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App Review process updates (developer.apple.com)
541 points by BigBalli 19 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 640 comments



My update, which has a new feature but no bug fixes, is currently in limbo because the reviewer is getting mysterious proxy connection errors that no customer of mine has ever reported.

I saw another developer today say their app was "rejected" because the reviewer asked "How does the app utilize Touch Bar and where can we locate these features?"

This kind of crap happens all the time, and I don't see anything in this announcement that will help. App review is just plain incompetent and terrible.


I have had an app rejected because it described the ingredients necessary to cast a spell that could cause damage to others.

This was in an app for managing a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

I made some trivial change and resubmitted without issue. I'm still annoyed by that.


That’s actually pretty funny.


I worked on a dating app that would almost always get rejected because the reviewer would find a profile that had partial nudity or someone in a sexy pose and would just reject the whole binary for that reason. Even for major bug fixes. Even for a feature we had added that would make it easier for users to report inappropriate photos on our app. They were holding back that feature because they found an inappropriate photo in the app. Updates would take on average 4 weeks to get approved. Very infuriating.


Sounds legit to me, it's an extra push for app developers to be extremely vigilant about their content.


We were trying to add tools to make it easier to find lewd profiles; their app review process was stopping us from releasing the tools that would allow us to fix the problem.


Why is it the job of app developers to do this? Also why can’t apps display lewd content? None of this makes sense.


Because it's Apple's phone, Apple's operating system, Apple's app store, not the developers. Does Disney allow lewd content on Disney+ or at Disneyland?


No, it's my phone, that's why I had to pay hundreds of dollars for it. If every video I watched on my computer had to be approved by Disney I'd be just as outraged.


Then go ahead and install YOUR operating system with YOUR rules and YOUR apps. Yes it’s your physical device and it’s exactly like they sold it to you with a license to use Apple’s software (iOS) on it and everything that comes with it. It was YOUR choice to buy an iPhone or something else.


> Does Disney allow lewd content on Disney+ or at Disneyland?

They have the equivalent store-brand label for that.

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


Touch Bar sucks. I cannot wait until they start offering the option to not have the Touch Bar; it's such a gimmick; I bet I'm not the only one who'd pay more to NOT have Touch Bar, but have the physical function keys instead.


Lenovo tried the Touch Bar approach on the 2nd gen Thinkpad X1, and ended up getting rid of it in the 3rd gen (2015) version. Maybe Apple will follow suit?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgkB6T6LrhQ

Wow so this isn't even 'new' on the Macbook... I had no idea the gen 2 carbon did this...


And Art Lebedev also introduced an Optimus Maximus keyboard, where each individual key has a tiny display -- yet every key is still a physical key -- back in like 2008 at CES -- 12 years ago -- with smaller prototypes and announcements for several years prior to that (they've even got vapourware awards because production has initially been delayed after a lot of initial attention -- it's finally hit the shelves in 2008).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ5rX6WpxTk

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

https://www.artlebedev.com/optimus/maximus/

They were pretty expensive, and looks like they've all been sold-out and are no longer manufactured.


Touchbar is the most stupid and user hostile feature on MBP (getting rid of replaceable battery being the most hostile).


What about foregoing all the useful ports on the MacBooks, because USB-C is the future, and yet then 5 years later still not being able to use the same headset on both the MacBook and the iPhone?

(Because your USB-C headset can't be used on an iPhone, and iPhone doesn't have a headphone jack that MacBook still has, either -- so much for sacrificing the regular USB ports so that we can all quickly switch to USB-C!)

P.S. Yes, I can use the same headset on MacBook and Android -- either the headphone jack or USB-C work great on both.


I really frigging hate it, but one of the best things I ever did was to put a custom version of the standard buttons with free spaces on both sides: now I can rest my hands on the keyboard without continuously activating the sh*tbar.


I literally camped out the refurbished macs section until I found the specs I wanted without the Touch Bar. Took like 4 months, but I got it cheaper than new so it was worth it IMO


I'll be special-ordering MacBook Air as my next laptop, because the work only provides MacBook Pro, and MacBook Pro is not available with a professional (physical) keyboard -- only with Touch Bar.

I really hope they release an Apple Silicon MacBook still without Touch Bar.


I'm using MB Air 2020 now because of that, just couldn't stand Touch Bar in my previous MB Pro. It is slower unfortunately, but at least it has normal, usable keyboard.


The only thing you're missing is the F1-F12 keys, is this really so awful for you?


With TouchBar, you cannot change volume quickly without looking at the keyboard, spotlight gets activated all the time as you lay your hands around the keyboard -- yes, it's really that awful for many folk.

A lot of people use MacBook Pros for software development and Terminal access, and F1-F12 keys are often mapped to specific functions, from console software in Terminal, to cross-platform web browsers, to VirtualBox and such. It's not that difficult to remember which Fn key stands for which functions if you're a professional, it's easier to document Fn than the special case of a pictogram that's only available on select hardware, and Fn is 100% backwards-compatible, cross-platform and supported through Terminal OSS applications, plus much faster to use if you're a professional.

If you're a non-professional user who's never used F1-F12? Yes, sure, the TouchBar might be distractingly enjoyable to look at.


As a non-mac user (and also not a professional in your terms), one of my biggest gripes about keyboards is that full 5250-style 122+ key keyboards (with f1-f24, without a fun/modifier key) are either old (massive & won't fit nicely on my desktop) or expensive ($100+). Neither one has analog volume control, which I use frequently, and windows doesn't make it easy to map them, though the new windows powertoys feature might help. The color is also annoying (older are all beige, newer tend to have beige keys, which looks even weirder), but that can be fixed.

See here for the whiny text file I've been keeping notes in: https://gist.github.com/Efreak/d0d327517ab806e2abc9f193ad5ea...


You can make the touch bar surprisingly useful if you can install some third party software and configurations. I use a one call Better Touch Tool and its really good, It's worth a try. Here is a previous HN thread on it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20229226


You can already change the Touch Bar settings in macOS to put back the default keys as would be on the physical keyboard; the problem is that it's still not a physical keyboard, and you get phantom key presses as you lay your hands around the keyboard to be able to push any key you want without even looking at the keyboard. Not to mention the loss of the haptic feedback.

The fact that Touch Bar is a "premium" feature, yet many folks would pay MORE to NOT have it, shows you that Apple merely doesn't want to admit the defeat, because there'd be plenty of people who'd pay more just to get the newer hardware without giving up the physical keys.

P.S. The same actually goes for the oversized Trackpad on the latest 2019 MacBook Pro 16" as well: I've enabled Tap to click on MBP16 as on all my prior MacBook laptops for years, and I'm getting phantom clicks everywhere all the time now; it's really annoying, and one of the reasons why 16GB Quad-Core 2020 MacBook Air 13" is on the only decent MacBook out there, even if you have an unlimited budget to spend -- I wish they'd at least offer more RAM on it, if that's their only actual professional machine at the end of the day!


Stubbornness may be a pattern from a computer hardware company offering only a single button mouse for decades


It honestly just seems ridiculous that 3rd party software is required to restore 'basic' keyboard/computer functionality to a feature that few people seem to enjoy having in the first place.

If people want the touch bar, fine, have a separate SKU for that, but at least give those of us who want a real keyboard the option to have one.

It feels to me like Apple should have taken an "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" approach. There was, and is, nothing wrong with a traditional keyboard, yet for some reason they decided that changing something so fundamental was a good idea. In fact I would probably be less miffed if their systems came setup with Dvorak, at least it's possible to argue reasons why it was a good decision.


Now in 2020, they actually already offer all keyboard layouts on any laptop in their US store, all at no extra cost -- which is really nice -- you can get a British, Japanese or Russian keyboard directly on any laptop when purchased directly at Apple.com for US delivery on a US credit card -- at no extra charge -- and it's advertised to still come with a correct US-based plug, so, there's nothing to worry about.

I wish Lenovo would follow suit. Currently, Lenovo doesn't even sell separate SKUs for non-en-US keyboard layout even on external keyboards, not to mention keyboards already integrated into the laptops. But in any case, I'd rather have the physical keys than the TouchBar strip, even if accompanied by a laser-etched keyboard layout of my choice.


> You can make the touch bar surprisingly useful if you can install some third party software and configurations.

From your link:

> I'd recommend BetterTouchTool and things like finger swipes for volume up/down and brightness up/down and showing things like Spotify.

That sounds less good than function keys. If that's the best pitch for the touch bar, that is the very definition of damning with faint praise.


Don't devour me… But I really like it. It can do a lot more than F keys and I've never really used those.


Similar experience.

Had an app reviewer when my app first launched, who was complaining that 2FA was failing for them, so they couldn't allow the app to go live.

I was livid. It had worked for EVERY beta tester.

It turns out it was 100% the tester's fault. It "mysteriously" fixed itself. Aka, they realized that the 2FA was via email instead of SMS and finally after 2 weeks of back and forth, passed the app.


I've been having similar issues with one of our apps, the reviewer can't seem to log in and keeps getting network error messages. No customers have had any issues, I've tried logging in to multiple accounts including the apple reviewer account on multiple networks and I have no issues whatsoever. It's really frustrating.


I had the same issue once and was convinced that I must have pointed the reviewer account to the wrong server. I spent 2 days debugging before I finally asked the reviewer to check their network connection, I was approved the next day. They did send a nice response admitting the issue was on their end, lesson learned.


> lesson learned

Did they learn a lesson, or just you?


Just me, spend ~15 minutes sanity checking then just ask them to test again.


Yep, I've been hearing a lot of issues like this for the past week. It's definitely an issue with their internal test servers, and even though hundreds of different apps are having the exact same issue, they keep insisting it's the devs fault...


Apple takes 30% of all sales and yet can't even hire skilled quality assurance workers to run the approval process for their App Store?

There needs to be real competition in the mobile app distribution space because this is absurd.


I don't think the problem here is with the QA workers. This is clearly a bug in the underlying internal test framework, which the QA workers have very little info about. And the likelihood of a given worker seeing enough of these errors for them to realize it's an issue with the system and not the app is fairly low.

The real issue is that the engineering team who maintains the internal app checking system 1. needs to have infrastructure to detect abnormal amount of a given error and 2. need to notify the QA team so the QA team can communicate it with the devs, rather than just blaming the apps.


You'd think people would look at the initial healthcare.gov mess and make some conclusions.

One of which should maybe be "Don't strictly isolate teams, with unowned space between their output and the next team's input, and no method by which post-delivery failure reflects back on them."


Apple said they review 100,000 apps per week.

I don't think anyone can do that sanely at scale.

Which is why nobody should try.


1,000 - 2,000 dedicated quality assurances workers could review between 1 to 2.5 app per hour each week. Adding more personnel cuts this number down drastically.

It certainly can be done. Besides, this is a problem Apple has decided it can handle, since it decided that its customers can't benefit from competition between app stores with different approval processes.


In my opinion, legitimate competition between App Stores would make the iPhone strictly worse for myself and for everyone I know that owns an iOS device. For me, the mandatory app review process is the big differentiator between the iPhone and Android and is the main reason why I have not switched.


> 1,000 - 2,000 dedicated quality assurances workers could review between 1 to 2.5 app per hour each week.

Are those people even out there and available?

I mean, maybe there are right now because of Great Depression II, but were they available from 2008 to 2019?

As a company, Apple is generally against remote work, with only grudging exceptions, so that's another issue in hiring.


Microsoft used to have far more manual testers than that.

2000 testers isn't unreasonable.


> Are those people even out there and available?

There are over 4 million of software engineers in the United States alone, and I'd wager that many of them are capable of doing QA. Apple is a company that is able to pay competitive wages for their talent.


I'm a software engineer, and I would never want this job. It's got to be incredibly boring and tedious.

Most reviews are for minor app updates. "Bug fixes and performance improvements." Ho hum. Twitter and many other companies release app updates every week, just because they can.

I suspect the job of app reviewer has a pretty high turnover.


> I'm a software engineer, and I would never want this job. It's got to be incredibly boring and tedious.

That's cool, but testing roles exist throughout the industry and some people choose QA as a career.

I wouldn't want to be an IT support specialist, it sounds like a boring job to me, but that doesn't mean that there aren't a million career support specialists employed by trillion dollar companies like Apple.

I'm sure people would line up to be paid well to work on Apple's QA even if you wouldn't.


To be fair, software engineers are in the kind of luxurious position where we can actually say something like:

I don’t enjoy doing this job so I won’t do it.

I don’t think that’s true for the majority of people, who just happen to do a specific job because they’ve been trained for it and it pays the bills.


Especially the fact that QA folks don't need to be software engineers or even be paid SWE wages.


But, you're a software developer. As a developer testing isn't the exciting part of your work.

I'm also a dev and have had the chance to work with top notch QA testers. A good QA engineer is a blessing. Unfortunately that is not what an apple app reviewer does. Their work is much more boring.


Some software engineers are in it for the pay. If you offer them a relatively easy (even if repetitive) job for the same pay, they will jump on it. You can't judge these types of thing based on your personal preferences, you have to take a step back and look back at all the people you knew in college, I think you'll remember some who would be perfectly fine with this line of work.


As a consumer, I'd rather Apple sometimes do a bad job and sometimes piss off developers than do nothing. I'm certainly not saying that Apple is doing a good job, but for most end users, the alternative is strictly worse.


If it can help you, you should know that they test everything over a VPN that doesn’t support UDP. So if your app makes use of UDP you’ll need a fallback method.


UDP is fine. We have apps on the App Store that use UDP. This is likely a NAT related issue. That is not going to be an issue just for App Store review, but also for tons of other networks out there. As of lately, carrier-grade NAT deployments are very common.

It's usually impossible to establish a two-way UDP "connection" between two peers that are both behind NAT. This varies depending on the type of NAT. If just one peer is behind NAT you can typically establish the "connection" using NAT hole punching. If both peers are behind NAT you may need to proxy the UDP packets using an intermediary server.

There are protocols for hole punching, such as ICE (https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc8445), but you can also roll your own - if you control all endpoints.

"Connection" in quotation marks because UDP is a connection-less protocol, but the NAT port mappings that are established are sometimes referred to as a connection.


What, so iOS can't run UDP-dependant apps at all?!


What kind VPN doesn't support UDP!?


For example, I've never managed to establish any sort of UDP connection over an AT&T line, neither home nor cellular.


UDP on AT&T and other carriers is just fine, but you need to do NAT hole punching or proxy the UDP packets. See my comment to the grandparent.


Is this for macOS?

We have the same issue and have never been able to get our macOS app approved (not a big deal but... annoying).


iOS, we don't have macOS apps so haven't run into it there but could be a similar problem.


Latency issues? Perhaps the reviewer is on the other side of the globe?


Firebase auth?


We once got rejected and they sent a screenshot back of an error. The screenshot wasn't even our app.


May I ask: if it was, how was that situation resolved?


It's been a few years since I developed for iOS, but I guess via the "escalate this issue" button in the review dialogue.

So many of our updates were first rejected by a reviewer in the first round for bogus reasons and after escalating them were quickly approved. With both of those steps taking a few days each, this made updates on iOS such an annoyance that we put it on a slower release cycle than Android.


Apple test everything on a VPN. This issue took me 2 weeks to resolve, and they had to whitelist the IP addresses for the provider I used :(


It's the inconsistency that makes me worried every time app review takes longer than a day. And then that dreaded message "New Message from App Store Review Regarding xxx" arrives, for something that has been in the app since 1.0.


I've honestly been successful just retrying, uploading and submitting the same build. Got it through the 3rd time.


Wait, there are actual people reviewing every app update on the app store? Doesn't that require crazy amounts of manpower? Are they code reviewing or testing the app or what?


They verify that the app preforms what it is supposed to be doing and doesn't negatively impact the device.

A code scanner will be run that examines the system calls and makes sure that it isn't using internal/undocumented APIs that may cause the app to fail when the operating system is updated.

And yes, this is done for every app and every update. Free and paid. Yes, it requires a crazy amount of manpower.

This is also something that introduces a human component to the review process - it is possible to get someone who misinterprets how the app is working or how a particular rule is applied to the review of the app and human mistakes can be made.


The Apple code scanner is buggy. I had an app rejected for an alleged call to an internal API that the app does not actually call. I had to appeal to the app review board, who approved my build, but it delayed a critical bug fix.

Friends have seen the same problem, with different bogus API violations reported.


It's not particularly smart.


No code review since you only upload a build. The reviewer usually runs the app and pokes around a bit. You can provide them with test logins if it is an authenticated app. They have certain things they look for (errors, payments not through Apple, etc.)


> Wait, there are actual people reviewing every app update on the app store?

Apple's made themselves the sole arbiter when it comes what software is allowed to run millions of people's phones, so I'd hope so!

Imagine the bureaucratic nightmare that would erupt from automating that process, and the businesses that will live and die based off of an automated filter deciding whether or not their products can be sold to users who want them.


> Imagine the bureaucratic nightmare that would erupt from automating that process, and the businesses that will live and die based off of an automated filter deciding whether or not their products can be sold to users who want them.

Google is doing that right?


I'd sure hope not. Surely that would draw the ire of the FTC or other regulatory bodies.


I believe they run a bunch of automated test on an internal test server, maybe some parts get flagged and re-tested manually if I had to guess.


Yea... Thats what that 30% pays for.


No, that's what the $99 a year pays for. You can create and upload a free app to the App Store and Apple gets nothing.


You realize both things can pay those salaries right? Paying customers subsidizing non-paying customers is rather common. Also you know free apps have in-app purchases right?


Not every free app has in-app purchases. My city, Seattle, has an app called Find-it, Fix-it where I can report potholes or abandoned cars. One Bus Away is an app that shows bus arrival times. I have grocery apps that show me what's on sale and give me digital coupons. None of these apps have in-app purchases.


If no apps had in-app purchases, there's no guarantee that Apple could still pay those salaries.


By Apple's definition, these Apps have not contributed anything to the App Store and Apple.


Mind Sharing the reason for downvote? That is what Apple state in their reply in multiple outlet and emails to developers.


Your app helps Apple sell devices and their margins are large.


Fewer than 1% of the apps in the store will have any effect whatsoever on Apple's hardware sales. Easily 99% of apps are long tail products that don't influence prior decision-making.

AS for margins, once you factor in Apple's high spending on R&D and engineering, their margins are fairly normal. Apple are financially successful because they sell high quantities and don't chase the extreme bottom of any market. Notice for example how they don't (currently) offer any mainstream external displays.


Interesting how I'm being voted down here, but nobody wants to disagree with anything I said. Is what I said even remotely controversial?


Stuff makes me wonder ... what does it take to be an apple app reviewer? Could I do a better job?


I suspect the problem is not primarily one of individual skill. It's one of volume/workload and incentives that don't prioritize fairness to developers.

It's probably exacerbated by the lack of sideloading and alternate app stores on the platform.


Yeah I did some googling and it seemed to indicate the reviewers are actually at Apple... with the scale of work I would expect they were not / be someplace cheaper.


Could sti be hired at Apple directly, but at another city/country with cheap wage costs. No clue though where they have their employees.


What Apple needs is to invest in reviewers that are also good developers who can then spend half their time reviewing apps and the other half developing tools and processes for improving the review process.


I'm no longer engaging with you, because you completely rewrote your comment after I replied to it. That's highly misleading to readers.

The reply below should be flagged and moderated for completely unacceptable behavior.


When it comes to development as a creative skill, good developers know that being deeply involved in the problem helps them to build the best possible solutions.

Bad developers are the brilliant ones who already have so much expertise and intelligence that they don't need to get their hands dirty. Their solutions will tend to be engineered to perfection—and inferior.

——— Edited amendment ———

Note: the following was my response to these paragraphs by lapcatsoftware which he subsequently deleted. I've kept it here because I think it helps explain my point for other people.

  > What does this even mean...
  
  > Would you suggest that Craig Federighi spend
  > half his time on app review? If not, then who?
  
  > It's all too easy to say that someone (not me)
  > should do the unpleasant thing.
The best way to understand an undefined problem is to live it.

When you don't have a bounded problem space, e.g. "we need software solutions that will help improve the efficiency, consistency and quality of our app review process" then half the job of a developer is creative and explorative, not performative.

Internal tools don't need to be finely crafted pieces of excellence, they need to make the lives of the people using it better. If I was building a team to improve Apple's processes, I'd task a dozen developers to live the problem for a while and then have a dozen solo missions to build tools which make their lives easier.

Suggesting that when I said "good developers" I meant Craig Federighi—let alone anyone with the skill to make significant positive contributions to an operating system core—is absurd and disingenuous. I'm talking about the B+ developers here, not superstars or executives.

You might say that App Store reviewing is beneath you, but I think that's short-sighted. I think it would be fascinating.


That's almost a free bug report. That's a good thing. Investigate.


> the reviewer asked "How does the app utilize Touch Bar and where can we locate these features?"

This kind of arrogant behavior really makes me mad.


Why is this arrogant? If they are asking about the Touch Bar, it's most likely because the developer mentioned adding some feature to the Touch Bar in the release notes and it is not apparent what that feature is. You can't advertise something that doesn't exist.


No, the developer did not mention Touch Bar in the release notes, and the app has no specific Touch Bar features.

Nothing about Touch Bar is required in the App Store guidelines.


False. If you are using touch bar libraries you MUST have touch bar features and the reviewer can ask you where they are.

This really shows why apple needs to be strict with devs. They will include third party code (ad networks etc) without enough care - the networks then try to device fingerprint etc.

And 98% of the touch bar library use with no touch bar feature is abusive.

They should let devs appeal, but if a dev lies and claims no touchbar library use when there is some, ban their account permanently. The reviewer in these cases may want to see the touchbar feature that justifies library use, the app author saying they don't have any touchbar feature means use of library is improper.

So many devs do NO due diligence on the third party libraries they import.


> If you are using touch bar libraries you MUST have touch bar features and the reviewer can ask you where they are.

Ok but there are no touch bar libraries in this case.

> They will include third party code (ad networks etc) without enough care - the networks then try to device fingerprint etc.

Not the case here. Also, if this issue was triggered by code, then it would come up in every update, instead of just occasionally at random.


My point is simply there are guidelines around touchbar - despite your claims. Stop trying to claim that there is no guideline - as I have repeatedly pointed out - if you are using touchbar libs to fingerprint devices for ad networks - that is not allowed as one example.

If this app wasn't doing any of that, then great! The reviewer was wrong. But to claim no rules around touchbar usage and calls is entirely false.


> Stop trying to claim that there is no guideline - as I have repeatedly pointed out

As I have repeatedly pointed out, I was never trying to claim that. You are arguing against a straw man.

You're right. You win. The straw man is defeated.


I have a hard time following you: it's been clarified that the code in question didn't reference the touchbar, neither directly nor indirectly. That's the whole point.


You either referenced NSTouchBar or included a library that did so. Sometimes it is as simple as a error reporting library or ad network client trying to enumerate the device hardware.

The Human Interface Guidelines explicitly lay out what is allowed and not allowed with the Touch Bar. For example, you can't turn it in to an extended display. https://developer.apple.com/design/human-interface-guideline...


> You either referenced NSTouchBar or included a library that did so.

Who are you talking to?


You were speaking authoritatively about the underlying code of an app that had a review issue related to Touch Bar, and made an incorrect statement that there are no design requirements for that feature. I was giving you guidance on why that item gets flagged for review.


> You were speaking authoritatively about the underlying code of an app

I know the developer, who was talking about the rejection.

> that had a review issue related to Touch Bar,

Several other developers chimed in and said they randomly got the same exact question. It's not a "review issue" per se, although it does prevent the app from getting approved. It may be some weird kind of obnoxious poll Apple is running. (Apple really wants devs to support Touch Bar.)

> and made an incorrect statement that there are no design requirements for that feature. I was giving you guidance on why that item gets flagged for review.

No, this is an incorrect interpretation of what I said. What I meant was that the App Store Review Guidelines don't require you to support the Touch Bar. You can have a Mac App Store app with no Touch Bar customization. None of my apps have any.


Yup, sounds very much on par with our experience. On the first version of our app, we especially mentioned in the review comments (and configured in the release build) that we do not support iPads, as that wasn't a priority for our initial release and would have required additional testing work. Review came back as rejected with a comment along the lines of "Hey, why don't you support iPads?".


I wonder if that is because of the technical skill required to do app reviews. If you are "too competent" as a coder, obviously you'd go and be developer somewhere else instead so I suppose it is kind of a requirement for people who reviews app submissions to not be as competent as developers as those people submitting the apps?


I doubt you have to be a full on developer. Probably along the lines of a QA tester. Some overlap for sure with developers but a different skillset mostly. I think it would be interesting to work as one for a while just to see how the sausage is made though.


I agree but there is a thin line. I've seen a lot of really good QA testers slowly start patching issues on their own and grow into proper developers. I think there is a very small window where a QA tester can be the best QA tester he/she can without getting into the developer territory especially if it involves reviewing code.


Then Apple should pay their reviewers enough that they're able to do their job without having to jump ship to another employer. It seems like Apple doesn't care enough to do so, though.

It's too bad that there isn't real competition on iOS app distribution.


That's not what I was implying at all. It's not about money. If a person learns to actually write software on their QA job, why would they not do it for a living? In most cases, it's a more satisfying job to have. The assumption I made was that if a QA person who also reviews code a lot becomes really good at the job, they are very likely to try and become a developer themselves.


> I saw another developer today say their app was "rejected" because the reviewer asked "How does the app utilize Touch Bar and where can we locate these features?"

This might not be an Apple policy, as much as a reviewer just holding the app maker hostage until they get their personal feature request approved.


We’ve been making white-label apps for fitness businesses for a few years now. Our white label app allows fitness businesses to deliver better personal training experience to their clients. Personal trainers and their clients can use the app to plan and track workouts, track progress, chat with each other etc.

Recently, Apple started rejecting our white-label app because allegedly we are breaking their "3.1.3(b) Multiplatform Services" guideline. As per the guideline, if a business is selling digital content on other platforms that’s accessible inside the iOS app then those items should also be available as an in-app purchase on the iOS app too.

This was very surprising because we always thought personal training services to fall under the category of "goods and services" and not digital content. And as per guideline “3.1.5(a) Goods and Services Outside of the App” we aren’t even allowed to use in-app purchase selling services.

But Apple reviewers disagree that our app falls under the “services” category. According to reviewers, since clients are getting "digital value" from the app we therefore must add an in-app purchase to the app.

We are ready to add a free tier to the app. But that is a no-go solution. We must add in-app purchases of some kind to get the apps approved.

The "3.1.3(b) Multiplatform Services" guideline does not make sense. You can use the same guideline to force any for-profit business that offers anything useful inside an iOS app to add an in-app purchase. How is this even allowed?

By the same reasoning apps built for physical therapists, doctors should add in-app purchases too?

And why is Uber not giving a 30% cut? Their customers do get digital-value inside the app.

Not sure if this new change can actually help us.


This is a blatant attempt by Apple to extra their 30% rent on business that happens outside of their App Store. It's shocking that one of the wealthiest companies in the world acts this way towards small developers and companies.


> It's shocking that one of the wealthiest companies in the world acts this way towards small developers and companies.

It’s not shocking at all. Corporations pull this kind of shit constantly.


This is corporate strategy running amok. Clearly the whole app review has been scaled up and is now using less than stellar resources quite possibly unfamiliar with the OS and basics of business beyond the training they received.


I think you're misunderstanding this rule. If I made a phone game where there was a "store" where I could buy physical stickers but each sticker pack came with a code for 10,000 in-game coins Apple would see that as just a way to get around paying 30% for something digital.

And if the only way to get in-game coins was by buying stickers off-app Apple would say you have to offer buying them in-app too as an IAP.


Yeah, when a rule has all these bizarre apparent loopholes and where the rule-setter needs to examine the implied intent of the action... it might be a bad rule.


I think any system of rules is going to look weird and organic when they have millions of people trying to rule lawyer the system.

Like the basic tenant of “we take a 30% cut of the sale of all digital goods on our platform” is pretty straightforward, you only run into weird rules when you try find ways around it.


How are we trying to find way around it? We don't want to sell anything via IAP because it does not make sense in our app. But somehow we are forced to do it.


Look, I don't at all think you're trying to get away with something -- I think you're caught up in weird rule that was intended to plug the loophole of "selling a stick of gum that comes with a free bottle of water." From the reviewer's perspective they see that when personal trainers sell their services to clients they're also selling your/their white-label app. To Apple that's a sale of digital goods and they want their pound of flesh. The fact that it's bundled with an IRL service doesn't seem to matter to them.

You might be able to get away with skirting this rule if your white-label app is just a client to a fitness tracking service. Then it should fall under the same rules as Netflix and other "reader" apps.


tenant (occupant or renter) -> tenet (principle or belief)


fwiw, multiple big games I can think of do exactly what you described and are still on the iOS store. At least one of them brings in millions USD a month AND the out-of-app-only purchase flow is a huge money maker. Google lets them get away with it too, though, so it might just be a "big companies obey a different set of rules" situation.


I have been thinking of using this loophole for ages but have never seen it done. Mind sharing the name of the game?


Granblue Fantasy is in the iOS store and not only has bonuses for direct purchases (through their website) but sells lots of physical merch at a large mark-up with pack-in serial codes used for getting game content. There's a sizable chunk of their playerbase that goes out and buys everything - when they put something out it tops the Amazon.jp charts every time


I feel like someone at Apple either lost the script or made a mistake around getting in the middle of these services. Why try to force the WP app to add IAP or your app? It can't be for the money. Let's be real, unless Netflix or some other huge service provider comes back, Apple is ruining their reputation over literal couch change (last I checked 1/3 of services money came from Google paying to be the default browser...). So is there some other reason? Does Apple really think it offers a better consumer experience?


> It can't be for the money.

That's right. Huge multinational corporations famously don't like money.


Don't underestimate the power of immoral mazes. With a corporation the size of Apple, the middlepeople are all very far removed from the specifics of what does and doesn't generate profit and instead are following their interpretation of directives and attempting to appease their superiors -- which may or may not be quantified in monthly revenue. I imagine in the case of app review, their performance metrics can't be expressed in revenue, so their must be using something else to grade themselves.


Probably how many apps get reviewed/rejected/approved/escalated in a certain cycle.

My suspicion is the focus is more on the first than on the last of those statistics.

If the focus was on the last we’d hopefully not see so many spurious rejections.


> That's right. Huge multinational corporations famously don't like money.

In some cases yes. The whole concept of 'Innovators Dilemma' is built on this fact. Squeezing an extra million here or there is a waste of Apple's time at their scale. It doesn't move the Apple revenue needle. Getting WP or some fitness app, even in aggregate to give 30% of a subset of customer subscription does nothing for Apple except hurt their brand. It probably actually costs them money from losing brand value.

Google OTOH pays Apple billions to be the default and/or first position on the search list. That's why we're unlikely to see an Apple search engine anytime soon.


You are right. It is like meeting guidelines have become more important than any thing else.

And in our case adding IAP will surely make for a poor user experience. How a fitness business can serve users that sign up for an in-app purchase from anywhere in the world. A personal trainer can't help everyone. They have a specific niche and specific type of people they can and want to serve.


So if I'm understanding this right, you sell "app as a service" to personal trainers who then direct their clients to download the app you made them and track workouts.

I think the "digital service" is the app itself because you only get access to the app if you're paying for a personal trainer. So I guess they want you to support buying the app directly not as part of a personal trainer package even though I'm guessing nobody would actually do that.

It definitely seems like you're running up against the rule meant to prevent "buy a coffee and get in-game coins free as as way to get around the 30% cut."


Yes, we build apps for gym and personal training businesses. Most of the value is delivered in-person or Skype (assessment, workout design, taking client through a workout etc). I feel like the guideline is not clear cut.

The personal training business has a high marginal cost and unlike games or other digital services, the value can be unlocked immediately after in-app purchase.

I feel the marginal cost of a product should determine what qualifies for this guideline. But for now we are in limbo.


> By the same reasoning apps built for physical therapists, doctors should add in-app purchases too?

It would be really useful for me to pay my copays with Apple Pay for telemedicine, for what its worth. I'd love this as a feature.


Would you still love it if the price has to be raised 30% to cover the IAP fee?


He would love it because he would not be allowed to be informed about the existence of that surcharge.


Well thankfully that's against Apples ToS and my insurance plan


Not if they raise it everywhere to cover it. This is exactly how Apple's policy can raise prices for end users.


Competitors without apps will not raise their prices, though.


No, YT simply charges a higher subscription fee if you do it through the Apple in app purchase.


Is it really against apple's ToS to increase in-app prices to make up for the 30% fee?


It was part of a set of changes that were meant to go into effect in July but that Apple rolled back. You're allowed to charge a different price but you can't tell the user that they can get it cheaper elsewhere or that you're paying 30% to Apple.


I don’t think Apple Pay integration would incur the 30% fee. It would be closer to a CC transaction fee. ~3% (based on Stripe).


All IAP for digital is added a 30% fee in iOS (unless you are a big company that might make a backroom deal like Amazon).


But Apple Pay isn’t IAP.


You're right, but the discussion thread is about Apple requiring mandatory IAP (not just Apple Pay) before it will approve an app that sells fitness services, and then the discussion went into payment for telemedicine service - which presumably also require IAP and its 30% fee if Apple is consistent.


If it is for non digital goods, you can use Apple Pay (standard credit card rates) instead of IAP. Uber uses Apple Pay. Somehow TurboTax uses Apple Pay.

It is completely slimy that Apple forces apps that support personal trainers who take clients online 30% when if it was for a physical training session they wouldn’t have to because they were forced by Covid.


He said Apple Pay, not IAP. Apple Pay charges a standard credit card processing fee of 2-3%. The Uber app for example allows Apple Pay. Not IAP.


30% fees are only for digital goods/services. Real-world goods and services don't incur them.


Wouldn't a telemedicine appointment using the app for voice/video be indeed a "digital" good?


That's a good question. Personally I'd think no, as it's a real-world service (healthcare) that just happens to use a video call, but Apple's now-infamous hunger for services revenue growth may feel differently.


The Apple/Facebook dispute over the 30% for digital events (Apple demands 30%, Facebook thinks nobody - Facebook included - should be taking a cut) seems to make clear that Apple believes you owe them a cut no matter what as long as it's digital.


Facebook isn’t getting free payment processing here. They are trying to eat their fees temporarily to lock in an audience


Facebook always gets their cut, just not from the consumer. They sell or use the usage data to undercut popular services which seems more toxic than 30% up front. If they were doing this without retaining data on the transaction I would be more charitable to their cause.


An app developer can implement copay feature on iOS using Apple pay without any issues right now.

But that is not the issue..

See I go to physical therapist for my shoulder pain and get home workout on my app. Apple is saying that you can't deliver home workout unless you add those home workouts are also available as an in-app purchase.


Is the copay due still subject to the 30% Apple tax in this instance?


Most probably not.


Shill: If it's in your market I highly suggest Kaiser! they have video telemedicine to actual doctors that's super useful for things like Flu, small maladies, follow ups. Plus I can email any of my doctors or anyone on my care team. Save a visit just send an email - even get a scripts for simple things.


This is literally the only reason I have a chromium browser installed on my personal machine. It's a great idea, but their implementation is quite bad.


I'm feeling hard pressed to find a better word than extortion to describe Apple's behaviour here. Sucks you have to deal with that.


I believe Automattic ran into this one recently. Check that none of the link to the internet allow you to open to a "plans" page.


We don't have any links inside the app that direct the users to the fitness business website. We even had a call with the app reviewer and this thing never came up. We would be happy to remove any links if they find. But I don't think that is the case.


So much is open to interpretation and Apple is not even consistently applying their own rules, ah sorry, guidelines.


They are consistent. Bigger publishers get away with much less bullshit than smaller ones. Once you are big enough you get your own apple account manager which makes business a lot easier.


Then how is Amazon's Apple Fee 15% and not 30% like everyone elses? The bigger you are the less "Rule" and more "Guideline" they are.


I can imagine reviewers getting bonuses for each app they force to offer IAP. Just speculation though.


I was once rejected because my one-window app didn’t have a Minimize button...for a game...that primarily runs in Full Screen. Other rejections were at least as pointless, every time leaving a bad taste in my mouth and making me wonder why they wasted as much time as they did.

The breaking point for me was when the reviewer refused to allow my minor update in because it “crashed” in an unreleased minor OS update that I literally could not acquire at the time. I removed my app from the Mac App Store the same day and haven’t been back.

It is a petty, pointless, and infuriating experience, which wouldn’t bother me so much if it wasn’t abundantly clear how much trash still makes it into the store and how inconsistent they are. I recommend that everyone use the “suggestion” box to suggest removing App Review entirely.


I think the first reason is a legitimate criteria. Any app that has a window is definitely expected to have a minimise button - it's very strange behaviour if it doesn't, and even games that normally run full screen should have this button when placed in windowed mode.

The second reason certainly sounds infuriating, but it's odd that the reviewer had access to an OS update that you didn't. In general, a crash on the latest OS update is a good reason for rejection because you're going to have to fix it sooner or later anyway. Better to fix it now rather than have to come back to it later.


Well the worst part was, their own Human Interface Guidelines even say:

“These options are usually visible, but can be hidden as a group, such as......, or individually disabled, such as when a full-screen app can't be minimized. ...... A title bar should be visible, but can be hidden in an immersive app like a game.”

Either way, this wouldn’t be in the top 1000 reasons for someone to request a refund for a game on the store so why is Apple even concerning itself?


Yeah, why provide an API to disable the minimize button if they're going to reject your app for using it


Because you might have an occasional transient window where it's legitimate to disable minimization but you shouldn't do this for main app windows.


Because you might use it in an app that you are not going to distribute via the public application stores. It's also possible that the reviewer made a mistake.


I don't buy this - if you add a feature to software you know it's going to get used - if they needed it for internal stuff they could add it in some private library.

And, if it's something people want so bad that you'd allow it for non-published applications then you clearly need to solve it by enabling or offering some sort of replacement for published applications.


The underlying API is a decade or so older than the current version of the human interface guidelines. It's entirely possible that if they were writing the API today, they'd leave that capability out.


> In general, a crash on the latest OS update is a good reason for rejection because you're going to have to fix it sooner or later anyway. Better to fix it now rather than have to come back to it later.

That's true, but how do you fix a bug you can't reproduce with an unreleased patch you can't acquire, which is probably the same for the general public?

There has to be some flexibility here.


Of course, but this situation should not happen. Reviewers should be using the latest OS update that is available to developers. That has always been my experience, but my experience is mostly on iOS not macOS.


In particular because Apple's stated position is "Developers should always be developing against the latest released version of the platform" (being iOS or macOS).

Throwing a rejection because of a bug that can only be reproduced on an unobtainable minor patch release doesn't seem to fit with that guideline.


Well they should dogfood their own rules and add such a button to Safari. Every time I end up mistakenly tapping Open in New Window (which I NEVER want) instead of New Tab, I have a very frustrating time figuring out how to gesture that new window TF off my screen.


Safari does have a minimize button. It's the yellow one that sends it down to the dock, and is present on every single window on macOS that I can find. Even the mini-UI palette windows like "Safari User Guide" have a mini version of the same three window controls.

But if you're trying to close a window that you didn't want to open, you probably want the red button not the yellow one.

If what you're trying to do is move a page from its own window to another window, you can drag its tab. But that's not possible if you have "Show tab bar" disabled in the view menu, the tab bar will be hidden for windows with a single tab.

Alternate workaround if you find yourself accidentally opening things in a new window by accident frequently: instead of right clicking and picking from the menu, command-click on the link to open it in a new tab. If you have a 3-button mouse, middle click will do this as well.


Yep that works for macOS. Not iPadOS.


Ah, yes, iPad Safari has the same problem but no option to show the tab bar with a single tab. If you hit the "show tabs" button in the corner you can drag it back from one Safari instance to the other, but it'll open up a new empty tab to replace it. You have to take the other copy of Safari back to full screen (to separate it from the new copy) and then use the app switcher to kill the accidental one.

I don't love this either, it's my biggest complaint about iPad's multitasking system.


The thread you are replying to involves macOS.


How do you reverse the effects of "Cmd+H" without resorting to the mouse or trackpad?


Cmd+Tab and select the program you hid.

Hold cmd and keep hitting tab if you need to cycle through multiple things, but if you've just done it the hidden app should be the first one.


Thabks for the suggestion, but IME cmd+tabbing till the hidden app is selected, then releasing (ie, standard cmd+tab ux) does precisely nothing. Hence the question.


Another thought - if you meant to ask how to restore a window after minimizing it to the dock with cmd-M (rather than hiding the app with cmd-H), there's an even less well known shortcut: Open the command-tab switcher, select the app you want, then hold down option and release command.

Doesn't handle multiple windows gracefully (if the app has another window not minimized it won't do anything, just switch to that window as normal). But if you have an app with a single window and you've minimized it, this will pop it back up.

Alternatively, you can access the whole dock directly with a keyboard shortcut using ctrl-F3 (add Fn if needed depending on your keyboard setup).


"command-tab switcher, select the app you want, then hold down option and release command"

bingo! thanks! :)


Not sure what to tell you then, since I've never had it not work.

If you tap the command quickly it should happen immediately without even bringing up the app switcher, and if you hold cmd and tab through the app switcher it does the same thing when you let go:

https://streamable.com/pn8rjb

Video recorded on Big Sur beta, but I'm sure this behavior isn't new.


"CMD + Tab" seems to reverse it just fine for me regardless of which app (ie I just tested it in Chrome).


I hate “open in new window” on iOS so much, I turned off multiwindowing because every way to close the window felt incredibly awkward.

I still have the “open in new window” item there when I long-press a link. It now does absolutely nothing if I hit it by accident. Which feels inelegant but is a lot better than “oh fuck I just made another goddamn new window when I wanted a new tab”.


Cmd-M or Cmd-W to close it. Or click that little orange button in the top left corner to minimise it or the red one to close it.


He's referring to the mobile version of Safari, which for some reason labels 'open in new tab' as 'open in background'. If you hit 'open in new window' by mistake you end up with a split screen view that can't be swiped away with a gesture; you have to long-press the tab icon to tell it to merge the tabs in the new window together with the old one.


You will never make any friends making this kind of comments. Nitpicking is bad enough, calling the OP mistaken without evidence is worse. It's just rude.


If it's ever revealed that app reviewers have rejection quotas or some other bullshit internal metric that is driving this I would be the least surprised


Internal metrics, yes. If another reviewer finds an issue in an app that you reviewed, then you get your score docked, so reviewers have an incentive to whine about everything, since there's no penalty for bringing up issues that aren't actually issues and wasting everyone's time.


Is this speculation, or do you have insider knowledge?


> I removed my app from the Mac App Store the same day and haven’t been back.

This is the only winning move.


Along with a charge back for a recent developer subscription.


Which Apple will presumably appeal and and win, because the charge was legitimate.


What if Apple's review process turned out not to be as described?


Even if they don't, say goodbye to being able to purchase anything from Apple ever again.


Doesn't sound like a big problem. It's a big company but quite easy to avoid.


How about a nice game of chess?


If your game supports a windowed mode (which it certainly sounds like it does) then I'd agree that a minimize button would be expected.


Sure it should. I think that’s good UI.

Is it the App Review process’s role to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t good UI?

Should it be the App Review process’s goal today do this?


> Is it the App Review process’s role to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t good UI?

No, it should be the Human Interface Guidelines' role to be the arbiter of what is and is not good UI.

> Should it be the App Review process’s goal today do this?

Yes. Who else is going to do it? Apple doesn't want half-assed, misbehaving apps on their store, so they enforce it at that level. It's unfortunate that such a small detail hung up an update, but a deliberate change was made to the app to remove fundamental functionality that should exist, for no reason that I can tell. Sounds like this is exactly what the process is for, and it sounds like it worked.


> Apple doesn't want half-assed, misbehaving apps on their store

Then why are there so many half-assed, misbehaving apps on their store?

I don't think people's primary complaint is the rules (although for some it might be). Most people complain about the arbitrary enforcement. Whenever rules are enforced selectively & without rhyme or reason, people get angry -- especially when it's a situation where someone is trying to make money on your platform, and your arbitrary enforcement determines whether they're allowed to do that or not.


The HIG that Apple has never followed and has published apps and promoted UX that is actively against?


Is it an HIG requirement now? AFAIK it isn't.


It is a selectively enforced requirement.


> Is it the App Review process’s role to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t good UI?

When it comes to standard OS conventions, like the minimize button, yes. I hope they would also reject a missing “Quit” menu item. Hurts accessibility to not follow standard conventions.


> When it comes to standard OS conventions, like the minimize button, yes. I hope they would also reject a missing “Quit” menu item. Hurts accessibility to not follow standard conventions.

Although Chrome's nonsense with ⌘Q, and Adobe's messing with … everything … indicates that you can misbehave on a fundamental level as long as you're a sufficiently powerful actor.


Chrome is not in the Mac App Store so does not go through review.


Good point. Adobe Acrobat (which is what I had in mind) also doesn't seem to be.


> Is it the App Review process’s role to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t good UI?

Apple certainly sees their role as being some sort of QA gate, and this would fall under that to some extent.


>Is it the App Review process’s role to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t good UI?

As their customer, that's part of the reason I prefer to use some of their products, yes.

Not necessarily as an arbiter of good vs. bad UI, but if they have some clear and explicit UI requirements that are generally agreed to be the baseline UI requirements for an app to be accepted into the App Store, I am all for those requirements to be actually enforced.

They aren't asking for some arbitrary and vague things in terms of UI design, like "the flow of the app should be intuitive and cohesive". They are asking for very basic things like "your app should be minimizeable". It is a very explicit and clear requirement with pretty much no room for ambiguity.


>Is it the App Review process’s role to be the arbiter of what is and isn’t good UI?

Yes, obviously it is. If you're asking "should it be?", that's debatable, but I have no problem with that either.


> I recommend that everyone use the “suggestion” box to suggest removing App Review entirely.

Probably not worth paying 99 USD/year just to make such a suggestion.

Just for those folks who aren't aware that you actually have to pay Apple every year for the "privilege" of having your app submissions rejected for such random reasons -- even if your app is entirely free and non-commercial.


You could have asked the reviewer for the crash report, looked for access to the OS update, looked for someone with the OS update who could test your app, waited until the OS update was released, or simply submitted your app update again in hopes of getting a more lenient or helpful reviewer.

Why didn't you do those things? I've been in similar situations many times and made poor decisions. In my case, I made those poor choices because of poor mental habits and low emotional awareness.

About 5 years ago, I started spending effort to increase my EQ and mental habits. I consulted a therapist regularly for several years, read Marshall Rosenberg's Non-violent Communication, learned meditation at a free 10-day silent retreat, and talked with people close to me about my emotions and mental habits. I occasionally ask people close to me for feedback on my attitude and behavior. All of this effort as paid off. Compared to 5 years ago, I have more stable relationships, fewer and shorter arguments, fewer days lost to playing unhappy mind-movies, and more work productivity.

I urge you to invest more effort in your EQ skills.

EDIT: s/same situation/similar situations/


Many workarounds undoubtedly exist. The question is, why are any of those things necessary?

It took literally 2 minutes to upload the update for immediate release on Steam (previously set up / approved). [...Oh, except it didn’t, because nowadays Apple makes me wait 15 minutes for their unnecessary Notarization upload to complete. 17 minutes is still faster than App Review though.]

I want to spend my limited free time on things I enjoy, such as actually making software. And at a certain point, it does not matter if there are 5 different workarounds for Apple-imposed problems; what matters is that Apple-imposed problems drain an unreasonable amount of free time and energy for insufficient benefit.


If you think my comment doesn't contribute to the discussion, please tell me why.


Probably because the app was tested on a prerelease version of macOS and you're digging into the developer for having poor EQ.


The developer got frustrated and gave up. I did that a lot. After I worked on improving my EQ, I get frustrated/angry and give up less often. Therefore I think getting frustrated/angry and giving up is a sign of poor EQ. This is based on my personal experience.

Important life decisions (like cancelling a project) are better made based on deep personal values, not as reactions to emotions.


> Important life decisions (like cancelling a project) are better made based on deep personal values, not as reactions to emotions.

I haven't read Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication. However, from the Wikipedia page, I find "Rosenberg says that certain ways of communicating tend to alienate people from the experience of compassion: 1) Moralistic judgments implying wrongness or badness on the part of people who don't act in harmony with our values. Blame, insults, put-downs, labels, criticisms, comparisons, and diagnoses are all said to be forms of judgment." This rings true to me - you're alienating people by making a moralistic judgement that the top comment cancelled his project for a bad reason and diagnosing him with poor EQ. People are reacting to that feeling of alienation by down-voting you.


You're right. I almost deleted my comment when I realized that. My comment would have been much better without the judgmental tone. Reducing my judgmental mental habit is my lifelong struggle. My EQ skills are definitely not good enough yet.

How's this for a non-judgy version?

----

That must have been really frustrating. I struggle with frustration and anger. Sometimes, I make decisions based on those emotions and then miss opportunities, alienate people, and experience negative outcomes. Things work out better for me when I'm more calm and patient.

About 5 years ago, I started spending effort to increase my EQ and mental habits. I consulted a therapist regularly for several years, read Marshall Rosenberg's Non-violent Communication, learned meditation at a free 10-day silent retreat, and talked with people close to me about my emotions and mental habits. I occasionally ask people close to me for feedback on my attitude and behavior. All of this effort has paid off. Compared to 5 years ago, I have more stable relationships, fewer and shorter arguments, fewer days lost to playing unhappy mind-movies, and more work productivity.

Since you and I seem to struggle with similar things, I think you could also benefit from working on EQ skills.

----


You seem to misunderstand the conversation; the OP was not looking for advice about their canceled app. They were relaying their experiences with Apple's bizarre policies. To switch topics from Apple to target the OP specifically is incredibly rude, and shows a significant lack of situational awareness.

I am glad that your journey to raise your EQ seemed to make you feel calmer and more patient, but please take some time to understand why using this discussion to proselytize wouldn't go over well.


The fact that Apple seems to think it is effectively responding to the mounting discontent with their stewardship of the App Store by offering developers a form to complain into demonstrates how far out of touch they’ve become.

We know from court documents that exactly these sorts of developer concerns have been discussed at the highest levels of Apple's leadership and they have consistently failed to make any meaningful policy changes. What Apple is offering now is merely an official process for disregarding this sort of criticism.

I’m sure anyone who is considering investing significant effort or resources into products built on Apple platforms will be completely reassured by this gesture – especially knowing how receptive Apple has been to criticism of its policies in the past.

This press release reads to me like “Here’s Your Complaint Form, Jerk”[1].

[1] https://slate.com/technology/2010/07/apple-s-condescending-i...


I work on an e-commerce app, we were rejected because one of our screeenshots depicts a Microsoft surface. Only Apple products are allowed to be shown...


It brings to mind all sorts of positive things they could do only as the final arbiter of the only marketplace.

As Tim Cook said it's not all about the bloody ROI.

For example, they could require that the models depicted in app store screenshots are visibly diverse in all locales.

They could require a certain level of screen reader or even color blindness affordances.

They could require that the ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) of the software be listed on the app store page.

Disclose which companies' telemetry software ships in the SDKs of the apps. List their UBOs.

Require apps to disclose their in-app marketing budget. I guarantee you this would correlate strongly negatively with app quality.

Many radical ideas.


> For example, they could require that the models depicted in app store screenshots are visibly diverse in all locales.

This is satire, right?


No, I don't think it is.

pours another glass of whiskey


> For example, they could require that the models depicted in app store screenshots are visibly diverse in all locales.

Doesn't this disadvantage smaller developers from countries less diverse than the United States?


How irate would people be if a developer from Nairobi got their app update rejected because they couldn't find an Asian woman to pose for one of their screenshots for the App Store?

I agree that diversity is a good thing, but it's important to remember that not every developer can afford to hire models to show diversity that doesn't exist in their country.


The developer from Nairobi wouldn't have an issue, because when such rules are interpreted in practice, "diverse" means "not white".


Then we can have a screenshots as a service, where you send in a bunch of screen shots, and the SAAS returns a suitably diverse range of models holding devices with the screenshots showing.

It could even be generated with a neural network so that you don't need to find or pay models, and you can configure what physical disabilities they might have.


The irony of the US exporting its own ethnic mix as a mandatory global culture hegimonic thing would be too much to bear. ;)


They could have a Screentime-type system just for being transparent about what you or your family spent in the last week on subscriptions, apps and in-app purchases, what free trials are ending, what apps have active subscriptions but no usage etc.

They could make virtual currencies show the real price if they were bought with real money. They could require 'free' transactions with virtual currencies to go through the same payment authentication.

They could make subscription apps require an ongoing service or value being added, aside from fixing their own bugs or trying to improve their software to attract new customers.


> Require apps to disclose their in-app marketing budget+

Require apps to disclose the average amount of in-app purchases per user.


UBO the way you said it brings back painful memories when it took me 2 weeks to understand all the Ownership hierarchies !


More interestingly, Apple, arrogating themselves to this role, is directly responsible for all the things that are not done, in that list and not in it.

Queue up the lobbyists.


We had some promotional illustrations on our platform with a guy holding a phone that resembles an iPhone and had Microsoft as a client. We had to take the phone out of the promotional images as it was not ok for them...

There are a lot of overly zealous people in all companies.


Car companies are always nervous if you have any icon, asset or Placeholder containing 4 wheels. Might be the competitors car model... Totally.


Wouldn’t that be good for the car company? If their competitor is going to deliver a block with 4 wheels next, I’m inclined to think their sales will rise.


I was going to say, this particular nonsense is not peculiar to Apple. I had a Kindle ebook rejected because it mentioned other ebook stores by name.


If this isn't an abusive monopoly position, I don't know what is.


The congresspeople who investigated them for a year and a half also think they are abusive.

> the investigation has confirmed that Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are all abusing their market power to the detriment of consumers

https://www.macrumors.com/2020/08/26/antitrust-investigation...


But not Microsoft who still own 95% of the desktop market. I guess the others need to start funding more politicians.


Common misconception. A monopoly itself is not illegal. What is illegal is using that monopoly/market power to keep out competitors.

Windows, as a desktop OS, generally allows you to do whatever you want with it, and does not "abuse" its position to prevent competitors from being install on the computer, for example.

If windows only allowed you to buy from certain app stores, that would be illegal.


That is not in fact “illegal”. If it were always “illegal” then Apple, Microsoft (Xbox), Sony, Nintendo, Roku, etc would all be breaking the law.


I already responded to this in another thread, but the only thing that I will do here is encourage you to read up on the publicly available, and well accepted information that the government has released.

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

"Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. "


If it were so cut and try that anyone could be an expert based on reading one FTC rule, why has it taken 30 years and none of the platform vendors - including the console makers - been taken to court? Maybe HN posters aren’t lawyers?


> If it were so cut

Are you straight up denying the government link that I posted to you?.

> Maybe HN posters aren’t lawyers?

I have posted direct links to government information here.

If you are going to claim that the FTC website is lying to everyone, then I am not sure what to tell you. You are too far lost to ever be convinced of anything.

This is the FTC website. They are the government. They are the experts. They decide what is right or wrong. They are the primary source here!

The only opinion that matters here is the government's, as they are the ones who enforce the law!

I think that I am going to listen to the opinion of the government lawyers, over the opinion of someone who is straight up denying the government approved information that I posted.


So if lawyers could prove their case just by citing the FTC’s website, they wouldn’t need to go to law school would they?

It is your opinion that the FTC summary of the law applies to Apple or a case like Apple’s unless you can find another actual real world case where a similar situation resulted in government action.

No, an antitrust case where two players collided isn’t the same thing.


> It is your opinion that the FTC summary

It is my opinion that you seem to be dismissing well accepted information about the law, that is available on government websites, and that is uncontroversial among the experts.

The information that is well accepted, and available, from the government, is that you do not need to be a literal singular firm, in order to be subject to section 2 of the sherman anti-trust act.

Instead, only having significant market power is enough to be subject to it.

This is an uncontroversial statement.

Please do not rephase my argument to be anything other than what I just said here.

> No, an antitrust case where two players collided isn’t the same thing.

The government link that I posted, is in reference to section 2 of the sherman anti-trust act, which is regarding market power that a company has.

I am not really sure what to tell you, if you are going to deny the well accepted, and completely uncontroversial opinion among experts, and the government, that is that you do not need to be a singular, literal monopoly, in order for section 2 of the sherman anti-trust act to apply.


No, I am saying your interpretation means nothing without relevant precedent where it was decided in a case of law.

If it were that easy, why wasn’t Apple or any of the console makers convicted decades ago?

Would you say someone was an expert developer based on citation from w3schools?

If it is not “controversial” where is the case law?

Can you find one relevant case where an actual judge or jury interpreted the law as you said?

Where did you get your law degree from? Where did you argue your case in court?

If you can find where a lawyer actually won a case in court based on your interpretation, I have nothing left to say.


> If it were that easy

Let me quote you again.

"Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. "

So, to be 100% perfectly clear, are you denying the truth of this statement that was released by the government?

I can't help you, if you are going to say that this statement, that is released by the government is false.

> based on your interpretation

The only thing that I am doing at this point is quoting the information released by the freaking US government, which it kind of seems like you are denying? Which is absolutely insane.


What is “insane” is that you think, it is an open and shut case that it applies to Apple until you can point to a single precedent where the law (you didn’t quote the relevant law by the way) was actually applied to a similar case.

Would you trust a summary of internet protocols when implementing the standard to make sure you are compliant or would you go to the actual RFC?

Do you think actual “lawyers” try to argue a case based on a summary and not cite the actual law, relevant precedent, etc?

If that were the case, we wouldn’t need silly things like “trials”,”lawyers”,”judgements”, etc


So you do not deny the truth of the government released statement then? Awesome! I am glad that you are not saying that this government released statement on the matter is false. Thats great!

As long as you do not deny the truth of the following statement: "Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors."

Which was the original point of all of this that I was making, then thats awesome! I am glad that you don't deny the truth of it.

As long as you are not denying the truth of that statement, then that is good enough for me!


> Windows, as a desktop OS, generally allows you to do whatever you want with it, and does not "abuse" its position to prevent competitors from being install on the computer, for example.

Microsoft got nailed for bundling Internet Explorer in with Windows and not allowing licensees (OEMs) to preinstall Netscape, even though nothing prevented users from installing the software after the fact.

> If windows only allowed you to buy from certain app stores, that would be illegal.

Isn't this the case for Windows RT, or is that dead already?


To be fair to microsoft, they really seem to hav gotten their act together in the aftermath of that event. Admittedly they seem to be slipping back into some bad habits recently. But they seem to be a good deal better behaves than Apple and other big tech companies for now. And I suspect a lot of that is to do with the lawsuit. IMO the world would be a better place if anti-trust laws were enforced stronger than they currently are.


> Microsoft got nailed for bundling Internet Explorer in with Windows

This was actually overturned during the appeal. Whether the act of bundling IE with Windows would have been itself an antitrust violation was ultimately never decided by the courts. (The OEM stuff and other actions by Microsoft were ruled to be antitrust violations, however.)


> Microsoft got nailed for bundling Internet Explorer in with Windows and not allowing licensees (OEMs) to preinstall Netscape, even though nothing prevented users from installing the software after the fact.

Umm, yeah, but Apple has this policy on their phones permanently, and I haven’t seen any regulation against that yet.


Could be the case for Windows RT but I'm not sure if that's relevant in this case because RT has a small market share.


> Isn't this the case for Windows RT, or is that dead already?

IDK about RT but IIRC this is the main distinguishing factor of 10S


That was 20 years ago.


Monopoly power is not a prerequisite for abuse of market power. And abuse of market power is not a necessary result of monopoly power.


How is it a monopoly if you can afford to leave the Mac App Store?


Its not for the Mac, but the issue is mainly focused around the iOS platform and the App Store which features a similarly if not more broken app review process. And the AppStore is the only store for iOS


Didn't know ios offer app side loading.


I can see where you're coming from but I don't see how this is monopolistic. Apple wants a consistent brand and doesn't want to confuse the consumer. Would it make sense to have a Huawei device plastered over screenshots?


Of course it's what Apple wants, that's not the question. The question is whether they are suppressing competition in such a way that it eventually becomes detrimental to the whole market.


> Would it make sense to have a Huawei device plastered over screenshots?

Why not?

An app might be crossplatform and the screenshot might be featuring these capabilities with Android or Windows.


This is common in any store, and has been this way on the Apple's app store since the beginning. No store is going to carry product marketing which actively advertises a competitor. It's best just to make device free screenshots to avoid this issue, and not have them become dated by showing a device.

Out of all the issues with the app stores, this is not one IMO.


I don't think this is accurate. We have another poster here saying they see Apple devices in marketing for Android apps, and my experience publishing to the play store says this is likely only something apple cares to police.


I was saying stores in general. Not just app stores. I don't see Amazon letting you link out to Walmart (or show Walmart ads) and vice versa. Maybe there are ones that slip through, but it's the exception.


Why would Apple want screenshots in the iOS or Mac App Store that show devices that cannot run iOS or macOS? Would Sony or Microsoft allow PS4 or Xbox devices in their respective digital store listings? No way. You should either provide screenshots without a device or show a device that the application will actually run on.

Honestly I would say it's pretty lazy to provide screenshots depicting a device where the app can't even run.


You misunderstand, they were selling a PHYSICAL Microsoft device in their e-commerce store that sells physical items. Nonetheless, showing a product you can buy in the app that is not Apple branded was not allowed.


    Nonetheless, showing a product you can buy in the app 
That would be extremely bad, but that's not the scenario the original poster described. They had a Microsoft product in their App Store screenshots.

There are countless e-commerce apps (Amazon, eBay etc) available for iOS that will happily let you purchase competitors' products.

Also worth noting that you can get Microsoft apps in the iOS App Store and that some of these apps compete with Apple's own apps.


So how does that work for Amazon, Rakuten, Alibaba, Walmart, Costco, Best Buy, et al. ?


Presumably if any of them used a screenshot that showed a product competing with Apple they would not be approved.


Once you are big enough, you do not follow the same rules.


Interesting, I didn’t know all it took was a 22.85% marketshare to become a monopoly.

I wonder if Sony will let me put a picture of an Xbox One on my PS4 game.


Antitrust laws are about anticompetitive behavior, not just monopolies.

Companies with a combined <50% of the marketplace have been found to violate antitrust laws as a result of price fixing (including Apple itself).

And yes, you are allowed to put pictures of competing consoles in your game and even refer to the fact that they exist. They just don't want them in the digital listing. (In contrast: Apple forbids this, and in the past has rejected apps for even mentioning that Android versions exist.)


You realize when standard oil was ruled a monopoly and trust busted, it only had 19% of the US oil market share, right?


Huh?

In 1904, Standard controlled 91 percent of production and 85 percent of final sales.

Because of competition from other firms, their market share had gradually eroded to 70 percent by 1906 which was the year when the antitrust case was filed against Standard, and down to 64 percent by 1911 when Standard was ordered broken up.

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


When the government (congress) first sought to prosecute Standard oil among other companies in the late 1880s for noncompetitive behavior, the monopoly label was applied. This was a part of the actual formation of the Sherman antitrust act which passed in 1890, at which time standard oil refined about 19% of the oil in the US.

I had my facts wrong though, I didn't realize that it took another 21 years after that for Standard oil to actually be broken up. That said, my point is largely more about the label of monopoly by the government than whether or not the company was broken up, so I think the argument still stands.


Market share in this case is only one piece of the puzzle. Even if they make up 22% of market share (globally, it's 60% in the US), iOS usually makes it up in number of paying users.


The App Store pays developers 50% more than the Google Play Store, despite Androids 6-1 lead in device sales.

Apparently the walled garden is hugely attractive to the best customers.


The fact that iOS users are willing to pay seems irrelevant to me.

It’s almost like calling Tesla a monopoly power in the automotive industry because they have >90% of the luxury EV market: you’ve already sub-divided the market so many times that the idea is weakened.

In reality, most people use Android, and even in the US about half of them still use Android.

If iOS is a monopoly then so is Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The dynamics of that market are quite similar.

Microsoft had well over a 95% marketshare during their antitrust saga.


> It’s almost like calling Tesla a monopoly power in the automotive industry because they have >90% of the luxury EV market: you’ve already sub-divided the market so many times that the idea is weakened.

The thing to notice about this is that you're talking about the wrong market.

Suppose I want to use an unnecessarily specific product, like the 2015 Ford Focus SE Flex Fuel with 5-Speed manual transmission, and talk about the market for fuel for that vehicle. Well actually it can take regular 87 octane gasoline, which you can get at any gas station anywhere, so nobody has a monopoly on fuel for that vehicle, no matter how specific we get about the vehicle. It's totally irrelevant whether it has power windows or cruise control because they don't affect what kind of fuel you can put in it. We can specify any of those things and it doesn't help anybody to show a fuel monopoly unless the thing being specified is relevant, which most of those kind of details aren't.

Now we want to talk about apps and phones. If you have a "phone" -- the broad product definition you want to use -- then do you have competition for app stores? Now you've got a problem. You can't actually answer the question, because the answer actually does depend on what kind of phone you have. The details are relevant. That's how you know "phones" is too broad of a product definition -- it doesn't actually allow you to answer the question about app stores without being more specific about what kind of phone it is, because different phones use different app stores.

When we're talking about app stores, the relevant market is the set of customers that can use the same set of app stores as one another. And then you know it's a monopoly if the set has only one entry.

> If iOS is a monopoly then so is Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The dynamics of that market are quite similar.

The strongest argument that this isn't the case is that it's common for people to buy multiple different consoles at once, so if the customer can't get a game on one console, they could still get the same game on another one because they actually own multiple consoles at the same time. I'm not sure if I actually buy this, because a lot of people don't actually own multiple consoles, and to that extent they do have a monopoly.

But for sure hardly anybody carries multiple brands of phone in their pocket.


> Now we want to talk about apps and phones. If you have a "phone" -- the broad product definition you want to use -- then do you have competition for app stores?

Apple's argument, which I tend to agree with, is that the user does have a choice of app store, which they make by buying an iPhone instead of an Android phone (or a Xiaomi phone, or a Kindle, or whatever).

The reason I agree with this is that, for me, the App Store and how it's handled is one of the big draws of the iPhone; I've heard a lot fewer stories about malicious software, re-uploaded software with malware installed, software that walks you through the process of enabling sideloading or enabling adb connections so that you can install this one thing one time, all of which users might have to deal with without necessarily understanding the repercussions of what they're doing.

So once you've purchased an iPhone you don't have a choice of App Store, but you do make that choice, arguably, when you purchase your phone. The biggest argument against this is that if you've already invested a lot into apps on the App Store, then there's not a lot of option to switch app stores, but there is still a choice that users can make.

> The strongest argument that this isn't the case is that it's common for people to buy multiple different consoles at once, so if the customer can't get a game on one console, they could still get the same game on another one because they actually own multiple consoles at the same time.

I'm not sure this is actually the case for most people. I don't think the typical person is going to spend, for example, $600 on a Playstation 5, and then decide that they don't like how Sony handles their store so they go and buy an XBox Series X for another $600 so that they can get the best of both worlds, or get access to a different store with different policies.


> Apple's argument, which I tend to agree with, is that the user does have a choice of app store, which they make by buying an iPhone instead of an Android phone (or a Xiaomi phone, or a Kindle, or whatever).

The problem with this is that then you have to make the choice of app store together with the choice of the entire platform including the hardware and operating system and everything. Moreover, once you make the choice, it's hard to change because there are significant transition costs, even if the apps available in the stores change.

Suppose I bought an iPhone two months ago and today I want to install Fortnite. When I bought the iPhone it was available, but how does that help me now?

Or suppose I want an iPhone exclusively so that I'm not giving my data to Google and for no other reason. Then my choice of app store is being constrained by my choice of platforms -- basically the definition of an anti-competitive restraint.

> I'm not sure this is actually the case for most people.

So then you're making the case that they do have a monopoly.


> So then you're making the case that they do have a monopoly.

I'm making the case that the phone situation is the same as the console situation, and that if you condemn one you have to condemn them all.

In fact, the situation reminds me a lot of the Atari v. Nintendo case of the 1980's[1], where Atari sued Nintendo because Nintendo was controlling manufacturing, distribution, and allocation (in other words, Nintendo allocated manufacturing resources between games however it saw fit). Again, the argument here was quality control and consumer satisfaction.

The case was eventually decided in favor of Nintendo, but the lawsuits didn't wrap up until about 1994 or so.

[1]https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1988-12-13-fi-193-st...


> The problem with this is that then you have to make the choice of app store together with the choice of the entire platform including the hardware and operating system and everything. Moreover, once you make the choice, it's hard to change because there are significant transition costs, even if the apps available in the stores change.

This is no different than buying an Xbox or a Playstation or Switch knowing that you will only have access to certain games on each platform. Yes, once you've bought the Xbox you're limited to Xbox-compatible games and it will cost a lot of money to switch to a Switch. But it doesn't mean you didn't have a choice.

> Or suppose I want an iPhone exclusively so that I'm not giving my data to Google and for no other reason. Then my choice of app store is being constrained by my choice of platforms -- basically the definition of an anti-competitive restraint.

Your choice being constrained by your personal preference is well outside the scope of antitrust law.


> This is no different than buying an Xbox or a Playstation or Switch knowing that you will only have access to certain games on each platform. Yes, once you've bought the Xbox you're limited to Xbox-compatible games and it will cost a lot of money to switch to a Switch.

Except, as previously mentioned, you don't switch to a Switch. If you have an Xbox and then go out and buy a Switch, you still have an Xbox. At which point the stores actually have to compete with one another because you could buy a game for either one.

That isn't what people do with phones. They're not going to carry two phones around all the time, but having only one destroys the competition between stores when a given phone can only use one store.

Also notice that the cost of a game (typically $50) is a lot closer to the cost of a console (<$500) than the cost of an app (typically $1) is to the cost of the average iPhone ($800).

> Your choice being constrained by your personal preference is well outside the scope of antitrust law.

How is this not like saying that a monopoly on gasoline is fine because you're only being constrained by your "personal preference" to drive a car instead of riding a horse?


Okay, but how is any of that is relevant to the original point that "you have to make the choice of app store together with the choice of the entire platform including the hardware and operating system".

It seems to me, when you make the choice of what gaming console to buy, you take the entire ecosystem into account. When you make the choice of what phone to buy, you do the same thing. That's not an unreasonable thing to do in either case.

You're framing it as if you had no choice of what phone to buy and now you're somehow stuck with an iPhone with all these restrictions you don't like. But you did have a choice when you made the original purchase!

> Also notice that the cost of a game (typically $50) is a lot closer to the cost of a console (<$500) than the cost of an app (typically $1) is to the cost of the average iPhone ($800).

Again, not sure why this is relevant. The vast majority of apps are free anyway (in which case there is no cost to switch) and other apps may come with you because your account is separate from the app itself (Netflix, etc).

> How is this not like saying that a monopoly on gasoline is fine because you're only being constrained by your "personal preference" to drive a car instead of riding a horse?

A horse is not a "reasonably interchangeable substitute" for a car. An Xbox is a "reasonably interchangeable substitute" for a Playstation.


>Apple's argument, which I tend to agree with, is that the user does have a choice of app store, which they make by buying an iPhone instead of an Android phone

"We're a Duopoly, not a Monopoly" isn't a winning argument.


I’m not sure I buy that, too, but if it is true that it is common and that gamers buy multiple consoles and we think that’s an acceptable state of affairs, and also true that users don’t buy multiple smartphones (that, I wholeheartedly buy), one could argue the latter is because they can get all the apps they want on either brand, and that would be an argument against one of the brands having monopoly power.


> one could argue the latter is because they can get all the apps they want on either brand, and that would be an argument against one of the brands having monopoly power.

But that isn't true if they reject apps for arbitrary reasons, because then there are apps you can't get. Moreover, even if all the apps were available on both, the fact that they don't have to compete after device purchase means they can each charge a higher percentage as a fee, which in some cases will be passed on to the customer as higher prices and in other cases reduce the quality or quantity of available apps by starving developers of resources.


But Android allows side-loading and hence cannot reject apps. So, consumers can get all the apps they want (insofar as they exist) by buying Android devices.

I guess Apple would argue that their policy to reject apps doesn’t hurt consumers, because, if it did increase prices and/or decrease quality and/or decrease availability of apps on iOS, why do so many consumers still buy iPhones? Maybe because having only one, vetted, store has value to them, too?

(Just to make sure: I’m not sure whether I would buy that argument, but I also don’t think it is a slam-dunk that Apple’s behavior hurts consumers, and that consumers have no choice to accept that (there’s nothing against companies giving their customers a bad deal, as long as they’re free to walk away))


> But Android allows side-loading and hence cannot reject apps. So, consumers can get all the apps they want (insofar as they exist) by buying Android devices.

Someone else already addressed side loading, but notice that this wouldn't be true even if Android had actual competition between stores, because it still wouldn't have every app. For example, if everyone in my family uses iMessage, I can't get it for Android, and not because Google rejected it. If I need an iPhone for iMessage, I'm stuck with Apple's store.

> I guess Apple would argue that their policy to reject apps doesn’t hurt consumers, because, if it did increase prices and/or decrease quality and/or decrease availability of apps on iOS, why do so many consumers still buy iPhones? Maybe because having only one, vetted, store has value to them, too?

Or maybe because of iMessage, or because Apple makes faster processors than Qualcomm, or because they do like Apple's store even if they would prefer to have other stores available too, or because they want iOS over Android, or because an iPhone is a status symbol with signaling value in certain business contexts, or because they originally chose an iPhone before it came out that Apple was making all these capricious app rejections and by then were already locked in to the platform, and so on.

That's the problem. When all your choices are merged into one, you can't say no to something you don't want without also saying no to two other things you actually want, which forces you to say yes to things you want to say no to.


> But Android allows side-loading and hence cannot reject apps. So, consumers can get all the apps they want (insofar as they exist) by buying Android devices.

Google is removing the ability to side-load apps for anybody but developers who have developer mode on.

Not only that, but side-loaded apps can't automatically upgrade, install in the background or install alongside other applications at the same time. Third party app store can't implement these features, either.

At best, Apple and Google have a duopoly on mobile application publishing and distribution, and they engage in anti-competitive behavior in that market and adjacent ones.

Besides, your argument is a red herring. From the FTC[1]:

> Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. That is how that term is used here: a "monopolist" is a firm with significant and durable market power. Courts look at the firm's market share, but typically do not find monopoly power if the firm (or a group of firms acting in concert) has less than 50 percent of the sales of a particular product or service within a certain geographic area.

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


>but typically do not find monopoly power if the firm (or a group of firms acting in concert) has less than 50 percent of the sales of a particular product or service within a certain geographic area.

Apple doesn’t have 50%

https://www.statista.com/statistics/266572/market-share-held...


> https://www.statista.com/statistics/266572/market-share-held...

You're right, according to your source, Apple has 52.4%. Apple also has the majority of mobile app purchases in the US, as well.

Even if they had less, companies have lost antitrust lawsuits with much less than 50% of market share.

Further more, both Apple and Google have a duopoly and are guilty of engaging in anti-competitive behavior.


From the citation

Android, however, still holds the largest share of the United States smartphone operating systems’ market and has done for many years. Vendors Samsung, Motorola, and LG have all adopted Android as their mobile OS and sales of their devices make up around 50 percent of all smartphones sold in the United States. Sales of Samsung smartphones alone account for 28 percent of the sales market and this could rise in the future with studies showing their Galaxy series of devices rank highly for customer satisfaction among Americans.

Care to cite cases in the modern era? Every time someone tries to find citations, it’s always multiple companies colluding - which is always illegal.


So is all of this theory backed up by case law?


> The fact that iOS users are willing to pay seems irrelevant to me.

The main point is not that Apple is a monopoly on the smartphone market, the issue is the monopoly Apple has on distributing apps for the iOS platform.

When building an app access to all users is key to success. Apple artificially limits access to the users of their platform by having you jump through a dozen of hoops and an intransparent review process.

Although iOS only has a market share of around 20% (globally? more in the US), the iOS platform has a large enough audience and market size to be very relevant for investigations.

> It’s almost like calling Tesla a monopoly power in the automotive industry because they have >90% of the luxury EV market

It's really not. I can't think of a general comparison off the top of my head, but lets use Spotify and the Apple dispute as an example.

To keep the Tesla example, the situation would be more comparable if, let's say Volkswagen, would have to sell their EVs through Tesla for the north american market.


> The main point is not that Apple is a monopoly on the smartphone market, the issue is the monopoly Apple has on distributing apps for the iOS platform.

The question of whether the iOS app distribution market is, in fact, separate and valid antitrust market is not something that can simply be assumed.

This is known as a "wholly derivative aftermarket" (as the market for iOS apps would not exist independently of the market for iPhones), and US courts generally disallow antitrust aftermarkets to be defined in the context of a single brand's product unless specific criteria are met. [1]

One of the key criteria is whether or not the consumer knowingly and voluntarily agreed to the aftermarket restriction when they made their initial purchase. If they knew about the aftermarket restriction and could have bought an alternate product without such restrictions, but went ahead and bought the restricted product anyway, then the market power deriving from that restriction is not considered a valid basis for an antitrust claim.

In other words, if when consumers bought an iPhone, they knew they would be limited to installing apps from the App Store, and they went ahead and bought the iPhone anyway, it is rather unlikely that a US court would consider the "monopoly Apple has on distributing apps for the iOS platform" to be a valid antitrust market.

[1] The criteria are explained in Newcal Industries, Inc. v. IKON Office Solution (https://casetext.com/case/newcal-industries-v-ikon-office-so...). Most of the cases where single-brand aftermarkets were permitted by the court involve situations where the consumer did not know about the restriction at the time of purchase, because the company changed a policy or modified existing agreements after the purchase.


>If iOS is a monopoly then so is Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo

I see this excuse all the time. So what if X, Y and Z are a monopoly? The problem isn't monopolies. You are stuck on a word that makes no difference. It is abusing your market position that is the problem. That is what got Microsoft punished and it is what Apple is doing now.


Consoles are a pretty terrible counter-example. An entire industry driven by "exclusive titles" is incredibly anti-consumer.


Are you saying that developers should be forced to support all of the platforms?


I'm saying in a competitive market, the incentive would be to support as many platforms as you reasonably can. Without being outright paid by platform creators not to do that, most developers choose to do that. Paying third parties not to support your competition is... I'll let the reader fill in the blank :)


So instead of paying third parties they could just outright acquire them - like MS did with Bungie? At least independent game makers have the option of creating some games that are cross platform.

On the other hand, if the game maker needs funding and the platform owner is willing to fund them, shouldn’t the platform owner get something?

Another example, Apple funding independent game makers for Apple Arcade means that games can come to iOS that don’t depend on loot boxes, selling consumables or ads. That also means Apple takes on the risk.



The thing is, rather than absolute market share, the way you use your position is more important. If you have a powerful market position but just compete normally, you're usually ok. If you have a powerful market position and use it to corner other markets or stifle competition in other ways, you start having problems.


So what is “competing normally”?


Lowering prices or adding value, advertising.

Doing stuff like blocking competitors from your platform, blacklisting people who do business with your competition would be examples of not competing normally.

What Apple is doing is more subtle though - in general they are not using their position against Google, they are using it to force arbitrary conditions on companies seeking to do business on iOS and increase their own profits, to the detriment of end users.

I believe the ultimate test for market abuse in the US is considered something like business practices that harm other companies without benefit to the end user. If the end user gets lower prices or better value Thanks to your practices, the free market is achieving its purpose. If they are not, but one company is getting better profits, than the market is being manipulated. As a side note, this is not the same test as in the EU for example, which makes price dumping (selling below cost of production) usually ok in the US, but not in the EU.


And once again HN lawyers don’t understand the law. The US unlike Europe has to show consumer harm. Not harm to other businesses. This has been the school of thought since Bork.

Apple hasn’t blocked competitors. For every service that Apple charges money for, there is a competitor.

Every platform owner and reseller forces conditions on third parties - console makers, set top box sellers, physical retail stores, etc.

If what you said was any kind of reality, Apple or any other company could be accused of being a “monopoly” if they had any type of margins. Saying Apple is a monopoly because users choose to spend more is about like saying Nike is a monopoly when other shoes are cheaper.

It is not anti competitive to have a differentiator where users choose to spend more on your product than competitors.


You know Apple has fallen far when 'Apple isn't worse than Sony or Microsoft' becomes a popular refrain.


I wonder if people will stop spreading missinformation while defending Apple. Apple's marketshare in U.S. is around 52%, and no, worldwide marketshare does not matter to U.S. courts.


It isn't an abusive monopoly position basically by definition: Apple is not a monopoly in any market that they participate in. There is tons of competition in smartphones, laptops, etc.

The problem is not one of monopolies - the problem is that a set of private companies - including Apple - control critical digital infrastructure. This digital infrastructure is required by almost all other companies and people to function, yet it is in private hands, and they can do with it as they please.

Imagine if all roads were owned by a small number of private companies, and you would need their permission to use the roads. That is what is happening in the digital world right now.


We need to stop looking at whether they are a monopoly and start looking at what their anti-competitive behavior means and how it affects the market and consumers.

Anti-competitive behavior is to assault as a monopoly is to murder. One often leads to the other, but they are both harmful. We don't generally let people run around assaulting people and say "well they aren't murdering people, so let's leave them alone".

Apple is clearly exhibiting Anti-competitive behavior, and in a way that distorts the market. The whole reason we have laws about monopolies is because we identified the Anti-competitive behavior and labeled that specific type as a monopoly. A monopoly is only a problem in that it can easily affect the market as a whole through Anti-competitive actions. Apple can do so even though they aren't a monopoly as we've defined it. Why shouldn't we legislate to reduce the harms they are committing as well?


Perhaps I didn't make myself entirely clear - I completely agree that they should be regulated. I would even suggest going further than that. Neither Apple nor Google should gate-keep these market places in the first place. No private company should.

I see this desire here to apply existing terms to the situation - but I feel they are not applicable. Apple and Google are not exhibiting anti-competitive behavior when they moderate the marketplace. They are not competing. What Apple product is competing with a random app they reject on the marketplace for a random reason?

It is not a question of competition. The problem is that Apple and Google are in control and gatekeep the marketplace in the first place. They control the critical digital infrastructure that other companies build their products on, and if they decide that they don't like you you are out of luck and might as well give up your business. That is where the harm comes from.

Private companies should not control critical digital infrastructure, just like private companies should not control critical physical infrastructure.


You're right in your core point, I just wanted to say that eliminating competition or throwing up silly hoops for competition to jump through by abusing your power over the market is totally anti-competitive behavior. They don't even have to compete, they've structured their businesses such that competition is impossible.


> Apple and Google are not exhibiting anti-competitive behavior when they moderate the marketplace.

It's not the moderation, it's the moderation combined with effectively gating the ability to run a competing marketplace.

Apple does this through linking all the components of the stack, their store requires their OS which requires their hardware, and their hardware requires their OS which requires their store. You can't compete on any single level because the whole paltform is a monolith.

Google does it slightly differently, but almost as effectively. They don't really care about the hardware, but they've moved portions of the OS to things that are distributed through their store. You can't completely remove the Play store without crippling a lot of OS features.

> They are not competing. What Apple product is competing with a random app they reject on the marketplace for a random reason?

Anti0copetitive behavior doesn't require they compete specifically, just that they prevent competition. But if you want a simple example, a web browser. You can't ship a competitive web browser because you're forced to use their core, for multiple reasons (can't JIT because of memory restrictions, but at a more fundamental level because you can't release an interpreter, which JavaScript engines are).

> It is not a question of competition. ... if they decide that they don't like you you are out of luck and might as well give up your business. That is where the harm comes from.

That's preventing others from competing. That's exactly the problem. Competition is a core attribute of our economic model, and preventing it causes that model to not work correctly. Monopolies aren't inherently bad, they're bad because they allow anti-competitive behavior to be exerted easily. Anti-trust laws exist not because we don't like companies making deals with each other, but because when those deals are anti-competitive, it goes against the economic model we have in place, and the public is harmed.

> Private companies should not control critical digital infrastructure, just like private companies should not control critical physical infrastructure.

That's true, and that doesn't require a monopoly to have happen. I think it's a weaker case though, since I don't think Apple or Android are really providing critical digital infrastructure, and if you do think of a mobile device (and software delivery on it) as critical infrastructure, then there is choice (that is, the complete failure of one allows a different systems to be used). I think of consumer harm a bit differently when considering critical paths, as that assumes a whole new platform/stack might be required depending on where the break is. That's not a strong conviction though, so maybe you're convince me otherwise.


> It's not the moderation, it's the moderation combined with effectively gating the ability to run a competing marketplace.

> Apple does this through linking all the components of the stack, their store requires their OS which requires their hardware, and their hardware requires their OS which requires their store. You can't compete on any single level because the whole paltform is a monolith.

I think this focus on Apple is missing the forest for the trees. For all but multi-billion dollar companies, Android is effectively no different from Apple, and they allow everything that Apple does not in this regard.

If Apple enables third party stores on iOS after this lawsuit, nothing will change for any of the small app store developers. The App Store will remain the place where >95% of the people get their apps. The same exact situation will apply: either get on the App store, or don't earn any money from your app and your business is doomed.

The only ones that will benefit from this change are the multi-billion dollar companies that have enough brand recognition to start a competing store. Then people will begrudgingly download the "Facebook store" to download the "Facebook app", and they will download the "Epic store" to download "Fortnite. For anything else, they will stick to the App Store.

The core problem is that most users do not want to use different digital stores. This is evident on other platforms where users have total freedom in choosing which store to use, yet they still end up flocking to the same store. For PC gaming, for example, everybody effectively uses Steam, and most people simply don't buy games that are not on Steam. The exception to this are large companies that have the brand-recognition to start their own store (Epic, Blizzard, EA, Ubisoft, etc...). All smaller companies still rely on a single private company (Valve) to allow them on their store, or suffer a huge penalty in their income.

I think regulating the App/Play/etc stores themselves would be more beneficial, preferably modifying them to be based on open protocols without having an unnecessary middle-man take a 30% cut. I would like to see all these closed platforms opened up. That would be beneficial to all developers and all consumers.

I fear that if the result of this lawsuit is only that competing stores will be allowed on iOS nothing meaningful will change. It will be beneficial only to large multi-billion dollar companies, while effectively changing nothing for small developers and having a small negative effect for consumers.


> If Apple enables third party stores on iOS after this lawsuit, nothing will change for any of the small app store developers. The App Store will remain the place where >95% of the people get their apps.

I don't think so. A lot of very major name apps will likely immediately jump ship to a new store, or even band together to create the new store. If there's a different store you have to install to get Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Movies/Music, etc, that has much more favorable rates, then some developers will jump to it. Not all business models can even survive if Apple takes 30%. If Apple lowered its fees eventually because of that, which I think they would, then you're seeing exactly what harm their behavior was causing.

> The core problem is that most users do not want to use different digital stores.

That's yet to be seen on mobile, since users effectively don't have a choice.

> For PC gaming, for example, everybody effectively uses Steam, and most people simply don't buy games that are not on Steam.

This is rapidly changing with (surprise) the Epic Games Store. They're giving much better cuts of sales, and also heavily subsidizing/advertising to get people in (there's a free game every week). IIRC, they also have some (timed?) exclusives that aren't Epic developed. The weight behind Steam is great, and I don't necessarily want another place to look for games I've bought (I also have a bunch in GOG), but I think the competition is very healthy. It actually caused Steam to change the revenue cut from a flat 30% to 25% after the first $10 million, and 20% after $50 million. Epic Games Store charges 12%.

> All smaller companies still rely on a single private company (Valve) to allow them on their store, or suffer a huge penalty in their income.

Less true as every month goes on. There's a lot of independent sellers on the Epic Games Store now. Keep in mind, if you play Fortnite, you have the Epic Games Store. At 250 million players across all platforms, that's a large player base of both PC and mobile users. It's obvious why they're pushing a store, and that's because they are in the somewhat unique position to immediately be able to capitalize on it. If they offered the same 12% cut they do on PC to Apple's 30%, I could see a lot of game developers jumping platforms. Especially the developers that already have PC games so have a relationship.

> I think regulating the App/Play/etc stores themselves would be more beneficial, preferably modifying them to be based on open protocols without having an unnecessary middle-man take a 30% cut. I would like to see all these closed platforms opened up. That would be beneficial to all developers and all consumers.

Someone has to run the platform these are discoverable and distributed through, and they're going to want money to do so. A store vetting what is sold has real benefit. Just look at how crappy a job Amazon has been doing because they held the position that they weren't responsible for what was sold. That's likely to change real quick now that Amazon is required to handle returns for products sold through misinformation (just like every other physical department store).

> I fear that if the result of this lawsuit is only that competing stores will be allowed on iOS nothing meaningful will change. It will be beneficial only to large multi-billion dollar companies, while effectively changing nothing for small developers and having a small negative effect for consumers.

Even if it's large multi-billion dollar companies, that can mean real and immediate change for users and developers. Competition means that they'll naturally try to draw more customers (as that's one of the way they make their millions), so they'll do what they can to draw inventory and people.

Put another way, do you really think Walmart and Target would be quite as cheap as they are if they didn't have to compete with each other, and operated in a vacuum? They'd only have to be a slightly cheaper that the local department stores while being more convenient because they have more stuff. Instead, Target has to compete with Walmart, which is usually really low.


The iOS Apps market would be much smaller if not for App Review.


That some aspects of it may positive does not mean some aspects of it can't also be anti-competitive.


Assume you get in early in a rapidly growing city and secure the best possible location for your mall. You build the worlds best mall, with great parking and mass transit options, very high security, constant maintenance and high quality construction, so that customers feel very comfortable shopping there.

And you don’t even charge monthly rent, instead you ask for a 30% share of sales. That never stopped any retailer, all the best sign up in droves. Your location/strategy is so successful you become the highest grossing mall in the country, and your retailers make substantially more in your mall than any other. Retailers grumble about the 30%, but still spend more building their stores in your mall than anywhere else and you have more tenants than any other mall. They very rarely leave because it’s so profitable being your tenant.

But after over a decade of being the best place in retail for retailers, you discover some of your retailers are taking customer orders in the mall, but delivering to their homes and billing online, so they don’t have to pay you 30%, or contribute anything for maintenance, security, or the value of being in your mall.

So you shut down anyone you catch, and kick them out. Now they claim that being held to their leases is “anti-competitive“, and demand a portion of the mall be set aside for direct sales with no revenue share to give customers a choice. Those direct sales will benefit from the experience you built, but again will contribute zero to maintain it. In fact they will bring in retailers that will actively undercut its security and make the purchasing experience worse.

So what aspects of this are truly anticompetitive?


Apple can do whatever they want in their store. That's not anti-competitive. Restricting people from using other stores is anti-competitive. They are, quire literally, preventing competition.

> But after over a decade of being the best place in retail for retailers, you discover some of your retailers are taking customer orders in the mall, but delivering to their homes and billing online, so they don’t have to pay you 30%, or contribute anything for maintenance, security, or the value of being in your mall.

Apple can do whatever they want in their mall. This is about them preventing people from going to other malls. Let them enforce whatever they want for the retailers thatn want in their mall, as long as the same customers cane be served elsewhere.

Apple's doing the whole company store in the company town trick, except they've figured out that if the town is also separated by a hundred miles of company road that they can control, that makes it even harder for people to get out of the trap. You can argue all you want that it's okay that Apple takes 30% of the profit on any picks sold, and that the benefits they provide to keep their people safe is just that worth it, and that they've worked hard to provide a save environment by keeping everyone else a hundred miles away through their private roads, but we've seen this story before.

What makes Apple different in this case? Because people can just move to Android? Company town workers could have just left for different companies too.


> So what aspects of this are truly anticompetitive?

The aspects of Apple's behavior are that they use their control of a large percentage of the US market to take actions against competitors.

Your example that you gave, would not be illegally anti-competitive, because a single mall is a small market.

If, instead, in the example you gave, the mall owner, owned half of all retail space, within a 100 mile radius (and a singular other competitor controlled the other half of all retail space within 100 miles), then the courts would absolutely call the behavior anti-competitive.

And before you say it, yes Apple is not a literal monopoly, but that does not matter. Apple is 1 half of a duopoly in the US, and that is bad enough, that their anti-competitive behavior should be regulated.

In the US, if a company has a large amount of market power, even if they are not a literal monopoly, then certain anti-competitive behavior becomes illegal.


Your analogy is false on it’s face. It’s not anticompetitive at all to get 50% of a market through excellence. No way a successful mall is ever bothered with an antitrust claim merely for being successful.

And Google doesn’t control 100% of Android, there are alternate app stores available. So your analogy fails at multiple levels.

The Apple Mall succeeded because it’s a better customer experience, why should that be illegal, and why shouldn’t Apple benefit from their foresight and efforts?

The App Store is so big because Apple made it the best App Store. Every attribute of their walled garden contributes to its value, not just for Apple, but for developers and customers.

Apple has about 15% of phone sales. It’s developers make more than half the entire mobile app market revenues. How is Apples behavior hurting them?


> It’s not anticompetitive at all to get 50% of a market

I never said that getting 50% of the market, on its own, is anti-competitive.

Instead, what is anti-competive, is once you have a large amount of market power, such as 50%, it now becomes illegal to use anti-competitive practices to keep out competitors.

> No way a successful mall ..... merely for being successful.

I never said this. Instead, what I am saying is that using large amounts of market power, to keep out competitors, is anti-competitive.

> The App Store is so big because Apple made it the best App Store.

It doesn't matter if you got to 50% of the market through being good. It is still illegal to use large amounts of market power to keep out competitors.

> Apple has about 15% of phone sales.

Apple has 50% of the market in the USA. And the lawsuits are happening in the USA, so thats all that matters.

> How is Apples behavior hurting them?

It is hurting competing app stores from entering the market, because of Apple's actions that make it very difficult for competing app stores to be installed.

> why shouldn’t Apple benefit from their foresight and efforts?

They can benefit. They just shouldn't be allowed to use their large amount of market power to keep out competitors, because that is anti-competitive.


Apple has zero obligation to allow competitive app stores in iOS. It’s never been a feature they promised customers, and it’s not wanted by most app developers. It’s not anticompetitive to refuse to build access to your property for new competitors.

In this case it’s clearly not anticompetitive when forcing them to allow alternate app stores would be both anti-consumer and anti-developer.


> Apple has zero obligation to allow competitive app stores in iOS.

Well, that is a pretty anti-competitive practice. So, actually, it seems like they might have an obligation to do this.

> It’s never been a feature they promised customer

It doesn't matter. It is still anti-competitive. And in the USA anti-competitive practices are illegal in the US, if a company with a large amount of market share is engaging in them.

> It’s not anticompetitive to refuse to build access to your property for new competitors.

It actually is! The courts have already proved this to be the case. Microsoft lost their court case because of a very similar situation.

I would really recommend that you go read up on similar anti competitive case, such as the Microsoft one, to learn the court justifications for this stuff. It is pretty enlightening.

> it’s not wanted by most app developers.

"Customers don't want competition" is not an argument that any court would accept. It is assumed to be true, automatically, that competition is a good thing.

And the judge residing over this case, actually made similar statements, in the preliminary hearing that I listened to, where she talked about how competition is a good thing, as a justification that the courts use.


I have read up on the Microsoft case, and I think I disagree -- it's hard to draw direct comparisons here.

Microsoft Windows had over 90% of the entire personal computer operating system market, which was clearly a de facto monopoly position. The antitrust element was them leveraging that monopoly to give them an ostensibly unfair advantage in the browser market. There was no "gatekeeping" aspect involved; it was about whether bundling application software with the OS to undermine commercial competition was fair.

Apple's case is very different. They have much less than 90% of the mobile phone operating system market, but they control access to 100% of the application market for iOS devices. This isn't about bundling, like Microsoft's case was, nor did Microsoft act as a gatekeeper for Windows. The closest precedents are game consoles, but those don't seem to offer a lot of guidance here in terms of case law -- although Apple's very likely to draw the comparison, e.g., Sony has a "monopoly" on downloadable applications for all PlayStations. Consumers know that limitation when they buy either a PlayStation or an iPhone, and see it as a feature, not a bug. In a lot of ways, the ultimate argument here is whether a device manufacturer can or should be legally forced to treat their devices more like general purpose computing devices than like consoles. And that's not like Microsoft at all. This is a fundamentally different question.

(The sort of ironic footnote in drawing a comparison to the Microsoft case is that while bundling IE with Windows killed Netscape's commercial prospects and it was certainly done with malice aforethought, it was also fundamentally the right call. Applications that achieve such amazing runaway success that their functionality quickly becomes essential to everyone are almost certain to be bundled into either the operating system or a suite that everyone has.)


> The sort of ironic footnote in drawing a comparison to the Microsoft case is that while bundling IE with Windows killed Netscape's commercial prospects and it was certainly done with malice aforethought, it was also fundamentally the right call.

It's also worth noting this was never actually ruled to be illegal. The appeals court remanded the question back to the district court for further analysis under the rule of reason, but that never actually happened as the case was eventually settled. Under the rule of reason, Microsoft would have been able to argue that it had legitimate justification for bundling a browser with Windows, and then it would have been up to the DOJ to argue that the anticompetitive effect of the bundling outweighed the justification given. I think Microsoft would have had a relatively strong argument there, as an operating system that shipped without a web browser (or media player, for that matter) would have been, in fact, less useful to the consumer.


That's true, and a good point. I dimly remember thinking at the time that the browser was the wrong focus for this whole endeavor -- if there was anything Microsoft was doing that was legitimately shady, it was relating to some of their OEM agreements, which I (admittedly now fuzzily) recall had some terms in them which were pretty clearly meant to stifle competition with Windows. IIRC, you weren't allowed to ship computers that dual-booted Windows and another OS, for instance; if Windows was pre-installed it had to be the only OS. And if you shipped any computers that had Windows pre-installed, your OEM license was based on the number of total computers you shipped whether or not Windows was installed on all of them, e.g., if you sold 50 computers and only 30 of them had Windows pre-installed, you paid for 50 licenses.


You make some good points, in alot of ways comparisons to the MS of the 90's is tricky. Apple has less market share, but alot more users - and the market is shaped quite differently (only 2 hardware makers, where back then (and even now) there are hundreds of hardware makers for computers). Microsoft also had no means to prevent people from installing outside software on the device, which iOS does - to the tune of over 1 billion users.

There are whole industries built on iOS now, which was also true then, but due to the much more limited hardware landscape and single means of installing software, this now plays differently with competition than just browser bundling.

I don't think whether Apple is using monopoly power is the appropriate focus here; they can be anti-competitive without being a monopoly, and due to the fact that they control >1 billion users and control their hardware, there's a fair question to ask about this anti-competitive behavior.


Not allowing competitors to build a store on your property isn’t anti-competitive. And you clearly don’t understand the Microsoft case, where it had 90% of the operating system market.

Customers want the best possible products, forcing Apple to make their product worse, with worse security, a worse purchase experience, robs customers of an important choice.

Judges do make terrible rulings all the time. Like the Apple e-books case, where trying to ensure a level playing field was deemed “anti-competitive”, leading to Amazon to significantly grow market share and establishing an unassailable monopoly position since the ruling.


> And you clearly don’t understand the Microsoft case, where it had 90% of the operating system market.

Once again, the government does not require a literal monopoly for behavior to be anti-competitive. 50% of a market in the US could absolutely be enough to count as significant market power.

The situations are pretty similar, because your argument about 90% is not what the courts care about. The courts care about market power, not necessarily a literal monopoly.

> Judges do make terrible rulings all the time

I mean, if you don't care about the courts system or the law, then I don't know what to tell you. Your opinion on it doesn't particularly matter, because the courts are the ones in charge of this, and the courts are the ones who make the decision here.

> Like the Apple e-books case

Well, too bad for Apple. The law is the law, and the court system is the court system.

Personally, I only talk about what the courts do. I don't really care about someone's opinion if the courts disagree with them. Because the courts and the judges are the ones that make the decision here. They decide.

And everything that I have said is within this context of what courts and judges have done in the past.


> The situations are pretty similar, because your argument about 90% is not what the courts care about. The courts care about market power, not necessarily a literal monopoly.

To be clear, whether the court cares about monopoly power or not depends on what type of claim you are making.

Section 1 of the Sherman Act deals with conspiracy and unreasonable restraints of trade and may not require establishing any market power at all. Some actions such as price fixing and bid rigging are considered per se illegal regardless of market power. Other actions (such as tying) require an analysis of market power, but not necessarily monopoly power.

Section 2 of the Sherman Act deals with monopolization and claims made under section 2 will require establishing monopoly power (or likelihood of achieving monopoly power, for attempted monopolization claims).

In the context of the Microsoft case, the 90% market share was indeed relevant to the court because several of the claims were brought under section 2, specifically having to do with Microsoft's unlawful attempts to maintain their operating system monopoly.


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

"Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power"

This is what I mean by that.

This applies to Section 2 of the Sherman Act, and the link that I posted mentions this. I do not mean what you are trying to say, which is that one section does not require a literal monopoly, and another does.

Instead, I am saying, that explicitly, for Section 2 of the Sherman Act, "monopoly" does not mean a singular firm, and the colloquial definition of that, is incorrect.

Instead, it only requires significant market power.

> will require establishing monopoly power

"Monopoly power" can absolutely exist in the case of a company having 50% of the market. This is what that government statement means.


Note that your link says that the courts typically do not find monopoly power if the firm has less than 50% share of the market.

iPhones currently have around 45% market share in the US: https://www.statista.com/statistics/236550/percentage-of-us-...

Whether monopoly power will be found in this situation will be up to a court and it's far from a slam dunk.

For a more detailed examination of the factors involved in determining monopoly power please see this article: https://www.justice.gov/atr/competition-and-monopoly-single-...


> Whether monopoly power will be found in this situation will be up to a court

Yes... But it is very much not true that a court requires a literal monopoly in order for them to find behaviors to be anti-competitive. All that needs to happen is for a company to have significant market power.

So it is not a literal monopoly. Instead, it it having significant market power. And in the US, as of last month, if you are keeping up with the most recent data regarding market share, Apple has about 50% of the US market.

> iPhones currently have around 45%

Your data is about 6 months out of date. it is now around 50%. It is very much a defendable argument, that has a reasonable chance of standing up in court, that Apple, who has about half the market, in what is effectively a 2 player duopoly, could have significant market power.

That is a pretty reasonable argument, that has a real, non-negligible, possibility of standing up in court.


> Yes... But it is very much not true that a court requires a literal monopoly in order for them to find behaviors to be anti-competitive. All that needs to happen is for a company to have significant market power.

If by literal monopoly you mean a single firm that controls 100% of the market, then we don't disagree, as I never suggested that was required. However, proving a section 2 monopolization claim does require proving the existence of monopoly power.

A company is considered to have monopoly power when it has a significant degree of market power. A literal monopoly is not required, however courts have typically not found monopoly power when market share is below 50% either.

> And in the US, as of last month, if you are keeping up with the most recent data regarding market share, Apple has about 50% of the US market.

Can you cite a specific source? I've seen all sorts of different numbers but some seem to be based on web browser usage or device shipments which is not quite the same as active users.

> That is a pretty reasonable argument, that has a real, non-negligible, possibility of standing up in court.

While I certainly think it's possible, the case becomes a lot easier if the company has 90% market share (as Microsoft did) compared to 50% market share.

In other words, I find the comparison to the Microsoft case lacking because with 90% market share it was more or less accepted by both sides that Microsoft held monopoly power in the operating system market, whereas in this situation it's much more debatable. To quote from my previous link:

In determining whether a competitor possesses monopoly power in a relevant market, courts typically begin by looking at the firm's market share.(18) Although the courts "have not yet identified a precise level at which monopoly power will be inferred,"(19) they have demanded a dominant market share. Discussions of the requisite market share for monopoly power commonly begin with Judge Hand's statement in United States v. Aluminum Co. of America that a market share of ninety percent "is enough to constitute a monopoly; it is doubtful whether sixty or sixty-four percent would be enough; and certainly thirty-three per cent is not."(20) The Supreme Court quickly endorsed Judge Hand's approach in American Tobacco Co. v. United States.(21)

Following Alcoa and American Tobacco, courts typically have required a dominant market share before inferring the existence of monopoly power. The Fifth Circuit observed that "monopolization is rarely found when the defendant's share of the relevant market is below 70%."(22) Similarly, the Tenth Circuit noted that to establish "monopoly power, lower courts generally require a minimum market share of between 70% and 80%."(23) Likewise, the Third Circuit stated that "a share significantly larger than 55% has been required to establish prima facie market power"(24) and held that a market share between seventy-five percent and eighty percent of sales is "more than adequate to establish a prima facie case of power."(25)

It is also important to consider the share levels that have been held insufficient to allow courts to conclude that a defendant possesses monopoly power. The Eleventh Circuit held that a "market share at or less than 50% is inadequate as a matter of law to constitute monopoly power."(26) The Seventh Circuit observed that "[f]ifty percent is below any accepted benchmark for inferring monopoly power from market share."(27) A treatise agrees, contending that "it would be rare indeed to find that a firm with half of a market could individually control price over any significant period."(28)

In other words, 50% is near the bottom of the range, and is going to be hotly contested.


Personally, I only talk about what the courts do...

And the courts have yet to interpret what is illegal in the same manner that HN “lawyers” do....


> And the courts have yet to interpret what is illegal

In similar cases, they absolutely have talking about what is illegal, regarding anti-competitive behavior.

I would encourage you to read up on similar cases, in order to see what courts have said on the matter.

And the courts have said that it does not require a literal, singular monopoly in order for anti-competitive behavior to be illegal.

All that has to happen is for a company to have significant market share, for anti-competitive behavior to be illegal.


And it seems like all of the “similar” cases where companies are sued for antitrust that are often cited on HN are when two or more companies collide with each other.

There is a reason why HN lawyers get all hand wavy when asked to come up with similar examples.


> Not allowing competitors to build a store on your property isn’t anti-competitive.

The difference is that in the real world, there is more property.

In the digital world, there isn't, unless you count Android -- and the problem with that is you run into the "Well why don't the company men just leave the company town, then?" It's the "let them eat cake!" argument and it doesn't go over well.


It doesn't matter. It is still anti-competitive. And in the USA anti-competitive practices are illegal in the US,

Yet and still console makers have been doing just this for 30 years.

Yes physical games still have to be approved by the console makers and the practice has not been eliminated.

Which is more likely, companies have been breaking the law for years or HNs understanding of the law is flawed?


> Yet and still console makers have been doing just this for 30 years.

It is well accepted in anti-competition law, that the size of the market and market share matters greatly in determining whether certain behavior is illegal.

The larger the market share that a company has, and the larger the market, the more likely the anti-competitive behavior is to be illegal.

So, in the case of consoles, consoles have a smaller market and market share than Apple does.

Apple is now a 2 trillion dollar company, and has about 50% of the phone market share, in the US, as of last month.

They have significantly more control over a significantly larger market than consoles. Thus their behavior is much worse and much more likely to be illegal than that of consoles.

> Which is more likely, companies have been breaking the law for years or HNs understanding of the law is flawed?

Whats more likely is that you have not read any actual court cases or judicial decisions on the matter, to be frank.

The stuff that I states is pretty well accepted among the experts.


And yet and still you haven’t posted a single bit of case law. The other times I have asked HN lawyers posted examples where companies were sued for anti trust because they colluded with competitors.

And it seems like none of the “experts” have won anymore cases in court where one company that didn’t have overwhelming share was convicted of anti trust than anyone posting on HN.


>So what aspects of this are truly anticompetitive?

None of what you said is anti-competitive since you left out the anti-competitive part of the story.

The only mall that is allowed is that one single mall. You are not allowed to start your own mall and since there are no other malls you cannot move to another one. You are basically stuck putting your store in that mall or not having a store at all.


You are allowed to start your own mall. It has a big green robot on it...


Only if you move to another city.


Would you move to a city where you knew before hand that some of the regulations weren’t appealing when you could easily move to another city right next door?


Many people don't think about the regulations about malls before moving to a city. (I am guessing the HN crowd might be a bit different than the average person). They see all their friends moving to the city. They know the city is the hip, cool city and they move. Once they get used to the city they realize the regulations are restrictive.

While it is possible to move to another city people have grown accustomed to the city they live in. There could be certain amenities that are not available in that other city (imessage being the biggest one. Some people get less messages since they have a different color bubble if they are not on imessage.).

People may want to vote for different / changed restrictions on malls but they realize the city they moved to is not a democracy. It is a dictatorship. The person who owns the mall also makes all the laws and they won't allow you to start your own mall since it would cut into their profits. They make the claim it is about your security. If somebody starts their own mall they won't be able to ensure you won't get mugged. Instead of letting you take a chance in a new mall they just ban their competitors outright.


The piece you're missing is that if the app store is a mall then an iPhone is your house. So you have all of these people who live in an Apple house, which they may do for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with the mall.

Then the Apple mall is taking 30% and someone says they want to set up their own mall somewhere else. It's a completely separate "mall" -- apps hosted on different servers with different payment processing etc. But then Apple says not only that nobody who shops in their mall can go shop in any other mall too, but also that nobody who lives in a house they built can either. How is that not anti-competitive?


You want to buy a house in Apple Village. It’s the best place for your needs, safe, secure, beautiful. Apple is constantly working at improving your security as well.

And it has a great mall that helps Apple keep the village secure. The merchants make a great deal of money, which ensures you don’t lack for choice and quality. And you are happy to shop there because Apple vets the merchants, and handles the purchase system, so it’s easy for you to get refunds and deal with subscriptions.

There are other malls, but not on Apple Village property,they are really hard to get to and Apple doesn’t help you get there. But you knew this because it hadn’t changed for 13 years.

So why should Apple be forced to build an expressway on their property to make it easy for you to shop at these other malls? They never promised you that yet you moved to Apple Village all the same.

And they have good reasons not to. Not only does it reduce safety and security for Apple Village residents, they just got easier to scam. Potential new Apple Village residents will be less likely to move in. Apples best merchant partners will lose customers and money.


This truly reveals how contrived the argument against allowing other stores is.

Allowing the residents of "Apple Village" to go to another mall to shop does not in any way affect the other residents.

Nobody is arguing for Apple to be "forced to build an expressway", but for them to not put up fences locking their resident in unless they decide to move away entirely.

When one ends up arguing in favour of authoritarianism, albeit fictional, to defend Apple's behaviour, it really drives things home.


Apple Village sounds quaint. We're talking about a company whose customer base would make it the third largest country in the world, ahead of the United States. This is a corporation that has declared its own national borders and instituted an unelected customs enforcement agency.

"If you don't like it then leave." Is that supposed to be a real solution? What if you have just as many issues with the other remaining superpower?

Competition is supposed to be constraining abuse. That doesn't work if to compete on apps you have to be able to develop your own phone platform and convince your entire app customer base to switch to it.


It’s not a country. It hasn’t declared anything, and follows all laws its subject to.

If you don’t like it, buy something else. Don’t expect the platform to be made worse to fit your specific needs, when they clearly don’t match up to the overwhelming choices of customers.


You keep saying "overwhelming choices of customers" when the entire point is that customers are being deprived of choices by being required to make them all together at once.

If you want Apple hardware or iOS but not their app store, it's not available. If your whole family uses iMessage then you need an iPhone even if you don't want any of the rest of it. The fact that many people then buy an iPhone and use the App Store regardless is not evidence that they want it this way, it's the harm that forcing it to be this way is inflicting on them.


It’s overwhelming proof that an important segment prefers those advantages. Why should they be deprived of the benefits of the walled garden just because you don’t like it?


> It’s overwhelming proof that an important segment prefers those advantages.

It doesn't even prove that there are enough such people to fill a single telephone booth. They could make a billion sales and every one of them could be people who don't want to be tied to Apple's store but grin and bear it because they want iOS or Apple hardware more, or because they think Google is worse.

When they don't have the choice to get one without the other, people buying both doesn't prove that they want both, only that the thing they actually want isn't a choice they have. To prove what they actually want you'd have to give them the option to have that.

> Why should they be deprived of the benefits of the walled garden just because you don’t like it?

Why should the people who don't want it have it forced on them?

If you want Apple hardware with iOS and to buy all your apps from Apple's store, why can't you choose that without forcing all the people who don't want that into an all or nothing choice between every one of those things and not a single one of them?


Malls usually ask for a percentage of revenue now...

https://www.thebalancesmb.com/average-percentage-commercial-...


We need to stop looking at what the courts decide and start listening to the anti Apple crowd on HackerNews!


>> Why shouldn't we legislate to reduce the harms they are committing as well?

What do you think a call to write legislation is for?

> We need to stop looking at what the courts decide

The purpose of courts is to interpret the legislation passed by our representatives. The purpose of legislation is to enact the will of the people as interpreted by their representatives and the existing constitution.

If we didn't didn't follow this path, there would be no such thing as anti-trust law - it didn't come from the founders, the harm of anti-competitive behavior was identified and legislated against in the late 1800's - so why shouldn't we identify new forms of anti-competitive behavior that causes harm and do the same?


The purpose of legislation is to enact the will of the people

The purpose of the legislation is to enact the will of the states. The Senate doesn’t represent the “people”. It represents the states. Each state regardless of population has 2 senators. Meaning that 46% of the Senators represent less than 25% of the population.

A powerful government can do much more harm than a corporation. There isn’t a single corporation in America that has the coercive power if the government.


> The Senate doesn’t represent the “people”. It represents the states.

Senators are elected by the people of those states.

> Each state regardless of population has 2 senators. Meaning that 46% of the Senators represent less than 25% of the population.

It's not a direct proportional representation. That's what congress is.

> The purpose of the legislation is to enact the will of the states.

Congress also makes legislation.

> A powerful government can do much more harm than a corporation. There isn’t a single corporation in America that has the coercive power if the government.

Thankfully.


The Senate is far more powerful than the House. They also approve judges with lifetime appointments, Cabinet members, and committee chairs - where regulations are actually chosen.


And they are still elected by the people. Just because senators are not proportional to the number of constituents and instead proportional to the number of states does not mean they doesn't represent the people - they represents the people of a state but in a non-proportional manner. You haven't made any points against that since I pointed it out, and it completely negates your original point, so I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish by noting the Senate is more powerful. They are, in some respects, but that's irrelevant as to whether they represent the people. Also, Congress has quite a few unique capabilities as well, such as oversight, impeachment, the ability to declare war. Powers are split between the two parts of the legislative branch.


If I lived in California, why would I want the states in the Bible Belt to have a disproportionate amount of power?

How did that whole impeachment thing work earlier this year? Wasn’t it stopped because a disproportionate number of Senators to the population stopped it?

How often have Presidents used military force when the majority of the people weren’t in favor of it?

Judicial, Cabinet, and Committee are all decided by the Senate.


> The purpose of the legislation is to enact the will of the states.

States are fictions; there is only people. The Senate represents the people, just rather unequally and, in the original form, indirectly (as the President still does.)

And the Senate can't legislate on its own, only together with the House and/or President (recognizing that treaties that have the force of law are a kind of legislation.)


But the Senate does control who gets appointed to the bench. If you are in California or Texas (choosing a blue state and a red state so this doesn’t come off as partisan), how would you feel that your vote counts for a lot less than someone in Rhode Island since they also have two Senators. If you are in either of those states, the last thing you want is a minority of the people disproportionately having sway on government policy.


You’re right, people forget courts are the singular arbiters of truth. Discussion is unnecessary


American regulators have been asleep at the wheel for decades.


From the government itself[1]:

> Courts do not require a literal monopoly before applying rules for single firm conduct; that term is used as shorthand for a firm with significant and durable market power — that is, the long term ability to raise price or exclude competitors. That is how that term is used here: a "monopolist" is a firm with significant and durable market power. Courts look at the firm's market share, but typically do not find monopoly power if the firm (or a group of firms acting in concert) has less than 50 percent of the sales of a particular product or service within a certain geographic area.

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


The marketshare definition of a monopoly is poor and obsolete. How much control they have over your devices and your life is much more descriptive, and in that case Apple has significant power with control over roughly half of the mobile ecosystem.


But it's not very hard for me to just go buy a different phone if I'm unhappy with what Apple is doing with the iPhone.


You only have 2 choices, iOS or Android. How about we have more accountability for the 2 trillion dollar company instead of telling consumers to just deal with it?


Okay, but what does that have to do with Apples supposed monopoly? The fact remains that it is extremely easy to ditch all Apple products.

The same can't be said about Google or Amazon.


It is not a monopoly, sure, but it is an abuse of market power. Apple and Google form an oligopoly and both firms abuse their market power as part of it.

A firm being a "monopoly" is not a requirement under US antitrust law. A concentration of market power is, and Apple + Google absolutely have it.


That's an awfully bold claim. Got a cite to back that up?

Apple does not have a monopoly on smart phone apps but does have a monopoly on iPhone apps. From what I understand it's debatable which market should apply here. You seem awfully sure about your position so maybe there's a court or legislative decision you know of that makes this a settled point.


It's a per se antitrust violation, which does not actually require monopoly status.


What, specifically, are you alleging is a per se antitrust violation?


How on earth can it be a monopoly when it has the market share it does?

I wish people would stop conflating Apple as a monopoly - their have their own platform (one of many widely available) and many people choose to use it.

Do I agree with all their App Store behaviours? Obviously not, but it doesn't make them a monopoly. They're not 'abusing' their power - the App Store has always been this way. It's a way of delivering sand boxed apps that fit guidelines.

Apple aren't going to stop you downloading an app off the internet and running it on your mac anytime soon.


How on earth can it be a monopoly when it has the market share it does?

It's not a monopoly, it's an abuse of market power, which does not require monopoly status but which is still forbidden by antitrust laws. It doesn't matter that they've always done it this way, because the antitrust laws have existed for longer than Apple has.

And many of Apple's arbitrary decisions have no basis in security or ensuring family-friendly products. They exist simply to maintain or bolster Apple's market position.


See, this is where I disagree - but not entirely.

Of course these decisions are made to bolster Apples market position - however, the important point here is that they do it through making great products. That’s always been the Apple priority. They’ve been making top of the line products consistently for two decades. These decisions bolster the products and ergo bolster market conditions.

Making products the consumer is satisfied with is not anti consumer behaviour. What else can you ask for from a purchase?


Making products the consumer is satisfied with is not anti consumer behaviour. What else can you ask for from a purchase?

??? That's some powerful kool-aid. The issue is not that Apple makes shiny-looking products that many people like, and the quality of Apple's physical products is not a defense to their actions in other markets.

The issue is that Apple is abusing it's market position derived from the sale of those shiny products to bolster its market position in other markets like mobile apps, SaaS (see, e.g., Spotify vs Apple Music). That is what is illegal.


See - this an issue I always have with this conversation. You equate me saying good products to a shiny box.

Apple make the best in class devices within its markets, the iPod, then the iPhone & iPad and of course the Mac.

Yes - the Mac is subjective & anyone who uses anything else - props to you, I don’t have any beef with people who choose Linux or Windows.

But the reason I choose Apple is because their product and software ecosystem the one I love the most out of any big player.

BSD foundation, unix terminal, fantastic video, photo and especially audio drivers on macOS, and I like the iOS ecosystem.

You can sync the first ever iPod to the same music library, using the same interface on either a 2007 iMac or a brand new MacBook as a brand new iPod touch. Supporting a product for that long, at such quality is not anti consumer. Try that with a zune on windows 10. Apple cares about the quality of its products (hardware and software) in so many ways that benefit an end user.

Let’s not forget (in terms of Spotify vs Apple) that Apple revolutionised the music industry with iPod and iTunes - I believe that Apple wants to release software, devices and services that benefit the consumer.

You may disagree, but that’s ok. Telling me I’m drinking kook-aid isn’t constructive. And to be honest, we’d probably agree on 90% of your pain with Apple. But this trend of other major and super dubious companies trying to paint them as a ‘bag guy’ in the industry is absolutely ridiculous. Microsoft? Google? Facebook? Epic?

That’s three hefty anti consumer companies there; tracking, ads, micro transactions, pc exclusives - I wonder why they’d be challenging a super profitable competitor that’s about to start shipping it’s own CPUs on the Mac, essentially challenging the PCs hardware ecosystem on performance as well as the software. Especially one who is implementing user opt-out for data harvesting on its next mobile OS.


> the reason I choose Apple is because their product and software ecosystem the one I love the most out of any big player ... we’d probably agree on 90% of your pain with Apple

Sounds like you’re a bit conflicted. I also chose an Apple phone and tablet because they seemed like the best choice available at the time, despite being part of the Apple “ecosystem” which prevents these devices from interoperating with my non-Apple devices.


If Apple wants to control its developers, it should hire them and pay them wages and benefits.

The app store is just another version of the gig economy, and Apple is stomping around it like a typical tyrannical boss.

Of course that is anti-consumer behaviour. It means Apple lacks a professional and credible relationship with its developers, and that clearly lowers the quality, the variety, and the accessibility of the apps for sale in the store.


A marketshare above >50% is a literal definition of monopoly...

I wish people would stop trying to defend Apple without getting the facts right. If something "has always been this way" that doesn't make it right, especially if you are engaging in anti-competitive behaviour which the App Store is a perfect example (Apple is the Judge, Jury and Executioner).

We are lucky Apple was near bankruptcy (although my personal belief is that we were not lucky enough since it still exists) when the Internet was growing, otherwise I have no doubt we would today have "select" websites which Apple approves and takes it's mafia tax. Want to show your blog over Safari to iOS users? Give us 30% or otherwise GTFO.


In terms of market share, I'd say it's akin to a regional monopoly. But that's not entirely what I meant.

In my view, phones are general purpose computers. Apple also takes this view, which is the reason they have opened up a software marketplace on their devices.

Just like with Amazon, there are thousands of companies whose revenue depends almost exclusively on their ability to compete in the marketplace set up by Apple. In this scenario, both Apple and Amazon are notorious for abusing their control of the marketplace to disadvantage third-party sellers in favor of first-party products / hardware / software.

If a phone is NOT a general purpose computer, then Apple should disband the app store and only allow first-party apps to run. If a phone IS a general purpose computer, then Apple has an obligation to treat participants in the marketplace fairly, either by relaxing the app review process, or by allowing third-party marketplaces. They cannot have it both ways.

Legally speaking, Apple may not need to change anything. However, I'm talking about how things SHOULD be, not how they ARE.


I disagree. The iPhone is a niche in terms of computing access. I wouldn’t want it to be first party apps only.

The App Store being only open to apples approval is what makes the platform what it is.

In an ideal world we’d be able to side load apps natively, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me - I can always jailbreak.

App Stores on phones should be held to different standards to those on PCs, I feel.


Opening up the platform ruins it. The walled garden is exactly why iPhones are so popular and iOS developers so successful.


iOS developers are not successful in general. The top 1% of App Store developers make the vast majority of the App Store revenue.

Apple doesn't seem to care, because they get their 30% regardless of how the other 70% of the revenue is distributed.


The same is true for musicians, book publishers, and developers on every single platform.


iOS App Developers make around $35B a year. I don’t directly get paid much by it anymore because I shut down my App company.

But I have made a very good contracting rate and very high salaries for iOS development directly because of that $35B. Your own app company doesn’t have to be a winner, when the winners need a massive number of developers and have such a fountain of cash to pay them with.


> Your own app company doesn’t have to be a winner, when the winners need a massive number of developers and have such a fountain of cash to pay them with.

I agree that the walled garden tends to create a few huge winners among App Store developers, and mostly losers among the other App Store developers. I don't think this situation is healthy, even if the few winners need a lot of engineers.


If it is caused by the App Store, why do we see the same distribution in every single vertical where there is a platform?


We don't. For example, Mac software before the Mac app store had a much better distribution.


I’ve been around the Mac market off an on since the 90s. You had a few small software vendors that could make a living but not really.

But you see the same distribution in music, books, podcasts, etc.


That's interesting — as an Android user, I see apps with iPhones on their screenshots all the time. Sometimes they are iPhones with Android UI photoshopped into them.


You have to remember that in the Apple reality distortion field there is only Apple. I think you get thrown out of the cult if you acknowledge other things exist.


I'm well aware of that because my computer runs macOS. Interestingly, it syncs with my Google account just fine. But of course I don't enjoy the level of integration I'd have with an iPhone.


That sucks, but at least you got a clear statement of their issue and its relatively quick to resolve.

How long did it take them to approve you after you properly communicated your enthusiasm for Apple products?


App store review and release is normally counted as hours now. The rules around showing other products are very clear.

I know everyone reads the problem stories, but for the large majority of cases the App store rejection/fix cycle is detailed and easy. For us, it's usually a doh! on our part, fix and resend.


Well, this actually makes sense, because you can't use the app you download on the App Store on a Microsoft Surface. Maybe that's obvious to you and I, but the App Store is used by hundreds of millions of people of varying levels of technical knowledge...

The worrying position would be if Apple demanded special features for the iOS version of the app, or if they asked you to get rid of the Microsoft version altogether. If we got to a point where stories/rumors like that started to emerge, that's when everyone would be in trouble.


It's getting pretty absurd how people excuse Apple for these things. Of course an e-commerce app might show a product they sell on one of their screenshots...


> Well, this actually makes sense, because you can't use the app you download on the App Store on a Microsoft Surface.

Come on....


I think you misunderstand.

It wasn't a picture of the app running on a Surface. It was a Surface depicted within the app itself.


You can certainly use the app you download on the App Store to purchase a Microsoft Surface. They object to any depiction whatsoever of any other platform.


What happened to "Think Different™"?


Oh they do thing different, in a abusive controlling egocentric way.

(At least sometimes, sometimes they do good. Through always in a way which is especially profitable in one way or another for then.)


Think different from others... as long as you think the same as us.


Remember the people watch, as far as I remember apps where not allowed to state that they are compatible with it in the app store.


Those guidelines are absolutely crystal clear. You aren't even supposed to show the device at all, just screens of the required sizes.


You misunderstood. The screenshot shows a store selling the MS surface.


Except approximately a million App Store screenshots blatantly violate these guidelines.


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