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Epic Games has filed legal papers in response to Apple [pdf] (unrealengine.com)
674 points by warp 44 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 642 comments



I really don't agree with the idea that "alternative payment processors" are pro-consumer. This only benefits the developer, and I have huge privacy concerns with trusting third-party devs to handle my payment information. There's a 100% certainty that such payment information would be used for advertising purposes in the best-case, and rampant identity theft or mass payment security breaches in the worst-case. I'm certain Apple would also get a share of the blame for these third-party issues, which further tarnishes their platform and user experience.

For all Apple's faults, they've actually put a huge amount of effort to making payment processing seamless for the user, while also making it extremely transparent. I get regular notifications if I have a subscription trial about to expire, and it's super easy to manage ALL subscriptions through a single UI, and cancel them with a single click. This would not be possible through third-party systems, which I can guarantee would put huge effort into tricking users rather than making it easier for them. And yet again, Apple would receive the blame for allowing these Apps.

All that said I also don't agree with Apple taking a huge 30% cut, especially for subscription services that directly complete with them such as Netflix. Though obviously there are costs to run this ecosystem, so Apple also can't just charge nothing. I see both sides of this argument, and I don't see a middle ground that can please all sides. There needs to be a reasonable compromise somewhere in the middle.


>I really don't agree with the idea that "alternative payment processors" are pro-consumer. This only benefits the developer

I mean, in this case, the consumer is literally saving 20% for the same purchase. Seems good to me.

> There needs to be a reasonable compromise somewhere in the middle.

Why isn't "let other stores sell software for iOS, and the market will set the rent those stores can extract from software developers" the reasonable compromise?

People who want the ease and security of Apple and are willing to pay their extra fees can do so. Those who don't don't have to.


Are you okay with Apple requiring that if you offer services on their devices not through Apple Pay or sell your app via a 3rd party store that you must also offer them at the same price using Apple Pay and on the App Store?

It has to be this way because otherwise you can force someone to use your 3rd party processor by making the Apple price 100x or something. If your payment processor is better than Apple you can pocket the 30%.

Because why people are so quick to defend Apple out of a fear that if this crap is allowed then it will become the only option and users will wind up with less control and choice.


None of my other computing devices require software merchants to use a particular payment processor or pay certain prices, and it seems fine to me. So, yes, I'm fine with that.


I’d say that always requiring an Apple Pay option (in addition to optional third party payment mechanisms) is fair when you’re acting inside Apple’s walled garden.

The problem right now is that it’s exclusively Apple, with a hefty tax, which is akin to a supermarket only accepting their own credit cards and no other payment options and adding a big premium to all products in the process.

Apple will have to settle for the “real” price though, if they add a steep premium to all transactions they shouldn’t require the other payment options to price match that.


> I mean, in this case, the consumer is literally saving 20% for the same purchase. Seems good to me.

In this case, you have to let your kid take your credit card and input it into any sketchy gaming company's web form. What happens from there?


You can choose not to give your kids your credit card. My kids ask for lots of things I'm not prepared to do and I say "no".


You can also choose not to give your kid access to IAPs on your iPhone. What % Apple takes is a moot point if they're taking it from $0.


this already happens regularly with iOS! Parents setup fingerprint payments and their kids go nuts with IAPs.


The IAPs are vetted by Apple, and a developer who gets authorized to use one can't turn around and reuse that IAP access to charge other things.

Yes, some IAP scams get by review and end up making the news. But the difference between that happening and a free-for-all of credit card numbers for scam games is massive.


> The IAPs are vetted by Apple

> some IAP scams get by review

Schrodinger's Vetting


The 20% is temporary incentive to get away from iOS’s 30% it’s all about them lineing their own pockets



Epic is still majority owned by Tim Sweeney. I think this is a power move out of principal more than anything


> I mean, in this case, the consumer is literally saving 20% for the same purchase. Seems good to me.

I find it hard to believe a company like Epic would lower prices in response. They want that 30% for themselves. Their claims of corporate altruism here are clearly overstated.

That said, this might be true for indie developers that would like to charge less to increase their user base, so I think Apple should probably lower fees to 10-15%. I think that's far more reasonable.

> Why isn't "let other stores sell software for iOS, and the market will set the rent those stores can extract from software developers" the reasonable compromise?

> People who want the ease and security of Apple and are willing to pay their extra fees can do so. Those who don't don't have to.

I agree with the premise that competition can lower prices, which is very pro-consumer. That said, I don't think a degraded UX, and potentially huge privacy disaster would be great for consumers. Cost isn't the only factor. In a third-party App scenario, Apple wouldn't be in a position to prevent privacy violations. The amount of data siphoned from this third-party store is likely to be game changing. Facebook could ask users to use their own store so they can track everything you do, and majority of users won't understand that difference. Not to mention countries like China would then likely demand all citizens use the app store full of spyware.

Once again it comes down to security vs. usability debate that I think will always be at the heart of these issues.


> I find it hard to believe a company like Epic would lower prices in response. They want that 30% for themselves.

But they did: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/pkyvvk/fortnite-developer...


Just like how you see the "sales price" on Amazon and Walmart? Ok.


Not paying 30% fees to apple absolutely helps consumers. If you look at the demand elasticity on mobile payments you'll see that fee's are mostly passed on to consumers. Developers will be happy to give a 25% discount to get that extra 2-3% after credit card fees.


If you can get away with charging $5.99 for an app today why would you charge less on a 3rd party store?


Because that's how competitive markets work? Lower costs for suppliers (developers) means lower equilibrium market prices.

If some developer can "get away" with not lowering their prices in response to reduced costs, it means they could have "gotten away" with charging a higher price in the first place. So why aren't they charging a higher price now? Probably because they can't actually "get away" with it, i.e. they would lose more volume to make the increase in price unprofitable.

Most consumer software has tons of competition, almost nothing is so unique that consumers wouldn't respond to relative price changes.


Because you could charge up to 29% less to draw out direct purchases and still make more than an App Store purchase.


I would also argue that even if the savings aren’t passed directly to the consumer in the form of money, it’s still better for consumers if that money helps support app developers rather than making Apples stacks of cash a little bit taller.


If you can drive higher volume due to better margins, of course you would! The curve changes.


Because you may understand that if you sell 10,000 units at $5.99 you may sell 20,000 units at $4.25.


This doomsday scenario is completely refuted by the longtime existence of the Apple Mac and third-party Mac software.


They can be pro-consumer in the sense that pretty much all of them charge an order of magnitude lower fees, savings that can be passed on to the consumer.

But agreed that it also could represent an increased privacy risk. I guess that could be the trade off though: if you want stronger privacy guarantees, you pay through Apple's system (and pay more); otherwise you use the cheaper, third-party option. But also agreed that issues around the third-party options would tarnish Apple's reputation, regardless of the fact that people would have a choice.


> so Apple also can't just charge nothing

They have +20M devs paying $100 per year.


Wow, 20 million developers paying $100. I had no idea it was that high. So they make $2 billion a year in just dev fees?

Do you have a source for that?


It was 20M in 2018, so it's probably more now:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/04/app-store-hits-20m-registe...


Registered developer != paying developer. Think about how many iOS developers a company has, they don’t pay $99/yr for each one, the company instead pays that once (usually) for all of them.


That's a good point. But even if 50% of registered AppStore devs didn't pay their fee, 1B is still a huge pile of cash.


Pure WAG, but I’m guessing <10% of registered developers are paying the annual fee.


Well the argument is they're pro-consumer in that the things you buy would end up costing less.


Theoretically some of the cost saving from an alternative payment processor would be passed on to the consumer.


While that would certainly be true for indie developers, I think it's laughable to suggest a company like Epic would lower their prices in response. They want that 30% for themselves. So I would take any claims from Epic that they are doing this purely for the benefit of the consumer as just pure marketing.

Though assuming that is true, there's an argument to be made that some consumers are willing to pay a premium for privacy. Though 30% is probably too high of a premium for most.


We can't know that because Apple forbids it. You're just guessing at what would happen. Regardless of whether Epic lowers its prices or not, that doesn't forgive Apple for REQUIRING all developers to use their payment processing service.

Also, Epic mentioned that Apple causes customer service issues because Apple is inserted into the payment process and Epic can't directly deal with the customer's payment issue.

So pricing is not the ONLY reason for allowing competition.


>laughable to suggest a company like Epic would lower their prices in response.

But they did lower their prices in response already


I'm seeing this same exact wording on multiple comments. Are these bots from Epic? Or are people at HN really this obtuse to even realize that OP is talking about Epic's long term goals?


Just accept the counterargument.


Apple makes exceptions for payment processing on apps already (for example Amazon Video).

I think Apple would have a lot more goodwill if they reduced their take. It's unlikelybanyone would sue over 10-15%.


This filing is clever on Epic's part. (Or someone at Cravath, more likely.)

What Epic is asking for is an injunction. They may well get a temporary injunction quickly, compelling Apple to put their app back in Apple's store. Then the case gets litigated on the merits, but starting from a de facto win for Epic.

The standard required for a temporary injunction is low:

"To justify a temporary injunction it is not necessary that the plaintiff's right to a final decision, after a trial, be absolutely certain, wholly without doubt; if the other elements are present (i.e., the balance of hardships tips decidedly toward plaintiff), it will ordinarily be enough that the plaintiff has raised questions going to the merits so serious, substantial, difficult and doubtful, as to make them a fair ground for litigation and thus for more deliberate investigation."[1]

Litigation on temporary injunctions is relatively fast. This part will be decided in weeks, not years.

Epic might only win a rollback to the last uncontroverted state, though. That is, apparently, before Epic's payment system went live on Apple platforms. If Apple had allowed third party payments for a while, then removed the app, Epic would be in a stronger position to insist that their own payment system remain live.

[1] https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article...

[2] https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/gov.uscourts.wiwd.39930/...


> Epic might only win a rollback to the last uncontroverted state, though. That is, apparently, before Epic's payment system went live on Apple platforms.

IIUIC the app itself wasn't updated, only the webview for payments was updated on the server side.


Interesting. If that's correct, Epic is in an even stronger position. They can claim that Apple retaliated against them for a competitive move which had no bearing on the activities taking place in the arena Apple claims to control.


Woah - Epic says they would release a competing app store if it weren't for "Apple's illegal restraints".

> But for Apple’s illegal restraints, Epic would provide a competing app store on iOS devices, which would allow iOS users to download apps in an innovative, curated store and would provide users the choice to use Epic’s or another third-party’s in-app payment processing tool."

Part 16, in the Intro.


Which holds zero legal weight, because Apple can point to them doing exactly that on Android to avoid paying Google Pay fees. They abandoned the plan about a year later because consumers didn't want to use it.


To be fair, if Epic does this I won't want to use it (just like with their desktop client).


> They abandoned the plan about a year later because consumers didn't want to use it.

Due to high friction caused by android treating third party stores (and the apps instalkled through them) differently to the google play store - which will most definitely be an upcoming complaint...


I hope Apple are forced to allow this


I don't.

I really don't want to troubleshoot my parents iPhones after they install arbitrary code from the Alternative App Store #12 after clicking on a banner ad run by an anonymous chinese entity. Holy shit.


Then your parents can still use Apple's app store in such a world and pay a premium. In fact, in such a world your parent's would probably benefit too, because Apple would actually face competition and would reduce their 30% to a more reasonable level.


Apple builds trust in the iPhone by curating apps that are allowed to be installed on it. When I buy an iPhone for my family I _trust_ that Apple is doing the right thing and will prevent its users from harm. I wouldn't have that same level of trust if it was easy to just add alternate App Stores on the device.


Apple curates and still bad actor apps make it onto the app store. It's not like Apple has a 100% pure record here. There is also no reason to think that Apple is the only company in the world capable of carrying out curation. If Epic Games, had their own app store I doubt they would want to allow apps on their app store that violated their users' privacy and other malicious activities just as much as Apple. Maybe you personally would never feel comfortable trusting Epic Games, but why should others even be denied the option?


They’re not, they can use Android. If you buy an iPhone, this is an implicit choice you make.


Apple owns the majority of the US mobile market, so as a US consumer I could choose to go with Android, but then I won't be a part of the blue bubble crowd with all my friends. Also, Google has much the same policies with the Google Play store, so there really isn't a choice. It's a duopoly of bad implicit choices. Apple is able to charge 30%, because they can exploit their market position.


> Apple owns the majority of the US mobile market

Apple's US market share is ~46%, so technically not a majority.

EDIT: no longer true as of July 2020


iOS holds >58% of the US mobile market as of July 2020.

https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/united-sta...


I stand corrected!


lmao, you sound like Apple's PR team...


The alternative here isn't keeping things the way they are, it is giving way to the proliferation of the freedom to innovate on other platforms due to lack of regulation. And in the current setting that means eventually you'll be troubleshooting your parents' Chinese phones.


The app store is already a wasteland. Having multiple stores will be an absolute nightmare.


If you are in control of your parent's device, then you could just set an admin password and not allow other app stores to be utilized.

Or, you should tell your parents to not have a phone, then you will never be on the hook for tech support at all if that is really your concern.

And I love the implied ageism and xenophobia in your post too.


What a self-serving reason...


why? so epic can make more money? they don't care about you ... they just want more money


It's not about Epic or any single company. It is really about consumers. Allowing multiple app store choices on mobile devices would lead to competition and really highlight the fact that 30% is far too much to be asking as a tax for the app store.


You say that but google has literally proven that to not be true.


2 things here:

1) Amazon has been running there own app store successfully and that has worked out well enough for them that they continue to do so and a lot of Kindle Fire owners seem to enjoy that experience.

2) Few companies are Amazon though and the ability to operate 3rd party software outside of the purview of Google's own store is severely hamstrung for most others. This has also been called out by Epic Games previously.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/21/21229943/epic-games-fortn...

Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.

So even Google may eventually face legal issues regarding their anti-competitive app store practices. If big tech is forced to legitimately compete with other app stores, then continuing to charge a 30% fee will become untenable.


No, they haven't. Android usually permits software beyond the Google Play store but this is deliberately an obscure and deeply second-rate option. Android does what it can to steer users away.


Epic literally tried to only have Fortnite available via direct apk/themselves. It did not go well.


That actually isn't true. Tim Sweeny has majority control and does care. For him this is ideological.


umm Tim Sweeny? you mean the first person to do store exclusives in PC gaming?


Store exclusives have been a thing since forever.


It's funny cause that is literally how steam started too.


where on PC?


Some quick examples:

- Blizzard games are exclusive to their store since forever

- EA's Origin has exclusives since they exist (or at least since 2011, not sure if that's from the beginning)

- Valve's games are Steam exclusives

Epic has time-exclusives, offering a very good deal to game makers, and is a quite good way to compete with Steam. If you're not happy with their store, just wait a year and you may buy the games you want on other platforms if the developers decide to do so.


Those are all examples of companies creating their own store so they can sell their products directly wihout paying someone else. This would be equivalent to Epic requiring to you to use their store to play Fortnite. I think that is shitty behavior but as you said, has become standard.

What Epic is doing, and the main reason they are being critisized, is approaching smaller developers and bribing them to not sell on other stores even if, in many cases, they had already promised their customers to sell on their stores. That is a wholly different level of scumbaggery.


There is no bribing here. They offer a better deal to developers than the competition is willing to do. And they have exclusives limited in time, the games aren’t blocked forever on their platform. That’s a good thing for developers, making and selling games is a bad business for a lot of people, Epic is offering very good terms, in exchange for a 6 months to 1 year exclusivity.

I personally see it as very good on the long term, that’s how you compete with a monopoly like Steam. That means more cash invested in making games, more options for developers, more options for users.


That'd be Blizzard without even googling if there was a steam exclusive


As an indie developer, entering into the Apple ecosystem really isn’t economically worth it considering the risk of total annihilation on top of the huge chunk of revenue you lose. An open ecosystem would change that calculus significantly.


Exactly we want them to have more money. That is the reason. We just love fortnight so much that epic receiving more money is our greatest dream.


> they just want more money

They charge $10 for 1000 credits when purchasing via Apple.

They charge $7 for 1000 credits when paying Epic directly.

They aren't making more money with the change. Although there's nothing stopping them from increasing the price in the future.


I think it is $10 via apple, $8 via Epic. They're gaining an extra $1 on direct purchase, but that isn't really the point of this.


I mean, they already have the infrastructure on PC, and third party app stores exist on Android already (most notably Amazon's).


> Epic is not bringing this case to recover these damages; Epic is not seeking any monetary damages.

Well, that's interesting.

> But for Apple’s illegal restraints, Epic would provide a competing app store on iOS devices, which would allow iOS users to download apps in an innovative, curated store and would provide users the choice to use Epic’s or another third-party’s in-app payment processing tool

So, Epic doesn't want money, they want the ability to allow users to install an Epic App Store. They must assume there's a lot more money to be made by operating a competing store.


Exactly this. At the end of the day, Epic is a publisher. If studios can go directly to the platform they are no longer the gatekeeper and stand to lose money.

Epic wants your choice to be Apple store for non-games, and Epic store for games. Period.


It's not necessarily about making more money, it's about creating persistent returns. Making games is difficult, expensive, and risky. No company can just decide to create a franchise that will be successful indefinitely.

Fortnite was a stroke of luck, the wise thing to do is not to invest that money back into the franchise, which may soon be tossed aside by the audience, nor would it be wise to undertake a massive new project.

Valve figured out a long time ago that it's much better business to just sit back and let other people make games while you rake in the cash with zero risk. Epic is in a unique position to maybe pull that off as well.


And have their slice of the cake, which makes a lot of sense.


A little "speculative execution" here by Epic.

They anticipated Apple's action would be to ban them, and they prepared a lawsuit and PR campaign in anticipation.


They absolutely baited Apple to do this, I'm actually glad they did it. It's time someone takes a stand. I think this will be more significant than people think. Remember it was Netscape that helped bring about Microsoft's anti-trust.


It's kinda hypocritical since Epic has a very similar business model for anything that's built using the Unreal Engine.


Unreal Engine costs less and it's not mandatory to use it in order to make games.


For those reading along, Unreal Engine fees is 5% after the first million.


Or 0% on sales through EGS.


I assume both Epic and Apple are playing chess here. Apple must have anticipated incoming lawsuits as they cracked down on external transactions in gaming. It will be very interesting to see where the courts land, but it sure seems like Epic and similar have the upper hand on the PR battle.


Apple only really had two actions, both bad for Epic. They probably prepared responses and PR campaigns against both.


they did the same thing with that manufactured dust-up between Improbable and Unity in January last year. Improbable intentionally violated Unity's terms, Unity scrapped their contract, Improbable intentionally engineered confusion among its users, Epic came out with a signed contract with Improbable and an agreement to the tune of $25m like an hour or two later. Tim Sweeney the whole time was tweeting about how big and mean Unity is. I just don't believe his act at all.




Epic appears to have retained Cravath's antitrust team; e.g. https://www.cravath.com/cvarney/, who "is the only person to have served as both the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust and as a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission."


Going after Apple for antitrust violations has a big hill to climb in the form of the Google Play Store.

More than that, a ruling against Apple here would have huge implications for any company running an app store on their device. Smart TV manufacturers, companies like Roku, Automobile manufacturers, etc... If you can be considered a monopolist because you control your platform then there will be a LOT of monopolies out there.

I'm not expecting Epic to get any real traction on this suit. The best they can hope for is Apple working out some system where they'll reduce their cut in certain circumstances, but given how unlikely this case is to go anywhere I don't think Apple is feeling any pressure.


>form of the Google Play Store.

You can get Android apps from many locations other than the Google Play Store.


Android does not prevent you from side-loading applications from other stores either.


> Smart TV manufacturers, companies like Roku, Automobile manufacturers, etc...

It’s more than just the Google Play Store.


Good. Force them too open up as well.


What I'd like to happen and what the law supports aren't always in sync.


This is going to be such a nightmare.


I don't see how the Google Play Store is a good comparison, as you can trivially install a 3rd-party app store on an unrooted, stock Android device, and you can install things without even going through an app store.

But I agree that this suit probably isn't going anywhere, at least not to the extent that some commenters here are hoping. This will likely end with a slap on the wrist and/or some very small concessions to Epic.


Epic side-loaded Fortnite for a while, then gave up on it in frustration. Android's side-loading was never meant for anyone but technical users like developers.

Google Play Services are also not necessarily available without going through the play store, so you lose access to a lot of functionality that people often consider part of the system (like Chromecast).


So is the “platform” the whole device or the store?


I have both the Humble Bundle store and F-Droid installed on my Android devices. While their UI is inferior to the Play store and granting them permission to install isn't enabled by default like it is for the Play Store, they exist and work just fine.


Not for developers or customers.


>Not for developers or customers.

I am both of the above and F-Droid works just fine for me. Feel free to let me know how it doesn't in your opinion work for me if you really want to talk for others.


What is F-Droids developer revenues?

Is it close to the tens of billions Apple Pay’s iOS developers each year?


I think there's a difficult, fine line to walk here. For the average, unsophisticated user, requiring them to jump through hoops and enable scary-sounding options in order to install any random software they find off the internet is probably a good thing. But it does mean that for software that's safe, it's hard(impossible?) for developers to give a potential customer a good install experience outside the Play Store.

I think probably the solution to that would be for Google to allow developers to list alternative app stores on the Play Store. Maybe that should require a strong review process that involves actual humans getting to know each other, and extra fees to cover it, I don't know. But a company large enough to have a need for their own app store should have the resources for that. That might leave out groups like F-Droid, though, so hopefully there'd be a way to get them in there too.


>If you can be considered a monopolist because you control your platform then there will be a LOT of monopolies out there.

I think there's a fairly trivial distinction to be drawn between a general purpose computing device and a utility like a fridge or a car. (something like, is the system aided by software to operate, vs is the system a platform for executing user-software)

For something like a game console it might actually be an interesting edge case but it doesn't seem difficult to draw an approximate line.


>I think there's a fairly trivial distinction

... What's the difference between my Roku TV & my iPhone? My Roku can clearly do some general purpose computing. So is it trivially a general purpose computing device or trivially not a general purpose computing device? Let's follow your workflow.

>is the system aided by software to operate, vs is the system a platform for executing user-software

Hm, I think my Roku is a TV, and so someone would expect to be able to use it without additional software. Indeed, it has about 8 ports on the side I can plug game consoles & cable boxes into. Therefore the system is aided by software to operate. Therefore it is trivially not a general purpose computing device.

Now, what about my iPhone? My iPhone has phone in the name. One would expect to be able to make a phone call without additional software. That is indeed the case. Looks like my phone is trivially not a general purpose computing device.


I agree that the Roku is arguably not a general purpose device but I don't really see the point about the phone unless you're trying to be intentionally facetious. Of course if you were only using the smartphone like a 50 year old analog phone yes you can make the case that it's actually not a general purpose device, however today virtually the entirely value (and usertime spent) on a phone is in countless of end-user applications it runs. (and that is what proposed regulation would address when it comes to platform obligations).

If I had to guess a sizeable number of people doesn't even do calls any more.


I'm trying to be intentionally facetious in some sense, because it was claimed to be "trivial" to distinguish "general purpose compute" from not.

Additionally, your argument doesn't really hold water - my Roku TV's value is also almost entirely in end-user applications it runs, like Netflix & other streaming services. My point is that I really don't think distinguishing these two in a legal sense is going to be so easy as posters in this thread are claiming.


Not really. If it’s my damn fridge, and it comes with an OS, I’d like to install whatever software I want on it, not just buy overpriced crap through the manufacturers insolence-store.


1. Only because Google might also engages in anti-competitive practices doesn't mean that Apple is allowed to. All such behaviour needs to be curbed.

2. Anyone can install any 3rd party app on an Android device, there's even a open app store "F-Droid" for open apps that anyone can use.

3. You can still run an app store. You just have to allow other ways to install apps. That way your store would be used only if it's better than the other ways to install apps.


I look forward to being able to sue Epic for not allowing me to sell my own custom skins in fortnite.


This isn't about not being able to sell something, it's about forcing them to use Apple's payment system. It's more like if you had a store in a mall and the mall said people could only pay using "Mall Pay" and would kick you out if you took direct payment. Some farmers markets actually do this though with tokens...


I mean the payment system is super superficial here.

wish granted Apple let’s you use your own payment processing! But you still have to sign a contract with them to turn over 30% revenue of all sales made on their devices.


Fortnite isn't a computer on which a majority of Americans accesses their news and other content.


Neither is the iPhone.


With 60%+ market share in US and majority of market profit... it sure is.

Remember how Apple was happy to say they "earned 120% (sic) profit of all mobile" just a year ago?


Not sure where you are pulling this 60% number from, but last quarter iOS had 46% market share in the US. Additionally, you ignore non-smartphone systems as sources of news and content, where Apple has an even smaller market share.


47% is a mighty big number (although not a majority)

Samsung, second place, is 23%

[0] https://bgr.com/2020/08/12/iphone-11-sales-coronavirus-pande...


Apple is gatekeeping a market of their own design. I am going to try to construct (probably a poor) analogy.

It is as if Apple started a town and a bunch of people moved in establishing a new market. The only way to deliver goods to this market is via the railway Apple established. The catch, you pay Apple 30% of the revenue generated for access to this market via the railway. If you try to establish a highway system, build an airport, perform airdrops, or some other means of delivering goods and services to this market, you are no longer allowed to use the train. IMO, Apple should be able to refuse transport of anything they wish for any reason they wish.

If this was a real scenario, what was allowed in this market would be controlled by the people who make up that market. There would be some governance and laws established for fair trade practices. I would think it is up to the people to establish these alternate delivery methods, in this case, jailbreaking their iphones and installing whatever they wanted.


Don't forget jailbreakers have been prosecuted in the past.


That is a fair point, but I believe current law (in the US) still protects iPhone owners who jailbreak their phones.


That's weird, I went to the Google Play store but it didn't allow me to install an app on my iPhone at all. Why on earth would you think these two are somehow in competition.


You had the choice to buy into apples walled garden. You could have chosen an Android phone if the app store was problematic for you. Their products are very competitive.


Apple is about to get bitten hard for being a monopoly.

I hope the government considers the harshest punishment of all: splitting up Apple into hardware and software+services entities.

This is absurd that Apple has built a fiefdom on America's most popular generic computer device. It's a threat to freedom! We can only compute what the overlords allow and can tax? What a crock!

The fact that Apple thinks they can extort more protection money from developers than the government does in taxes is an affront. But the freedom aspect should have everyone out with their pitchforks.

This after Apple created an environment where its users, many of whom have lots of disposable income for buying goods and services, expect apps to be $0.99 and come with free updates for life. Meanwhile Apple's own products are luxury priced. And they still take 30%.

US Government, please force Apple to open up iPhone to any software we want to install. It's a generic computer. It's how we communicate, do banking, do basic shopping, dating, business ... everything. Apple can't be the gatekeepers of 21st century life. It's incredibly damaging to our ability to innovate and succeed as small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Apple, you are the tyrant king. Long have we suffered under your rule. We won't stand for it any longer and we demand our freedom.


As must be repeated in every thread on antitrust:

Antitrust law is about much more than just monopoly. Apple doesn't have one, nor do they need one to be prosecuted for anticompetitive behavior and abuse of market position. If you're not familiar with the difference between the Sherman Act and the Clayton Act, this is a good primer: https://www.britannica.com/event/Clayton-Antitrust-Act

Apple is about to get bitten hard, not for being a monopoly, but for anticompetitive business practices.


Half-true. (Source: worked at a big 4 consulting firm >a decade ago for a few projects involving significant antitrust problems in the tech industry.)

You need to have some significant market power (yes, vague) such that your elasticity of demand is steep and elasticity of supply of competitors is steep.

The law is (purposefully?) vague, as the key arguments come down to:

1) Market definition

2) Definition and analysis of price impacts on demand

3) Ease of entry into the market by competitors

Textbook example: Bing promoting Microsoft products when it was created (2009?) is not as problematic (read: won't get scrutinized by the US government) as Google promoting G Suite products.


You need to have some significant market power (yes, vague) such that your elasticity of demand is steep and elasticity of supply of competitors is steep.

That is not a requirement for antitrust law. That is just some silly threshold the Justice Department set for itself so that it wouldn't have to do its job.

Until the [EDIT: Clinton] administration, businesses were successfully charged with antitrust violations even though in many cases they were minor market participants on the basis of their actions resulting in anti-competitive effects. (Usually as a result of price-fixing agreements between smaller participants.) After the Microsoft case, the DOJ decided to bring "economic analysis" into the mix to "improve" their antitrust practice, and it resulted in the DOJ not pursuing any meaningful antitrust cases at all, on the grounds that basically everything was kosher if you looked at it from a sufficiently macroeconomic perspective. (This also overlapped with the Dubya administration, and there was strong political pressure not to go after American companies.)

Interestingly enough, Apple was the last major antitrust case that the DOJ successfully pursued. (That case involved Apple arranging a price-fixing arrangement for ebooks.)


In the filing Epic tries to define an "iOS App Distribution Market" and an "iOS In-App Payment Processing Market". The suit will probably turn on whether the court accepts those definitions or not.


Epic attempts to argue that the "iOS App Distribution Market" is a separate market from the overall app market, but if you look at their arguments, they apply equally to the video game market.

- Games are platform specific, games developed for Xbox cannot substitute for games designed for Nintendo.

- Users face substantial switching costs when switching platforms. They have to buy a new console and then replace all their games.

- Each company controls the distribution of games on their respective platform.

When you look at video games are they three separate markets of "games for Xbox", "games for Playstation", and "games for Nintendo"? Or are they three separate competitors competing in the global market of "video games" despite the above constraints?

I think Epic is going to have a difficult time convincing a court with this argument.


The relationship between game and console makers, and the one between console makers is very different than one between app makers and Google/Apple.

Game studios and console manufacturers have historically negotiated on relatively equal footing. It's as important to console makers that game studios make games as it is for game studios to have access. So studios are courted and get a relatively fair shake. Apple/Google don't care if you don't make an app for their system. They're not giving any discounts or incentives to app makers.

Console makers also are in a more competitive market. There were usually three makers plus near competitors like PC, web, and arcade gaming. Plus, not owning a console was an option.

On the other hand Apple/Google barely compete with each other. Pretty much everyone is going to buy a smart phone and they're the two options. They're a cushy duopoly with no incentive to rock the boat.


Be that as it may, it's not really relevant to the question of whether Apple requiring apps to be distributed by their own App Store constitutes an antitrust violation.


By their very nature, monopolies emerge in new and unexpected ways. They shouldn't have to fit an outdated definition to be fixed. Digital has changed everything, as the market capitalisation of Big Tech shows.


That isn’t how competition law works.

From your own link:

>the Clayton Act defined as illegal certain business practices that are conducive to the formation of monopolies or that result from them.

Apple doesn’t have a monopoly so the latter does not apply. Are you legitimately suggesting that Apple’s behavior is conducive toward the creation of a monopoly?? I would really like to hear some legal arguments that support this position. Apple’s market is shrinking, not growing. It will be a supremely tough court battle to prove that Apple’s behavior will lead to market consolidation in Apple’s favor.


Surely buying apps on an iPhone is already a totally consolidated market.

It's so tightly controlled that it's literally impossible for there to be any competitor iPhone app stores that consumers could move to.

And not only that, but Apple is also stopping the implementation of browser features (WebPush, Service Workers, etc) that would appear to allow browser apps to compete with those downloaded from the App Store [0].

[0] https://twitter.com/HenrikJoreteg/status/1071611165946470400


Apple having control of their own platform is only anticompetitive if they already have a monopoly or if having control is likely to achieve a monopoly. Apple owns less than 20% of the worldwide smartphone market, and its shrinking. So, both requirements are missing.

If you don’t like Apple, do you have alternative options? Yes. Unequivocally, yes.

If there is a monopoly in the smartphone market, it’s Google.


The Clayton Act is just part of US antitrust legislation. It originally targeted monopolies. It has has been amended many times since then to extend beyond monopolistic business activities to encompass all manner of anticompetitive business activities.

Due to historical naming conventions, the modified legislation is still referred to by its original name.


I understand, but competition law in the US is based on companies who have a monopoly or companies who are likely to achieve a monopoly through their behavior.


Apple can just point to mobile Safari. There is nothing stopping you from building whatever you want on the web these days.


They can try, but since it's not really possible to build Fortnite and make it run efficiently on mobile safari, I doubt they'll get very far.

Section III is the missing piece of the legal puzzle for me. I have in the past been convinced that the presence of Android is sufficient to prevent a lawsuit like this from succeeding against Apple. But now I'm not so sure.

III. Competition in the Sale of Mobile Devices Cannot Discipline Apple’s Conduct in the iOS App Distribution or iOS In-App Payment Processing Markets. 156. Competition in the sale of mobile devices cannot constrain Apple’s anti-competitive conduct described in Parts I and II. 157. First, Apple’s power in the relevant markets described above is not disciplined by competition in the sale of mobile devices because Apple mobile device customers face significant switching costs and customer lock-in to Apple’s iOS ecosystem.

How many news articles have we seen about the power of iMessage to keep people in the Apple ecosystem? It's gonna be hard for Apple to argue that they don't try to engender consumer lock in given their plain reluctance to interoperate and all the news articles talking about how strong this effect is.

I think Epic has a chance here. Certainly it's a gamble I'd love to see them win. IANAL.


I can list a ton of APIs that are available to native iPhone apps that aren't available to apps via Safari. Push notifications being the most notable, in part because they are purposely not supporting an open standard.


> I can list a ton of APIs that are available to native iPhone apps that aren't available to apps via Safari.

And thank God for that! I don't want websites in Safari to have the APIs available to a native app!


You would be asked to give permission to these APIs, just like you do in a normal web browser.


Me neither! That's why we need 3rd party app stores.


> Me neither! That's why we need 3rd party app stores.

Nope, not at all. You want 3rd party app stores because:

1) you don't believe Apple's walled garden is worth a 30% cut

2) you dislike Apple's lack of transparency in their app review procedures

3) you're unable to sideload an app onto your "customer's" devices

One or more of those are why you "need" third party app stores. And, I think you've got a valid argument for any of them. But none of those have anything to do with what APIs are available to websites in Safari.


Yeah, forcing you to buy apps in Apple's walled garden. Such an uninformed take.


You can't build a messenger in Safari that pings when someone is sending you a message. Actually, you wouldn't be able to do that even with app side loading, because Apple does not allow apps to work in background and must rely on push notifications to wake up from sleep.

If Apple is forced to allow third-party stores, it should also be forced to allow third-party push notifications.


> Apple does not allow apps to work in background and must rely on push notifications to wake up from sleep

Apple does not allow non-Apple apps...

There are a multitude of cases where Apple apps have different rules, access to different APIs than you or I.

The "correctness" of this (morally/ethically/legally) is a separate debate I'm not entering into, but there is a distinction.


And what other arbitrary features should Apple be "forced" to build.

Especially ones like push notifications which in many cases are harmful to consumers.


It should be up to device owners, not Apple to decide what services can send push notifications to device. On macOS, you can run a background service that listens to whatever the user needs. But on iOS, Apple behaves like it owns the device even after sale. This is not acceptable.


It sounds more like removing restrictions than ADDING features. Push notifications already exist but with arbitrary restrictions. They don't have to "build" anything.


iOS push notifications from developers all go to Apple first, as the phones only maintain a connection to Apple.

Every push notification goes through Apple servers only.

They’d have to build a feature into iOS to allow it to maintain persistent connections to other notification services.


I'd much rather get my push notifications from Facebook Messenger through mobile Safari than be forced to install the full iOS app.


You totally can do that with private APIs, the issue now is that it won't got through review.

The larger issue though is that Apple will probably break those apps frequently as private API has no guarantees.


If you tried developing a PWA with mobile Safari support, and then reexamined this comment, I think you would quickly realize how ridiculous this sounds.


Safari is the new IE6, and it's hamstringing the web on purpose, just like MS did back in the day.


Great analogy. I always get annoyed when I end up on caniuse and Safari sticks out like a sore thumb, along with Opera Mini (lol).


Yes Mobile Safari, where it is the -only- browser that is considered on iOS.

"The WebRTC APIs have not yet been exposed to iOS browsers using WKWebView . In practice, this means that your web-based WebRTC application will only work in Safari on iOS, and not in any other browser the user may have installed (Chrome, for example), nor in an 'in-app' version of Safari.Sep 7, 2018"

Im sure there are more examples.


Apple's restriction of access to device capabilities/sensors through web "apps" would likely be arguable as a restriction designed to prevent this, and force you into entering their burdensome and anti-competitive marketplace with fixed 30% fee.


As a PWA developer I can only laugh at this comment.


Apple has a history of very late adoption up to complete dismissal of web standards such as Web Bluetooth to prevent just that.


Even there, they limit PWAs and do not allow competitors to use their own engines.


Maybe their shitty and outdated implementation of standards is what is holding them back. Maybe just use another browser though right...


Except that Apple themselves choose to not support the necessary APIs in Safari that would make PWAs feasible.


Give me PWA notifications and I'd be more apt to agree with you.


>>There is nothing stopping you from building whatever you want on the web these days.

ummm Safari stops you given it is a terrible browser, and is non-compatible with many modern features


> US Government, please force Apple to open up iPhone to any software we want to install. It's a generic computer.

You have bazillion types of generic computers to choose from. People pay huge overhead to apple exactly because apple makes choices for them - regarding what settings are reasonable to have, what software they want you to use etc.

Personally I don't understand monopoly arguments. If we are talking about some ISP, something like Nestle or even social network/apps, I can somewhat understand it. But here? Users are people who bought Apple hardware to use it based on rules set up by Apple.

I'm not much fan of Apple, I sincerely want to understand the monopoly argument. It seems to me as if people would want to split BMW because .. I don't know we want to be able to install our own custom AC. Because maintenance of the stock one is too expensive.


> People pay huge overhead to apple exactly because apple makes choices for them...

That’s exactly why I use Apple products. I don’t have time to mess around with third party stores and risk security issues when I need an app that doesn’t want to be on the App Store. I’m ok with paying 30% more as a consumer for the simplicity and peace of mind.

This isn’t the consumers getting angry - it’s developers. That’s why this comment and other dissenting opinions always get downvoted on HN. Not saying devs don’t matter, but there is another side to this that people here don’t want to consider.


That’s exactly why I use Apple products. I don’t have time to mess around with third party stores and risk security issues when I need an app that doesn’t want to be on the App Store. I’m ok with paying 30% more as a consumer for the simplicity and peace of mind.

That's great. You should have that choice. But it should be a choice. The issue is that Apple block apps that tell users that there's a non-Apple tax alternative. They should not be able to do that. Removing apps that inform the customer about alternatives to in-app purchases is clearly anti-competitive. The screen that offers the alternative would have absolutely no impact on you or your choice. It would have a huge impact on people who are less able to afford the higher Apple in-app-tax-burdened price.


>That's great. You should have that choice. But it should be a choice.

The choice is Android - the platform used by some 80 percent of software users. I don't see the argument for regulatory actions, when consumers can (and do) easily choose to use other mobile platforms, if they don't like the terms of the iOS App Store.

If consumers want to be in the walled garden, great, they should be free to make that decision. If they don't want the walled garden, then great, they're free to pick other platforms. I don't see why the government should force this option upon consumers.

This situation isn't like Microsoft Windows in the 90s, where consumers effectively had no choice but to use Windows.


Consumers have the choice, but developers don't. Its been proven countless times over the years that Android users are much less likely to pay for applications than iOS users.

As a developer, if you want to survive and make money from your application, you need to be on iOS, as Android is worthless in this regard.

And so, Apple gets 30% of your in app purchase revenue, while providing little value other than being a payment processor, for which the normal charge is less than 2.5%.


>Consumers have the choice, but developers don't. Its been proven countless times over the years that Android users are much less likely to pay for applications than iOS users.

Why should it be Apple's problem that Google can't monetize their dominant market share?


It's not Google. It's me.

Apple values my blood sweat and tears at $0.99/user/lifetime - 30% Apple tax - government taxes.

I don't mean to compare it to a sweat shop, because I live in the first world and have opportunities, but this is a demeaning shakedown and devaluation of my pride, product, and work.

Apple:

1. Shifted where generic computing happens

2. Downplayed the web as the end-all, be-all of application delivery. (It could have been amazing with WASM and sandboxing back in the 00's!)

3. Prevents generic apps from gaining distribution outside of Apple's control and tax

They took advantage of open source, the web, and the Internet. Then they shit on it and offered up the App Store protection racket as salvation.

It's only one of several themes where the giants of today crush the little guy. Computing is less free today than it was a decade ago.

Before Apple I had reach and distribution. Now I have less than 50% of that. And I don't have liberty and control over my own narrative anymore.


Apple values my blood sweat and tears at $0.99/user/lifetime

While I oppose Apple's mandatory walled garden, this isn't their fault. The low price point is a signal that the mobile app market is oversaturated and that you should consider looking elsewhere for revenue.


I don't get that argument. You're saying developers don't have a choice because smartphone customers do have a choice. If you only care about customers who choose iPhone then shouldn't you respect the clear wishes of those customers and make software that is compatible with the rules of the platform they've chosen?


Couldn’t you make a similar argument against your employer, Playstation?

It seems like they charge the same 30% for roughly the same product — a locked platform to run applications where they take a cut of everything including micro-transactions?


And if this thread were about my employer and their policies, I may choose to weigh in on them also.

Saying that, console games are more often than not the size of a Blu-ray disc, with triple-A games exceeding 40-60Gb in size, sometimes larger. Some popular games come on multiple discs. An order of magnitude larger than the less than 100Mb size of most iOS and Android apps, which are downloadable over a mobile connection. The hosting, bandwidth, CDN, and sales costs for the digital versions of those games and their patches can't be cheap, and are often subject to flash traffic surges, particularly when million of players decide to download them (and their updates) the second they're released. This is to say nothing of the myriad of hosted services that are provided that are unique to consoles.

I don't know what business deals are in place, nor can I make a statement on the perceived value that the publishers who publish on consoles place on what's provided, however its worth noting that even before Fortnite was removed from the app stores, the target of Epic's complaint did not include Playstation, Xbox, or Nintendo.


Entirely fair, the comment was a bit of a snipe and for that I apologize.

There is definitely more of a "community" aspect around gaming, wherein everyone wants to get the midnight release or download the DLC the moment it is ready -- I can see how that creates technical differences in terms of the value console platforms may deliver to a developer.

I would be unkind, though, if I didn't say there does seem to be a rough equivalence. The value provided might be different, but we can clearly see the lines get more blurry with hybrid devices like the Nintendo Switch.

I would assume Epic is targeting Google and Apple because they have much higher gross margins on services (I think 60-70%, which is pretty normal for SaaS, vs around 30% for something like Xbox Live), plus the additional scrutiny mobile phones are under in general. Probably makes the case much easier. The cut does seem pretty hefty when considering most of that money is just going straight into profit margin. Irrespective, I wouldn't be surprised if decisions in the mobile realm find there way as precedent in other, similar cases.


Thanks, I appreciate that. And while I do see their offerings as vastly different in many ways, I do see the parallels you mention.

Speaking personally, and as as a lifelong gamer, I place great value in being able to play my games decades from now. I own collections of discs and cartridges, new and old, which I still enjoy from time to time and look forward to being able to share with my kids one day. I do worry that when the various digital storefronts phase out (as many have done), the hard disks which the DRM'd digital copies live on will eventually die, and the games will disappear forever.

It is somewhat comforting to me that the major consoles still have alternative avenues of publishing and distribution - that of the veritable disc and cartridge, which at least in my mind, helps alleviate many of the anti-competitive concerns. That developers can choose between consoles, publishers, retailers, etc, and that consumers can choose to resell, trade, or give away their games, like good old fashioned property - something which is becoming rarer and rarer these days.

This ecosystem (particularly the physical one) provides a level of competition that doesn't exist on phones, and so, at least in my mind, (and along with the differences I mention in my other post), presents a major difference between the business models.


> while providing little value other than being a payment processor, for which the normal charge is less than 2.5%.

Would you consider providing a large number of paying customers "of little value?"


No, of course not, but Apple is essentially triple dipping in this regard. Lets break down the costs.

1. A $100 annual developer subscription. It could be argued that this goes towards SDK development, developer tooling, and App Store publishing systems.

2. The 30% fee when selling your app. Similarly, it could be argued that this fee covers application hosting and distribution, as well as advertising, and I guess as a "general fee" for selling your app through the App Store.

3. 30% on all in-app purchases. Given that Apple has no part to play in this (the application was already advertised and distributed, no additional hosting fees as developers are responsible for implementing/unlocking whatever happens once the purchase goes through, etc), what does this cover other than payment processing, which is normally charged at 2.5%~?


If you are making money why are you complaining?

If you can’t make money on Android, how will you make money on iOS when the “monopoly” is broken?


Your argument is "When you choose a technology provider you must accept everything that they do without complaining" which is so obviously wrong it's actually hard to know where to start with formulating a response.

This situation isn't like Microsoft Windows in the 90s, where consumers effectively had no choice but to use Windows.

There was an alternative then though - MacOS. And a lot of people defended Microsoft on the basis that they couldn't possibly have a monopoly because you could always buy an Apple computer instead, just as you're arguing that people can switch to Android now. It was a bullshit argument back then too. No one should have to accept that Apple intentionally hides useful information (like alternative ways to buy things in apps) by blocking apps from the app store in the name of their own profit.


>Your argument is "When you choose a technology provider you must accept everything that they do without complaining" which is so obviously wrong it's actually hard to know where to start with formulating a response.

That may be how you've decided to interpret it, but, no, that's not my argument.

>There was an alternative then though - MacOS. And a lot of people defended Microsoft on the basis that they couldn't possibly have a monopoly because you could always buy an Apple computer instead, just as you're arguing that people can switch to Android now

Macintosh computers were only accessible for consumers that were willing to spend an astronomical amount of money on computers. Unless you were loaded with cash, the typical consumer had no choice but to buy from Microsoft if they wanted a PC. That is not the case with smartphones. I'm sure you can go find a very capable Android phone for $50, if you wish. Ultimately nobody has been in a position where they've been forced to purchase an iOS device in order to access a smartphone


Yes the choice is not to buy Apple, there are plenty of android phones which are just as good spec wise and cheaper.

Also pleas don’t make this about “poor people” the devs might make less money but the consumer pays the same price other than for the devices themselves which while well worth the money since they are per year cheaper than android devices that lose support faster than the next model comes out are still luxury items.

The screen that offers an alternative which I assume is the same “allow apps to be loaded form untrusted sources” as android has, would definitely have an impact on me as it would undermine the security model of the device I’m using.


The thing is, if Apple alienates developers enough/makes them go bankrupt, the only applications you will be able to use would be the first party Apple ones. That won't be a very enjoyable thing, would be?

That's the entire problem. If a shopping mall was charging every store 30% of their revenue (not profit, revenue!), it would be very quickly going broke and empty. Yet Apple (and to a lesser degree Google, Facebook and a few others) is getting away with this - exactly because unlike the shopping mall, the developers don't have a choice. It is either play by Apple rules - or be excluded from a very sizeable part of the mobile market.

When Microsoft was playing dirty and abusing its market dominance to put a squeeze on companies trying to ship other than Microsoft's software, they got hammered in court pretty bad. The anti-monopoly/abuse of dominant market position laws are there for a reason, even if you, as a consumer, don't see it (yet).


>That's the entire problem. If a shopping mall was charging every store 30% of their revenue (not profit, revenue!), it would be very quickly going broke and empty.

If the same were true for Apple, they would reduce the 30% fee to reverse the trend. The fact that the app ecosystem continues to be rich is a signal that either:

1) most developers are ok with this price to access Apple's "marketplace" of users, and/or

2) developers are irrational - you could always instead focus on Google's platform, which has more users.

Revenue or profits is not a good indicator of market share at all, as then parent's BMW argument comes into play: just because you want BMW over Honda, because the owners of the former have more disposable income, does not make BMW a monopoly.

>When Microsoft was playing dirty and abusing its market dominance...

Microsoft's market dominance at the time is MULTIPLES higher than what Apple owns of the mobile OS market.


You're discussing mobile apps as if they exist in a robust free market, but it's actually a platform duopoly covering a nearly essential service. As long as Google doesn't decide to compete on price there is very little incentive for Apple to lower prices.

> The fact that the app ecosystem continues to be rich is a signal that either

How do you know it couldn't be vastly better? I know I would be extremely hesitant to develop an iPhone app given Apple's behavior, and would bet many others feel the same.


The whole point of antitrust law is that the normal mechanisms of the free market cannot correct the situation in whole or in part as a result of the anti-competitive activities.


> The thing is, if Apple alienates developers enough/makes them go bankrupt, the only applications you will be able to use would be the first party Apple ones. That won't be a very enjoyable thing, would be?

I doubt this is a popular opinion, but I'd rather use an iPhone right now with no third-party apps than an Android phone. I do use a few third-party apps on my iPhone, and I would miss them, but it wouldn't be enough to switch to Android.

> If a shopping mall was charging every store 30% of their revenue (not profit, revenue!), it would be very quickly going broke and empty. Yet Apple (and to a lesser degree Google, Facebook and a few others) is getting away with this - exactly because unlike the shopping mall, the developers don't have a choice. It is either play by Apple rules - or be excluded from a very sizeable part of the mobile market.

Would your opinion change if this shopping mall was one of many shopping areas in a large region, but its customers were vastly more likely to spend money, while the other shopping areas attracted mostly customers who walked around but didn't purchase much? Isn't that the analogy with Android, which is a very obvious alternative for both smartphone customers and developers? The only rebuttal I'm seeing is from developers complaining that Android users don't like to spend money on apps.


If that shiny cool mall makes your business unviable, either because they charge extortionist fees or because they impose so many restrictions that you can't make the ends meet (or simply ban you outright because you compete with something they want to get into), then it is completely irrelevant that the customers that come to shop there are rich and willing to spend money. You are still going bankrupt.

And we are getting to this point. The amount of BS an app developer on the Apple platform has to jump through to do anything is beyond ridiculous (yes, I did try to develop for iDevices professionally) - and that is before even this stuff with the 30% transaction cuts.

The time when those $10-$20/apiece apps could actually pay your salary is long past unless you happen to be the one of the very few that has hit a jackpot with an extremely popular app. But Apple keeps piling up new requirements, restrictions and overhead on developers, jacking up various fees - and if you don't like it, they just ban you outright.

At some point people decide they had enough and cut their loses. There are better and easier ways to make money than with iPhone app development.


> If a shopping mall was charging every store 30% of their revenue (not profit, revenue!)

In software sold on an app store, gross margin (before the app store's cut) is a lot closer to revenue than for physical goods sold in a physical store. There are no distribution costs or costs of goods borne by the vendor.


And that is relevant exactly how?

The app cost has to cover the development and maintenance costs, marketing, any overhead and expenses (like bills, electricity, those expensive Apple computers), etc.

That's the majority of your costs, not some imaginary distribution costs that you don't have because you aren't shipping a physical box. Oh and taxes too, which come out of the revenue too. And if I remember right, you are taxed on the value of the sold goods, before the 30% Apple cut (so you pay tax from that too, even though you never see the money).


I try to use first party apps because they’re usually better. When I can, I stick to the browser app - which doesn’t have a 30%/15% commission. If I can’t AND I need to pay, I’ll pay 30%/15% extra if I need to.


The thing is, you're not paying 30%/15% extra - if I recall correctly, that is against the terms of the App Store. Developers/companies can't charge a markup to make up for the bit Apple skims off the top - so instead of, say, Spotify getting all of my $10 from an IAP Premium subscription, they get $7. If I sign up for their premium service on their website, however, they get all $10.


That basically just means that non Apple users are subsidizing the cost of Apple users, just like cash users are subsidizing credit card users [0].

[0] http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/08/28/how-credit-...


Not true, for instance YouTube Premium charges more for subscriptions through the App Store than if you subscribe on YouTube.com


YouTube has negotiated a deal that allows this, as did Amazon Video and a few others. Only huge companies can do this, which further makes the argument that what Apple is doing is abusive.


This is not true. There is no rule that states you must offer the same price when signing up if your service is multi platform. The rules only state you can’t discourage In-App purchase. I use several services where I signed up on the website because it was substantially cheaper than in-app.


3) There's no choice to target iOS user.


I wish I could give comments gold on HN.

My phone is the center of my life, and I genuinely appreciate that Apple does the work of vetting applications so I don't have to.


Evidently customers DO care. Or are you suggesting that the bulk of those customers paid $9.99 for the same items that they could have paid $7.99 for - inside the same app - just to thank Apple for their 'peace of mind'??

Epic gave the customer a choice. If the evidence doesn't show that the majority of customers still chose the $9.99 option, that's certainly bolstering their claim that Apple's decision to remove the ability to do so is harmful to consumers, not (just) developers.


That's the really, deeply cynical part of all this - in a world where Epic could use their own payment processing without Apple taking a cut, all their customers would be paying the full $9.99, not $7.99. It doesn't require much of a crystal ball at all to realize this, because it was the reality right up until the very instant that Epic Games needed to push the idea that Apple's cut was actually costing consumers money rather than them as part of this lawsuit and PR campaign. $9.99 everywhere, on PC direct from Epic, on consoles (which take a similar cut), Android, iOS, everywhere. The extra went straight into Epic Games' pockets.


Certainly. But I don't think there's anything inherently immoral to that. Market value of item is X - that's what the customer will be paying. There's more value, theoretically, to the customer, in paying that to the producer directly - more income for them, more incentive to continue producing or improving. Similar for the producer, more revenue.

No-one gains value out of rent-seeking middlemen but rent-seeking middlemen.

Note: I am not saying the Apple Store doesn't not add value in terms of payment processing, exposure, bandwidth, and so on. But I will argue strongly that you'll have a hard time showing that this added value is _worth_ that thirty percent cut. I also highly doubt that should it be three percent (as indeed it is on the MAS!), this lawsuit, these arguments, would not be being had.


Yes, but in this case Epic gave this decision to the customer. They could pay more and use Apple's payment rails. Apple killed it, which is what Epic needed to prove consumer harm.

This is going to be a very interesting case.


You seriously think Epic will magically cut down the price of their fake digital items by 30% once Apple gives them up? No, they're going to go straight into their pocket.


That's exactly what they did though[0]. They offered a 20% discount if you use the Epic payment system on iOS, and continued to offer items at the normal price through Apple's payment system. This is what got them kicked off of the app store.

0. https://www.epicgames.com/fortnite/en-US/news/the-fortnite-m...


I really have to marvel at how well planned this whole series of events is. This wasn't some knee jerk move by Epic, it is calculated and very well executed.


> 30% more

1/0.7 = 1.43

You're not paying 30% more, you're paying 43% more. Maybe you're fine with paying even more than that, but lets keep the math clear.


1/0.85 => 17% more. If we’re gonna nitpick, let’s not ignore that it’s 15% after a year.


I guess I don't quite get this argument. Allowing users to install a third-party app store on a device they purchased doesn't impact another user's ability to use Apple's walled garden exclusively. As a customer, it's frustrating because I have to choose between Google's crazy surveillance and Apple's authoritarian regime. I'd really like to just buy a device and then do what I want with it, because I bought it. For example, if Apple were to allow me to install the equivalent of F-Droid on iOS, I would feel pretty differently about them as a company.


I'm pretty unhappy as a consumer.


I actually left Android for Apple because I can't stomach Google's hoovering up the entire world's data, but honestly I've gotten to the point that at least Google is the devil you know. I can do things on Android et al to control how much data Google gets about me. I can do nothing about Apple controlling how I am allowed to use my insanely expensive device.

A few years ago it didn't matter so much. Apple's deal had its foibles, but recently they've gone full evil and I am seriously looking at my next device being Android and getting my entire family off Apple.

The problem is that will bring with it months of "did I lose something?" and having to keep both phones around. I have resisted for a long time, it is not an easy process.


A consumer can jailbreak their iPhone and install apps that way, or buy an Android phone. You have choices.


> A consumer can jailbreak their iPhone

Apple would prefer that you don't, and tries as hard as it possibly can to make this impossible.


> or buy an android


Lesser of two evils. If anything this lawsuit should be both at both, Apple and Google. Both cripple your devices and both dump you in their walled garden.

All applications should be universal as the same for game services like xbox live, psn and so.


> cripple your devices and both dump you in their walled garden

What? This certainly doesn’t cripple the devices, and I’m the one who purchased products I knew would only work with Apple. That’s consumer choice.


If a consumer does this they waive the right to all sorts of hardware warranties. Essentially, if they jailbreak their phone, Apple no longer recognizes it as an Apple Device so no, you don't effectively have a choice.


> or buy an android


Don't like third-party app stores? Don't use them.

It would be nice if you had that option, wouldn't it?


Can't the same argument just be applied to the phone itself, though? Don't like phones that don't allow third-party app stores? Don't use them. Buy android instead.


It could, but how do we as consumers benefit from allowing dominant vendors to tie completely unrelated aspects of functionality together? Security and utility are not terms in a zero-sum equation.


But you don't pay 30% more - if it was the case that devs were allowed to make the iOS in app purchases 30% more than the counterparts, that would be fine (well, not fine, but at least it would give the people options).

Apple has blocked stores from doing so in the past, demanding that the iOS price be the same as outside iOS, effectively taking 30% of developers revenue when bought through the app store.


And now they've taken that one step further and insist that if you accept payment anywhere outside of iOS, you are forced to accept payment on device as well, in order for Apple to get access to your market.

For things like games where you're buying "5 more rings" or a "hat for your virtual pet" ok fine -- but for something where you're offering a subscription service to physical therapists where their subscription buys them things in the real world, this is completely unreasonable.

We were forced to "include" this functionality in the app or Apple threatened to remove it, so we did and just made it impossible to find.


Woah, seriously? If this is true, that is truly anti-competitive. Apple would be basically trying to pass off the competitive disadvantage a 30% cut costs by passing it onto the developers.


Do you know any examples that app developer has entered into a deal with Apple to pay that 30% cut even for sales outside iOS or MacOS platforms?


No, but I don't understand the relevance, much less why a developer would do that (or why Apple would ask for it)?

Of course a developer could just raise prices elsewhere to make the cost equal to that on iOS if they raised the price to include Apple's 30% cut, but the problem would remain.


A developer might voluntarily request that to make the payment infrastructure simpler by making the payment routing equal for everyone.


nothing would stop you continueing to use apple's curated store just like many people choose to go to sanitized Blockbuster Video instead of sleazy corner video store. That didn't mean other stores needed to get prevented so that you could go to a store you trusted


It's against the Apple ToS to charge more on their app store.


I disagree. I like Apple products, own an iPhone and iPad, but I wish I could run any code on it because they are my devices. Having a streamlined experience overall shouldn’t prevent me from installing an emulator, and shouldn’t trap businesses into paying ridiculous fees. Im hesitating buying a Mac as my next computer because of their locked down attitude, which could spill to MacOS (already has to some degree).


> I wish I could run any code on it

But by extension that means any bad guy can run any unsigned code on it as well.

Look at the prevalence of Android malware to iOS. The latter basically doesn't exist outside of well funded nation states.


Unless Apple really screws up, that malware would have to be downloaded and installed by me. If I "flip a switch" and enable that option, that's on me. PCs have always been like this and no one bats an eye. I'd be willing to accept that risk; hey, Apple could make flipping that switch really freaking difficult if they wanted too, I wouldn't mind. Just as long as I have the option.


My girlfriend has an iPhone and an android phone. She is 29, she has accidentally installed malware from the play store, multiple times.

Anecdote yes, but the fact it happened in my house and more than once opened my eyes significantly to the problem.

My grandparents have no chance if my girlfriend gets got.

You and I live in a microcosm, most people on this site have a very finely tuned bullshit filter. Don’t assume everyone does, even the young.


even so, there's no reason a filtering of software for anti-malware purposes must be conflated with the private entity also arbitrarily deciding what software is and isn't allowed. they could do one without the other


What you said makes no sense whatsoever.

A platform that filters will remove things, unless your speaking from the pulpit of “the algorithm”.


yes but filtering malicious code and filtering by arbitrary criteria are not the same thing.


There are many tech illiterate people in this world, and many who would be easy prey to someone pulling a scam, getting them to flip that switch.


Life has risks - you could fall off a ladder and injure yourself, but we dont outlaw them because as a society we recognize that they are also useful tools.


> Life has risks - you could fall off a ladder and injure yourself

Great analogy actually. Ladders are dangerous, yes - but we don’t make them necessary to daily life and they’re certainly not something most people interact with


My answer to that is: what about PCs? Of course you're right, and I'm right too (I'd like to think ahah). This is freedom at the cost of security; this trade-off, as in real life, has no simple solution. I certainly don't pretend to have the answer here.


> Unless Apple really screws up, that malware would have to be downloaded and installed by me. If I "flip a switch" and enable that option, that's on me.

The fact that Apple does not have this attitude is why their products are better for customers than alternatives that do have this attitude. A customer isn't any happier with a malware-ridden device if it got that way because they were tricked into clicking a fake software update button.

> PCs have always been like this and no one bats an eye.

Yes, lots of people bat eyes. As a very on-the-nose examples, lots of people buy Macs, for instance, because of their reputation for having less malware (that might be outdated now, but was certainly true for a large portion of the last 20 years). Malware has been a major problem for customers on PCs and Android phones for a long time. The fact that the problem has existed for a long time doesn't mean it's not a big problem.


The fact that Apple does not have this attitude is why their products are better for customers than alternatives that do have this attitude.

Macs allow you to install software from anywhere. Which is bad and Apple should disallow it, right?


There is a long tradition of Mac customers expecting that ability, and Apple has explicitly said they recognize that desire in the market and is not removing the ability. That said, they have added some extra warnings and confirmation steps in order to run unsigned software, and some people have even complained about that.


Apple does an extremely poor job of software inspection - they have API limiters that are quite effective at shutting down a lot of the malicious-to-device software people might write but privacy concerns are impossible for them to cover. Depending on how you define unsigned code your statement is either quite correct or extremely inaccurate and I think issues like privacy and data tracking are, honestly, more noticeable and impactful to the average non-techy user than your phone being part of a botnet.


"Hide my Email for Sign in", killing advertising identifiers, preventing cross app tracking, etc. are all things that can only exist on a platform where code is signed and sandboxed.

Is Apple's app store vetting or API restrictions perfect? No, of course not. But it is a million times better than any other platform.


The former basically doesn't exist in Western nations either, so I'm not sure what the point is here.

A well designed permissions system means what code runs is up to the user.


In 2019 Kaspersky Labs identified over 3 million unique Android malware samples. iOS malware is so rare AV companies usually issue press releases about finding them (like LightSpy).

The reason you might not know about Xerxes, SMSreg, Cerberus, LokiBot, BlackRock, FunkyBot, UpDroid, etc. is because another Android malware family isn't newsworthy.


You can run any code on it already as a developer.


It seems to me the obvious solution is to extend the "parental controls" install permission feature, and add an optional restriction API for "sideload apps" (like on Android). This would handle the "I want a locked down device" scenario for MDM and parental controls users.

Those who want an unrestricted device could enable sideloading (which would permit non-apple-notarized apps to be installed), and permit non-expiring developer self-signed apps. Then the free market could go ahead and develop "stores" and alternative ecosystems.


You can run pretty much any code on your iPad and iPhone that you want. You do need to pay your 99 bucks or so for a dev account, but you can run anything you can build for your iOS devices that way.

There is no "locked down attitude" with macOS, macOS is as open as ever. You can easily turn off all the malware protection if you want to do that. Many devs do.

The argument here isn't about you running any code you want. The argument is about access to the App Store and forcing Apple to allow anyone to distribute anything. That's something I don't want. I want Apple to distribute high quality apps that I can generally trust not to be riddled with malware, unlike their competitors. Apple has built a high value App Store, and devs want to change that to suit their wishes, and in so doing would turn it into the thing it has managed to keep away from since its beginning.


I think your argument is invalid, because i.e. Epic wouldn't want to share a buildable XCode project of Fortnite with you. The 99$ fee is also unreasonable IMHO.

Also, building complex applications is far from non-trivial; it's typical for me to spend a few hours fiddling with dependencies to get some complicated code running.

As for MacOS, yes on the software side things are still open, but on the hardware side things are closing up (for example, mandatory unbreakable encryption which can make data recovery impossible; I don't have a big problem with that however). Plus I've got no idea how long that will lasts since Apple does whatever it wants.


> I think your argument is invalid, because i.e. Epic wouldn't want to share a buildable XCode project of Fortnite with you.

They could share an installer that downloads and copies their binaries. Not too different from what many game publishers do on PC.

I'm not sure whether the main barrier to people doing this is the $99/year fee, or the friction associated with setting up a developer account, or the perceived (and real) risk of getting malware if customers made a habit of doing this.

But an iPhone in the US already costs $1000 over say 5 years, plus several hundred per year in carrier costs. I could entertain an argument that an extra $99/year to have an effectively unlocked device is not exorbitant or anticompetitive. If you think it is...would you still think so at $49? Or $9? The revenue Apple get from that must be insignificant compared to the app store.


Right - epic isn’t going to give you the source.

But you can run anything you can build.

Building a good Xcode project is as simple as pushing the “open in Xcode” button on github and pushing build. Obviously not all projects are that nice.


You'll fine with keep disabled the 3rd party store option.


> Personally I don't understand monopoly arguments.

Firstly, the term 'monopoly' is frequently used in the meaning of 'monopoly power' not as pure monopoly. Competition laws take effect long before full monopoly. Market failures can start appear even with 20% market share in some markets.

Secondly, I suspect that you implicitly have some narrow definition of market in mind. In competition law, defining a relevant market is essential and nontrivial. You seem to think about smartphones as "the market". iOS app distribution can be also considered a market.

Personal opinion: multiplayer game like Fortnight benefits from network effect. People are playing across devices and platforms. You could argue that Android and iPhone platforms are complement products in App Markets instead of substitutes. Restrictions in one may harm sales in the other. All game developers must sell to both platforms to be on the market. iOS App store relies on this effect. There is no choice.


> I don't know we want to be able to install our own custom AC. Because maintenance of the stock one is too expensive.

You can do that actually. There are laws in places specifically that allow you to do that, because BMW would otherwise stop you.

The car industry is a perfect example. They had to put laws in place to allow you to change parts of your car, while still maintaining safety and integrity.


It wasn't that BMW would stop you, or that you weren't allowed to.

It's that car manufacturers had to be stopped from claiming "you voided the warranty on your brakes by installing your own radio" (entirely egregious, I agree, but separate).


> You have bazillion types of generic computers to choose from. People pay huge overhead to apple exactly because apple makes choices for them - regarding what settings are reasonable to have, what software they want you to use etc.

I like the Android approach. "Unknown sources" are not allowed by default but you can enable them. Doesn't mean you have to enable them and I'd be ok with a bright red bar at the top of the screen all the time that you can't disable if you have unknown sources enabled.


Great. Get an Android then.


You're generalizing your own opinion. If I could buy an iPhone and run Android on it, I would do that. Instead I'm stuck choosing between good hardware with crappy OS (Apple) vs. outdated hardware with an OS that fits my needs (all Android devices).


You really wouldn't want to do that. Android phones still need @20-30% more powerful hardware to get comparable performance.


no you wouldn't apple devices are better BECAUSE of the software. On avg the hardware is under powered compered to android hardware.


This is blatantly wrong. Apple's CPU and GPU designs have been years ahead of Qualcomm/Samsung/... for years now, especially regarding single core performance. Check any mobile device benchmark.


Not really, Apple's CPU/GPU teams are very good, hey chaps and chapesses, but their primary advantage comes from the fact that Apple is looking at revenue for the entire device, the SOC is not the product. They can afford a little more cache etc. It's also right to point out that the margin is pretty narrow in A13 and Snapdragon 865 guise. So saying they are year(s) ahead is hyperbole, perhaps 6 months! In anycase the relatively close performance of the current SOCs makes me eager to see what they do with Apple Silicon in order to bridge the gap to Desktop/Laptop class performance? I do wonder whether the current cooling solutions in Apple's laptops are more about delivering the best product to the consumer or creating a favourable comparison to their own silicon. I found this LTT, https://youtu.be/MlOPPuNv4Ec?t=321, intriguing and wonder if this is deliberate or a manufacturing defect. Note the gap between the CPU lid and the die. It's a fairly entertaining video, the things they try but that gap, the entire cooling solution actually, are a little hard to understand.


was that benchmark done on non-apple software?


FYI: https://www.anandtech.com/show/14892/the-apple-iphone-11-pro...

SPEC2006 is industrial standard, and other 3rd party benchmark tested.


Not at all.


.. umm android users have been talking shit about iPhone specs for years


They’ve also been wrong for years


Sums up the general Android population


With all due respect... the statement that "People pay huge overhead to apple exactly because apple makes choices for them" is very silly.


Could you explain how it is silly?

I've seen that exact reason (or some variation of it) echoed by many consumers who prefer Apple products. Are you suggesting that these people do not exist, or are lying?


From my perspective Epic is shooting themselves and all other developers in the foot. Many app stores specialize in pirated software, fake in-app purchases, gaming assists, various troll and other bot automations. Users would be stuck with full screen popups, unwanted VPNs, bitcoin miners, government surveillance apps, and other malware in an effort to get a discount from the official Epic store. Developers will have more cheating, fraud, and store revenues will drop to Google levels as there are cheaper pirate stores. There will be no free apps because developers making a profit like Epic won't carry the rest.


> You have bazillion types of generic computers to choose from. People pay huge overhead to apple exactly because apple makes choices for them - regarding what settings are reasonable to have, what software they want you to use etc.

Strongly disagree. I have 4 MBPs. I can install whatever I want on them, thankfully. I write my own code and execute it on them.

My iPhone? I don't want them telling me what I can do with it. I want the good hardware and OS compatibility with my MBPs. I also want to install whatever I want because I'm an adult and developer in a free economy.


You cannot. The T chip that boots the touchbar and fingerprint reader (and provides the firmware to the main CPU on boot) is just as locked down as any iPhone. If you try to modify its OS (BridgeOS, a modified iOS), your computer will not boot.


And you can do that just fine.

You just can't tell them how to curate the App Store.


So then they should allow a competing app store and Apple can just heavily curate their own app store.


I think you could actually do that. You can run your own code, Apple doesn't actually care what you run if you have a dev account and are compiling your own stuff to put on your machine. So what's to stop you from installing an app store, or at least some semblance of one that would let you run your own apps under an app you compile and put on your iOS device?

I've never really thought about this before, but it seems like it's probably possible. Again, this doesn't help Epic -- they don't want to run apps on your phone, they want to monetize mass user phones, not give code to devs who are willing to put in the effort to install something through Xcode.


Yeah, it makes no sense at all. Apple isn't even close to a majority in any markets!

Desktops? Definitely not. Laptops? No. Tablets and Phones? Haha, no (Edit: Actually yes, if one only considers the US).


iOS is literally the majority of the market in the USA. It has nearly 60% market share. https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/united-sta...

This is certainly something US courts would care about.


58% is not a monopoly by any definition.

In fact US Justice Department states quite clearly that it isn't a monopoly if it's 50% or less. This isn't a light switch where you instantly change from "not a monopoly" to "monopoly" based on a temporary gain in market share.

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a...


58% is enough to clear a 50% threshold.

I didn't say that 58% immediately means monopoly: it doesn't necessarily mean it's a monopoly, but it can mean it. I was correcting the OP who claimed that "Apple isn't even close to a majority in any markets!" In fact, Apple is a majority — and a sizable one — in the market US courts care most about: the US market.

It's probably a monopoly for a variety of reasons, including its majority market power — which as you point out is typically one of the necessary (but not sufficient) markers of monopoly — as other commenters have pointed out; e.g. its exclusionary conduct such as banning XCloud, Fortnite, etc.


iOS's percentage of paid app users dwarfs Android's, which could be a factor. Surely revenue should be considered when evaluating market share?

https://sensortower.com/blog/app-revenue-and-downloads-2018


That is comparing Apple and Google's App Stores.

Android is a much larger ecosystem than just Google.


Antitrust law is not just about monopolies, it is about anticompetitive business practices. Monopolistic behavior is just one type of antitrust concern.


Alright, well color me surprised because I wouldn't have guessed that at all.

Still, 60% is hardly a monopoly either.


By definition, anything over 50% should give you de facto control. I'm curious what you mean by 60% not being a monopoly.


> the exclusive possession or control of the supply of or trade in a commodity or service.

60% is not exclusive or even de-facto exclusive. The only thing Apple has a monopoly on is Apple products.


The threshold the US government uses for market share is typically 50%, along with exclusionary conduct.


> iOS is literally the majority of the market in the USA. It has nearly 60% market share.

Are you confusing the words mono and majority?


Nope. A company doesn't need 100% market share to count as a monopoly under US law. The threshold for market share is typically 50%, along with exclusionary conduct.

I also, by the way, didn't use the word "monopoly" (although I think Apple is one with iOS): I used the word "majority." So I'm not sure where your comment claiming that I confused "mono" and "majority" is even coming from.



> People pay huge overhead to apple exactly because apple makes choices for them - regarding what settings are reasonable to have, what software they want you to use etc.

Well, they think it gives them quality. Instead they kinda get fleeced and pushed into a threadmill of planned obsolescence, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2_SZ4tfLns


The only people who buy the idea of planned obsolescence are the ones who haven’t worked on products like that.

Also, Apple doesn’t have to provide software support to 6 year old phones when nobody else does


> The only people who buy the idea of planned obsolescence are the ones who haven’t worked on products like that.

So, how many Apple products Apple said could not be repaired have you repaired?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVAmnV65_zw

There is nothing to "buy into", it's all in the open. There is something to be in denial about however, and you just offer an ad-hominem right out of the gate, plus the statement that phones failing when they cease to be "supported" is fine and normal; but somehow not planned, even predictable obsolescence.

It's a shift from owning things that either break or last, to a constant churn, enforced by software where the hardware can't be made bad enough. Apple is hardly alone in this, but Apple is in it, for sure.


> So, how many Apple products Apple said could not be repaired have you repaired?

Ok so...

A) Non-repairability is not planned obsolescence. At Apple’s scale, they can’t repair every breakage with the quality people expect, so they opt to replace.

B) You’re making huge accusations, but it’s seriously unsubstantiated. I will say that I agree that products should last longer, but that’s a technical challenge not a financial decision.


> Non-repairability is not planned obsolescence.

You already acknowledged that 6 year old phones are obsolete.

And you also claimed claimed that "only someone who didn't work on Apple products" could possibly "buy into" [that's also a huge accusation, one you don't even bother to back up] the idea that Apple is a treadmill of increasingly crappy things. That is demonstrably wrong, yet also not worthy of you even acknowledging it.

> that’s a technical challenge not a financial decision

Proof for that? Nevermind, you just ignore your glaring errors, and demand more proof, as if you watched those videos fully, while dropping laughable claims like that casually.


Wow - HN reliably comes out with just incredible legal analysis, and not in a good way.

Apple delivers products that are supported FAR far longer than android.

Yes, they charge everyone a premium for this.

One reason people don't mind their kids / grandparents etc using apple is precisely because apple takes care of things.

Let's be 100% clear here - once apple allows random apps to bill you in random ways the endless scams will be here in days.

Seriously - even for subscriptions most providers you find out thing renewed after the fact when you get your statement, then have to remember to fight the auto-renew. Apple (at least for me) sends me out an email IN ADVANCE telling me what will renew.

Next, cancelling autorenews often requires phone calls. Ie, you can only cancel 90 days in advance, but have to cancel by renewal date and while you can sign up online you can't cancel online.

Apple, in the same email they send me, tells me how to cancel.

I hope folks pushing scam apps get bitten HARD for their crappy behavior.

And the idea of apple as monopoly (22% market share in phones, even less in computers) seems a total stretch.

However, because of all these policies, they might have a monpoply on very long term supported high quality devices that behave how you expect.

They even cracked down on the scam battery replacements on resale (ie, folks would put cheapo third party batteries in that made it look like battery life was good that would die in months). Again lots of complaints from HN folks, but for average users this helped them avoid the scammers.


My spidey sense is screaming poes law. It's like every overly simplistic argument in one post, and no replies. Kudos to the author for encapsulating all the arguments that dont need to take place again and grouping them in one tree.


Huh? If you can't engage the discussion don't engage. "Your spidy sense is screaming"... ? "Kudos for encapsulating all the arguments that don't need to take place...".

I feel like folks don't have a feel for that the history of anti-trust action has been used for.

In many cases you have clear to very clear anti-competitive behavior. Move in next door, sell at a big loss, drive out competition, then restore pricing. So you take and establish market power through predetory behavior.

What's challenging about the case with apple is that they have always run their own app store, and the success of that store has attracted both users and developers. They have had the same terms for a very long time.

The normal anti-competitive type behavior would be to do no fee for developers if they signed exclusive agreements, then after you had 80% of market you'd switch terms and no one could fight it.

Google did this with things like maps, super cheap for developers, no one else could compete, then it was 4x the price (I forget now) and we had to wait a bit for others to catchup so we had alternatives. My cable company did this (we had a wireless provider show up, prices dropped overnight to keep them out, then when they left some areas that were harder to serve cable co raised right back up.)

There is an alternative in the market here too, a well funded one. Google has an app store. Samsung has an app store. Carriers preload apps that cannot be removed to "help" their customers. Some companies build in basically backdoors to android so they can load all sorts of apps after the fact (mostly advertising).

Apple does not allow any of that - they are FAMOUS for wanting control. They don't allow the carriers to preload bloatware and never have allowed it. They don't allow them to do their own auto-updating apps or app stores. They support their phones for incredibly long periods compared to much of their competition (some android phones SHIP with software 2 years old and literally never get an update).

When you buy and apple you are guaranteed not to get this stuff - and some people like that. Does this make it illegal? It a long way from a standard anti-trust case. They've never had anyone else competing with them to take share. They were also the first with the glass face smartphone so this was their market, their actual market share in segment has been going DOWN not up a long time despite the laughter of their competitors when they introduced the iphone.

So, is there a commercial reason for them to behave this way - sure.

I'm curious - why post slams on HN rather than discussing the topic? Just don't reply.


I'm not slamming it, it honestly reads like parody to me. Maybe it's not, hence invoking Poe's law. If it was meant in earnest I mean no disrespect, and I'm glad people can use the comment section to debate the points.


Copyright on macOS, and patents makes Apple phones the products of a company with a legal monopoly.

Are they an illegal monopoly in the US? Well, that's trickier. There are several reasons for and against. There are lots of phone brands, hundreds worldwide depending on how you count, and Apple are the are the largest phone and tablet brand with almost 50% of the US market.

Only Samsung is even close when it comes to phones, but afaik they have nowhere near the same profit margins.

Whether they are monopolistic or not, both Apple and Google has shown clear monopolistic behavior regarding their respective app stores, with Apple seemingly the more egregious.


[flagged]


I have more confidence in Apple delivering privacy and security, a reliable product maintained over time that is not backdoored then I do in DHS or whatever other agency they'll put in charge of their app store.

So "Don't worry the state will handle it" is not re-assuring AT ALL.


the state handling it means antitrust breakup. not whatever other thing that first came to your mind because of your particular relationship with the state.


1. It's clearly not a monopoly by any accepted definition.

2. If you don't want to pay their fees, don't use their platform.

3. If enough content providers don't use their platform, consumers we shift to a different one. I think one of the advantages that Sony has had over MSFT in the video game console space has been their exclusive content.

4. Taxes have literally nothing to do with this. The App Store has made life much easier for countless app creators. Are the fees exorbitant? Sure. Is the market capable of correcting this behavior across a reasonable timeline, also yes. I was planning to switch TV devices after Apple's tiff with Spotify. It was resolved because Apple knows that if they don't support the content providers other platforms do, they will lose market share.


By these standards, then no one should be calling for anti-trust cases to going forward against Google, Amazon or Facebook. There are alternatives to all of these, some of them large. Google has Microsoft sized competition; Amazon competes with the likes of Walmart and Target in similar shopping spaces; and Facebook competes with Reddit and has competed with Google (who is now defunct in that area).

To be honest, I'm not 100% where I stand with these considering that ISP's haven't been prosecuted for, what seem, clearly more egregious anti-trust violations. These types of cases should come up first, in my opinion, but we are where we are.


...yes?

It’s not clear that there is a real or straightforward anti-trust case to be made against many of these companies (especially Amazon). For some reason the HN echo chamber is convinced that there is an obvious and bulletproof anti-trust case against every big tech company, and that the delay in enforcing it strictly comes down to corruption or some inherent flaw in the justice system.


>>These types of cases should come up first, in my opinion, but we are where we are.

Don't worry sir, the legal system is (mostly) asynchronous! You could do both.


> 1. It's clearly not a monopoly by any accepted definition.

Apple's market power seems to fit this legal definition quite well: https://definitions.uslegal.com/m/monopoly/

Monopoly is a control or advantage obtained by one entity over the commercial market in a specific area. Monopolization is an offense under federal anti trust law. The two elements of monopolization are (1) the power to fix prices and exclude competitors within the relevant market. (2) the willful acquisition or maintenance of that power as distinguished from growth or development as a consequence of a superior product, business acumen or historical accident.


The big disagreement is whether the market should be defined as "iOS apps" or whether the market should be defined as just "smartphone apps" or "smartphones, which have apps."

Does Apple have monopoly power over the "iOS apps" market? Yes. Do they exclude competitors from that market? Abso-fuckin-lutely.

But it seems to me like the understanding has always been that people do have a choice. If they don't like Apple's control over the iOS App Store, they can buy an Android. Apple, after all, does not have a majority share of the smartphone market.

Under that understanding, the market is smartphones, and apps are just a feature of the smartphone.


But you don't /really/ have a choice. Once you've dumped more than a few hundred bucks into the ecosystem (or in some friend's cases, thousands) you literally must throw that away to use a different store. You cannot say: "Oh, I'm not going to the Apple store today, I'm going to use the Microsoft one." There's no competition, nor opportunity for competition. The broader smartphone app markets do not compete.


"Choice" is not defined as "the easiest thing to do", strangely enough. I'll admit, I'm a bit surprised to see this idea that the US government should mollycoddle all of its citizens through life on HN.

I've spent orders of magnitude more money on my console and the games I bought for it than I've ever spent on any app store. Where is all the outrage over Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo's oh so hideous monopolistic practices?


The same is true for game consoles. If you buy an Xbox you cannot decide to buy Nintendo games for it. Yet I don't think anyone would claim "games for Xbox", "games for Playstation", and "games for Nintendo" are three separate markets with no competition (as opposed to one large market for "video games").


You mean, I can't go to GameStop, Walmart, or KMart, or wherever to buy xbox games? That's crazy. I thought I could.

In all seriousness though, I can go to other stores to buy things. In this case, you must go to the Apple Store, you can't buy iOS apps anywhere else. (at least officially)


Except in order for that game to be in a GameStop, Walmart, or KMart, the developer of the game has to sign a publisher agreement with Microsoft. This agreement gives Microsoft a royalty for every copy sold, plus approval rights over the final game, marketing, and packaging materials.

So, no, a developer cannot distribute a game for Xbox without Microsoft's approval.

This is also largely irrelevant to the question of whether the market of "games for Xbox" is a separate market from "games for Nintendo" or whether they're actually both competitors in the "video game" market.


Yes, I’m not arguing approval for building on a platform. But that’s totally separate from selling it. Apple has commingled this, IMO.

I should be able to buy an app at competitive prices wherever. If Apple gets a royalty from that, that’s fine too.


So you think Nintendo, Xbox, Playstation, etc. should also have to allow third-party stores on their devices?

EDIT: Or do you think you should be able to buy iOS apps in brick-and-mortar stores?


But that’s just like your opinion. People can and do switch phone ecosystems.


>1. It's clearly not a monopoly by any accepted definition.

Depends on how you define the market. The courts will have to decide whether the iOS app distribution market and the iOS in-app payments market is a relevant market. If so then Apple clearly has a monopoly in those markets.

>2. If you don't want to pay their fees, don't use their platform. 3. If enough content providers don't use their platform, consumers we shift to a different one.

The question that will have to be answered is whether that is an economically viable option for a sufficient number of content providers. If not then consumers are being harmed by Apple's anti-competitive behaviour.


Apple can be said to be a monopoly according to at least some definitions of monopoly, more precisely, and at the very least - it has a legal monopoly on selling macOS due to copyright.

Since they have a legal monopoly in some sense, it's not completely unreasonable to revisit how actions potentially prohibited by antitrust laws shold interact with legal monopolies. Especially when it comes to devices where changing device mandates you also change almost all apps (Which the legal monopoly profited of.) To sometimes significant cost, and inconvenience.

It's not entirely obvious that simply because Apple isn't the only seller of smart phones, that they can't be involved in anti-competetive behavio, and/or monopolistic behavior.By using their app store to extract considerable revenue by an questionably high transaction cost. It could be obvious because of precedent, but nevertheless, unless that judgement was made in resent years, and with the soaring costs of migrating your digital life, it's only as obvious as you make it to be if you narrow the scope of monopoly for physical to that where a single worldwide monopoly is the only business there is.

One can be safe to say that in penning the dictionary definition of monopoly, the author was probably not considering entire markets that would fit in a pocket, and where the good purchased in the market can only be used on the pocket device, and impossible to extract from the market to use in another setting!

Neither did likely the lawmakers.


> 1. It's clearly not a monopoly by any accepted definition.

The European definition doesn't require you to even have the majority of a market - just the ability to materially affect consumer pricing. Proving that in court will be fairly trivial I think.

(Note this documentation from thd EU, which states a company "probably" needs 40% share - https://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/procedures_102_en...)


> If you don't want to pay their fees, don't use their platform.

Or instead of that, companies can use the law to prosecute apple for anti-competitive behavior. Anti-competitive behavior is illegal and should be prosecuted.


You seem to have forgotten about Android. The solution to anti-trust cases is not a blanket “break them up. In this case, requiring Apple to allow third-party App Stores is going to be the key issue. The lawyers will likely take heavy inspiration from Microsoft’s antitrust suit from the early 00s


why do we need appstore’s at all? on my computer i can just download an executable from any website i please. i don’t need an app store intermediary


Note that Apple has been slowly moving to restrict that ability in MacOS as well. Each release makes it harder to install applications from developers that haven't kissed Apple's ring.


This is a good point. They've also been filling MacOS with more bloat while disregarding key development features. The latest Catalina update is a complete mess and shows how misguided Apple is on this front.


It only does that for end users who don't want to run the commands necessary to turn all that off. It's mildly annoying, but it doesn't restrict what I as a dev can do with my Macs.


Can you share how to do this? I'm beyond annoyed at this behavior. I don't even know what to search for. "MacOS stop verifying apps"?


Long link below. That seems to be the current one. It shows how to enable non-App Store applications by identified developers, and also how to open applications it can't verify (I rarely run into this, but occasionally with open source software or niche tabletop gaming software).

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202491#:~:text=View%20the%...


Got you, thank you very much!


But it does, conveniently, keep my parents from screwing up their Mac too badly before I make my (much less frequent now) trips home to assist them.


The play store provides value on Android even though you can install any apps you find on the internet. The platform didn't get in your way in that regard.

Google services have recently made it very hard to distribute APKs through means other than their store though. Gmail blocks APK attachments for example.


>>The platform didn't get in your way in that regard.

Modern version of Andriod are less and less Free.

With every new version they move features and service out of AOSP and into Google "Play" Services.

Most of what people think about when they think of an "Android" phone is not the base OS anymore, it is Play Services

I think they are doing this for 2 reasons, one I believe they are wanting to drop both their Java Dependency and their Linux Dependency at some point


How "very hard to distribute APKs"? I don't think so. Blocking .apk on Gmail is similar thing for blocking .exe.


Not even third-party App Stores, just third-party payments processors will be a good start.


Hm, wouldn't this require an overturning of Atari vs. Nintendo[0] or something like that?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_Games_Corp._v._Nintendo_....


I don't think so, because

- That case was heard by the federal circuit, and if I recall the rules regarding that curious circuit correctly (no guarantees) anything unrelated to patents is not binding precedent on any court.

- That case just decided that it wasn't copyright misuse to do something vaguely like this, not that it didn't violate any of the various anti-trust acts. While the reason for the case is similar the law being argued looks to be entirely different.

- That case wasn't decided based on legal principles, but because Atari lied and cheated "Atari's copyright misuse defense was precluded by the doctrine of unclean hands, as Atari had lied to the Copyright Office to obtain an unauthorized copy of the 10NES."

(I only know what the wikipedia article says about the case)


Third party stores would be a disaster for customers and developers, even worse than the ones on Android.


In what universe do customers suffer from having the freedom to choose?


My parents' iPhones: 0 sketchy apps or browser plugins My parents' Macs: every sketchy app and browser plugin available on macOS


I would prefer to live in a world where customers don't have to be treated like children though. Just handle it the same way Android does it - only allow apps from the app store by default, or you can enable unsafe mode and install whatever you want - the choice should always be yours.


Customers don’t “have to be treated like children”. An Apple device is an option you can choose if you want that extra layer of blanket protection. That’s the whole point of having choices in a competitive market.

You get to choose in a competitive market which device you want to buy.

This attempt to try to force Apple to change how they do business is eliminating a key differentiator and therefore removing the ability for a consumer to choose this approach.


How so? Again, the key word here is - "choice". I believe a customer should have the choice to unlock their own device and install whatever software they want on it. How is having that choice eliminating a key differentiator? Most people will never untick that box and will enjoy exactly those benefits of Apple devices that you're talking about.

I am of an opinion that every consumer should have such a box available on their devices, should they wish to use it. It shouldn't be possible to trade this ability away with a software licence. And not giving people that choice in the first place is what I meant by saying "customers are treated as children" - because children don't get to chose, adults do.


Apple shouldn’t have to complicate the security and consistency of their device for people who don’t value it. You have a choice, it’s called Android.


Some of us have been buying apps in the app store long before Android existed. It's not easy to throw those apps I've used for over a decade away, just for "choice."

Obviously, if I could take my app licenses with me, there would be an argument that I had a choice. Being that I can't, there's just an illusion of choice.


While I agree with the rest of your comment...

The app store launched in July 2008, and the G1 came out in September that same year. Two months doesn't seem like a big opportunity to buy apps 'long before Android existed'.


Google play didn't launch until October of that year, you can spend quite a bit of money on the app store when you're a bored soldier in Afghanistan.


A lot of those 12 year old apps still run and you use them enough to not switch to a different ecosystem?


Who cares what you prefer? This is the exact value differentiator between Android and iPhone. If Apple doesn’t secure the device and vet the Apps, you’ve destroyed what made it different, and in its customers eyes, great.


I literally don't get that argument. Just like on Android, 99% of customers would never ever untick that box and would enjoy the benefit provided by apple-vetted apps, while we as customers would regain control of the devices that we paid for, allowing them to run code that hasn't been vetted by Apple....if you wish to do so.

I'd also appreciate if you laid off the personal attacks, thank you.


What personal attack? You are demanding Apple turn the iPhone into the same insecure crapware that is Android. You don’t deserve that choice.


Saying "who cares what you prefer" and "you don't deserve that choice" are both examples of speech that's not welcome on HN.

>>You are demanding Apple turn the iPhone into the same insecure crapware that is Android.

Uhm, no, Android is full of crapware because Google does not vet apps the same way Apple does, not because you can side load APKs.


> 0 sketchy apps

Have you ever peeked inside one of those apps?


How is a sideloaded app any more or less sketchy than one downloaded from the app store, when it is using the exact same APIs?


In theory, Apple is ensuring apps dont misuse those APIs. In practice, they seem much more concerned with preventing apps from threatening their extremely lucrative software and service revenues.


Apple vets App Store apps by running them through an automated system to detect malware and misuse of APUs, and then hand tests them for same.


And the common denominator? "My parents."

Maybe your parents need to be protected from their own poor decisionmaking, but is that true for everyone?


Apple offers you a choice. Safety and security, or you can get an Android phone.


That's non-responsive to my question.


Security. the ability to find non shitty ass clones


How would that be worse? Always having the option to install whatever you want on device you own is the most pro customer thing ever


I'm not sure how it could be worse. The app store is filled with mountains and mountains of malware as it is.


I don't agree but you're going to have to explain yourself if you want to get the benefit of the doubt.


Really?

If we are being candid, many software developers helped crowned the Tyrant king.

The majority of developers focused on building for iOS and treated Android as a second class citizen.

Developers set the prices and in a race to the bottom, many developers set the price to $0.99. I remember the apps that had reasonable prices were often criticized by consumers because other developers set their prices so low.

30% take was there from the start of the app store before Apple become the most profitable smartphone maker. Developers should never have agreed to the take in the early days, but short term thinking prevailed.

If the vast majority of developers from the start refused to build for the iPhone until Apple had favorable terms or gave customers the option to allow third-party installs things would be different. Perhaps developers should work together to solve the problem they help create? Are developers want Apple to change would are they willing to coordinate a response? A coordinated response could mean the top 50 developers building mobile web apps & writing a letter to Apple that they are removing their apps from the Apps store and alerting their customers as well.

The idea is not so far fetched, see: https://deadline.com/2019/07/cbs-blackout-directv-u-verse-at...

Will a web app have all the features of the iOS app? of course not, but if Apple wins the legal case, this seems like the only real option to get Apple to change. Because most of Apple costumers are not bothered by Apple developers policy.


The truth is, getting split up isn't even a punishment! When companies get split up for being a monopoly, they usually end up being even more valuable than when they were a monopoly. See Bell Telephone for a good example of this.

When IBM unbundled their software from their hardware in response to DoJ antitrust inquiries, it created the modern software industry.


Bell isnt a great example because telephone companies are a "natural" monopoly - it doesnt really make sense to have a dozens of phone lines connected to your house in order for there to be competition in the telephone service market. That's why when it was split up, it effectively was only split up into smaller regional monopolies that didnt really compete with each other.

Smartphone applications aren't the same - but for a couple bits here, and a cryptographic signature there, any software could run on an iPhone.


> Long have we suffered under your rule.

Who is this "we"? It definitely doesn't include me, as I do not own an iPhone and never will. If _you_ own one on the other hand...I presume you knew about Apple's practices and Apple's lock on their devices before you bought one. Why did you buy one?

Your reminder that iOS has 24.82% market share on mobile. That is not anything like a "monopoly" in any meaningful sense of the word. https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide


Companies should compete IN markets, they shouldn't set up their own.

Customers aren't in a position to "just switch platforms" because they don't like what Apple or Amazon are doing.

This shouldn't be seen in the light of "is what they are doing so bad that they need to be stopped"? It should be seen as "would consumers be better off if someone intervened?".


As an Apple product user, I find their products+services+software the most enjoyable and more importantly the most trustworthy. I happily pay more $ for that attribute. Alternatives already exist for people who have other priorities (Android etc.).


>US Government, please force Apple to open up iPhone to any software we want to install. It's a generic computer. It's how we communicate, do banking, do basic shopping, dating, business ... everything. Apple can't be the gatekeepers of 21st century life. It's incredibly damaging to our ability to innovate and succeed as small business owners and entrepreneurs.

You're going to be disappointed, if the android ecosystem is anything to go by. Of the OEMs that bother to unlock their bootloaders, only a fraction release kernel sources. Nearly all SoCs require custom kernels (which contain the requisite drivers) to run. Not having them means you're dead in the water as far as a usable system (working wifi, graphics, sound, modem, sensors, camera) is concerned. The only reason why OEMs even bother releasing kernel sources is because they're legally obligated to by GPL. Good luck getting that to happen with apple. You're almost always better off getting something like the pinephone or librem, rather than buying an iphone and hoping that the community can salvage something out of it.

edit:

Due to bootloader exploits, people were able to get alternate OSes running on iphones. As expected, the hardware support is flakey at best. https://web.archive.org/web/20110714042818/http://www.idroid...


But what if that is what I as an Apple customer actually pays for - a walled garden where everything is controlled? As a consumer it doesn't hurt me at all. All apps on the app store adhere to a certain set of rules and if they don't they are removed. It also means that payment is controlled by Apple, which is fine by me. I trust Apple more than I trust Epic or any other potential company that wishes to bypass App store rules wrt payments..

And i buy many Apps priced way above 99 cents.


Exactly what I came here to say. Epic Games is large enough to fight this. I think they purposefully chose this fight right here and now because of the looming report on anti trust violations that should be out any day.


If apple makes the case that the App Store is a feature, which it is, and not a right; They can make a strong case against the monopoly(really duopoly with Google Play). People forget that the iPhone launched with no app store, and its only 3rd party app was google maps. Apple only add the app store because developers want to develop apps, and apple said okay, and provided an interface that allows them to maintain the quality of their product. Apple could kill the app store tomorrow if they wanted to, and replace them with partnerships with various companies; technically app store apps are partnerships with Apple. The iTunes music store works that way: it is a partnership with record companies, who are not required to participate; Ex. Beatles catalog was unavailable for years. Epic games does not have to participate in the iOS market, they have a "CHOICE"; similar to how a lot of game developers don't make a Mac OS version. Granted it would not be in Apple's best interest to remove the app store, but technically it is a product not a feature. The only anti-trust argument you can really make is bundled apps. Apple will disapprove apps that appear to do functionally the same thing. This is anti-competitive, and if Apple switches there stance on that then they are fine. Also, user's have a choice to remove most default apple apps, so they once again customers have a choice to use them or not.

I will say that 30% is a bit excessive, for most apps nowadays. Back in 2008 til about 2012-2014(ish) it made sense. Storage, bandwidth, and credit card processing were extremely expense. A million downloads would bankrupt small companies, especially free apps. Not only that when there were less apps in the app store, it did make marketing cheaper. That advantage is no longer the case with the oversaturation of apps. At the end of the day, Apple can do what they want to do as can developers(not provide their apps); which means that it is not anti-competitive/anti-trust. Also, iOS is such a small percentage of the market, and user's/developers have a choice to go to android.


Apple doesn’t have a majority of the marketshare in cell phones or laptops. The only market they’ve won is tablets with the iPad. The idea that Apple has a monopoly in the realm of computing is ridiculous.

I can’t tell if the level of hyperbole in your comment is sarcastic or not, so apologies if whoosh.


By this argument, fortnite also has a monopoly position with all things being sold in their market place - they don’t let me sell highly discounted gold skin and have it unlock features in their game.

This is just a battle between the billionaires, nothing to be gained by the rest of us.


There isn’t anything about this that’s makes it a monopoly or any different from selling items in any other marketplace. You want to sell here? There’s a cut that goes to the house.

I don’t know why people get in a tizzy about it, you knew the rules going in and they haven’t changed.


What is the argument against, and dangers, of simply maintaining their app store where they continue their strict quality control & take the fees, while also allowing 3rd party app stores?

App devs can choose to participate in Apple's store and pay fee or not or both. 3p allows users to load any apps at their own risk. Put a permissions popup explaining the danger. Maybe it would open up more jailbreaking. Don't allow drive by downloads, users would have to download the 3rd party stores from the app store. Probably only the most determined / technical users would load a 3p store thus protecting the majority


Agreed.

Also the Supreme Court ruled that code is speech. Apple being the gatekeeper to code in an iOS device is equivalent to censorship. yes I know some people define censorship as only by the government but would you ok if you could only browse internet sites approved by Apple? Only watch videos approved by Apple? Only read books approved by Apple? Only listen to music approved by Apple?

Software is no different. It's another form of media just like books, video, music, and as such you should be just as upset that you can't run whatever you want whether it's game portals, streamed games, porn apps, dev apps, whatever.


Free Speech is strictly an issue with the government, it does not ever apply to non-governmental platforms.


And anyone who argues from that position should understand exactly what they are asking the entirety of the human race until the far future to accept.

You REALLY don't get how shortsighted that is?

If the Constitution were written today it would very likely use less strict language. Free Speech cannot be protected by law if the people themselves don't value it.


Your name is echeleon and you plead to the sanity and morals of the US gov for the sake of its people?

It's like asking Mao why he isn't giving the Taiwanese land for free inside the PRC


Can is not a monopoly, you can still get all the apps you want on any other smart phone and you are not compelled to buy an iOS device.

Unless you are claiming by having the best device, the device you want, that makes it an unfair advantage because you don't want to make a different choice.

Now the solution if I was in charge of Apple is simple, you want a software unlocked phone then have at it, it cost double and all privacy options are absent.


On the other hand, I like several Apple products and I'm confident their products would get much much worse if the company was effectively split up, and I suspect the vast majority of Apple customers would feel the same way. I'm not sure if people who feel very strongly as you do would consider that possibility, or if there are other principles at play that don't involve customer satisfaction.


That's a slippery slope. Next we'll start regulating anticompetitive practices in IT in general. /s


Does Microsoft take a cut when someone purchases on Xbox? Sony on the PlayStation? How is this different?


More importantly: can Sony sell PlayStation games on Xbox?


I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, because it doesn't seem particularly relevant or important to this situation? It's the equivalent of asking if Google can sell Android apps on iOS.


The point is that every app store has arbitrary limitations placed on it by its operator. Valve takes a 30% cut which I can't circumvent, and guess what -- if I want to use a payment method which Valve doesn't support, I need to do it through a web interface and the user gets kicked out of the game.

Nothing is preventing Epic from doing in-app purchases in the game, they just don't like the margin they can achieve. And nothing is stopping them from doing the same micro transactions via their website or another interface.

All market places have limitations placed on them by the operators. If developers don't like them they should withhold their software from the platform.


Ah, I see. I agree with your point actually, I just didn't quite catch it from your initial comment.

I personally don't like the limitations (I disagree vehemently with a 30% cut), but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the government's job to step in. I think a lot of people are conflating "I disagree with this" and "it should literally be illegal".


You could just not use Apple products. Crazy talk I know, but many of us get by just fine without them.


> Apple is about to get bitten hard for being a monopoly.

A monopoly in what? In making their own products?


Monopoly is the wrong word but Apple's practices are at least bordering on anti-consumer.

The only monopoly apple have is over their own customers i.e. switching away from apple isn't cheap


It's actually dirt cheap. As a consumer I've moved from and to apple repeatedly over the years. The cost has always been nonexistent. I never buy Mac only software.

Replacing hardware is the expensive part. But again, if you want to change technology vendors, there's always a cost.


Sure it is. Android phones are cheap, windows computers can be cheap, a home-build with linux would be cheaper.

The only 'expense' is the few hours to relearn a few keystrokes.

Yes, that might be an oversimplification, but it's really not that expeisve or difficult to move from one platform to antother.


Unless your friends are on iMessage, all your documents, contacts and calendar events are on iCloud, your photo library is on Apple Photos, all of which lock you into the Apple ecosystem and aren't available on Android. Sure, you can transition everything off, but I wouldn't call that a pain-free switching cost.


But why should it be pain-free, though? Or rather, why is it suddenly the government's responsibility to make it pain-free?


Because using your market dominance in one area of business in order to establish and maintain a foothold in a related business is long established as the type of anticompetitive behaviour that antitrust laws were built to regulate.


And if you've bought apps? The same is true the other way around of course, i.e. if you've bought apps on android


So if I buy a Macbook, we should require Apple to make available all software I had on my Windows PC? That makes no sense.


I never said that. My point is that moving devices isn't as simple as just buying a new one - i.e. it's not good enough to say just move to android (up to a point). There's nothing you can really do about it's just how software works.


To borrow an analogy from another post: If I buy a BMW and later switch to a Honda, do I get to be mad if some of the BMW parts don't fit?


You get to be mad if your third-party child seat doesn't fit.


I'm confused - what does the third-party child seat map to in the iOS world?


Third-party content purchased while using the BMW/iPhone that you want to use with your Honda/Android. Plenty of apps are cross-platform, like child seats.


> Monopoly is the wrong word but Apple's practices are at least bordering on anti-consumer.

As always, monopoly depends on how you define your market. If the market as iOS apps then Apple is clearly a monopoly.


If you are using Apples platform, why act like you want to live rent free?


This is utter nonsense.


Your comment would be more persuasive if you said why you think it's nonsense. As is, your comment is pretty worthless.


[flagged]


Thats not how secure devices work! if that what you want there are hundreds of android phone companies.


The idea that a centralized authority collecting taxes is necessary for a "secure device" is a flaming crock of shit. This nonsense is a convenient excuse Apple uses to abuse its position.

For an obvious alternative, compare the history of malware - - or even just programs with spyware sidecars - getting in Linux distributions to the same history of malware in the Apple app store.


centralized authority collecting taxes? I think you meant centralized authority of Trust. very similar to secure boot on PCs. you also seem to underestimate the sheer amount of trolly "malware"/ scripts out there for linux.


I sure hope secure boot starts taking a 30% cut on all software sales for my PC for keeping me safe.


If they were just there for trust, then the 3rd most valuable company on Earth, valued at over a trillion dollars, with billions in cold hard cash, would have no need for the tithe. Make no mistake, Apple is rent-seeking, not establishing trust. How much do you actually think it costs to provide trust? 30%? That's obscene. Many organizations provide better levels of trust for free. Wake up, there's no need for you to subserve yourself to these malpractices.


> The Apple bootlickers and capitalist drones in this thread need to get with the program.

Drew, you know better than to comment like that.


Apple wins this in a walk-over.

And as an iOS developer, I get a lot of benefits from the App Store that makes their 30% more than reasonable.


Cool. I am also an iOS developer and get almost nothing for the 30% I pay Apple. It would be trivial to build my own in-app payments system using Stripe for like 3%.

Giving customers choice and encouraging competition is a good thing.


Will your trivial custom payment system come with counter-intuitive modal popups? Unclear subscription/unsubscription terms? Inaccessible or hostile refund or return policies?

I don't want to prematurely insinuate that you or other's solutions would all have such characteristics but as a consumer I don't care how developers get paid and I enjoy the benefits of Apple's integrated UX around iOS payments and subscriptions.

But I am also a developer and enjoy benefits of open-ness and choice in my work as well so I struggle with my opinions on this issue.


Funny because I recently tried to cancel an in-app subscription I signed up for through Apple and it was borderline impossible. I'd much rather prefer to have a cancellation option in the app itself, but Apple doesn't allow that. In fact Apple's in-app payment/subscription UX checks every single box in your list.


I cancelled something the other day - got an email saying it was up for renewal in 90 days or thereabouts with a link to the subscription page and a set of options where "cancel" was afforded the same screen real estate as the continue options. Not entirely onerous, I think, two clicks?

But ok, you might want to cancel before you get the reminder email. Settings -> Your Name/Avatar -> Subscriptions -> Pick the app -> Big red "Cancel Subscription" button.

But ok, ok, you might not know that they're under your avatar which is fair, it's not entirely intuitive. Settings -> Search -> "sub" -> Subscriptions is the first result -> Pick the app -> Big red "Cancel Subscription" button.

But ok, ok, ok, you don't have your iOS device to hand. macOS Settings -> Apple ID -> Subscriptions: Manage... -> Edit the subscription (this is broken on the Big Sur beta, mind.)

If you don't have your iOS device(s) to hand, nor do you have a Mac handy, then I concede it's going to be a bit faff - https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT211011


> Will your trivial custom payment system come with counter-intuitive modal popups? Unclear subscription/unsubscription terms? Inaccessible or hostile refund or return policies?

You mean like Apple's solution?


WTF are you talking about? Subscriptions on iOS are the nicest, most customer-friendly I've ever seen on any computing platform ever.


I've never been able to get a refund on a purchase on iOS app or ever had a customer email to the App Store get responded. I think you might just be commenting on the UI? In that case - yes absolutely, it is visually pretty and easy to buy stuff.


Our small business could fund dedicated programmers and accountants to handle all that and still come out ahead compared to what we get hit by Apple for. 30% of annual revenue on Apple devices per year is millions for many small software companies. Money we used to get from direct web sales. And we have a nightmare time getting app updates released due to their opaque and unfriendly review process with no accountability. Not to mention their horrific tooling. Apple is a blight on the industry.


Yet you stay because the App Store brings you a steady stream of customers who are comfortable buying your app because of those App Review policies, the installation security, and its clear purchasing and subscription system and policies.

Perhaps you don’t have free versions of your apps, but Apple also pays to distribute unlimited free apps for no charge. And Apple spends roughly 50% of what you pay it on providing all these services, you can’t do them cheaper and you can’t do the most important on your own.

If I didn’t have to pay rent I could hire more developers, but my landlord isn’t holding me back, they are enabling me to close more business. You want lose sales on a worse App Store, I pray we don’t get waist you want.


It does not cost Apple millions of dollars to distribute our app. The only viable choice to not releasing on iOS is not having a business, one that started on the web and due to customer demand, moved to iOS. I get the value they provide, but it’s clearly not in line with the cost they charge.


I mean, all of these things are pretty straightforward with Stripe today. I guarantee if the ecosystem were more open there would be a drop-in replacement for Apple's system by Stripe available in practically no time.

If Apple wants to compete on offering a better, more seamless experience, there's nothing stopping them from doing so. I don't think anyone is arguing that Apple shouldn't offer payment processing altogether. A 30% cut and anti-competitive stance towards other payment methods don't feel like competing to provide the best experience to me though.


Who is going to paye for app distribution, app review, search, hosting infrastructure and all the other critical features developers and consumers need?


All of these things exist and have healthy competition on the web, where competition is allowed to exist and there's no gatekeepers demanding a 30% cut of revenues.


Are you then trivially going to monitor you're not breaching any tax reporting thresholds in 155 countries, register for VAT MOSS in one of the EU countries, implement IP geo-location for your European customers to make sure you charge them a correct VAT out of 27 options, and then personally do quarterly VAT MOSS submissions?

You don't know what you're getting from Apple for 30%. Which is fine. This is Apple's gross mistake that you and others are not aware of the benefits they get.


Why assume what I know and don't know? Stripe and several other providers offer all of this for a much smaller fee. Plus, I already have all of the infrastructure running on the web, so the incremental cost to support iOS will be close to 0. In fact, even if you put aside the processing fee, not having to support Apple's terrible payments and subscription system will be a net engineering benefit.


P.S. - You've edited your comment. My comment still stands

I cannot assume that a single person is not proficient in tax regulations in 155 countries around the world?

> Again, Stripe and others offer all of this for a much smaller fee.

I don't know who "others" are, but Stripe definitely doesn't offer that. https://support.stripe.com/questions/charging-sales-tax-gst-...

If you're using Stripe, you need to make sure you charge the correct tax, and it's your own responsibility to report it correctly in the countries that require it.

There are services on top of Stripe that can do that for additional fee (e.g. quaderno.io), but then again, it is worrying that you're not aware of your tax obligations taking worldwide payments via Stripe and also that you're not aware of what Apple provides you for 30%.

Not knowing either is fine, but I'd say both are Stripe's and Apple's faults that you are not aware of this.


why is Apple spending nearly 50% of those App Revenues on the App Store? You can’t do a good job at App Review alone for Stripes fee, and App Review is critically important for developers and customers.

You are completely clueless if you think payment processing is even a tiny fraction of what the App Store provides.


An in-app purchase system isn’t an App Store, and isn’t remotely similar. You get worldwide access to hundreds of markets in dozens of localized stores all in a system that makes billions of customers feel secure in purchasing from you. You also get Appleto distribute your apps for free as well! Spotify alone uses terabytes a day distributing to free users.

Opening up to other app stores would be a disaster for developers. Less secure, more scam are and malware, more confusing, lower consumer confidence, Balkanized app search, higher dev costs to support more stores, and for what? 20% fees at best?

Apples margins are publicly documented, no one could run a profitable app store for less than 20%.


> Apples margins are publicly documented, no one could run a profitable app store for less than 20%.

How can you say that if apple didn't allow the competition to exist? We cannot see if someone can innovate enough to cut that margin maybe even far more than what apple made you think is the "minimum to be profitable" because apple does not allow that

Isn't this exactly the startup playing field? When there is a market standard of which some pseudo monopolist says "well no one can do better than this" and then a innovative competitor joins in and distrupts?


What are you going to cut? Security? App Review? Are you going to refuse to distribute free apps?

How come Google Play doesn’t cut their fees?


Start giving the chance to competitors to enter the market, then if they cannot undercut apple you are right. Until they can't even try, we don't know.

Maybe they will even just "compete orthogonally" instead of just trying to work around the parameters you talk about. I don't know... maybe a store without IAPs will be born where games cost more but you get the full game and you know the author is not gonna try to gamify-casino you. Maybe someone will make a store which allows me to buy an app both for android and iOS in a single purchase at a lower price than buying both separately.

Maybe whatever, I don't know, but I for sure want to know what I could get.


I’m a developer and I don’t want alternate apps stores making the developer and customer experience more complicated, less secure and more confusing, all in hopes someone might charge me significantly lower fees.

Google Play is proof that lower fees isn’t going to benefit devs. No third party store has been able to use lower fees to take any significant market share.


Do they break out specific App Store revenues and costs somewhere? I see Net sales for "services" (which presumably includes App Store) at $13.1B last quarter and the cost of sales for "services" at $4.3B.

If that was entirely off the 30% App store cut, they clearly would not need anywhere near the 30% to cover their costs (net sales are >3x cost of sales). But, lumped together with other services its hard to say anything specific about App store.

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/pdfs/FY20-Q3_Consolidated_Fin...


Is 30% reasonable? I don't think anyone is arguing it should be zero, but 30% is quite a lot.


Apple has huge economies of scale and its public services margins imply costs are roughly 10%. That’s why you won’t see app stores offering similar functionality charging less than 20% ever.


Apple derives more value from an app ecosystem than just the 30% cut though. By the logic of looking only at App store margins as the value of the app store, Apple should immediately refuse to support Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and tons of other apps, since they provide zero revenue and probably use pretty significant bandwidth.

Just having a healthy app ecosystem is probably worth more than the actual money you're pulling in from the apps themselves.


Apple does see this. That’s why they only get 30% from paid apps and subscriptions, and spends huge amounts distributing free apps at the same time.


"Only" 30% of revenue from all transactions done on their platform is a cut that any non-monopolistic platform would dream of.


Then why aren’t Android app stores charging significantly less, when they don’t even provide the same level of services?


Epic charges 12%.


Epic is arguably the example that proves the point. They're literally paying companies to give games away for free on the Epic Games Store, week after week, presumably in the hope of making it a big enough player to make the money back sometime soon. Short-term financial viability is clearly not important to them. Yet, despite all that, their cost-cut store still can't implement basic features like a shopping cart.


I doubt it even costs them 12% to deliver games over a CDN. On a break-even project, the entire budget for the game would be only 8 times that.

I think they charge whatever they can get away with and meaningful competition will drive it down dramatically.


Apples documented service margins put App Store costs at a minimum 10% of app revenues.


If Apple provided it, I don't trust it. There are infinite ways to arrange accounts.

"We simply can't give you a raise, we don't have the budget."

I think if there was competition, their prices would drop dramatically, and that would show you how much it actually costs them.


I said similar functionality.


By building their own payment system, Epic is definitely arguing it should be zero.


Parent comment mentioned App Store rather than in app purchases.

Epic themselves charge 12% IIRC for their store.


The App Store runs both app purchases and in-app purchases. Epic wants to be able to bypass the App Store for IAPs, paying 0%.


For what Epic is doing, it should be zero. Let's say you buy Fortnite at Walmart. Walmart gets its share from the sale. Walmart doesn't get a share for every in-app-purchase made thereafter.

You might say, if Fortnite were given away, Walmart wouldn't stock it, because it would just take shelf space. Perhaps that's true, but who says that Apple needs to give (virtual) shelf space to free apps?

They could hide away apps that don't bring them money. In fact, that's effectively what they're doing anyway: Unless you have tons of downloads or you get featured, you are invisible on the App Store.


LOLz. Being able to distribute free versions of apps is a huge developer benefit. There is an entire top Free Apps list front and center on the store for customers to see.

They are hiding away Fortnight, because it’s demanding a free ride on a pay product.


The difference is that Apple’s “store” is the whole device, not just the UI for downloading apps.

Apple owns the building that allows apps to set up shop and sell their services. As part of that deal they get a cut of every sale.


You also don't see other app stores preventing apps from including their own payment systems. Because how people pay for additional content inside an app is completely not the distributor's problem.

Sure, many other app stores provide extra value in their systems for in-app purchases and a developer might see fit to use that system since it reduces friction, but usually it is voluntary. Obviously, not every app even does in-app purchases.

This argument that Apple's rules around in-app purchases are necessary to pay for the ongoing maintenance of their platform is completely bizarre to me. That money is completely separate. What if Fortnite didn't have in-app purchases? It would cost Apple exactly the same amount of money to distribute it and to provide development tools (which, by the way, every developer pays $100 a year for up front anyway). Yet Apple wouldn't be making those juicy margins from in-app purchases. Would Apple be in the right to demand Epic add in-app purchases? Would you be making the same argument?

Anyway, if that's the argument Apple is going to use, they're fucked.


So your argument is that vetting dozens of Fortnite releases a year, hosting and distributing them (terabytes a day) across hundreds of international stores in dozens of languages, providing secure installation and other APIs, etc, etc, etc, should be a free device Apple provides Fortnite?

Interesting.


I think they should charge for that service in an honest and fair way, and if they don't do that I think there's a clear argument they are being anticompetitive.


They charge in a very clear and honest way. So no issue there.


Apple should either charge based on usage of their resources i.e

% charge for payments through apple pay

$ per million downloads/updates for hosting

or provide the ability to sideload or use third party app stores

That way app developers can choose whether Apples store is worth their overhead.


That would be a disaster for developers. Right now the App Store will distribute as many terabytes of your apps as you want, for free, and only charges a fee when customers actually buy. It’s the greatest software marketing machine ever and access is only $99 a year.


The vast majority of Apps receive effectively no marketing from the App Store, they are invisible except for a brief moment when they're listed under "latest".


You aren’t using the store correctly if you believe that. Marketing isn’t just “ads”. Look it up.


There's millions of apps on the App Store and of those, only a few hundred are visible at one point in time.

Are you telling me that millions of apps are just not using the store "correctly", that Apple would feature them if only they had "looked it up?"


Are you joking? I’ve been selling in the App Store for nearly a decade, haven’t had an app ranked in any chart for at least 5 years, do zero advertising, yet the checks keep rolling in. Explain how.


> Explain how.

I'm supposed to explain to you why your apps, of which I know nothing, keep selling?

For one, it might have something to do with the fact that you have been on the App Store for a decade and that your apps do actually show up in recommendations. Not every App gets that.

Secondly, whatever your Apps do, they might be referenced on aggregators. When I look for an App to solve a problem, I google it. Inevitably, I'll end up on some site comparing apps for that purpose. The App Store doesn't do anything for me here.

You need to understand that you're the exception and that your experience doesn't generalize.


The web is the greatest software marketing machine and it‘s open and free.


Apple pays developers more.


More than what? No one is paying 30% for payment processing on the web.


Tens of billions a year more.


Something insinuates that you're not being entirely honest in your arguments.


Could you be more specific? Or say why you think that? An accusation like that should either not be spoken, or should have something concrete to substantiate it.


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