meet your requirements. Do you need the government to protect you from your own decisions?


Given that

(a) no smartphone exists that is a perfect fit for my ideal requirements

and

(b) having some smartphone is now almost essential to function normally within society

I would say yes, I absolutely do want the government to intervene. Market competition is obviously not doing the job, and none of us individually is strong enough to force the issue with the suppliers. That is exactly the situation where regulatory intervention is appropriate to protect the little guy from the power of the big guy.


Sure let the same idiots who put on the dog and pony show with tech CEOs design the SilhouettePhone just for you....


That's real snazzy name for a smartphone. When can I preorder it?


> I absolutely do want the government to intervene

Well I don't know what to say apart from this is incredibly selfish.

You can't find a product suited to your particular esoteric requirements so you want the government to force someone else to perform labour to build the product you want.

Can you see how wacky that sounds when you write it out like that?


By that argument, all consumer protection laws should be abolished. Clearly I don't agree with that position.

I don't think it's selfish to argue that government should protect the little guy from being exploited by the big guy who has much greater power, for each of the numerous little guys affected by a situation. Indeed, that is arguably one of the most important functions of any government.

I would have less of a problem with this if we were discussing some luxury item that people could easily do without. However, the reality is that many organisations -- including government entities at various scales in my country as well as other essential services -- now effectively require the use of certain technologies in order to function as a normal member of society. It is therefore reasonable to ensure that the technologies available are provided on an acceptable basis.

If a supplier doesn't want to play by those rules, they're not forced to perform any labour for me or anyone else here. They're perfectly entitled to simply exit the market instead.


> However, the reality is that many organisations -- including government entities at various scales in my country as well as other essential services -- now effectively require the use of certain technologies in order to function as a normal member of society.

But you can already access these Government services - the apps already work, right? You don't need a third-party-app-store to use them?

So that isn't a reason to change anything.

You want the iPhone to be changed so you can do other things with the iPhone, unrelated to these Government services.


You keep quoting a partial comment and then trying to shift the discussion away from the fundamental point.

The fundamental point is still that, for practical purposes, many people now have to have a smartphone. There are, for practical purposes, two types of smartphone available. If neither of those meets some reasonable conditions that many people would prefer to have -- for example, retaining control of your own device and data -- then this implies a lack of effective competition in the marketplace. Government regulation is the solution to that problem.

Arguing that people don't have to buy the product isn't helpful. Many people are effectively forced into buying one product or the other.

Arguing that people don't have to buy the Apple product isn't helpful. Buying an Android one instead is worse in other respects.


> You keep quoting a partial comment and then trying to shift the discussion away from the fundamental point.

When you try to give a concrete example I show how that concrete example doesn't make any sense to me.

If the fundamental point doesn't translate to any concrete situations then it's a dud.

> neither of those meets some reasonable conditions that many people would prefer to have -- for example, retaining control of your own device and data

But I don't think these are a reasonable conditions.

And I don't think many people want them - I think the number is probably absolutely tiny.

I think using legislation to force Apple to accomodate the unreasonable and abstract preferences of a tiny number of people from a group that isn't specially protected is morally unjust.

But I won't keep arguing it further as I think we probably just have different morals.


But I don't think these are a reasonable conditions.

So we can see. That doesn't mean they wouldn't be in the interests of owners of Apple devices, or that Apple shouldn't be prevented from exploiting its dominant position to restrict the market to the detriment of those owners.

I wonder whether you'd be OK with an electricity supplier saying you're only allowed to plug in equipment they have approved and they can change the rules or revoke approvals any time they like. If you don't like it, you can go to the other electricity supplier, who will give you their list of acceptable equipment instead. If you want to use equipment from both lists, don't worry, just buy two houses. And of course no-one makes any equipment that isn't on either list, because there is no possibility you'd ever want to power anything that wasn't approved by at least one electricity supplier.

Or you can buy Car A that goes only to one set of locations, or Car B that goes only to another set. Other locations might be happy to welcome you, but even if they build the roads to reach them, your car will artificially prevent you from driving that way.


By definition the iPhone where the lowest cost one is $100 more than the average selling cost of all Androids is a luxury item....


More appropriate analogy:

Let say Apple is BMW, and when you buy BMW your gas tank has a proprietary connector that will work only on BP gas stations. You can choose different gas there (different octane number, etc.), but you can't tank at e.g. Statoil.


As long as this is disclosed to the customer up-front and as long as you can buy a different car to a BMW, then I do not have any moral objection to this.

I admit I probably wouldn't buy such a car myself as I don't see any advantages. I do see advantages to the Apple model - simplicity and cleanliness. If you disagree then you should probably do as I would with the BMW - buy something else instead.


In general I agree, but once a business becomes powerful enough it may be able to reduce competition in what otherwise might be competitive markets.

Lets say at some point drivers of GM vehicles buy 60% of the gas sold. Gas stations must agree to use proprietary connectors to service GM cars. Because of GM's market share, the majority of gas stations decide to use GM-only connectors, which then sells more GM cars...

Such a cycle is great for GM but probably not good for consumers if you think competitive markets are pro-consumer. And it affects people who don't even buy GM cars, because it influences what 3rd party business are viable. I think that's a key difference between companies with enormous market share engaging in anti-competitive behavior and companies with minority market share (like BMW) doing it.

As another example, I think it would have been unfortunate if home internet service providers (of which many people have a choice of only one or two, and it's a big hassle to change) became a bottleneck for other types of services such as online streaming (perhaps by charging exorbitant bandwidth costs to competitors). Luckily I think that ship has mostly sailed, and even in the absence of regulation abuses are probably somewhat kept in check by the very real possibility that regulation will happen if things go too far.

I think there's an argument to be made that it would be bad for a duopoly in the mobile OS market (Apple/Google) to lead to a reduced level of competition in app stores, payment processing, and possibly computer software in general (because of the approval process). And even though Apple may not have an absolute majority on market share, the percent of software revenue is probably more important and Apple's share of that is probably quite high.

There's probably reasonable ways to address this too. Maybe by allowing other app stores (that follow the same sandboxing / security rules), which seems to work out fine on platforms like Windows with options like Steam. And maybe they could let Apple continue to require support for a common payment method, but not let them prohibit other payment methods or require that those other payment methods are the same price (when the fees on the other payment methods may be much less than 30%).


Like.. Tesla?


Gas analogy works for charging the phone and you can charge with any USB power source.


Would you agree that to be a monopoly means to have exclusive control of App distribution? Looking across the market Apple has exclusive control of only a small minority percentage of all App distribution.


they're not the only store. and nobody's forcing you to use their store. go get an Android phone.


Does Walmart have a monopoly on cash registers inside a Walmart?


Do you live inside a walmart? Are you locked into walmart for 2-3 years after going there once?


In many small towns Walmart is the only, or nearly the only store.


For many of us that is a feature, not a problem.


You're no entitled to a "feature" of my phone blocking functionality that doesn't affect you.


That's just dumb. You knew going into what Apple was like. Most of the phones on the earth are Android. How is Apple a monopoly?


> You're no entitled to a "feature" of my phone blocking functionality that doesn't affect you.

I respect that you would prefer other stores, but I would prefer a single store, that's all. I don't think I'm entitled to anything. I bought an iPhone with the expectation of a walled garden, but if that changes then I can re-evaluate my phone choice. BigCorp doesn't own me anything.

Also, a second store would affect me. I will have to make a decision on whether to trust a separate store or not use those apps. I'd prefer not to have to make that choice.


I've seen many things described as a feature but platform monopoly is a new one, unless 'many of us' in this case means 'Apple shareholder'


Why can't the increased security of the review process be a feature?


it can (on the official app store), it's just not an argument against letting other stores compete on the same platform. For all I care put a banner up that says 'this is not first party Apple software, you use it on your own risk!' and what is the problem? You're not being robbed of your safe Apple store at all, users only gain choice.


And the "feature" is what, exactly?


It's their product and they can do whatever they want with it. If anyone doesn't like that, they can easily not purchase iDevices. Apple doesn't force people to buy their products.


It's my phone, and I can do whatever I want with it. If Apple doesn't like that, they can easily maintain ownership by not selling the device. I don't force Apple to sell iPhones instead of leaving them in a warehouse.

Once I've bought it, it is mine. The entire idea that Apple can do whatever they want on a device that they have already sold is ludicrous.


You can already do whatever you want with your device.

Use it as a hammer for all Apple care.

It's just that Apple aren't going to spend their time and money developing software to let you do things they aren't interested in. Why should they?


> It's just that Apple aren't going to spend their time and money developing software to let you do things they aren't interested in. Why should they?

They are spending time and money to prevent that. Or you can create an app store as an app and expect Apple to allow your "app store app" to ship in iPhones? The features are already there in the OS, they use them themselves. They dont need to do anything more.. but instead they work to cripple or prevent others from using it.

This is in essence the spirit of a monopoly.

Ok you personally dont mind for whatever reasons, but there a lot of other harms to the society and civil rights in general going on here. And that was the reason countries and laws exists.. To prevent people or companies in position of power to abuse their power.


> And that was the reason countries and laws exists.

I disagree I don't think the reason why have countries and laws is so that you can force someone else to support your product when they don't want to.


They don't need to support, they just have no right to forbid. There's a big difference between those two things.

Imagine if windows crippled Netscape by forcing them to use Internet Explorer engine on Windows?

And this is just one thing Apple are doing that is unbelievable they are getting away with it.


But there's a specific consumer safety reason for it.

Not letting other browsers use their own JS engine (which is what it means to 'forcing them to use Internet Explorer engine on Windows' in your analogy) is because Apple want to disallow write|execute for people's safety.


Not letting other browsers use their own JS engine (which is what it means to 'forcing them to use Internet Explorer engine on Windows' in your analogy) is because Apple want to disallow write|execute for people's safety.

Perhaps you're right. Maybe it's entirely coincidental that Apple's policy also prevents owners of Apple devices from using a browser with modern features that would allow web apps to effectively compete with the native apps from which Apple gets a huge cut of the revenue because of its monopoly control over the app store.


Granting dynamic-codesigning exclusively to JavaScriptCore shows a lack of confidence in their platform sandbox and the app store review mechanism, and a (occasionally dangerous) overconfidence in the quality of WebKit's security.


But if its because of safety, why only JavascriptCore VM allow write execute flag? If that was the real reason then, dont you think it should also be disabled in JavascriptCore?

Or the real reason, is as it was pointed out in the other comment, is to cripple other browser engines that offer a platform that could actually be competitive with AppleKit's turning their control over the App store (and what people are allowed to access according to their own taste) irrelevant?

And if that's the real reason behind it, its clear the end user best interests are not being taken into account, as in not having access to possible better options according to your own tastes, contrary to what a lot of people in the comments here are trying to make we believe its true.


They don't let you modify the software on the device.


Yes they don't want to build and support the functionality for third-party stores.

I said you can do whatever you want.

I didn't say you can require other people to do what you want, like build software features for you.


And they aren’t obligated to develop workflows that would let you.

You can, however, if you figure it out.


I'm curious, if you didn't like the way it is, why did you buy one? None of these things are new. They've basically been the same since they came out.

You largely had a choice of two products. It sounds like one did what you wanted, and one didn't. You bought the one that didn't and now you're unhappy about it. I don't quite understand that.


We shouldn’t have to choose between one of two products, each of which is controlled by a giant, unaccountable entity which has its own type of anti-competitive stranglehold on consumers and engages in harmful behavior.

It’s pretty clear the only path out of this situation is to rethink antitrust laws in a society where companies have evolved to evade them, and to legislate.


Apple is very accountable. If users don’t like their products, they can buy an Android. Apple has to give users some reason to pay the Apple premium.


It doesn’t matter why I bought one. Car manufactures can’t just do whatever they want. They have to follow rules.

What’s wrong with people wanting Apple and Google to follow some rules?

Having a rule that all smartphones should allow sideloading would not be the end of the world for people who like Apple’s app store. Those people would still have the choice to us it.


No. I actually like the fact there is no sideloading. Why should I be forced to like what you like.


I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to be argumentative. I just truly don't understand it. It kinda feels like the people that move close to an airport and then complain about air traffic. You knew the deal going in, but you went in anyway. And now you're upset about the choice you made.

So what I'm really curious about is why is that? Regardless of the legality beyond it, why did you make a choice you're upset with?


Would you also pass those rules for console makers?

Do you also complain that you can’t put gas in a Tesla even though you should have known that it was designed that way?

Did you watch the hearing the other day? Do you really trust those people to regulate tech?


I bought an iPad because mobile Safari is a compatibility nightmare and not available on non-iOS platforms, so I needed it just for debugging and testing. Telling 20% of my users to switch to another browser is not an option either, since the only alternatives are just Safari reskins.


> It sounds like one did what you wanted, and one didn't

Two products is not a huge number. It seems likely that neither product was exactly what they want, and this is just a particular thing they don't like about iPhones.


Should a private company be allowed to sell a secure locked down device, with people buying it knowing that you cant 1) modify the bootloader 2) modify the os 3) sideload apps?

To many people, the fault you find in the product is the added value that differentiates it from competitors.


And Apple didn’t force you to buy the phone....


Isn't this an argument against any company/monopoly? No company forced anyone to buy anything.


This argument only works if there is sufficient competition. I would say that Apple has enough competition to agree with the argument that "you don't have to buy an iPhone".


How is Apple a “monopoly” with less than 15%?

Most people are “forced” to get internet through their cable company because there often isn’t a choice. How many people have to buy a phone that on average is twice as expensive as the alternative and then complain about it?


Mono means one btw


Neither did AT&T.


If you wanted phone service, you had to buy it from AT&T - because of a government granted monopoly.


Funnily enough, the government-granted monopoly only came as a consequence of a sweetheart deal that AT&T cut with the federal government- after the gov't first tried to pursue antitrust to halt AT&T's monopolistic activities:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsbury_Commitment


None forced you to buy iDevice.


Microsoft didn't force people to buy Windows, "all" they did was install IE by default and they got done for that. Precedent disagrees with you.


Microsoft had 90%+ marketshare in PCs. Apple has less than 15%.

How did that whole government intervention thing work out with respect to Microsoft? 20 years later they still have the same dominance in operating systems and productivity apps. No one cares about browser dominance except for Google.


> Microsoft didn't force people to buy Windows

Most people don't by Window's in a store, it's pre-installed on PCs and Microsoft did, in fact, force computer companies to buy Windows licenses for every PC regardless of what OS it came with and they threatened to pull their licensing entirely for any company that didn't abide.

Ironically, this is not what got them into trouble.


Actually what they were prosecuted for was mainly threatening to blacklist Compaq from buying OEM licenses. Thus they not only had a monopoly (with 90%+ of desktops at the time), but used that monopoly position to coerce another company, engaging in anticompetitive behavior.


That actually had a dominant market position on desktop/laptops and still do. Apple does not have a dominant market position in laptops, desktops or mobile phones.


I guess by that logic it's our nation and we can pass whatever laws we like, and if Apple doesn't like it they can move to a different jurisdiction


i purchased one of their product ( an iphone), which now belongs to me. That doesn't mean i should be compelled to use all of their product.

What if tomorrow they decide bing is the only search engine available on iOS, or iCloud the only storage solution. Would you still be holding the same argument ?


iCloud is the only storage solution when it comes to device backups.


I think you mistook your nation for a libertarian utopiam


The only store on their product.

Not the only store, period.

There is Android store which has 4 times as many users, and at some point Microsoft had a store but people didn't like it either...


He means the only store on the iOS platform, not the only app store between all platforms


iOS is an option among several, not the only game in town. Nobody forces anybody to buy iOS, and if they don't they don't need to use the iOS App Store either, problem solved...


Nobody forces you to buy a Ford or a Chevy either but both of those manufacturers have to follow very strict rules about how they make and sell cars.

If our country decides to make a rule about how smart phones should be created, sold or operated and Apple doesn’t like it, they can go and do business somewhere else.


Do console makers have to follow “very strict rules”.


If we make some laws that say they do then yeah they will have to.


And Tesla? Will they also have to allow third parties to “upgrade” their cars since many of the additional features are software controlled? Why stop there? Kindles? Roku sticks? WebOS TVs? TiVo’s? Cable boxes?


You make that sound bad? People have historically upgraded and modified their cars, their computers, their electronics, and their homes.


We already have such laws for automobiles -

https://apb-law.com/understanding-magnuson-moss-act-relates-...


I think if any of those had paid app stores with extortionate rates charged to developers, then yes - there is a pro-consumer argument to be made in favor of allowing third party applications from other sources.


Roku in fact does extort streaming services providers and they have to make rev share deals just to be on their platform - except for Netflix.

Streaming services can be on iOS platforms without giving Apple a dime.


this sounds amazing - I want that


This is not pro-consumer behaviour. This is pro-Apple behaviour. They enjoy the lock in + fees that the app store generates. They're even stifling web apps to maintain this monopoly.

If they were so pro-consumer, why do they allow spyware such as Tiktok to exist on their platform at all?


>They enjoy the lock in + fees that the app store generates.

That only affects the developer, not the consumer. What does the consumer care about who gets paid the fees.

I keep seeing the App Store framed as a consumer issue rather than a developer one when it's not. The App Store is no question pro-consumer especially when you consider the fact that the "open" web has essentially devolved into using every available toolkit to track users across the web.

I'm not at all interested in giving Facebook yet another platform where they can run amok with native hardware. I'm not interested in cleaning off Bonzai Buddy off my parents and friends phones.


If Apple decided to implement the Push Notification API for Mobile Safari, it would be very beneficial to the users of my forum websites. Now I’m forced to build an app, while my forums users are all happy with the website as it is. They just want push notifications and I’m convinced Apple is holding that back on purpose. I bet there are internal emails about that issue as well.


I hate that half the request for push notifications are used for websites to spam me.


True. Apple could make it impossible to request permission. I’d be okay. As long as users who want it have a way to enable it.


> That only affects the developer, not the consumer. What does the consumer care about who gets paid the fees.

I care if it means the applications are ~40% more expensive than need be.


The consumer cares that Apple engages in routine editorial censorship.


Because if you consider TikTok to be spyware then you would need to also block Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn etc.

Instead Apple had implemented the most stringent, pro-privacy features and polices on any platform bar none.


I actually do avoid installing all of those, and it is due to profound mistrust, so there's no reductio ad absurdum on that basis.


Those were high-profile examples. But most apps implement some sort of telemetry even just basic product analytics e.g. MixPanel or Google Analytics. Both of which collect a wealth of user data.

So if I were you I would not use any app or search engine. Just to be on the safe side.


If you were me, you might've deleted that remark in shame after realising it is maximising snark at the expense of worthwhile advice.

What I actually do is: minimise the number of apps installed, run a pihole to misroute unwanted traffic, run a VPN tunnel between home and a VPS that I manage myself for location masking and additional egress filtering, install a nonmonetized content blocker for which the source code is available (and run in advanced mode, with assets manually unblocked only by need), and use DuckDuckGo as my search engine.

Neither MixPanel nor GA are in my good books, and if a website requires such spyware to load before it functions, I abandon it.

What's more, I don't allow anything of the sort to be installed on my own services. The only third-party assets permitted are the card-capture fields from our payment gateway.


Sorry, what?!

Tiktok grabs your IMEI number, amongst numerous other things and sends them back to the mother ship.

Not saying that other platforms don't collect data, but Tiktok is known for being a whole other level spyware. If Apple was truly trying to protect consumers, there's no way it would allow it.


>Tiktok grabs your IMEI number, amongst numerous other things and sends them back to the mother ship.

Maybe I misunderstand you but the quick search[0] I did on Google says Apple iOS API doesn't allow programmer to fetch IMEI number. Did TikTok find a way to circumvent this and get the IMEI?

[0] https://stackoverflow.com/questions/41278494/how-to-get-imei...

[1] https://stackoverflow.com/questions/19927160/finding-imei-nu...

[2] https://developer.apple.com/forums/thread/31122


Provide evidence.

There is no ability to get the IMEI on iOS.


>but Tiktok is known for being a whole other level spyware.

Somehow grabbing your IMEI is "whole other level of spyware" than Facebook, who had an app that was analyzing all the traffic sent through your phone.


Lots of apps do that. Which permission set does getting the IMEI require on iOS?


The only legitimate way is via private entitlements, which require you be either Apple or perhaps a carrier that works with Apple to be on the iPhone https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24014412


To be fair, stifling web apps sounds like an anti-google move, not a pro-apple move (unless they've explicitly stated otherwise, I'd assume this is the reasoning). That said, I have been able to install some of my own websites as apps on iOS after adding PWA support. I am not sure how much their support differs from the Android implementation.


Yes because if it wasn’t for Apple, web apps would bloom like they have on Android....


> Everything Apple is doing is helping make a better app store for me.

I would prefer paying for Netflix right from the iPhone. It would be great to have torrent apps (they have legitimate use-cases). I would love to run qemu on my powerful iPad Pro.

Apple does not allow any of that.


You can pay for Netflix right on the phone.

You can go to https://netflix.com

You can also buy an Android phone like 85% of the rest of the world.


Eh, I think this is one of the two points where the case against Apple's App Store model is the strongest. Not allowing applications to use third party in-app purchase systems is weakly defensible, but they not only don't allow that, they not only don't allow you to load an online store in a web view, they not only don't allow you to link to an online store that will open in Safari, the App Store terms literally do not allow you to mention the existence of other online stores.

There are arguments to be made -- and they're made in these comments -- that the App Store is a net benefit for consumers, but it is really, really hard to make the case that users somehow benefit from this.


Can I advertise in Walmart that they can buy the sane item cheaper from my own website?


I don't think that's a valid comparison in this case. You aren't advertising another place to buy the same item, you are telling people how to buy content for the item they obtained from Apple's App Store that is (a) necessary for the item to work meaningfully and (b) is not sold through Apple's App Store. Are you completely confident that if Walmart, for some reason, sold video game consoles but didn't sell the actual games for the console, they would maintain an iron-clad prohibition against telling their own customers where those games are available?


Can you show up at Costco and prevent them from selling your products at a lower price than you do on your official website?


Is Walmart the only store you're allowed to shop at?


Neither is the iPhone the only phone you are allowed to buy.


They allow Netflix to charge on the phone if they are willing to agree to the other conditions.


All of that can be done while also not being a monopoly. Apple steals apps and recreates their own versions. They can remove your app for no reason on a whim because you might compete with them.

That's what the anti-monopoly is about. Frequently, apples 'pro consumer behavior' is demonstrably false, both from their hardware to their software. It's about making you artificially pay more for less and creating a culture of privledged users that mistake revocation of freedom as 'design' because they have the money to ignore reality.

Apple deserves any anti-monopoly actions it gets.


"Everything Apple is doing is helping make a better app store for me." - it is the benevolent dictator fallacy[1]. You cannot say dictatorship is good because one dictator seems to have done good things. In the same way, just because Apple has been nice so far (in you opinion at least) doesn't mean that the practice itself is good.

[1] Don't google it. I made it up.


There's a certain amount of brainwashing I've come to expect from Apple users. My sibling uses a MacBook, but remotes into a Windows machine in order to use Excel and Word, as the native versions on Mac don't seem to have all the advanced functionality. As far as I can tell, there is no specific other use case for the MacBook for my sibling. Yet, they're convinced that their purchase was a great one (I only hear the occasional complaint about how scrolling feels a bit weird, and the lack of certain keys on the keyboard)!


This is a tendency when people buy luxury goods to feel good about and defend their purchases. On HN you alway see the most intense loyalty towards Apple and Tesla.


Maybe we just like their products. You do not need to.


It is free market not dictatorship.


Quoting from the article, "Apple attempts to justify these fees by arguing that the App Store is no different from a mall, where companies seeking to offer their products must pay rent to the owner of the mall (in this case, Apple). This argument conveniently ignores the fact that there is just a single mall when it comes to iOS and no possibility of a competing mall to rent space from. It is not illegal for Apple to own a mall and rent space, nor is it illegal for Apple to own the only mall. What is illegal, is exploiting the fact that it owns the only mall to charge excessively high pricing which harms competitors."

This is a recurring theme here on HN. The fundamental dilemma is whether or not it is a monopoly. The article is arguing that it is.


There is clearly an "alternative mall" on the market, it's called Android. With 75% global market share they are the ones that are much more likely to be a monopoly, yet for some reason all the accusations are instead being leveled at the minority player on the market.

I don't even know why people are getting hung up on this monopoly thing. You can make a perfectly valid argument against Apple's 30% cut or their overly restrictive App Store policies regardless of whether they have a monopoly or not. Those arguments stand up on their own.


Do you think you would lose any of those benefits if Google had an iOS app store too? What if you also had the option of Microsoft iOS app store? Would the competition likely to increase pro-consumer benefits or decrease them?

Pro-consumer vs anti-publisher is a false equivalence. This is not a zero-sum game, not at all.


Or if Facebook had one, and Amazon had one?

And when developers are forced to support all 5 big ones?

And when any benefit of a reduction in fees is completely lost because of the requirement to support all 5 stores?

If the remedy for Apple picking winners is more stores, then it just means all of the big players will get to pick winners.

There is absolutely nothing whatsoever that is pro consumer about having Google, Amazon, and Facebook be able to run iOS app stores.

It will just raise costs for developers and harm consumers that way.

It will lead to exclusives just as we have in the online streaming world, so consumers are forced to deal with all of them.


> And when developers are forced to support all 5 big ones?

That is a big assumption. Who is the forcing agent here you are positing? The whole point of making app stores a multiagent game is to reduce the leverage of one to force things on developers and consumers.

> If the remedy for Apple picking winners is more stores, then it just means all of the big players will get to pick winners.

For this to happen as bad as today a) they all will need to see a benefit in picking winners b) they all will need to pick precisely the same winners.

The whole point of competition is giving power back to the end users (both app consumers and developers) in the form of choice. Any downside you mention is a competitive advantage first and app stores will have to synchronize hard and tight to forgo that to build a cartel against the users and developers (mind you they would also need to build precisely the same products with nothing to differentiate). And at its worst they still wouldn’t be worse than today’s single monopoly.


Developers are complaining that the 30% is a problem.

If this is true, then they will be forced to support any store that has 15% of the market or be worse of than they are today.

Some of the stores will just be bargain basement garbage with nasty policies and perhaps no less than 30% commission, but will have market power because they are owned by Facebook or google.

It will absolutely be worse than today’s monopoly.

If things are made even worse for developers, consumers will not benefit.

It’s true that there will be more ‘choices’ that everyone will be forced to make

But better software won’t be one.


I don't need five stores. I need to be able to install native apps from the web.


The biggest reason I haven't jumped ship to Android over the years is that the App Store has always been inherently curated, and typically more secure than the Android store.

The iPhone has been pretty good for security / privacy as well - I remember an article that made the front page here about how an accidental usage of the phone's GPS was still stopped when not allowed in the user's settings, and still triggered the location use icon in the status bar.

Much like how Standard Oil actually lowered oil prices while it dominated the market -- sometimes, a monopoly is benign or even benevolent towards consumers. Meanwhile Amazon is an example of a more predatory organization, as evidenced by some of Bezos's responses in the recent congressional hearing.

Monopolies like Amazon should be torn down for the consumer. Monopolies like Apple should only be torn down if they are using their market dominance to extinguish competition that would otherwise force them to improve.


This is completely missing the point. It's not merely about how the store is run, but that there is no alternative. You could have exactly the same with a competing store.


South Korean local Android app market does all that, with 20% fee. Competition is in fact beneficial, both for consumers and publishers.


You can't have competition in a single ecosystem and have all those qualities because some consumers will be tricked into using some app store that looks legit and isn't. And as you point out, Android is a competitor and the Android stores compete with Apple's store. Just buy a different phone.


Apple is really good at reviewing apps. Why don't they review app store apps? Because they want to artificially suppress competition.


> Apple is really good at reviewing apps.

They're really not.


Sorry, but I don't understand the point.

No one is talking about taking away your choice of keep using the Apple appstore. It is ok to keep using Apple, if you prefer so. We wan't choices, we don't want to remove your choice.


What if I choose not to be forced to deal with a multitude of different stores?

It seems like you want to remove that choice.


> It seems like you want to remove that choice.

The choice of not choosing? The more you guys explain, the less I understand.


That's a truly silly comment. Based on that there should only be one grocery store to shop at and one place to work.


We generally don’t think it’s a good thing when people are forced to work multiple jobs, and we call it a food desert when you have to hunt lots of different stores to get the basics.

The idea that more choices is always better is just ideology.

It is quite obviously possible to move from a situation in which there is no choice and where there are some problems, to a situation where there are multiple choices and none of them are as good as the be no-choice case.

I do think there are problems with Apple’s store.

I think law may be needed.

I don’t think antitrust law forcing ‘competition’ has any likelihood of solving the problems.

If we think there are rights vendors should have over stores - e.g. the right to describe their product however they like, we should establish that in law for all stores.

If we want to use law to force our cooperations to limit the practices they can use in other countries as a way to put pressure on other political systems, those are called sanctions. I’m fine with those being applied if our government decides to apply them.

Again, nothing to do with anti-trust.


> I am 100% in favor of the way run the app store

You want Apple to prohibit the apps you use from being allowed to tell you about alternative payment options?


Yes, because I want to be continue to recommend Apple products to friends and family who would definitely be scammed by fake payment mechanisms if Apple wasn’t preventing it.


There are ways to provide safety interlocks for naive users that don't require bowdlerising the entire platform.

What's more, Apple doesn't prevent those users entering payment card details into websites they reach by other means; this protection is patchy at best. Nor does it prevent apps using psychological tricks to maximise their revenue through the platform itself, e.g. as with many gambling and gaming apps.

So with the best will in the world I can't see that this security angle justifies the anti-competitive behaviour.

I'll also observe that in most card schemes, account holders aren't liable for fraudulent transactions. Although I would concede that many scams aren't technically fraudulent (merely egregious, unfair, and deceptive), and that naive users often don't understand their rights or how to assert them.


People know the difference between the web and apps, and the whole point is that people trust in app purchase app purchases more than they do entering their card details into browsers.

Clearly a browser that didn’t let you enter text would have been unacceptable and the iPhone would have failed as a product.

On the other hand, it’s clear that Apple does actually see this as a serious problem, which is why ApplePay for the web exists, and I know quite a few people who feel far safer with websites that use it.

The argument that Apple hasn’t yet made the web safe for their users even though they are working on it, therefore they should abandon the safety have managed to achieved on the store doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.


That’s a misrepresentation. The point is that they can achieve the same safety level for naive users without mandatory rules across permissible content in all applications. I can toggle privacy controls, for example, and manage advertising IDs, and relax (and strengthen) my online safety controls in many other aspects.

The web angle is simply demonstrating by contrast that the claim these hardline rules exist for online safety is horse shit. If they were prepared to irrevocably cripple one functional area for safety’s sake, why not another?

The answer is, because that was never the goal.

These rules are simply the protectionist use of market power, and by obliging other vendors to mislead consumers, become an abuse of market power.


How do you feel about them removing an app because it allows people from HK to circumvent censorship? And why? Just asking to understand your point of view on the article.


I think that part of the article is frankly intellectually dishonest.

I agree that there is a problem with them not allowing different descriptions in different countries, and I agree that they should add this feature to the store.

I wouldn’t have a problem with this being litigated on its own merits. I can see potential legal arguments.

I don’t see what this has to do with antitrust or the rest of the claims, which just seem like a tortured way to introduce an ethical dimension to the argument.

No proposed antitrust remedy has anything to do with challenging authoritarian regimens. If anything the remedies would make the situation worse.

One obvious pathological outcome is that if Apple is forced to create infrastructure to allow multiple stores, every authoritarian state will trivially mandate the installation of a state run store app, with all manner of tracking, privacy abuses, etc., even the ones which had previously had no leverage over Apple.


You mean where they could get the same functionality from a website?


Using a website would mean browsing it through Safari (the only, artificially imposed browser on iOS), which notoriously doesn't support push notifications and other app-like features. One generally can not get the same functionality from websites and apps, and this is especially true for iOS.


As a consumer I love Apple's commitment to high quality apps - a side effect of their review process. As a seller on their marketplace 30% is extremely high. 30% of every sale! For context Amazons referral fee averages about 15%.


> commitment to high quality apps

...that don't compete with Apple's own.


Apple has plenty of competition on the App Store for every category.


Not everyone made apps before Apple. In thoese times the developer got the 30% and the store keept the remaining 70%. Of course often after download, and credit card fees.

I get it, everyone wants always more. And maybe there is more room. Many just view it from their own point of view.


You are assuming nothing else can be in place to solve all of those problems. If you and many other consumers want that then services will appear to solve those problems barring regulation and market barriers like a monopolistic app store and platform policies.

PayPal comes to mind.


Yeah, I completely agree. I do feel conflicted because just a few companies control everything. It's that tough balance to be sure and I don't know what the right solution is

Android has the freedom of other app stores, but in practice very few even bother


There are successful alternative app markets for Android, for example in South Korea. They are rare, because running an app market is in fact difficult. App search and discovery is not simple, neither is pushing update notifications. But it is possible, and when done competently (South Korean mobile telecom companies are competent; unbelievable, I know), the result is good.


Then it shouldnt be a problem to allow alternative stores


I see it the same way, even as developer. Every store is another task which takes resources to handle. Stores change and hence it never stops. Further, Icwsnt customers to know tuey can trust the ecosystem to some degree.

As a fahter, the Apple App Store too is the only place I give my children access too. They started with Android phones but after I noticed the apps which are present in the Google Play Store we went on to switch to iOS. Passing on our used devices to our kids.

Google could have done amazing things, abd so could Microsoft. But both took a different parh. I am not a Apple fanboy, I fact I am very critical about them. Yet its simply the best ecosystem for normal consumers.


For apps that let you subscribe either in the app or on the web, do you voluntarily choose to pay 20~30% more for that convenience? For example, Dropbox is $12 in-app vs $10 on the web. Youtube Premium is $16 in-app vs $12 on the web. Spotify is $13 in-app vs $10 on the web.

Do you think most consumers would choose to pay 20~30% more for that convenience if they were informed of that choice? And isn't it anti-consumer to deny them this information?


That's fine, but why it has to be only app store? why not let other App Stores compete on the same platform, and let the user choose, as we do with browsers ?


It probably will look like the windows game stores, everyone could create one and sell games.

But so far we only got:

EA, UBISOFT, GOG, STEAM, epic and windows store.


+ origin, blizzard


Why not let consumers decide if Apple's 30% uplift is worth it? Clearly for yourself that is the case, but others may come to a different conclusion.

Most markets offer a variety of tradeoffs in price vs. quality. Consumers rarely pick the cheapest product. If Apple's app store is superior, they will have no problem in justifying their 30%.


How many consumers on Android are using the Amazon store?


Doesn't that prove the point that competitive app stores would not harm Apple's business?

It seems paternalistic to suggest that consumers are too dumb to make an App Store decision on their own.


It also proves the point that consumers don’t care....

We have decades of viruses, malware, ransomware, and toolbars on Windows PCs that prove that the average consumer isn’t that technologically savvy.

I’m not saying Macs are immune in anyway to the same exploits. It’s just that not enough people care to create malware on the Mac to make it that big of a deal.


Actually, all it proves is that the Amazon store is inferior to the Google Play store.


As it proves that when people have a choice - ie can afford it - they would rather buy Apple walled garden and all over Android where you can sideload.


You can still have what you want and give people other options. It's called choice. We deserve to be able to choose


Let’s be precise here. You want to be able to choose.

If you can force thru a change to allow other app stores on an IDevice, and Apple still refuses to follow thru, then you can say you deserve it.

Wanting a thing is not the same as deserving it. Choice does not exist until you have options.

That said, I’m in favor of opening up other App Stores, so Apple can boot the all crapware and focus on a small number of high-quality, trustable apps, which they can market as such. Apple and the developers could charge a premium for being trusted and consumers would be able trust that they are actually receiving the best-in-class apps for their device.

Then, if consumers want to go to some cut-rate App Store and buy crap apps, that’s on them.

That’s a win-win all around.


It's a bit pedantic, but okay. I philosophically believe that we deserve to choose - you are right that the reality is different. I would like to make it the same.


It may seem pedantic, but it’s a useful distinction. ‘Deserves’ implies that you’ll get something without giving up anything. If you want a thing, then you can negotiate for it, each party giving up something to get their desired outcome.

What would you be willing to give up so that Apple would support your desired outcome more?


You can choose, go and choose one of the other 70% of the phones on the market.


ios has reached a critical mass that makes it impossible to avoid for a huge number of apps if they want to be profitable, especially in rich countries.


This. Go choose a better job if you are poor. There are many.


That’s very unfair. I believe in capitalism, yes, because I believe in individual freedom and personal property rights. That really all capitalism is. But I also believe in a caring society, as citizens were all in this together. Citizenship comes with obligations as well as rights and we should look after our own.


Sure, when Apple will just sue any competitor for "infringing" on it's millions of stupid software patents


When has Apple initiated a patent lawsuit since Cook became CEO?



Words Mean Things. That lawsuit didn’t initiate under Cook.



Those are lawsuits to invalidate patents not to sue other people for using their patents.


You asked for patent lawsuits initiated under Cook's CEO tenure. Words Mean Things.


The thread was explicitly about apple suing other companies over using their patents. You know that’s the context.


I can and I do - but that doesnt mean I dont think that the option should exist on iOS


> We deserve to be able to choose

People at Apple choose not to spend their time, money, and energy on supporting third-party app stores.

You can choose to do whatever you want. But you can't force people at Apple to choose to do something.


>Apple choose not to spend their time, money, and energy on supporting third-party app stores.

Apple doesn't need to support third party app stores. Apple actively hinders them.


They'd have to write extra code compared to what they have now to do this, and then they've had to support that code. They don't want to. Why on earth should they want to spend time writing code to run other people's businesses that they aren't involved in.

Do you require that McDonald's will sell you a Pepsi, when McDonald's want to sell you Coca-Cola? Do you demand that you should be allowed to set up a Pepsi store inside a McDonalds?


> They'd have to write extra code compared to what they have now to do this

How would they have to write extra code to support this? They already support 3rd party apps. Your analogies are bad.


They wouldnt need to write more code, theyd need to remove code. Third party app stores already exist for iOS with no assistance from Apple, they are just prevented from running unless the device is jailbroken.

Granted, they might choose to write some code to manage how these additional stores work, but theres no technical reason I can think of that they would have to.


There is spyware (that is, malware) in almost every single app in the Apple App Store. Apple asserts that you consent to spyware in your apps when you agree to the App Store TOS.

These apps track your location (both sensor and geoip based) over time, and aggregate and sell that data, along with other user data they glean.


That's not really the issue. If Apple allowed more stores in iOS you could decide to keep using Apple's store much like you do in the Mac world.


Well they can do all that with a 10% fee too. The author is contending that by adding those restrictions and a high 30% fee, Apple is acting like a monopoly - it's their way or the highway.


What evidence do you have that a 10% fee is enough to operate the App Store at the scale Apple does?

When the App Store was launched, Steve Jobs said they plan to run it at break-even, no profit, and for quite a few years that was exactly what they did. Now they are profiting from the App Store and clearly could continue to run it as they do on a lower percentage, but I don't think 10% is that number. If they could run it on 10%, they wouldn't have operated it without profit for the first quite-a-few years at 30%!


I cant find any evidence in their financial reports of Apple breaking down sales and cost of sales for the App store in early years. I would be very, very surprised though if it was not profitable almost immediately (unless you creatively move around numbers and claim 100% of the iPhone's R&D was a cost of sale for the app store).


You are correct, I am taking their early claims at face value, but they never produced supporting numbers. I would be shocked if their claims weren't true, however.

Because of the lack of numbers, I'm not sure how long it was before running at break-even ceased to be a thing, though.


Why do you think that fee is unfair?


Because, I guarantee, if iOS app distribution market was competitive, fee would be lower than 30%. 30% fee is a monopolistic rent.


Suppose you make the argument that developers, not consumers, pay for the dev kits, language, development, improvement, apis of the os. 30% might appropriately reflect the amount of work in an app that is apples work.

30% of subscriptions on the other hand might not.


Fortunately, Apple breaks it down for us:

Services net sales in 2019 was $46.2B, and the cost of those sales was $16.8B (source 2019 10-K). They dont specifically break out App store vs other services, but as a whole the services section of their business is very, very profitable, according to their accounting. It remains so even if you throw in the entirety of R&D ($16.2B).


Google Play store is also 30%.

> For apps and in-app products offered through Google Play, the service fee is equivalent to 30% of the price. You receive 70% of the payment. The remaining 30% goes to the distribution partner and operating fees. [https://support.google.com/googleplay/android-developer/answ...]


And Steam (unless you have a very popular game) and GOG.

But it's easy to argue that many of these just derived their rates from what existing similar store fees were. Epic Game Store tried to disrupt this and they're still at it a few years later but for most developers publishing on Steam/GOG nothing changed.


OneStore fee is 20%.


Because you cannot opt for a different store if you don't like the fee. If you want to sell independently, you cant. If you want to sell alternatively, you cant. This excludes many devs and shops from access.


This is their platform... maybe the gov can make this a legal monopoly like the NFL. And, everyone gets the same % rate, same rules, and no apple competition in apps. Same for Google...


It is NOT same for Google, and that's exactly the point.


How is their app store any diff?


I think you are missing the social and political implications of your choices.

Its not just about being a monopoly in the economical sense, which is bad per-se, but to let a private company to control what you have access or not based on particular moral, political views.

To forbid you to access technology that can compete with what they offer on the basis of "security".

If you do not get it, they control the only app store allowed where they also control what you can or cannot access to. You are implying they are good actors somehow that are doing all this thinking on you, while in reality they will do whatever they can to maximize their profits, and as long as people like you are fine with it, nothing will change.

Your current government might yet be democratic enough as this can not YET represent a threat to your civil rights or the ones you love, but things changes constantly. (Who could have predicted that the 30's Weimar Republic Germany would fall like that?)

Once your government do not respect civil rights anymore the way it should, a private company with this amount of control on your digital life can represent a big threat that unlike in the past, would be pretty hard to get rid of.

What about the concept of digital property? Should you have choices? Can a private company bar your choices? Can a private company own the things that were bought by you and are in a phone that you have pay for?

Imagine if after having bought a vehicle, Wolkswagen could tell you who can you transport: "We dont allow dogs in OUR cars".

Now imagine someone saying: "I like what Wolkswagen do, its for my safety, dogs will damage my car".. "Just buy a Mercedes then!"

Or what if Wolkswagen did also sell vehicle parts, and even if you know there are pieces for your cars that are better or cheap, you wouldnt be able to buy them because the stores would be closed for you.

But then you would say: "But apple dont bar me from buying apps, i have choices.." and its a illusion of choice, because the apps were not even allowed to enter the store in the first place.

So there's a real danger into letting any private company to choose things for you before you are able to choose them.

We should have by now a good legislation about digital rights, digital property, etc, that could regulate this source of thing.

Because as i've witnessed here in the comments, you cannot let people on their own, because they can be emotionally manipulated into want things that will harm them and their rights in the long run.

It should not be just about being good for you at this particular moment, we should always take into account the collective and social implications of our choices.


> You are implying they are good actors somehow that are doing all this thinking on you, while in reality they will do whatever they can to maximize their profits, and as long as people like you are fine with it, nothing will change.

Yes. Americans fully support their money going towards 2 trillion dollar companies as long as their device works well and they can upgrade to the fastest model every 2-4 years.


No problem about someone doing a good job in a product and making tons of money with it. With people wanting good things, this is also expected. The big issue here is control of our digital life and all the implications that comes with it. This looks a lot like people living in Leibniz "Best of all possible worlds" or living in a slice of that world not minding to the side effects.


I hate the fact the both Apple's App Store as well as Google's Play Store do not offer basic search filters. In particular for my kids, I'd love to be able to search for games without ads or in-app purchases. But Apple and Google do not offer this feature because it would hurt their revenues. That's why I'd love to have a good alternative to the App Store or Play Store.


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