Having been subjected to asinine "retention" policies that make ending a subscription service an onerous and time consuming process (ex: NYT), and having seen first hand how a company purposefully makes subscription cancellations difficult, being able to open a single interface and click `Cancel` is a massive UX benefit.
I'm not debating if a 30% cut is reasonable, but in the drive to move everything to a subscription model, I have started avoiding services without an IAP option.
IAP is great, and setting rules such that if apps offer IAP, they have to at least offer the platform's own payment service as initial and preferred choice, is perfectly reasonable. But it's extortion if you own the entire ecosystem and promise to ban anyone who wants to offer additional, alternative means of account/service management for a product/service that you have no business ownership of.
Yes, the most disagreeable thing about Apple's IAP policies is where they forbid links to alternative purchase pages. But it is also the smallest of the current complaints.
It's not "additional" means of purchases many companies are pushing for. They want to be able to avoid offering Apple's IAP whatsoever.
I mean, ProtonMail did not have IAP in their app at all, but offered options to pay for their service on their website. Apple insisted, as you suggest, that they "at least offer the platform's own payment service as initial and preferred choice," and now ProtonMail is saying that is "Mafia extortion."
> "Out of the blue, one day they said you have to add in-app purchase to stay in the App Store. They stumbled upon something in the app that mentioned there were paid plans, they went to the website and saw there was a subscription you could purchase, and then turned around and demanded we add IAP. There's nothing you can say to that. They are judge, jury, and executioner on their platform, and you can take it or leave it. You can't get any sort of fair hearing to determine whether it's justifiable or not justifiable, anything they say goes. We simply complied in order to save our business."
Yes, as I said, ideally Apple would allow other forms of payment alongside IAP, but that's not even the issue here. The issue here, as I said, was that ProtonMail was trying to avoid implementing IAP at all.
You have described a different objection, which is not "bigger". It's a different problem people have.
> they are forcing you not to inform the customer about alternatives
That is part of what's going on but you're missing the main issues. They are forcing an app owner to add a purchase that gives Apple revenue if Apple can find ANY other way that the owner is offering to be paid for app features. There was no advertisement or inform within the app at all. Also, you cannot inform the use about WHY the alternative exists (apple gets part of it).
That's how it's worse than even you think.
If Apple thinks people are paying for something, they force you to add something that is preferred that pays them. It's extortion (via a protection racket, "i heard you got an inheritance, be a real same if something happened to your app") or racketeering, depending on how broadly you want to define things.
I also don't like Apple's insistence of "only IAP or nothing at all (not even a mention)" but how do you suggest they make profit from the developer side? Or they should not do that at all?
It should be 10%? 20? 5%? What will be an acceptable %? Who decides that? What's the framework for deciding that?
I see one solution, and it's far fetched, developers/companies should fund and push for an alternative open platform, along with phone/device makers. Something that's not tightly controlled like iOS and Android. But then they will be losing on iOS. I think they will have a choice to make, consumers as well. Also, it's not an easy and short term solution.
We gleefully buy Macs, but imagine you buy a Lenovo/etc laptop and you are told you can't install Linux on this, only Windows. I won't be comfortable with that, but I am comfortable with the Mac buy where I Windows can be installed only via Mac (and Linux isn't even supported) - of course there could be work around with lots of circus and you cna live with a broken system.
Problem is not the cost. Problem is mono/duopoly of walled gardens.
The framework is called competition. If Apple's IAP billing or the whole app store in general faced any competition on iOS they wouldn't be able to charge anywhere close to 30%.
But Apple designed their platform specifically to prevent that, to retain a tight grip over app distribution and billing.
> I see one solution, and it's far fetched, developers/companies should fund and push for an alternative open platform, along with phone/device makers.
Good solution, but we won't get to it. The moat of Apple-Google mobile duopoly is way too massive to overcome naturally at this point. We need some regulation to reign this in. Mobile computing is just as essential as telephony and internet access. We can't have two companies dictating the rules of the game for the whole economy.
As much as I wish there is third option ( I cant believe Microsoft is something I considered, giving what I went though in the 90s ) the Smartphone moat make it pretty much indestructible.
I still remember thinking, we could make something better than Microsoft with tens of billions dollars, decent management and strategy in the 90s. Despite my disagreement with Apple's App Store, I am not sure I can make something better than Apple. It is so well run, with so many loyal customers, that when they were doing good ( Under Steve Jobs ) I was very happy. Now under Tim Cook, it is damn right scary.
My main point about he number x% tax is that the number itself is irrelevant, a judge should not decide that if the number is 30 then Apple is fine but if is 31 or 29 then is not fine, so people looking at the number are looking at the wrong thing.
Extortion (or blackmail) has a legal definition and this isn't it. In California (where Apple is incorporated and headquartered), the statute states:
Extortion is the obtaining of property or other consideration from another, with his or her consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.
I am sorry if fanboy will hurt someone feeling, but if for example:
Google (or Apple) would have a new rule that if you want your website to be opened in Chrome(or Safari) and not marked as malware you have to include Google Pay(or Apple Pay) and remove the Visa/PayPal and all the other payment options and some person would say "this is exactly what we wanted, no more choices - force everyone to a Google(or Apple ) tax , this choices are overwhelming my poor brain then tell me the correct adjective to describe this person that thinks removing choice and forcing the big coorporation way is the best thing.
It's also possible for 2 people to read the same thing and come to different conclusions so please don't imply others must have misread something to have disagreed with you. Not only does it not move the conversation forward any it's needlessly insulting.
It would be one thing if they were selling phone and skipping Apple that way. But if their are no phone payments, and only non-obvious links, it should not be required (or maybe I am misinterpreting this)
Look, Apple does all kinds of terrible things, and I definitely think the government ought to take action against them.
But Apple one time, in 2011, announced that they were going to put in a rule that you couldn't charge a different amount outside the App Store than inside, and when furor erupted, they never implemented the policy. That's it. One time, never actually in practice.
They are still 100% terrible with this nonsense about not being allowed to link to or even mention alternative forms of payment, but let's focus on what they actually do that's bad, rather than what we imagine they might like to do in alternate realities.
Apple is going to force all apps that offer messaging as a feature to integrate with iMessage!
Apple is going to force companies with an iOS app to turn over 30% of their total gross revenue! And it's additive!
If you don't buy an iCloud subscription Apple is going to randomly delete some of your alarms!
Obviously it's not a 1-1 comparison, but Apple is giving the apps a similar platform to sell their product.
It's the fact that not only are Apple providing a platform to sell the product, they're also the only distribution method for the product and are slowly clamping down on the loophole of providing a "free" app that requires a subscription bought elsewhere.
To continue the flawed analogy, the Best Buy houses are clearly the best houses in most other respects in the opinion of a lot of people and it's hard for the market to apply pressure about this one specific limitation. Whether that's fine or not is basically the philosophical argument being had.
Not really. For Epic, you can buy things in Fortnite on other platforms and you get them in the iOS account. Same goes for ProtonMail I assume. The issue is that you can't advertise in the app that users can purchase the things elsewhere.
The problem and complain is much more complex once all these additional factors comes into play. It isn't so much a problem if we look at it in isolation. As in your Best Buy example, which I agree is perfectly valid.
If you want to be a payment gateway, compete with other payment gateways. If the app has any other payment method integration, there should be IAP as well.
But the problem is: if IAP is available, at least I am never going to opt for custom payment methods ever unless there's a clear cost benefit. Just like the OP I've had nightmares dealing with cancellation and automatic reactivations (of course that means automatic billing as well).
But the question is will Apple allow apps to show, or does it even make sense to do this:
Pay With Apple: $13
Pay with CC: $10.03
Pay with X: $11
This doesn't look like a solution at all now.
The issue is Apple's requirement that you can only use IAP, cannot offer alternative, cheaper, prices, cannot direct people to your website to sign up for things, and cannot even disclose what portion of the bill goes to Apple.
Your post proves Apple could still make money with offering it as an option for informed users. But Apple is being a bully and a thug by disallowing alternatives, and actively preventing app developers from telling people about them.
What Epic did with Fortnite should be the gold standard: Buy direct or pay through Apple. The latter providing potentially better privacy/security and user experience at a price premium.
I can't seem to find a rule that says pricing must be the same for IAP as elsewhere in current guidelines:
That seems like the best of both worlds in the sense that as a user you can choose to purchase in iOS for convenience or go to Fortnite elsewhere and purchase there for cheaper. This move just seems like Epic wanted to pick a fight, they weren't actually interested in offsetting the Apple cut.
NYT is a great example of this. It took me multiple attempts over a span of 2 days to cancel my NYT subscription. There have been a few times since then when I've been tempted to re-subscribe (their election results tools are great), but remembering how hard it was to unsubscribe, I don't think I'll go back.
I've had to cancel the Times a couple of times over the years. Telling them that I lost my job only got one offer to extend at a discounted rate. But what really worked well was this:
NYT: "Can I ask why you want to cancel your subscription?"
It's not on their script, so the operator just took care of it immediately.
On the plus side, at least you can speak to a human being at the Times pretty quickly. Good luck getting through to anyone at the Albuquerque Journal in under three days ("It looks like you're calling from a cell phone. Let's continue this conversation by text!").
Whenever I subscribe to any service on Apple I will immediately unsubscribe. If I find myself wanting to use the service again after it expires it's a simple tap to resubscribe. I think I actually end up with more subscriptions this way, but at least I know I'm getting use out of all of them. I wish I could a similar setup for all subscription services.
In several cities where I've lived, your library card would grant you online access to dozens or hundreds of newspapers from around the world. Some you could even download to your iPad to read later.
If you change your address to an address in California you're given the option to cancel online.
If you subscribed with a credit card, did the option of chargebacks ever come up? (Asking because these sorts of situations seem perfectly in line for disputing with your credit card provider.)
The most recent time was with a company that wouldn't honor their refund policy. They were awfully rude over email so I made sure to take screenshots of the policy on their website in case they disputed the chargeback and/or changed the wording on their site. Turns out, there wasn't even an option to upload that information when I filed with my credit card, and I won the case without doing anything further.
It took EIGHT MONTHS and SEVEN phone calls with my bank to get them to charge back. And haul fought me every step of the process when they're the ones that told me to go to my bank. U-haul went as far as to straight up lie to my bank. I'm surprised they didn't forge documents with all the shit they were trying
It was more difficult for me to get reimbursed when I tried depositing $300 in a Chase ATM and then it crashed halfway through. But that just involved a 2 minute phone call to resolve
I had an Amazon subscription charge I could not track down for a year. Every month I would call Amazon, who's CSR couldn't find it, and then my bank to reverse the charge.
Found out I had Amazon Premier still signed up on Amazon IT. The card worked globally but subscriptions displayed locally.
The online subscription could only be cancelled by telephone, on a phone line with small and inconvenient windows of opportunity, with long waits. When you get through, you have the normal retention/upsell attempts, and then are told that it will take at least two months to process your cancellation, and that you will continue to be charged in the meantime.
It was easier to cancel my card, at which point they somehow managed to withdraw access as soon as the first billing failed.
He cancelled the newspaper subscription, and then told me that I was mistaken about no longer getting 1/2 off on the crossword puzzle subscription. I'd only go back to full price on that if I let it expire and then re-ordered. As long as I have the subscription on auto-renew and those payments go through, it will stay at 1/2 price.
I’m in the same boat re: Apple/Google subscription options. They don’t have a vested interest in keeping you attached to a single subscription, so they’ll keep the cancellation option easy in favor of keeping you in their ecosystem.
This applies to checking accounts as well. I pay no fees on my account with no minimum balance or usage restrictions and still have free unlimited ATM use worldwide (i.e. my bank doesn't charge a fee for the use or currency conversion and they actually refund me the foreign ATM's fees) and fee-free overdrafting on my account (paying a very nominal margin trading interest rate). I actually still use it even though I don't live in the US because it's cheaper to use here than my domestic bank account...
It means the company has to make an effort to get money flowing again, though. Many will know that’s not worth it and stop the service instead.
The directives mostly concern draconian "send us a passport copy and cancellation letter" when you signed up online or via phone. Those are no longer allowed in most EU countries. If they do not comply you are free to cancel your subscription via the bank/creditcard by revoking their SEPA permission and reporting them to your local responsible authority.
edit: Both my mobile phone, internet and television service I can cancel directly online without problems starting next month. You cannot cancel yearly services unless specified in the first year but after that it is a monthly thing.
Think about it this way - if Apple was not in the middle, the developer would have received $100. So it is 30% less than what they would have received without Apple cut.
The customer paid $100. That is by definition the price. All costs are relative to the price. For example, sales tax or transaction fees.
You are never going to get 100% because of payment processing, license management, and content hosting costs. If not Apple, then somebody else. You can have a payment processor and manage the licensing and hosting yourself. Or, you could use an all-in-one vendor, but you will still be paying 10-20%.
> I'm actually happier to pay a small premium
That's pretty much the definition of lock-in - there's no way to cut Apple out. Apple on the other hand could remove the user out by banning all its subscriptions - which is far more damaging than any one merchant deciding to do so. The power imbalance is utterly on Apple's side.
Saying that a company "just" has to fire most of its staff if Apple ever detrimentally change their App Store rules is more obviously unreasonable than telling a user to buy a new phone.
How can users escape Apple? You are not the first person to complain about getting locked in because they used an Apple account.
I don't have a good solution, but maybe this will be a good lesson you can carry on for the rest of your life.
In terms of the argument here, it feels like Proton Mail is trying to mirror Spotify's argument. The only problem is that, Spotify was a direct competitor to Apple Music. This is entirely different. Apple is providing a marketplace for apps, and many companies like Proton Mail are actually exploiting the system.
The only fault here is Apple's approach to the issue. But in this specific case, I don't think there's any mafia action going on unlike the whole Spotify drama.
I agree, but the case I directly observed was when the only focus was on the current period. What happened in the current month or quarter was the only concern. Long term effects were "too complex to worry about". This form of business myopia is all too common.
Regulatory practices can be abused or coopted (leading to regulatory capture) but that shouldn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing.
Would you frequent a completely unmoderated online forum? We all know how chatroulette turned out...
Turns out a lot of them, such as the NYT, aren't that smart.
Note that things might have changed since I worked on this stuff.
In the most recent case I tried to request a refund immediately after buying an app, only to get a vague and unhelpful error message. After a little Googling I learned that you have to wait a period of a few hours before requesting a refund. Of course I forgot to go back and request the refund later so I ended up paying for an app that didn't do what I expected it to.
I think Apple's 30% can be debated but a vanishingly small slice of users know this and care about it, millions of users just want to do their thing with beautiful ease and experience.
The only way I can make it work in my mind is that from the users’ perspective there are no alternatives. IE: They don’t know it’s 30% off at the store down the road.
I've taken to using Privacy/temp card numbers for all subscriptions. They have strict spending limits set and if needed, I'll deactivate the number.
Sure, someone probably could send your "debt" to collections, but will they?
When I was in college I interned at a company that negotiated retail placements for stuff like software. The 30% slice is a much better model than the terms our customers were stuck with.
In some cases, software people lose more in the channel for commercial software as well — companies like SHI skim the cream for doing almost nothing. I can say as someone running a big enterprise org that there is no chance in hell that I’m wasting time negotiating terms with little companies, but Apple’s App Store model makes it possible to buy stuff.
When I was in middle school a computer costed as much as a small car. Times change. Physical distribution of most software is dead and the associated costs are completely different now.
I see more of an issue with Apple telling Telegram how to moderate their platform than with the high fees for distribution on the platform.
I'm all for mandating an IAP option. But forcing apps to keep customers in the dark about other, cheaper options borders on deception.
Do they? I heard it before, but when I tried to search the developer guidelines, I couldn’t spot anything specific about this.
We (in this case the EU) should give it the same treatment we gave credit card companies. Cap their rates at 1% or whatever so they can cover the operational costs of their stores, stop them from banning apps from their stores that aren't breaking any laws, and that's that. If they want to make more money for their shareholders they should actually build things rather than abuse their gatekeeper position.
Just imagine if Microsoft had taken a 30% cut from every developer who ever compiled software for windows, or told them what software stack to use to develop their software. We'd have gone on the barricades immediately. Microsoft had to face scrutiny for bundling a browser, compared to what smartphone companies have done to their devices that was a joke
I say Cisco should charge for every packet that goes through their router that is involved in a Financial transaction. If you don't pay, they add you to a blacklist. It's feasible, router has a blacklist, Cisco checks if you make money, if you do, they shake you down, if you don't pay, they add you to the blacklist and router downloads and refuses to route your IP addresses. Sounds ridiculous, but it's doable. After all they are facilitating the transaction.
If manufacturers lose their substantial licensing fees, they would be forced to charge more upfront for the consoles which is objectively worse for consumers.
Smart phones and tablets have gotten to the point where they are expected to be able to do hundreds of different things, with some peoples livelihood dependent on it.
Nor is it realistically possible to create legal guidelines based on profit margins. I don’t see how it makes sense to apply a different set of rules on devices that are sold as a loss and make up for it in software sales vs the inverse or even both being profitable.
> The European Commission has fined Qualcomm €242 million for abusing its market dominance in 3G baseband chipsets. Qualcomm sold below cost, with the aim of forcing its competitor Icera out of the market. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.
Microsoft also appears to have solved that issue with their game pass opening and many game studio acquisitions.
If you're a developer --- don't build for Apple.
Apple is doing everything it can to stop the customer from being informed. As a developer, you are not allowed to tell your customers how much of a cut Apple gets.
This has to change.
Microsoft has the whole code-signing racket going on for Windows, but that's at least a flat fee in fairness.
And while we're at it, implement a Georgist tax scheme on landlords.
The iPhone, iOS and the Apple Store exist because someone had the idea, will and spent tons of money building it. They aren't natural resources that Apple acquired and imposed on people so now everyone else has no choice but to pay the Apple tax.
So I don't see how that analogy applies here.
I don't know where you live but where I do the government determines laws, on my property or otherwise. i can't just do what i want on my property just because it's my property. Neither my actual land or the digital land of the app store are some sort of extraterritorial space, we're not living in the Shadowrun universe
That idea went out the window a long time ago. Now we are all beholden to each-other and society on some level, so best we deal with it and solve these anti-competative issues and predatory platforms, otherwise let's agree that it's completely immoral and stop cherry-picking "moral rules" based on what we find useful at the time.
How does this relate to this discussion?
Just inserting "30%" into ANY financial transaction and drawing a comparison is a false equivalency.
If I could, I would downvote this.
In 1997, then CEO of Sybase Mitchell Kertzman said in an interview with the French trade magazine 01 Informatique:
"Q: When you launched Jaguar CTS, a middleware tool competing with a Microsoft product, you received a rather explicit phone call...
A: It was the Mafia! When I hung up, I realized that I had just received a phone call from the godfather who forbade me to sell drugs on his territory. And you know, Microsoft people behave like the Mafia: they don't have to break your leg, they just have to threaten you."
Source (in French): http://bat8.inria.fr/~lang/hotlist/free/abuse/mafia/kertzman...
The legend went that if Microsoft liked you and decided to acquire you, they would give you a binary choice between a low-ball offer and a lawsuit based on their patent portfolio.
And buying what instead?
The problem of rent-seeking by monopolists will just go away by itself.
No chance in hell the average consumer is doing this, so they are effectively locked in.
Autoupdating is the way to go for most users IMO.
IIRC Google offered Epic more favorable rates after it released Fortnite through side loading. Presumably this indicates that sideloading was a success and Google didn't want Epic to set a precedence that bypassing the Play store is feasible.
What's important is relative difficulty. If 99% of all apps the consumer can get are on the app store, but they have to go through a new and somewhat foreign side-loading process to get this one app, then they probably will just go for that app's competitor on the App store.
I'd be curious what percentage of Android users, outside of China, sideload apps. My guess is that it would be sub 3%.
That seems like classic rent-seeking.
-- Apple, surprised pikachu face, probably
It has been over 5 years since Chrome for Android added support for push notifications.
Apple needs to stop dragging their heels here, since they are clearly using every excuse in the book not to let users receive notification from apps outside the app store purely because it benefits them financially to do this, in a manner that is very anti-consumer and anti-developer.
Users don't have to be assaulted with drive-by notification requests. Safari can require that PWAs only be given the chance to receive push notification permission after being added to the home screen. It's not rocket science. SpaceX landed a rocket booster almost 5 years ago, and they've gone through the certification process to send astronauts to the space station, and they're well on their way to making their next-gen Starship platform orbital. But Apple can't figure out a way to support APNS for PWAs. It's just too hard! Apparently.
If PWAs supported APNS, Apple would have a significantly more defensible anti-trust position, but Apple has shown that they just have no interest in making things easier for themselves -- let alone their users or developers.
Apple also supports PWAs so poorly that the new App Library feature doesn't even properly support them. PWAs have no option to be removed from the home screen and left in the App Library, unlike all other apps, and iOS 14 is the first time that there has been any distinction between PWAs and regular apps as far as the home screen is concerned. This is without even discussing the lack of widget support for PWAs, which would legitimately be challenging for Apple to support well, unlike APNS.
I say all of this as someone who really likes iPhone, and is frustrated that Apple seems to be doing everything possible this year to push me back to Android.
Just add APNS support to PWAs that have been added to the home screen, Apple! And please don't wait another 5 years to do it.
I've been wondering about this for the past couple of weeks.
Is Apple really so blind that they don't see they are digging themselves into a hole?
If iOS had first-class support for PWAs they could probably keep running the AppStore in any way they wish.
When companies use the same logic of spreading fear to manipulate and ultimately control as the war on terror/war on drugs from Bush/Nixon, you know something is really wrong.
I know of a person who just clicked the "allow notifications" in order to not get bothered by the popup, and then they started getting notifications with sex offers and stuff like that. The website which triggered them was https://open4u.co.uk, which was prominently recommended by Google due to its positioning in the search results.
This is not a question of safety at all - Apple has control over how many people get tricked via their control over the permission prompt.
What determines what is too high here? If it's about the cost of it (it costs Google/Apple much less money to build and maintain an ecosystem so they can "afford" to do it) wouldn't that imply that there is a huge market opportunity for someone else to build their own ecosystem and charge less? But maybe because that doesn't happen is proof that it may not be "too high".
Hmmm. Let's see what one would need to do at a bare minimum:
- start manufacturing phones
- build own OS (or fork Android)
- develop own SDK
- develop own online store infrastructure
- manufacture other devices (e.g. Apple) and/or develop other services (e.g. Google) to complete "ecosystem"
The barrier to entry in developing a mobile (and beyond) ecosystem is astronomical when competing with either Apple or Google. It's practically impossible to break into a multi-trillion dollar market when it's siloed to two multi-trillion dollar corporations.
Protonmail has a free tier, subject to resource limits:
What should the app do when those limits are hit that Apple could not choose to call a "notification"?
Apple has not spelled out clearly that this is okay for them to do, which means that it is a risk.
The user would be receiving a literal iOS notification from this app that talks about upgrades available outside the app.
Requiring no app generated notification has a clear line.
Requiring no email, which is a general mean of communication, has too big an implication. What about sending a text? Or a mail? Or to a secondary email?
I’m not a lawyer, but such a clause in contract would be deemed rather unjust, wouldn’t it?
It feels like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Lawsuits against Apple's App Store policy enforcement are already in progress, but Apple has the best lawyers money can buy, and rulings are years away.
If a substantial part of your business risked being terminated at the click of a button by some unelected person that you have never met, with no proper way to appeal such an unjust decision, you'd probably think twice about doing something that could be misconstrued as intentionally violating App Store Guidelines too.
I blame Apple for the lack of clarity both in their rules and their enforcement. I don't blame ProtonMail for trying to adhere to Apple's arbitrary rules that often make little sense.
Apple wasn't crazy enough to go after Amazon Kindle app for asking the user to buy ebooks on Amazon.com, which bypassed Apple's system.
Probably---hopefully---they aren't crazy enough to fight a email client for sending emails regarding upgrade plans.
However, I don't see how that can be solved. An email provider has every right to send an email to a customer informing them about anything, including a trial expiration and if that email contains a link, it is handled like a link from any other email in the app. It would be really silly for Apple to ask the provider to censor their user's inbox and hide a particular email they received.
I agree completely. If Apple agrees, they should spell this out clearly in their terms.
As it is, Apple gets to selectively enforce this whenever they want, which is unfair to both app developers and users.
One likely danger of spelling this out from Apple's point of view is that someone might say the same thing about other messaging services besides email. Take Facebook Messenger, for example. Imagine that Facebook started offering a paid upgrade to Messenger. Why should Facebook Messenger care on which platform you're receiving an internally-generated call to action to upgrade to some hypothetical paid plan? It's not like they were intentionally targeting Apple users in this hypothetical scenario, and it should be their right to not have to censor messages they decide to send to their users just based on the platform being used. It's (hypothetically) just a regular Facebook Messenger message, after all, generated by some marketing system completely disconnected from both the app and the messaging platform!
One thing that confounds the issue for ProtonMail specifically is that the app only works with ProtonMail, and ProtonMail is operating both the frontend and the backend. It's not like the Gmail app that also lets you use other email accounts with it as a general purpose email client. This is why I chose Facebook Messenger as an example -- it is a messaging platform, but both the frontend and backend are operated by Facebook.
> Out of the blue, one day they said you have to add in-app purchase to stay in the App Store. They stumbled upon something in the app that mentioned there were paid plans, they went to the website and saw there was a subscription you could purchase, and then turned around and demanded we add IAP.
It's apparently not just "no notifications". Below is the actual Apple guidelines. Notice that it is not "notifications", but "call to action". In practice, it may be "slightest hint".
> Free apps acting as a stand-alone companion to a paid web based tool (eg. VOIP, Cloud Storage, Email Services, Web Hosting) do not need to use in-app purchase, provided there is no purchasing inside the app, or calls to action for purchase outside of the app
I really hope this means fastmail won't be forced to start billing through IAP. Apple gets enough of my money already, and I don't want it eating up fastmails profit margins, as I think they offer a stellar product.
If so, why doesn't Fastmail (from what I can tell) offer IAP? Isn't this the same idea?
Don’t want to have IAPs? Don’t mention the premium service you have for sale elsewhere. That’s the option picked by many companies.
So, in reality Apple doesn’t force developers to adopt in-app purchases. They make them follow the rule I outlined here.
When I see "This app has IAP" or whatever the copy is I just scroll down and see if the IAP looks like:
* 1 month subscription
* 1 year subscription
* Lifetime subscription
* Full Unlock
* Level pack 1
* Level pack 2
* Level pack 3
* 10 gems
* 20 gems
* 30 gems
If it's one of the first 3 then I'm more than happy to get the app. I don't mind paying through IAP to unlock the full app, pay for a subscription (within reason), or get more content. I am completely uninterested in using a fake digital currency inside your app. Doing that tells me everything I need to know about the app and the developer(s) behind it.
In my book every "free-to-play" game that monetizes like this (even if they try to say they aren't "pay-to-win"/"pay-to-play") is trash. I don't want to hear "It's a fun game and you don't have to pay to enjoy it/play it", that's bullshit. I've yet to play an example of such a game that didn't (eventually) make the game unplayable/unbeatable without paying.
I do think they have gone too far with some of their practices though. This sort of shake down of free apps is over-reach and I'm glad they have revised the App Store guidelines. I hope this sort of arm-twisting doesn't happen in future.
It is a tricky issue. As I said it's their product their rules, but those rules do need to be clear, be fair and be impartially applied. I really don't want to see heavy handed regulation in this area, which could be incredibly damaging.
Apple's woes on this matter are largely Apple's creation. However, if developers want to accept payment outside of Apple's App store, then they should be prepared to pay elsewhere. The argument that the hardware purchase pays for the app store is bunk in my opinion, the hardware purchase pays for the hardware and the OS.