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Why I’m Willing to Pay a Premium for Security, Privacy, and Peace of Mind (tirania.org)
121 points by codyogden 30 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 95 comments

This is an exercise in self-validation because author has invested into an ecosystem. The examples are cherry picked, and motivations are invented to justify author's own bias, while ignoring all the evidence that would discredit the arguments. Notice additionally how the legal 'mitigation' is assumed to be flawless and can only ever be used against bad actors, it's the classic cartel defense of "their store their rules". Think _very_ carefully to when you saw a similar set of behaviors and what impact those had on the technology ecosystem.

This is a legal between two greedy, monopolistic bullies. It is not necessary to pick sides, and it baffles me that so many commenters feel the need to do so. Neither company cares for you; their interests may sometimes _align_ with yours, and they will exploit whatever means necessary, market whatever features necessary to focus your attention on those specific attributes. But make no mistake that their first duty is to their investors.

No dear author, I disagree that you are paying for any of those virtuous virtues that you tout. You are paying to enable a terrible set of behaviors which you are unable to forgive in another company, while you advertise your iBlinders™ to the readers.

I have nothing to do with that ecosystem, yet I find the arguments fairly compelling. So "maybe your explanation isn't broad enough."

Freedom and chaos are aligned; they're correlated; it's not news. Likewise authoritarianism is usually pretty orderly, at least for some definition of order (generally they achieve their own).

For example the principle of free speech, and the openness of certain platforms, is what enables lots of entities to expose people to their ideas. Including let's say the FSB, who tend to use it to sow seeds of discord, confusion and disorganization among the populace of their old adversary the US. Whereas Russia's internet is partly sanitized of "foreign ideas," a practice that offends our sense of freedom of speech, but you have to admit that it's very hard to infiltrate and subvert the Russian Federation with those ideas as a result. Things are orderly, again for some definition of order.

This is completely off-topic, but you either seriously overestimate the amount of censorship in Russian internet (which includes not only Russian citizens, but also Russian speakers elsewhere, of which there are many), or - more likely - seriously underestimate the amount of censorship in popular "global" social networks.

Among popular (non-Chinese) communication tools, Facebook is the most censored. It censors based on ethics, politics, commercial interests, it censors both public posts and private messages, and it does not allow anonymity. The level of censorship in, say, VK (which you're probably thinking of) is not even close to this. And yet, so many people perceive Facebook as a "free" place where FSB can sow whatever they want, and want even more censorship there. Yay freedom...

Also, if you think that Russian internet is more "orderly" (in any definition of "order") than the "global" English-speaking one - I'd say you're misinformed about that too. It's even more of a mess, to be honest...

I believe I'm accurately assessing the situation in America, in that any social networking site is much easier to "get your work published in" than any major (or minor) newspaper in the 20th century. The democratization of information means anyone can have a voice and be heard - including idiots, trolls, and clever organized trolls who turn idiots into useful idiots. (I'm not comparing e.g. Facebook to a theoretical completely open forum as you suggest.)

I can't truly speak authoritatively about Russian censorship, as my Russian language skills aren't very good and these are all things I've heard second-hand. But (back to the US) the issues, topics and tactics I'm talking about would hardly even get the attention of a censor in America anyway. You can stir the pot just by saying something like "African-Americans deserve reparations to compensate for slavery." Nobody is going to censor that. But it's poking at a long-time rift or scar in the American body politic and is almost guaranteed to flare up into a flame war. Especially if you have some other username arguing the opposite point, and a few trolls goading people on both sides.

I think you were a bit unfair because this is Miguel de Icaza, Google him up. He has probably invested (both in money directly and/or programming hours) into EVERY ecosystem you can think of in the last 25 years, paid and unpaid ones.

Agreed. Coming from Miguel, this has 100x the weight of some random schmoe on the internet. Tons of respect for what he's done over his career, and his position on technology and freedom issues.

>and his position on technology and freedom issues.

In the linked article he is cheerleading in favour of closed-off platforms, and promotes ceding control of your software to a third party as a good thing.

But even before this Miguel de Icaza had no integrity left to speak of in my opinion. Some random schmoe actually would have been more believable.

>But even before this Miguel de Icaza had no integrity left to speak of in my opinion

Yes that, for me he always was on the side which had the most money, before it was Microsoft (.NET is the coolest thing ever...that was before Nadella) and after he sold Mono, Apple is the new cool shit...did he already praised Swift for being the coolest thing ever?

I understand this is HN but we need to have some perspective.

Go talk to the consumer. I'd be willing to bet not a lot care about "ceding control of their software." The amount that do, don't matter that much.

Time and time again people on here bloviate about topics such as these, but no action is ever taken. In fact, many on here are just working on more data collecting, more adtech, working at the FAANGs themselves. They tout Data science and ML but somehow want privacy, despite the fact that they rely on the data generated by all of these apps.

This developer utopia doesn't exist and never will. It's best we all be realistic about this reality and understand that just because you can put up with command line doesn't mean Joe from Turtle Creek PA wants to to look at email. And he's willing to give up something for that.

Well, the alternative we all face is ceding control to many various hidden, anonymous, and often malicious actors. Thereis a lot at risk: your privacy, avoidance of falsified information, your possessions. I am all for closing that off.

>Thereis a lot at risk: your privacy, avoidance of falsified information

Like Facebook Google and Amazon?

You are making an Appeal to Authority.

Privacy is a tough problem - I know many people - very intelligent people - who have given up and have figured out their compromise.

I use apple devices, and although I see their good points and bad points, I think pro-privacy is apple marketing rhetoric.

(examples: no firewall possible on ios; "content blockers" are opt-out -- with no way to determine the sites being visited; apple creation of iBeacons plus no ability to turn off bluetooth in quick settings; more dark patterns as time goes on)

> very intelligent people

I don't think being intelligent and standing for your values is related.

They just chose the easy path over the uncomfortable one, the only difference with someone dumb is that they knew what they were doing (and so have no excuse).

I'm not throwing stones at them, I did the same exact choice and I don't feel particularly good about it. I use the 2 most privacy abusive OS there is, Windows and Android and I so distrust them that I can't even have a diary.

>> Neither company cares for you; their interests may sometimes _align_ with yours,

That's the best we can hope. It's not really like every day developers didn't see Apple's anti-competitive behaviour. It's just that they had zero chances to win it in courts. Not to mention the risk of bankrupcy and mental health issues one can experience fighting with such a big, resourcefull bully.

"It is not necessary to pick side, and it baffles me that so many commenters feel the need to do so."

Putting aside the ever-presence of "shills/influencers", I believe when users argue over one bad option versus another, it gives them an illusion of choice and control, or at least it is a type of response to an absence of choice and control. The differences between these tech companies are fewer than the similarities. The "good" option that a rational user would prefer does not exist.

In a "lesser of two evils" situation, it is fascinating how easily the issue of the "evil" itself is forgotten. A common response to the issue of the evil itself might be "We don't have a choice." 100% correct. Yet people behave as if they do, arguing vehemently for one evil over another and inflating minor differences between the two.

I completely understand the argument here, but the problem is that there is no other option. I think that there is a middle ground here if Apple allowed users or apps (i.e. a secondary app store) to install other apps without going through the Apple app store. If you want to stay in Apples walled-garden you have that choice, otherwise, install your own apps.

There are arguments about how well this works in the Android ecosystem, but I think that simply having the ability to do it, even if inconvenient is a world of difference than being beholden to a single entity. Imagine if Windows only allowed you to install apps from its app store. You could make all the same arguments that it should be able to do this just as you would for the Apple store.

> If you want to stay in Apples walled-garden you have that choice, otherwise, install your own apps.

That’s not the only option here — you could also just use an Android phone to begin with.

I’m a happy iPhone user and the fact that it is a closed ecosystem is part of the reason why... I’m happy to pay that premium (both in cost and flexibility). I don’t want my phone crashing because some developer pushed out a buggy update and they didn’t want to pay the iOS developer fee.

You can be perfectly happy so long as the app you rely on is available. If Apple decides to axe it (cough Hey cough) you and the developer are at their mercy. It doesn't matter that you could've bought an Android to begin with. The rules are changing while you're holding onto a device and that should not be possible.

I like to play Fortnite with my kids. I hook up an Xbox controller and play on my iPad Pro. One kid is on a Switch, the other on an Xbox. As of yesterday, I can’t play with them. I very much miss that experience.

However, I still support Apple’s decision to pull them from the App Store. Why? Because I don’t want there to be another mechanism for in-app purchases on iOS that isn’t subject to parental controls. I love my kids, but there is no way that they should be able to buy anything from an App that I haven’t approved.

Note: I’m sure this would never happen with my kids as they know better and we’ve discussed the perils of in-app purchases and avoiding installing games they see in ads. But their accounts are locked down, just the same.

I absolutely agree with Apple's decision to pull the app. However I don't agree that you should be forced to use the App store. If Epic had the choice maybe parents wouldn't let their children play because of the lack of parental control. That would be a good thing, since that's actually market competition at work. As it is now, Epic's model isn't even allowed to fail.

A lot of these types of arguments are just kind of absurd and flat. We are developer the rules are what we make them. Apple can allow other software stores while still having effective parental controls. None of these things are mutually exclusive.

False dichotomy. No one is claiming that Apple shouldn’t be able to provide the option of limiting phones with parental controls to the main App Store if the parents set it up that way.

> If Apple decides to axe it (cough Hey cough) you and the developer are at their mercy.

Consumers and developers have very different interests. Locked down system is good for consumers, not so much for developers. I'm a consumer, Apple makes its money mostly from consumers, so it makes sense keeping it as it is.

I want to use the app and Apple won’t let me. How is that in my interest? Do you think you will always agree wit Apple‘s rulings? Also the Apps Apple is selling come from developers (and it’s a billion dollar market), so the idea that everything‘s fine and there’s nothing to see here is rather ignorant.

> I want to use the app and Apple won’t let me. How is that in my interest?

No problems here, I will just pick another app, there are so many to choose from. And the app will be safe to use, Apple‘s rulings work great for me.

„It works for me so it’s fine“ is a terrible argument.

I'll rephrase, "Apple‘s rulings work great for consumers".

He is a consumer. It doesn't "work great" for him.

Why then he bought it in the first place?

I am mostly happy with my iPhone. I disagree with the power Apple has over developers and users. I don’t have to be 100% happy with a product I buy.

The fact that iOS is closed doesn’t in practice take away my freedom as a user basically ever. The store is overflowing with apps, the prices are comparable to the Play Store and there’s nothing but minor functionality differences between Android and iOS.

The fact that the App Store is closed really takes away freedom from developers and publishers who have no choice to play ball with Apple and who I am always happy are getting constantly bullied into not being shitty to their users.

It really is pretty amazing that Apple gets to take 30% off the top for the privilege, Apple wouldn’t have any real leverage if companies didn’t mistreat users to the point where Apple’s garden is a panacea.

In theory that sounds like an alternative but in practice it’s not.

Developers are not going to create two versions of the same app, one for the App Store and one for an Alt Store on the same devices.

If enough apps decide they rather develop for the Alt Store without the rules of the App Store, that’s where people will migrate if they wish to continue using said app. This happened on the Mac already where some developers decided to build their apps outside of the Mac App Store due to constraints.

Whether you agree or disagree agree with Apple here, or wish for there to be alternatives, this is a factor that shouldn’t be ignored.

A lot of the security model on iOS is because the AppStore restricts what entitlements you have. I’m sure the the first thing any third party store would do is drop those restrictions.

I’m also sure that any of those stores would sell out the users to get software on their store: want Facebook? Remove the requirement that apps don’t abuse and invade the privacy of users. Facebook wants access the the home directly? Sure! Epic wants a list of other games installed on the system? Why not?

Malware works by appearing legitimate, and using that to get a foothold.

All companies like epic want is to profit off another company’s work without paying a cent for that - remember iOS users don’t pay for OS upgrades, so Apple isn’t making a pile of money of every user, every year.

The alternative is the Android model - there is no support or upgrades once the hardware has shipped, because once it’s been purchased it no longer produces revenue.

And the App Store does not one lick of good to help the User get any better about not falling prey to Malware.

Instead, the App Store is another layer of control through which overall control over competition can be exercised.

A completely valid model that allows all comers, bit weeds out Malware, is to loudly announce what something is actually doing.

Hey! Your Bluetooth is hyper-promiscuous! Hey! Your baseband processor is shoving stuff down the pipe! Hey! Your note taking App is trying to access your contacts, Photos, Mic, and files!

If you do not create a way for your User's to grok what the thing they are using is actually doing, then you're not ultimately out to empower them. You're out to empower you.

> Since apps run under a “sandbox” that limits what they can do, you do not need to reinstall your iPhone from scratch every few months because things no longer work.

One thing I really wish, is that this would apply to all apps that ship with iOS as well. That you’d be able to remove any application from your phone and reinstall it, including things like Camera, Notes, Messages, Calendar, Wallet, etc, etc. I realize that this is probably not feasible, because these included apps might be integrating with the system in a deep way. But it’d be really nice if it was possible. As it stands, Photos on my phone is consuming a lot of storage space from photos that were removed months ago. The only path forward in order to reclaim my storage is to do a factory reset – I just haven’t gotten around to it yet because I have some device-only data that I need to save elsewhere first.

And furthermore, in this way, if I could replace some of the built-in apps along with their integrations, with custom alternate apps of my own. But this I think will never happen. Still, it is the one thing I wish iOS supported. So that I could for example use a custom camera app directly from the lock-screen instead of only being able to use the built-in camera app from there.

Apps that you can remove.


I totally agree with Icaza's points and they are the reason I'm still an Apple happy customer but there's another side to this that of all the players that could fight Apple it just happened that Epic was the first one to gather momentum (and have the actual balls). What I am saying is that it's a bullies fight and just because the one pointing fingers is an old dirty bully at the school yard we can't ignore the uncompetitive bully Apple is right now. It's easy to forget this after all the arguments of the article.

very true and this scenario can play out like this, when Google is broken up and we are left with only Apple for mobile solution, what do you think Apple will do then if not checked right now ? If we are looking at a future of Apple only mobile phones then it is good to check em.

Suppose Google is broken up and Android dies (not a necessary consequence, also because some company could keep it alive.) Apple won't license iOS to other phone manufacturers and many people on the planet won't have the money to buy an iPhone. There could be a scenario starting with two or three mobile OSes, including a 100% open source Android, with an endgame of one of them taking the 80% market share Android enjoys now.

What reasonable scenarios do you see that would lead to a world where only Apple made smartphones?

Google being broken up

So if Google broke up (and you give this a high probability of occurring?) you think every smartphone manufacturer besides Apple would fold?

yeah because you lose Google Maps, Gmail etc etc....all the other services that make Android. Without that all those other manufacturers are making bricks.

Google is facing anti-trust with the DOJ looking to split them up, so its a very certain future.

That future is already there with tablets and smartwatches

Ok, so in your scenario it’s not a break up. But a nuclear strike. Everything Google has ceases to exist if this happens and no one else steps up to take over or fill the gaps?

There are no other email providers? There are no other map providers?

email sure, who else other than Apple maps comes close to Google Maps ?

Maybe Open Street Map? But if your fear is that Android would die without Google Maps I’m reasonably confident a replacement could be found that isn’t an Apple hardware device.

The same is true for the other services that Google provides.

There's openstreetmap and Here maps (used to be Navteq).

Push messaging would be the trickiest thing to replace, because every app backend that pushes needs to be able to push to all the push services (or do their own long connect/periodic polling), which could be a lot of services to integrate if there's not a manufacturer consensus.

If the SDK forks, that's even more diversity in the system, but Android is already super diverse so...

Non-quantitative security arguments are nonsense and really need to stop.

"Consider the iPhone. The hardware, operating system, and applications were designed with everything a security professional loves in mind. Even so, modern systems are too large and too complex to be bullet-proof."

That statement, and many others like it in the article, leads you to believe that the systems are good, but provides no actionable information other than a hedge saying that the system is imperfect. How imperfect is it? What is a viable threat? What quantitative effect do the mitigations have? Without this type of information it is just parroting content-free marketing speak.

Here is actionable information. Bug bounties correlate strongly to the cost of discovery for a class of attack. Therefore, Apple thinks it takes less than $1M to create a remote no-install zero-click kernel arbitrary code execution [1]. If you need one click, then $250K. If you need an install, then $150K. Given the nature of software, after such an attack is discovered it can be deployed in bulk with minimal extra effort, so you really need to divide the cost over the number of targets that can feasibly be attacked to evaluate the "marginal cost per attack". How widely you think a remote no-install zero-click attack can be distributed will tell you what that number is.

To provide an example of such an attack here is a post-mortem done by Google Project Zero of 5 exploit chains being exploited for 2.5 years before discovery [2]. They mention that the sites received thousands of visitors per week, so a conservative estimate would be 130k visitors/5 exploits for an average of 26k targets per exploit. Assuming this falls under the first category of attack, that means the marginal cost to fully compromise an iPhone is ~$40.

So, the total effect of every mitigation they do is raising the cost of exploiting to $40/iPhone which is not secure by any objective metric.

[1] https://developer.apple.com/security-bounty/

[2] https://googleprojectzero.blogspot.com/2019/08/a-very-deep-d...

"In the battle over the security and privacy of my phone, I am happy to pay a premium knowing that my information is safe and sound, and that it is not going to be sold to the highest bidder."

Meanwhile, "Secret Service Bought Phone Location Data from Apps, Contract Confirms". https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/jgxk3g/secret-service-pho...

Um, that would tend to support de Icaza's argument, no?

The app in question would presumably be denied by Apple.

> The app in question would presumably be denied by Apple.

Why would you presume that? How would Apple even know?

Many popular apps collect location data, and this is allowed on iOS. Once the location data has left the device and been transmitted to 3rd party services, Apple has no control or knowledge of what happens to the data.

This article does not answer the question how Apple‘s privacy and security model would be impacted by 3rd party stores. In fact, there already have been 3rd party stores with business certificates and you can sideload without a developer subscription, although the app will stop working after a week. None of this has impacted the App Store model so far. I have yet to hear a good argument that this will be the case.

Because most people are not tech-savvy and will accidentally end up installing malware and whatnot?

I’ve had to help factory reset quite a few Android phones because they were being spammed with sex ads notifications and the search engine was being hijacked (wouldn’t be surprised if they had also been infected with keyloggers and secretly uploading photos and such).

As I said these issue already exists with sideloading and private App Stores. Some of those issues are alleviated with the OS model, which simply doesn't allow to change the search engine and install keyloggers. If someone chooses to leave the App Store and be vulnerable to issues such as sex ad notifications and secretly uploading photos the issue should be how it's communicated. I haven't used an Android device in a while, but the last time I used one it was a simple dialog and you could install whatever you like. On the Mac you have to open the settings and permit every unsigned application if gatekeeper is active. Something like this seems like a reasonable solution.

There are apps on the Play Store which will put ads right on your lock screen…

A huge amount of the security model on iOS is by virtue of the AppStore - it’s the AppStore process that ensures apps don’t give themselves entitlements that completely break the platform security model - eg give themselves system service entitlements, get access to user data, etc

That's fine, Miguel. But it should be a choice. Apple's market share is large enough to have them forcibly unbundle their app store and OS businesses (like Microsoft and IE in the precambric era).

Why must Apple unbundle? Is it just that they are large and vertically integrated?

If you are against vertical integration, must they also be required to sell iPhones that can support other OSes? Must all devices support alternative OSes?

What about other things? Should Lyft be required to support the ability to use their app with an independent marketplace?

Personally, I am more worried about companies that spread horizontally, like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Is your position (that they should unbundle the App Store and OS) based on their market share or actual principles?

As in, do you think that console platforms should also unbundle those things to make it easier (or possible in some cases) to run separate app stores and/or apps on them?

Because, and maybe this is just me, I really don’t see what market share matters here. Certainly not as a comparison to MS of the 90s.

I see an obvious benefit to having unbundled console stores -- if I could buy the game from steam, I could run the same game on whatever console I have

Then. They'd have to compete on the quality of the console itself, rather than exclusives or moats based on sunk costs in owning copies of games

Good question. I was thinking in terms of market share alone.

If phone OSs were a reasonably fragmented market, you as a phone buyer could probably choose a phone that doesn't restrict what software you can run and still meet your other requirements (e.g. tight OS & hardware integration). Also, as a software maker no single phone OS company would have much leverage over you.

But some of these things could also be argued on principle.

This article seems to simply use “iOS shouldn’t be Windows” as a strawman for “iOS must be iOS.” GNU/Linux doesn’t have the garden walls of iOS and yet I somehow don’t feel any need for an antivirus or any of the other Windows problems this blog seems to be erroneously alleging are inherent to freedom-respecting OSs.

Perhaps because targeting Linux users isn’t worth the trouble? It would be trivial to implement malware on Linux (e.g. here’s Valve accidentally deleting people’s home directory https://github.com/valvesoftware/steam-for-linux/issues/3671).

Windows, and increasingly Android, suffers from viruses because they’re valuable targets. If Apple made it possible to install apps from third-party stores or websites then they’d similarly suffer.

The problem with his argument is that his premise just isn't true. TikTok is still able to spy on the user, so we are not much safer in an Apple world.

Yes, and Apple considers any ability for any app to do that to be a security flaw that needs to be fixed.

Why shit like this hasn’t gotten apps pulled annoys me :-/

TikTok is able to spy on users that download and use their app. On Android you have all sorts of malware that will be impossible to get rid off without doing a factory reset. Apple would risk the same malware issues that Windows/Android face today if they were forced to allow third-party app installations.

I’ve personally had to help fix malware infected Android phones, but I’ve never had to do the same with iPhones.

If you don't know who Miguel de Icaza is, read this first. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_de_Icaza

It will put his thoughts (and those of uninformed commenters) in a very different perspective.

Thank you so much for posting this link. I already knew he’d written Mono, the open-source implementation of .Net, but am now in awe at seeing his many other accomplishments, such as starting the GNOME project and making major contributions to initial RAID and Sparc support in Linux.

Thanks Miguel!

Great, but this really doesn't anything to do with the conflict.

As a parent concerned with his children being coerced into in-app payments likely tied to his credit card, he gets utility out of Apple being the go-between, even though .. he pretty much complains that he wants it to be more stringent, so they aren't really delivering the utility he wants for that 30%.

As an adult, if I want to put my own credit card into a vendor's website, what utility is Apple providing except for slight convenience? I don't even keep my credit card attached to my Apple ID because I don't like how they batch payments and always seem to want to pull one 3 days before payday. I go onto Amazon or other sites and buy digital gift cards which I preload into my Apple ID.

And for this extreme inconvenience, I pay a 30% premium. Funk Dat.

BTW, because someone will come here and say, "Why in the world would you do such a convoluted thing?", an apple payments support tech suggested it to me. In fact they outright recommended against anyone attaching a payment method, ever.

Apples rules are arbitrary and protect nobody, probably don't even Apple itself.

Please Apple continue on this this path and force every bit of tracking to be opt in through very annoying popups and hopefully decimate the whole targeted advertising segment and this greed of extracting as much data as possible from devices.

It is amazing that while Americans are trusted to hold guns, they can't be trusted to run apps. Isn't pulling triggers much more dangerous than clicking on OK buttons?

This is why I started building my latest project.[1] I want better privacy from all digital services (that use my personal email for logging in), and better security for my inbox (eliminating spam, phishing attempts, malware).

A world where digital advertising fades away, and security and privacy are always prioritized, can't come fast enough.

[1] https://owlmail.io

I would and do pay a premium for all of those things too, but that doesn’t mean I’m ok with not being able to buy books directly in the Kindle app, or genuine (sandboxed) terminal emulators not being allowed on iOS for arbitrary reasons. Several of Apple’s policies around the App Store are user hostile and prevent innovation, and have nothing to do with security or privacy.

Personally I understand the arguments of Apple's ecosystem being locked down.

But I think Apple and Google both have a significant revenue stream from world society as most people use smart phones.

Like AT&T and RCA of days gone by they need to have their free money spout regulated.

They've clearly made billions but that 30% cut needs to go down. At least that's what I see as a solution.

Something like 7 to 10%. Thoughts?

What should the customer acquisition, marketplace, transaction, distribution, and experience support cost be for free apps? Something like 7 to 10% of what?

The judge who ruled against Epic on the breach of contract wrote:

”There appears to be evidence that everyone that uses these kind of platforms to sell games is charging 30%. Whether Epic likes it, the industry and not just Apple seem to be charging that. Right now, Epic is paying Apple nothing. Epic itself charges third parties.”

I don’t think we should get to tell Apple what the % is, they’re a private company.

However, i am ok with adjusting the amount we charge them for use of public services - their reliance on the rule of law, that we’re not at war etc. etc. becomes more valuable in absolute terms to a company, the more payments it accepts within a jurisdiction.

I think it’s totally fair to invoice for govt services based on the value of them to the company.

To be clear this would not be like taxes on profits, i’m proposing an invoice against receipts.

That would introduce a level of red-tape that would make any bureaucrat faint. Can you imagine billing any company for the cost of government services directly? Billing for the “rule-of-law”? That would be a completely unworkable system.

Plus, if you did this, what would stop the company from increasing their percentage in order to pay for your new taxes?

But what you’re describing is the logic behind a progressive income tax. The more money you make — the more important the system (rule of law, security, etc) becomes to you, so the more you should pay. At least, that’s the theory...

>> That would introduce a level of red-tape

    Jurisdiction X hereby decrees the tariffs for tax year 20/21 as:

    Receipts not more than $X = tariff of $Y


There is no market force to provide for proper price discovery of those services. It's only fair to regulate it if Apple is unwilling to subject that business to competition.

Jurisdictions become participants in a market for access to their buyers.

I dont agree with your condition of fairness but i woukd point out Apple has already established vehement unwillingness to compete on app stores anyway.

Isn’t that why sales taxes exist?

No, that’s paid by the consumer

> that 30% cut needs to go down

I think that will be a hard pill to swallow for many other developers. If there ends up being pricing regulation of the Apple App Store, you can be sure that the same thing will come down Microsoft (Xbox), Sony (Playstation), Nintendo, Facebook (Oculus), and every other platform’s digital store. All of these charge 30% (or close to it). Focusing on the 30% figure is the easy path for regulation, but it will have far-reaching consequences.

Notice — when Microsoft signed on to the Epic vs Apple fight, their concern wasn’t the fate of Fortnite and their fight against the 30% App Store fee, or even the rights of Apple to control what is and is not in the App Store. Microsoft’s goal was to protect the access of the Unreal engine for other iOS/Mac developers. Microsoft’s support for Epic is very focused in this regard.

I am also very happy with Apple putting down sensible rules in their app store.

Unfortunately, a lot of people are, how can I say it lightly, scumbags that will try to do anything to get more money.

When you think about a couple of rules that do not make sense at the first glance and look like corporate greed, when you think about them in depth, they do make a lot of sense.

Let’s talk about the “Do not mention that you can subscribe out of the application” rule, for example. It does look like a cash grab, but actually this rule prevents people from offering “discounts” with different terms of service and cancellation options, severely damaging the mobile app platform.

Why should the fee be proportional to the price? If it’s about supporting infrastructure, take a percentage based on load on the infrastructure.

Too bad he gobbles up Apple's speech... he should know by now that actions speak loader then words.

Author works for Microsoft: company which ships un-removable spyware in their flagship product (Windows).

Do you have thoughts on the merits of his argument or only ad hominem attacks?

I prefer not to argue with hypocrites - it's a fruitless endeavor 100% of the time.

Given people like pointing out that consoles lose money on each sale, I wonder what the profit margin of an iOS device is over the average supported life time?

Major Android vendors selling at similar prices to Apple, who don’t even have to pay for OS development seem unable to afford to provide support for 6 months, let alone The 5 years Apple supports a device.

What is the margin after 5 years of support?

Who is paying to provide that support, if not the companies that are benefiting from the platform, and that platform’s longterm support and consistency?

It's the developer who pays, not the user. The price is set according to demand. If Apple takes 30% from that or not doesn't influence what price you can set because it doesn't influence what people are willing to pay.

The author is not paying any premiums. He is happy that the developers pay them for him and he doesn't care at all that the creators now make 30% less and have no way to go around that system.

Surely the developers charge more and in the end it’s the users that pay more?

I mean that’s literally what Epic was doing.

No, not surely. This is basic economics. The price isn't influenced by what it costs to produce. The price is set according to what users are willing to pay. What users are willing to pay is influenced by how much money they think it's worth, how much money they have and how costly other options are.

In case of Fortnite there is no competition (no one else can offer that game and there isn't really any similar option) so additional money comes purely from developer's pocket. Sure, they could have been charging more to make a point or because they think iOS users are willing to pay more in general but the users don't really care where 30% of the price goes to. It doesn't influence their buying decisions at all.

If Apple is a rentier then no, the users don't.

Price respons to cost structure change depends on price elasticity. Not all prices are passed on to purchasers.

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