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Decreasing service fees on subscriptions to 15% (googleblog.com)
302 points by aembleton on Oct 21, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 231 comments

I don't see the point. Spotify's not willing to give up 10% of their Android revenue, they'll still use their own payment. Epic won't give up 15%. South Korea mandated that apps be allowed to have custom payment methods within apps. Why would any big company, whether Netflix, Epic or Spotify, still give Android 10%? It just seems that the "app store pay toll" is getting less and less justifiable; and it seems outrageous that mobile-first startups should give 15% of their revenues to rent-seeking by the #1 biggest company in the world and #5 biggest company in the world.

BTW, this regulatory pushback may really harm Android, because according to Sundar, Google Play constitutes most of Android revenue. With those revenues gone, that's a big chunk of money gone for Google. App Store revenue is also 37% of Apple's profits, so obviously they're fighting tooth and nail, but it's easy to see where things are going. Apple/Google are going to be pretty desperate to prevent a total exodus.

You are only talking about Spotify, Epic, Netflix and the like, but this makes a huge difference for services that are a tier below that. For any smaller company having trouble with growth/user conversion, a 30% cut to Google for the lifetime of the account is still way too steep, but at 15% you start to consider it.

15% is highway robbery. The cost via your own account on Stripe is 5% on the high end.

> The cost via your own account on Stripe

But it's not the cost for operating the payments gateway. It's the cost for the channel.

The real world equivalent is supermarkets, retailers etc charging for products to be stocked on their shelves. Customer acquisition is extremely expensive and difficult and stores expect to be compensated for it.

> It's the cost for the channel.

Except it's not. People don't download Uber or Netflix because of the app stores. Epic demonstrated unequivocally they could get installs without Google involved as an intermediary. The app store value at this point is singularly it their platform-specific monopolies, and the fact that you have no choice but to play ball to do business on mobile.

> The real world equivalent is supermarkets

It's nothing like that. I have multiple supermarket chains I can go to - I have only Apple and Google when dealing with mobile. Customers can choose either Apple or Google, but most businesses are stuck doing business with both. Not even Microsoft screwed over both sides like this.

At this point, Google and Apple have done far more harm to both customers and businesses than Microsoft ever had. It's beyond frustrating.

That's not actually the truth. You can go to F-Droid, or Cydia, Amazon or one of the dozens of SEA app stores that exist.

You have plenty of options. Your argument is basically that Wal-Mart is everywhere, so Wal-Mart should be forced to serve you on your terms.

Epic is suing Google over direct and considered anti-competitive action preventing alternative stores from taking hold, and they might have a case.


Meanwhile, you reference Cydia (my alternative to the App Store), but I am myself suing Apple for over their efforts to lock us out competing on iOS.



I used Cydia many a year ago (in 2009) when I had the iPhone 3GS. If I recall correctly, the root I had to apply to be able to get it installed also allowed me to get your backgrounder plus sbsettings mods - thus getting real multitasking working!

It made my experience of owning my first (and last) iPhone so much better - thanks very much for that, always a fan. Iirc, I was also able to buy one or two apps there, but my memory may be hazy.

I hope you're successful with your Apple lawsuit.

I know Cydia's your thing (I'd recognize your username anywhere) and I have an infinite amount of respect for you because of it, but I think the status quo is probably fine. iOS is a minority of the market and "Do you know how to jailbreak your cell phone?" serves as a decent deterrent to stop clueless people from butchering themselves with too much freedom.

It sounds really lame to say, but it feels like what you're suggesting is the exact opposite of what the market wants. People want a device they can give to their kid without worrying that they'll mess it up.

And I don't think this is an issue where any side actually cares about freedom; you allow proprietary software on Cydia, which sort of kills the user freedom argument, but even then, people would still be free to just buy a phone that supports them using their phone in a way they want to.

> It sounds really lame to say, but it feels like what you're suggesting is the exact opposite of what the market wants.

If that's what the market wanted then Apple wouldn't have to spend so much money on preventing their customers from rooting their phones, running any apps they want to run and using alternative mobile app distribution methods.

> People want a device they can give to their kid without worrying that they'll mess it up.

Chromebooks are those devices, which is one of the reasons they're used in education. There were 40 million Chromebooks in public schools and about 53 million K-12 students in the US in 2019.

You can run whatever Android or Linux software you want on them, and use whatever mobile app distribution you want, too, like F-Droid.

The sandbox protects the OS. Apps from different stores could remain sandboxed. In addition, parental controls could easily allow restricting the phone to the App Store.

Epic lost their lawsuit completely against Apple.

Any updates since that Washington Post article was published? Do you have a blog or something with press releases or updates about the case?

I hope you get somewhere with the complaint.

> That's not actually the truth. You can go to F-Droid, or Cydia, Amazon or one of the dozens of SEA app stores that exist.

Is that sarcasm? All of those combined don't even have 0.5% of the market.

There's no competition, period.

There is no competiton in countless situations when you narrowly define the scope.

For example is there competition in the "operating system for Samsung microwaves" market ?

I'm not narrowing the scope, all of those combined together are at best less than one percent of all the mobile app market.

They are negligible.

Amazon was a real player for awhile, but they stopped treating developers well and their app store started to lag behind.

Back when the Amazon app store first started, they gave away a high quality free app every week. Great for user acquisition, then IIRC they stopped paying the app developers whose apps they were giving away, and the quality of the store overall started to drop off soon after.

If Amazon had made a play of taking a much smaller % of payment fees, sales and subs, they could have continued building momentum and been a serious competitor.

I presume they decided not to for some good reason, but the potential was there.

> Your argument is basically that Wal-Mart is everywhere, so Wal-Mart should be forced to serve you on your terms.

If Wal-Mart had nearly the prevalence of Google Play (on Android) and the App Store (on iOS), it should probably have some cap on its cut, too.

> People don't download Uber or Netflix because of the app stores

Uber would never have existed without the App Store.

> It's nothing like that

It's exactly like that. That's where the business model comes from. It's a digital representation of the way physical stores interact with OEMs.

> It's exactly like that.

It's not exactly like that. Kroger and Safeway cannot prevent potato chips from being sold outside of Kroger and Safeway.

That's the whole point of the conversation here, don't know how you're missing it. Apple and Google are the textbook definitions of illegal monopolies, Kroger and Safeway are not.

> Uber would never have existed without the App Store.

Maybe not within smart phones, but the app store has nothing to do with the success of Uber aside from forced inclusion in the transaction.

Believe it or not, software went decades being successfully purchased and installed by customers before app stores came along. Even on the Blackberry.

Uber, Netflix and Epic may not need the channel. But Apple/Google are betting that for the long tail of developers, the benefits of the App stores outweigh the costs.

Personally, I am far more likely to try out a subscription if I can do it through the app store, as I don't have to hand over my credit card details, and I know I'll be able to easily cancel.

There are a thousand supermarkets to choose from, and several other retail channels including just selling direct to consumer over the internet. If a single company is charging some % fees, you can easily compare their value add against all your other options. The mobile landscape is a duopoly, so hardly comparable.

How many potential customers do you lose with your home brew subscription workflow though? If I don’t think it will be easy to cancel, I probably won’t be signing up.

This would carry more weight if Stripe were to maintain a mobile operating system, and an app store to help developers get customers.

App developers already pay Apple $100 a year and, as someone in these comments calculated, that earns Apple $2 billion a year alone. Developers regularly need to buy Apple computers, tablets and phones that have 64% profit margins. Users are also buying those computers, tablets and phones that have 64% profit margins.

> and an app store to help developers get customers.

Apple strictly enforces limits and restrictions on users' devices that ensure that the App Store is the only way to get customers. Every other way is banned. Customers cannot get the apps they want without the App Store. Developers are able to find customers on their own, otherwise.

If you want to enter the mobile or tablet markets at all, you're forced to give either company 15% to 30% of your gross revenue. There's no choice, alternative or competition because all the competition is banned.

Personally, I don't think running an exclusive mobile app repository, and then forcing all apps to use Apple or Google's payment methods, should entitle either company to 15% to 30% of a company or developer's gross revenue.

We’re discussing Google’s 15% cut of subscriptions purchased through the Google Play store.

Google doesn’t require anyone to pay Apple $100/year, nor does Google require anyone to buy Apple hardware.

So none of the costs you mention are relevant to the article we’re discussing.

And Google doesn’t run ‘an exclusive mobile app repository’. A dozen or more of the apps on my mobile are installed from F-droid, and Google does nothing to prevent those apps from working.

Google also makes money through ads, ads which you're guided to through control of the operating system (and browser).

It also makes money by providing their apps and services a front row seat in mobile marketing heaven, on prime screen real estate.

Let's not weep yet for Google's Android hardships.

But there is operational cost like bandwidth for Google, which is not there for Stripe.

Do you think that hits to the Stripe checkout page are free? Or that their databases for storing all of the payment info are free?

Stripe needs servers and bandwidth like everything else.

You pay for marketing.

Marketing what? Being in the app stores is a requirement to be alive these days, there are 0 discoverability benefits. Also, both Apple and Google sell app store app ads, double dipping on this source of income.

Given that so much of Apple's profits are from extortionate App Store fees... I can't help but think this is a classic "commodify your complement" strategy from Google. The lion's share of Google's revenue comes from search: if cutting subscription fees on the Play Store forces Apple to cut their take on the App Store by half, then Apple loses considerably more than Google — and Apple's loss is Google's gain. And if Apple doesn't cut their rate... It's a lot harder for them to argue to regulators that they shouldn't be forced into having oversight, since it's no longer standard to take so much.

> Given that so much of Apple's profits are from extortionate App Store fees

Apple earns ~20% of their revenue from all their services not just App Store [1]

Given they don't break out their App Store profit numbers I think you should provide your source.

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/382260/segments-share-re...

I am responding to a poster claiming 37% of Apple's profits are from the App Store. I'm not sure what their source is; it seems at least somewhat believable to me, since the profit margins for Apple on App Store revenue are extremely high (analysts estimate 78% [1]), so even if App Store revenue is a smaller percentage of total revenue, the other revenue costs more, and those costs cut down their percentage contribution to total profits. Regardless, it's fairly widely reported that the App Store is much more lucrative for Apple than the Play Store is for Google.

1: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-profitable-is-apples-a...

I'm the OP and I just compared what Apple gets from the App Store (around $21.7m estimated in 2020 which I saw in Barron's, but it's probably an overestimation since I don't think it takes into account the 15% rate below $1m) to Apple's 2020 profits ($57.4m). It's really a back-of-napkin thing, just meant to show the similarity in scale, and how damaging it would be to companies if this revenue went away.

This comment is a mess.

(a) Provide a link to the source if you're going to throw numbers around.

(b) According to CNBC [1] Apple had App Store revenues of $64 billion in FY2021. Which at 30% = $19.2 billion and at 15% = $9.6 billion. All of which doesn't factor in any of the costs associated with running the store or acquiring all of the customers.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/10/apple-vs-epic-70percent-of-a...

That also ignores the cost of running the App Store. While certainly not costing 20 billion, storage, bandwidth, credit card fees, payout cost, tax handling (Apple takes care of VAT in Europe), app reviewers and engineering cost will add up.

The other thing I fee that‘s often overlooked is that paid app subsidize free apps.

Yeah, that's why I didn't care to correct the Barron's overestimation with an estimation of my own. Apple's still going to spend tons on the App Store even if its revenues dry up.

Both those numbers should be billions.


* billion. At least I know the profit number is 57 billion

> if cutting subscription fees on the Play Store forces Apple to cut their take on the App Store by half

Will it though? Or will the fee just become another "premium" differentiator between the two? The average Android phone sells for $250, but that hasn't discouraged Apple from pricing iPhones at 3-5x that. Other than strong government regulation (or the threat of it), I don't see Apple ever willingly reducing the App Store tax.

Apple reduced their "App Store tax" in 2020 from 30% to 15% for small businesses i.e. the majority of app developers.


For the majority of app developers, but almost surely for a small minority of their app store revenue

One of Apple's arguments in the Epic case was that 30% was standard; if it's not, it makes it look worse to courts and potential regulators.

Even if Google decides to become the exception, there are other stores on other platforms using 30% commissions for it to still be considered the standard.


> and Apple's loss is Google's gain.

Elaborate? Apple is not involved in the search market, and I don’t see how them not making as much money on their own platform benefits Google in any way.

Note: I still think the value that Google Play and App Store provide to developers is not worth the 30% (or 15% in this case), but just want to understand your reasoning.

I'd guess Apple has less money -> worse products (or less effective marketing) -> Apple loses market share to Android -> Google gets more data -> Google makes more money

I'm not sure how valid it is given the absolute mountain of cash Apple is sitting on.

Search and Play Store come from the same company, but is play store revenue really a complement to search? How does removing play store fees improve Google's search moat?

Android was explicitly created to give Google leverage in the mobile space and drive more web usage + search: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/the-d...

On the desktop, ton of apps don't do their own payments. It takes quite a lot for a company to be able to process their own payments. That's why you see a lot of pay with PayPal, Amazon, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.

So I think for sure people will still offer Apple Pay. The difference is that there'd be competition now, so Apple would be forced to reduce their margins to the minimum, maybe close to cost price to compete.

That's basically the point, the competition would drive prices down.

It’s pretty easy to integrate Stripe as a payment processor and they only take 3%

Don’t forget the + $.30. That is the most material part of transaction fees on small purchases, such as $.99

If not for the bulk discounts they must get, they would lose money at 30% of a $0.99 sale.

Don't they also charge + %1 for international customers?

And how easy it is for a developer selling software worldwide to apply valid local taxes and report them to the right authorities?

Apple pay != App store payment

In this case he does mean apple Pay, the payment processing service.

Ability to handle payment processing has high fixed costs and complexity. So you using a managed service by the big companies make sense, for a cut of the revenue.

At some revenue poing it makes sense to in-house it, so % cut doesn't really impact any big vendor with millions in revenues if they were not forced to use first party payment service for in app or store payments on the mobile platform

My view is that it's an effort to avoid regulation. It's easier to justify a fee of 10-15% to regulators than a flat 30% fee.

Of course.

Just to be clear, this is just 30% --> 15% for subscriptions.

One-off purchases for large companies ($1m+) still attracts 30%.

This is the part I don't understand. What is a subscription? I'm skeptical that this is just PR smoke and mirrors.

Not everyone is as big as Spotify and the likes.

A lot of smaller developers would benefit from this. Hopefully, some of the savings are passed on to users.

The part that people overlook. Is what does your mobile first start up look like without Google or Apple providing a distribution point like the respective app stores.

While the original 30% fee is BS. 15% Is reasonable to pay to get your application out there.

Otherwise your Brilliant idea in most cases is worthless if it’s not visible to majority of users.

I like the way that Apple has approached it where it’s capped for apps under 1M.

I’d like a source for the “37%” profit from the App store. Apple’s services division which includes the app store, music service, icloud services, apple pay, apple card, arcade/news/tv+ and fitness generated 20% of apple’s profit in their last filing. If we rewind to before the addition of apple music and most of those other services we have this division earning just 10%.

It’s simply not supported that the app store is as profitable as you state - the figure you’ve suggested is closer to the iPhone’s share of apple’s profit. Sources: fy21q3 & fy15q3 earnings statements.

From here[1]:

> In the second week of the trial, in which the maker of “Fortnite” alleged monopolistic practices by Apple in federal court in Oakland, Calif., Epic called an expert witness — Ned Barnes of the Berkeley Research Group — to the stand.

> Barnes calculated that the App Store had hefty profit margins, which increased to 78% in 2019, up from 75% in 2018, and generated $22 billion in commissions for Apple last year.

[1] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-profitable-is-apples-a...

.. but this didn’t at all support your statement that the App Store generates 37% of apple’s profit.

Apple make around 70-80B revenue per quarter, 22B in annual commission is around 6% of annual revenue…

That 22B figure doesn’t even touch on costs.

Agreed, personally I think 3-5% would be fair anything more is rent seeking.

Credit card transactions take far less, and they deal in legitimate risk (chargebacks, stolen cards, fraud, etc).

As developers, we don't even need app stores. They're an artifice that got shoved down our throat by trillion dollar mega corporations. A taxation clearinghouse. You can distribute the same program bytes from anywhere, most notably the web.

It's Steve Ballmer's old dream of taxing all software. There's just no point in it. It's massively unfair.

The excruciating review process adds insult to injury. And it makes fixing bugs a slow and stressful nightmare.

If smart phone manufacturers really want to protect customers, the best way to do that is to store signatures of known bad applications and provide solid permissions-based access to system resources.

Screw app stores.

As a consumer, i want app stores. It's million times better than the default Windows situation downloading random binaries off the Internet. Code signing and malware signature matching are at best bandaids on a waterfall.

Having a centralised place with reviews categories, updates etc. is very valuable.

webOS in the Palm/HP Pre days and Maemo both had app stores. webOS had the App Catalog and Maemo built an app store around the apt package manager.

The difference is that Palm, HP and Nokia didn't take a cut, and the stores themselves were based on open protocols that allowed users to add their own sources for apps. That resulted in excellent things like PreWare[1] and, in Maemo's case, enthusiast run apt repositories.

It's entirely possibly to have safe and open app stores that don't follow Apple's model. Apple's App Store model is implemented and maintained to protect the revenue it generates, and security has always been an afterthought.

[1] https://webos-internals.org/wiki/Application:Preware

None of those platforms got big enough to deal with abuse and malware at an industrial scale.

Apt is one of the most used app distribution methods on Linux, and is what Maemo and Meego used. It was even ported to macOS as Fink and, before Homebrew was popular, millions of macOS users ran apt without being exposed to abuse or malware. Billions of machines run Linux using package managers like apt, and abuse and malware are minute.

The App Store model is about profits, and security is an afterthought that makes for good PR.

Apple is responsible for letting scams and fraud flourish on the iOS App Store[1]:

> That man’s name is Kosta Eleftheriou, and over the past few months, he’s made a convincing case that Apple is either uninterested or incompetent at stopping multimillion-dollar scams in its own App Store. He’s repeatedly found scam apps that prey on ordinary iPhone and iPad owners by luring them into a “free trial” of an app with seemingly thousands of fake 5-star reviews, only to charge them outrageous sums of money for a recurring subscription that many don’t understand how to cancel. “It’s a situation that most communities are blind to because of how Apple is essentially brainwashing people into believing the App Store is a trusted place,” he tells The Verge.

Apple is also responsible for distributing 500 million copies of Xcodeghost to users via the App Store[2]. Despite claiming that Android users are protected by Play Protect, the Play Store is the #1 vector for malware on Android[3].

It isn't 2003 anymore, operating system vendors have been taking security seriously for a while now. Abuse and malware are not a problem on macOS despite barely anyone using the Mac App Store to install apps. Same goes for Windows, it isn't Windows XP anymore, and despite nobody using the Microsoft Store, abuse and malware are much less of a problem than they were in the past.

The App Store model isn't necessary for security, it's only necessary to secure profits.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2021/4/21/22385859/apple-app-store-...

[2] https://www.vice.com/en/article/n7bbmz/the-fortnite-trial-is...

[3] https://www.zdnet.com/article/play-store-identified-as-main-...

Apt also only offers around 5% of the feature set that the App Store does, and to a scale that is minuscule in comparison at that.

Not all app stores are centralized, Linux has had this figured out for years.

I'm not at all arguing for centralised app stores - the Linux way is great, with default one(s) preconfigured, and you are free to add extra ones you trust/want.

And yet, year of Linux on the desktop never happened.

Geeks are very different audience from general public.

Suggesting that App distribution is even part of the consideration for why Linux didn’t catch on is kind of hilarious to be honest. Their app distribution methods being good or not had nothing to do with their lack of adoption and it’s kind of a non sequitur.

If I dropped their app distribution onto Windows it would also succeed there with the general mainstream public, in fact even more so, because of the garbage state for app management there.

Considering ChromeOS and Android's success, and the fact that Windows 10 and Windows 11 include Linux VMs, it's fair to say Linux on the desktop has had some decent success, albeit somewhat indirectly. The generational switch to Windows 11 will probably only help with that, and IMHO Linux has never been easier on a desktop than today.

I'd argue that these days, the majority of kids' interactions with any desktop computer comes in the form of using school-issued Chromebooks. Those are certainly Linux desktops.

> Geeks are very different audience from general public.

HNers forget this quite often.

Sorry, I'll let the general public decide which package manager is more ethical.

I'll take any package manager that supports emoji in package names.

I don't see any logical reason why you'd want to set an emoji as the canonical name of a package, but pretty much every package manager lets you use emojis in the description and .desktop file of the app.

> Credit card transactions take far less, and they deal in legitimate risk (chargebacks, stolen cards, fraud, etc).

Actually the merchant takes practically ALL the risk and the credit company has relatively little. If a stolen card is used or fraud is perpetrated, typically the merchant takes the hit depending on the type and scope of the fraud. If there is a chargeback, that money is held indefinitely until there is a resolution, but the merchant needs to dispute and prove that the product or service was rendered without any uncertainty, and much of the time the card company will favor the cardholder.

On top of that, the credit card processor will charge you the merchant a hefty chargeback fee regardless of resolution (as I recall, though they may reverse it if the decision ruled in your favor). Most of the time it's not worth the effort to dispute smaller chargebacks for smaller amounts. It's fair amount of work that just may not be worth fighting.

If your business is deemed in any way high risk, your merchant fees can be as high as 30% or more, but those are unusual edge cases.

When dealing with consumers directly that's the inherent risk and overhead.

From a user's perspective, the review is absolutely necessary and really needs to be much better on Android. Proactive vetoing of malware from distribution is much better than reactive malware scanning against a signature library.

That doesn't really justify a slice of subscription revenue though.

> review is absolutely necessary

Wholeheartedly disagree. I download software on Linux and Mac frequently without ever having it reviewed.

I buy physical products that have sensors. These don't get scrutinized.

If we truly need a "health inspector", then it should be a third party. Not the mafia that makes the device and frequently launches competing apps and features.

And it seems totally uneven that websites can access and deal in the same data, yet they escape review.

It's an invented charade that is brutally unfair.

From a user's perspective, what do they want? Availability, cheapness, quality, (all other things), security, privacy

Android users don't care that they're being tracked, as long as it doesn't break their app or drain their battery too fast.

Google cares that apps track users, because (a) it allows apps to end run around their own ad offering & (b) it provides Apple with a talking point to bludgeon them about the head with.

Review is a PR measure masquerading as a user benefit, in order to technically enforce a centralized toll gate.

But you know, that you can also just download and install software on Android?

But yes, this requires knowledge of what you are doing.

So most people rightfully choose the playstore - and maintaining (and curating) the playstore requires work. So I also think it is fair, if google gets a cut. But 30% and also 15% is just cutthroat price range.

The review focuses at potential damage to Apple (their "guidelines"), not for user.

> Credit card transactions take far less.

Depends on the payment processor/mechant bank/payment network/issuing bank and the fixed fees vs transaction amount. 3-5% is in range for a card not present transaction for a low dollar amount with not a lot of volume.

If Google or Apple gets a good deal on credit card processing because of volume and takes that plus a little extra to pay for their services, that's a lot more fair than 15-30%; high volume developers might want to shave that margin a bit more, but low and medium probably wouldn't bother.

As a developer I want the option of App Stores taking their cut - them being the Merchant of Record takes out a monumental admin overhead from selling apps globally for a small developer.

I also work for a global tech company whereby that approach isn't needed as we have our own payment processing to handle that, but as a part-time indie, I want the option of deferring to the stores for payments.

As long as the cut is priced into that option (as in, the fee is passed on to the customer through a higher price for app stores) without affecting the price of buying directly from the developer, and without any anti-steering rules that prevent the developer from presenting the customer with all purchase options and prices in the app, there shouldn't be a problem.

Developers who don't want to set up payments outside of the app store can choose not to do that. But that choice should not prevent the developers who do want to offer a lower-cost payment processing option to their customers from doing so.

> Credit card transactions take far less, and they deal in legitimate risk (chargebacks, stolen cards, fraud, etc).

For high volume merchants.

For mom and pop shops they usually pay a fixed fee + %. For transactions under $5 they can lose money on a sale which is why you quite often see minimum purchase prices or discounts when paying with cash. In some states however there are no laws protecting small businesses and processor contractors usually have a clause forbidding merchants from steering customers away from paying with a card.

A local baobao shop by me offers a 10% discount for cash transactions, that tells me they make more money offering a 10% discount than accepting a card. When I was in Georgia my drycleaner told me she didn't make money on any card transaction under $25.

Part of the savings on that cash transaction may be from not reporting the income for tax purposes.

As a consumer I’m somewhat glad I don’t have to deal with the cesspit that would be app stores home rolled payment gateways.

And update mechanisms! I don’t really want to log in to my phone to get several different shaped and sized and placed popups about updates.

The percentage should be set by the market. The problem is that there exists a rent seeking monopoly at present.

Markets naturally lead towards monopolies.

Citation needed. Can you name a monopoly that lasted 10 years or more without government help?

de beers?

De Beers certainly had government help. The paper used by Wikipedia to support the claim that they are considered a monopoly[1] acknowledges this:

> In addition to the structure of the De Beers cartel, the main force behind this dominance for many years has been the role played by governments. It is possible for a cartel to continue if there is a governing body above that can enforce agreement. Through continuously changing its stance toward corporations, the South African government and other governments essentially protected the companies that were providing them with easily and centrally collected tax revenues. Governments have frequently imposed output quotas and have used legislation, such as the Illicit Diamond Buying laws (IDB), to protect these companies from black markets and their effects on pricing. (As a comparison, one of the weaknesses of OPEC is that it is a cartel of governments over which no other actor can impose control, whereas De Beers has formed a cartel of companies and has often successfully lobbied governments to enforce cooperation on its behalf).

> This argument of government-forced cooperation held while Africa was the dominant supplier of diamonds, but it no longer has the complete stranglehold that it once did. As the cartel has not yet disintegrated, however, other reasons must also exist. Researchers believe that De Beers exists as a monopoly to maximize profits, not just to maintain them. Hence, it is in the members’ interest to stay within the cartel rather than go it alone.

It's however conceivable that a monopoly like De Beers could survive even in a free market because they seem to be the optimal solution to a coordination problem where everyone's (including the consumer's and the prospective competitor's) incentives are aligned. The paper explains:

> Second, the demand for diamonds is not typical and must be analyzed using Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption. This theory replaces the traditional downward-sloping demand curve with one that is upward-sloping, suggesting that the higher the price of an item, the higher the demand. This phenomenon would imply that higher prices have a dual effect on the profits of a company, first, through higher margins and, second, through increased sales. Therefore, it is in a company’s best interest to maintain high prices. For diamonds in particular, this means that the perception of desirability associated with diamonds is critical to the life of the industry as a whole and that if the price of diamonds falls, the overall demand for them will follow. Therefore, it is again in the interest of the individual players in this industry to “play nice” and cooperate, since cheating the cartel will actually lower their profits instead of raising them.

[1]: https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/mygsb/faculty/research/pubfile...

> It just seems that the "app store pay toll" is getting less and less justifiable

Monopolists rent seeking is never justifiable. Hopefully these things will be banned worldwide.

>Google Play constitutes most of Android revenue.

Google also includes a few services apps use (eg google play services) which they could disable if an app isnt bought through google play. Their alternative might be to monetize their current services.

Google makes most of it's money on Android from integration of services. If Windows Phone had taken over the non-Apple market, as looked somewhat likely in 2009, Google may not have ended up a trillion dollar company

> I don't see the point. Spotify's not willing to give up 10% of their Android revenue, they'll still use their own payment. Epic won't give up 15%.

Sounds like we've got a healthy competitive marketplace. Great.

u live in a country where people give more than 50% their revenue to rent seeking liberals that praise themselves of being for equity, fairness, diversity while living off those people work.

I think people are focused on the wrong issue. The fee % is not the problem. The problem is the restriction against using other types of payment processors.

I am 100% OK with Google, Apple, or whoever charging whatever price they want to charge for using their app store services. They are, after all, providing all of the infrastucture for software delivery, updates, payments, etc. Not to mention giving you access to a massive potential userbase.

The problem is them preventing you (the developer) from allowing the user to use other forms of payment processing within the app itself. Apple is the worst offender of this. Google obviously allows side-loading of apps and other app stores for Android while Apple does not. Apple goes so far as to prevent you from linking to a website with an external payment option, or to even suggest in text within your app that there are ways to subscribe/pay outside of the app store.

They claim it's about the user experience and security, which is legitimate, but it's almost certainly about keeping those nice profit margins. It's within their right to charge what they want to use their store, but the restrictive nature of not allowing competition is wrong. If Apple would even allow sideloading of apps this wouldn't really be an issue. They could keep things as-is and just tell developers "Don't like the app store rules? That's fine, but you can't list your app here. Good luck in the free market."

Because mobile computing has become the primary form of computing for many (most?) people, the fact that these few companies have so much power about what people can and can not do on their own devices is scary.

Edit: At a minimum, they could require developers to make all payments available via the official app store payment platform, in addition to any other types of payment processing they want to do. This would let the customer decide and would get rid of any regulatory concerns about monopolies. And you know what? I bet most customers would still pay via the official app store/play store payment method, but at least the other options are there. I also think the policy of not allowing apps from outside the app store to be installed is insane. It's your device, you should be able to use it how you want to.

Reminder that Jobs initially did not support having an app store at all for the original iPhone, IIRC for reasons of maintaining the bar on experience. His proposal was to build "apps" for use in Safari.


We're now at the point where writing web-first apps that can get optionally also get compiled into "native" apps that run in a js/wasm runtime on any platform and act like native apps might get popular again.

I read that more like

We're now at the point where a chat program that does nothing more than one from 1995 is using 300mb ram minimum, basic animations lag and no style mathes the other because nothing even tries to adhere to any centrally defined theme, only to what that projects specific ui designer thinks looks best.

Is this allowed under iOS?

PWAs have acceptable (but not full) support on iOS 14 and 15, you just are forced to ask customers to “press the share button then press add to Home Screen” for it to install to the Home Screen like a regular app.

"Acceptable" is a stretch. There is no way of discovery, say via the App Store. There is no "Add to Home Screen" button (apps can only tell users to open safari settings and do it themselves). There are no push notifications or background sync/fetch. No way to play background media. Full screen doesn't work for anything outside of video. Only a small part of the web manifest file is recognized. The cache limit is a tiny 50MB, which will be purged in 7 days.

Here is a very detailed post on this – https://infrequently.org/2021/04/progress-delayed/

> There is no way of discovery, say via the App Store.

Anybody is free to create a site listing PWAs. The fact that PWAs aren’t listed in the App Store does not mean that there is no way of discovering PWAs.

> There is no "Add to Home Screen" button (apps can only tell users to open safari settings and do it themselves).

This is wrong. You press the Action button in the main Safari toolbar and select Add to Home Screen. You don’t have to go into Safari settings at all.

> The cache limit is a tiny 50MB, which will be purged in 7 days.

That’s not correct. The seven day limit is for websites when you use Safari but don’t visit the website. PWAs added to the Home Screen get their own counter separate to Safari, and since every time you open it you visit the site, the usage limit is effectively infinite.

You want a PWA app to do all that, you have to wrap it inside an app and put it on the App Store.

Indeed, that is the exact specific complaint.

Yes. Apps that are basically a webview over a site are pretty common.

It may be common but it's not technically allowed. Apple forbids apps that are mere duplicates of a website. As with most things App Store, the rules are enforced inconsistently.

Apple changed their policies to prohibit this

That was because their iOS API wasn't ready for public consumption. Web apps were a stopgap so they had something to ship.

No, Jobs actually didn't want an App Store. He had to be convinced.

I'd really love to know his mindset, because it's completely unfathomable to me.

The idea of applications on the phone was something blindingly obvious to me ever since my first Nokia 3410 I had as a kid. The phone had a bunch of distinct functionalities other than making calls, which you could invoke through a menu. Why shouldn't I be able to add new ones? Write new ones myself?

Installing custom software was later normalized when phones gained ability to run J2ME applets. By the time iPhone was conceived, it was an expected feature.

> I'd really love to know his mindset, because it's completely unfathomable to me.

He was fixated on having complete control.

And why would webapps give Apple complete control?

Someone develops a webapp, I can make my own phone and anyone who wants to continue using all the webapps they were using in Safari on their iPhone can come over and do that in the browser on my phone.

People develop native apps for the iPhone, and suddenly leaving the iPhone means leaving behind all those apps.

It's the other way around. WebApps at the time would have been a complete joke since mobile browsers were so limited. At least that's how I understand it. He just didn't want any third party apps. He wanted to make every app in-house. (For example the original YouTube app was an in-house project.)

It sounds crazy but at the time the wild west of apps on the desktop meant that the user experience was pretty poor and allowed malware to explode.

It has been said that Microsoft's failure to fix these issues is really what drove web application development. No one realized a viable alternative was to lock down the device to a single store/publisher and then take a 30% cut.

Now that WebApps probably could replace nearly all native apps, it's in Apple's best interest to not fully support PWAs, WASM, etc. because the app store is so lucrative.

> It has been said that Microsoft's failure to fix these issues is really what drove web application development.

Nah, what drove web development was 100% ease of deployment. No more dealing with installers that don't work and people who don't know how to use them, the browser is already there; no more dealing with the pain of rolling out updates, you push to your own server and it's done. And you don't have to care about Windows stack vs Mac stack with completely different teams, a few css/js tweaks and you're done. Sun understood the issue and tried to put up a fight with their Java Web Start, but in the end the JRE still required an installer, with all the related issues. MS eventually got something like that working seamlessly, but it was 15 years too late.

Nah, what drove web development was the business interest: the core code stays on your servers and is never shipped to users, making piracy impossible and allowing to make users pay you in perpetuity for what otherwise would be a one-time-paid product. Previous attempts at forcing this business model on users involved "licensing servers", but those still left the software vulnerable to cracking.

The whole "we can fix a bug and deploy new version to everyone while still on the phone with the customer who reported the problem" thing was just a bait.

That's still an element of deployment, and I'd argue not even the most relevant. Web dev was picked up also by tons of "hobbyists" who had no interest in any of that. For a long while there were quite a few companies selling web products to install on customers' servers (and there are still so many). In the '90s we built loads of intranet apps who did not care about licensing requirements, but cared deeply about ease of deployment towards employees. The SaaS explosion came much later.

There is no need to be always cynically focused on "evil money", often it's just pragmatism.

Locking others out gave him complete control over the phone's native interface and performance, he couldn't do anything about the web, and it was a convenient way to placate those who wanted to develop apps.

Nobody can know what Jobs actually wanted and what is narrative-building because he was the best storyteller this industry has ever seen.

Citation? This contradicts everything I’ve seen on the matter.

The article linked in the comment they’re replying to.

According to Walter Isaacson's biography of Jobs, the tech guru was opposed to allowing third-party to run natively on iPhone…

…Others in the know disagree with Isaacson's story and contend third-party apps were always on the iPhone roadmap; Jobs and company were simply not comfortable with releasing an SDK at launch.


Apple put a lot of effort into the UIKit API and fixing the deficiencies of AppKit, I'm not sure why they would have done this if they didn't intend to later release it.

Sorry, what I meant was, who are the "others in the know"?

But Jobs didn't turn down the money, did he?

Nor did his wife turn down her friendship with the Epsteins.

There's no need to volunteer to write hagiographies for billionaires, they pay PR firms to do it for them.

I want it one step further, it's not called "sideloading" but just "normal install", people should be able to install anything they want without some unwanted middleman, all the restrictions are just market distortions.

> people should be able to install anything they want without some unwanted middleman

What “people” are you referring to? The millions of people, like yours truly, who’ve made the conscious decision to pay Apple because of their App Store model.

I’m an engineer, I have a desktop and a laptop I can install whatever I want on. I’m ok with not doing that on my phone. In fact, I don’t want that experience on my phone.

So, I don’t understand when others speak for “people” like me who’ve voiced their opinion via purchase. There’s a long list of moments where I’ve been over-the-moon, downright happy with Apple’s payment and subscription experience. It’s been a breath of fresh air vs. dealing with independent providers where, oh, I have to cancel by calling your customer support center? Oh, no, you need me to send an email instead? With a photo of my ID? Oh, you accidentally continued charging me because the subscription wasn’t canceled? That’s ok, but why did you double the price of the subscription without so much as an email notifying me? Oh, you sent an email titled “Thanks for being a customer” and buried it in the addendum, gotcha. Yeah, I’m ok, I’ll stick with Apple’s payments and subscriptions system on my phone.

Those are all real experiences, by the way, that I’m happy to say I haven’t had with Apple for the past decade.

Some people went with Apple in spite of their closed App Store model. They might have well not wanted it, but other advantages of iPhones won out for reasons that will remain their own.

As a reminder, Android requires manually ticking a checkbox before allowing sideloading. Sideloading is a choice, not a requirement. If you don't want to do it, don't enable it.

Yeah everything super easy when you control the entire process, from what apps you will see, to how you purchase them. There is no conscious decision to chose to pay with apple. You either purchase an apps subscription through apples payment gateway or not.

Alternative solution are convoluted because Apple makes it that way, it's by design. You are paying more than you need to, and developers get less then they should.

People complain about 1% surcharge on a visa, which is made clear before each purchase. Apple takes 30% and they hide the fact from consumers. But it's all so smooth, you hardly notice you're spending money it's so convenient. Is that so surprising when the company controlling the OS also controls how you pay for products they didnt make?

Apple controls the entire process except the minds of those that buy the iPhone and the bank accounts the money comes from.

> People complain about 1% surcharge on a visa, which is made clear before each purchase.

This is utterly false. I've never seen a physical nor online POI specifically say "price includes x% fee paid to credit card processor". I imagine Visa and MC explicitly forbid you from making it a line-item as well.

Sorry it is utterly true. Have you ever bought a plane ticket? It’s there in BOLD at checkout. ‘Credit card purchase surcharge of x amount.’ Amazon have recently made a huge deal about Visa’s 1% markup and emailed millions of customer telling them they should consider alternate payment options.

As for iPhone user’s. It’s obvious to all that Apples resources allow them to create the best devices on the market with the biggest library of apps that people want. Their monopoly on the market is not some green light to exploit customers and developers.

That is your experience that I would not challenge. Mine is completely different for a very simple reason: except Netflix I completely ignore products that do not offer perpetual license no matter what. And finding decent products I need on generic web in my opinion is way better then doing the same thing on app stores. There are exceptions of course like off-line GPS software.

This can be easily resolved by forcing developers who provide their own method of payment to also include the App Store's default in-app purchases. That's how it currently works with Sign in with Apple.

I'm not going to pretend there's a choice on mobile because there's not, both Apple & Google are acting as they are part of the same company and with similar rules. it's just a duopoly without competition, I don't buy the illusion of competition.

Going into the debate of Apple vs Google is already missing the point, both are part of the same mobile conglomerate.

> I’m an engineer, I have a desktop and a laptop I can install whatever I want on. I’m ok with not doing that on my phone. In fact, I don’t want that experience on my phone.

I want that, phones are just computers like any others and having two companies control the worldwide app market without any competition is terrible. It's not just me who want that, it's that society and the global economy needs that.

If there’s an unserved market need: you want it, society and the global economy needs it; then go compete in the market, create your own competitive alternative. No one is preventing you from doing that. The market will dictate how right you are.

he said "should be able to" not "must exclusively". Maybe you enjoy the limited offerings in the official store but that doesn't justify preventing the People (including you) from installing without the store.

Problem is we need an Appstore with enforcing rules nowadays to protect ourselves from greedy ruthless software makers. Just look at Windows - and ecosystem where Software mostly is installed outside of an Appstore. What major players in the Industry do now (Big players like Adobe but also other smaller shops) would have been considered malware/adware some 10 years ago. Stuff like uploading personal data, contents of your Download folder, contacts information etc.

Even on Linux you can see that this "moderation" is beneficial. No software will land in the repositories that spy on the users, and its uncommon to install software outside those repos that ship with your distro.

> Even on Linux you can see that this "moderation" is beneficial. No software will land in the repositories that spy on the users, and its uncommon to install software outside those repos that ship with your distro.

Which demonstrates that this works perfectly well without restricting users from installing software outside of the repositories.

You want the App Store to exist. You don't want it to be mandatory.

The most secure medium currently is still the web, much more than any mobile app store, and it's an unmoderated & decentralised platform.

You should not buy their excuses about so-called security, it always has been about control.

And Apple likes to pretend that there are no better payment options. I would prefer to subscribe via PayPal, because it's easier to cancel via them than via Apple's iTunes corpse.

I don’t understand?

Settings -> AppleID -> Subscriptions?

It’s on your phone? You don’t have to use iTunes at all? I wouldn’t have even thought to use iTunes? Unsubscribing is the easiest thing in the world - much easier than PayPal. It’s right there in the Settings app.

Dude it’s like some ancient web UI despite existing in the native settings software, it’s utterly slow as fuck to load and only faintly responsive to touch. It is clearly a deliberate ploy by Cupertino. Or in practice, an update is “not on the agenda this cycle”

I am so humour-impaired I initially responded seriously to your joke - sorry!

I've made a mistake of using a desktop computer.

The reason I vastly prefer paying via Apple over other methods is precisely because of how easy it is for me to see my subscriptions in one place and cancel with a click.

I guess one can have subscriptions outside of iOS?

> I think people are focused on the wrong issue. The fee % is not the problem. The problem is the restriction against using other types of payment processors.

I generally agree with this sentiment, but still feel that the fee % itself is a significant part of the problem and worth to tackle it in parallel.

My concern is that Google/Apple have lots of direct/indirect advantages against its payment competitors as platform holders and I'm 90% sure that they're willing to exercise that position to keep the dominance of their payment solutions. And I think they have a good chance of winning. We need to push them in all possible directions even if some approaches don't work.

As a iOS user I feel safer that all payments go through apple. I am assured of certain level of privacy and security which is very comforting.

Are you also feel safer that Apple decides what apps you are allowed to run? For example, in China, iOS users aren't allowed to run Signal or Protonmail apps.

Did it occur to you that if a user is not the final authority who decides which apps should run on the device, he is not really owning the device, but merely leasing it, under some strict terms?

It’s not really a concern tbh. Appstore hasn’t been draconian in that sense. It’s a fair argument that they can do that if they wish but there is no incentive to become that. Quite the opposite actually.

It is not a concern for you, but only because you lack imagination and foresight.

This isn’t really a concern for me, no

"When they came for Communists, I wasn't concerned, because I'm not a Communist."

Take it up with the CCP

If I can make a purchase or get a subscription through Apple I always do because I know it will be infinitely easier to cancel and I won’t have to deal with any shady billing from sites that store your card info. I don’t understand why Apple can’t require their payment methods but also allow the option for external payment. Apple should position themselves like American Express: maybe a touch more expensive but worth it for the peace of mind and ease of getting assistance.

I think the solution is for Apple to require that all payments at least have the option of being made through the app store payment system, while allowing developers that want to take the time and effort to set up outside payments do that as well.

Consumers can continue to use app-store payments if they wish (and I bet the vast majority would), but developers and companies can no longer complain about Apple's monopoly over payment processing.

The problem with this is that using Apple Pay would be more expensive and so why would anyone use it?

Security and peace-of-mind, as the other commenter requested. Convenience - already having a credit card linked and ready to go.

Also who is to say the developer would charge less? Let's say, for example, a company called ezpay charges $1 per transaction. If an IAP costs $10, they make $7 off the user who buys via Apple, and $9 off the user that buys via ezpay API in the app. They could lower the ezpay price to $8 and still only make $7, but why bother?

Virtually no one is concerned with the security of card payments on non apple processors. They have been typing their card numbers in to stripe/paypal/etc for years.

Only the tiniest % of HN idealists will pay 30% extra to have it go through Apple.

A bunch of people here just mentioned they love the fact that the payment is handled by Apple for piece of mind. So I guess that would be why?

If competing payment methods were reasonably available then maybe Apple Pay would lower its fees.

Are you sure they wouldn't considering it would be 15%-20% cheaper?

Who is to say the developer would charge less? Let's say, for example, a company called ezpay charges $1 per transaction. If an IAP costs $10, the dev makes $7 off the user who buys via Apple, and $9 off the user that buys via ezpay API in the app. They could lower the ezpay price to $8 and still only make $7, but why bother?

Because another company will offer the same product for slightly cheaper now that their fees are lower.

Google One already charges you less if you subscribe via web or android. They just haven't been allowed to advertise this fact in the iOS app.

What if the alternatives were PayPal, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Steam, etc. ? Would you not similarly trust those payment processors?

Also, it should be telling that if you are using an App which only offers: Sketchy Payment Processor, that the app itself is sketchy, so just go use another app.

Okay but charging fees on in-app purchases as a pretty high percentage of the purchase amount is ridiculous and basically just a moneymaking racket with no real justification, that they do just because they can and they already have a stable base of customers who are unlikely to switch to a competitor (Android is the only competitor).

Flat per-transaction fees to cover operating costs is more acceptable. But Apple might make less money in that scheme. On the other hand, more developers might be willing to write apps for iOS if they weren't getting gouged by such high Apple Store fees, so Apple might even come out ahead if they reformed their pricing and payments policy.

Nothing would stop you from limiting yourself to apps that only use Apple's ecosystem, but what is the reason to stop others from installing apps that are using other ecosystems on their iOS devices?

I would certainly enjoy F-Droid for iOS.

Why not just require whether or not it is going through apple to be prominently displayed, and you can only use the apple App Store then, and allow other people to use other payment processors if they trust them?

> The problem is them preventing you (the developer) from allowing the user to use other forms of payment processing within the app itself.

One major kink in this idea is that it breaks the free tier model, since paid apps are essentially subsidizing free ones. If you can use any payment processor in-app, then developers will make their apps nominally "free" for App Store purposes, and then use the payment processor of their choice in-app, circumventing Apple's ability to collect any fee whatsoever. So how do you address this problem without charging every developer, even if they were otherwise willing to give away their app?

I think this could be defendable if they were selling the devices at a loss ("cheap printer, expensive ink" model, or gaming consoles model), but providing something that is effectively a general purpose device on which they already earn money, and that is locked down like this makes me annoyed with them ("we know better what you should do with your device, trust us"). That's the primary reason why I don't even look at what devices they are offering, which is a shame (I'd like to have more options).

> So how do you address this problem without charging every developer, even if they were otherwise willing to give away their app?

Aren't they already requiring developers to pay a fee to have a developer account? I'm sure there are ways they could recoup the costs of providing a service to the publishers of free apps (normally, a free market would converge on the actual price of providing this service). But they will only look for a solution when forced to, why give away a stable source of income?

If Apple allowed developers to keep 100% of revenue from App Store transactions while Apple continued to pay for all the operating costs it would still, undoubtedly, work out greatly to Apple's advantage. They derive enormous value from having apps in their store creating value for their platforms.

Of course, they would not be satisfied with that arrangement because no company has ever been satisfied with making a ton of money if it is possible for them to make some more. But that certainly doesn't mean the model can't work or that if there were regulation to this effect that it wouldn't still be in Apple's enormous interest to continue to operate the App Store.

There's no way the model would actually break when Apple pulls in tens of billions USD every year off the App Store, a lot of it provided by whales in gacha games and online gambling services. A single one of those would be enough to keep the store humming (there are a few specific ones that bring in a billion usd a year by themselves)

They could also just require developers to pay them a set % of gross even when using third-party payment processors. There is precedent for this, for example Sony requires this in order to approve cross-play between Playstation and other platforms. It could also be treated as a royalty model where you give them say 5% of your gross revenue to use the iOS platform and the 5% is baked into the normal 30% store cut (Unreal Engine works this way.)

An Apple developer account costs $100 per year and with 20Million registered developers. $2B a year is more than enough to host an appstore.

Or they can compete in the free market and offer their payment gateway for a competitive fee, or they can do what google is doing and allow third party app installs.

They would still be required to report that they have in-app purchases, just like they are currently required to report they have ads, even if they aren't using Apple's or Google's ad APIs.

This is the only reasonable suggestion I've heard, but it's still very messy because it would not only require even more careful policing of app code, but mostly because Apple would have to invent an entirely new fee structure for apps under this umbrella. I think to do it fairly it would just end up looking like an AWS bill.

In an alternate universe these app "stores" operate the same as package managers on Linux do. No account necessary.

God willing.

Devils Advocate: if I’m a widget manufacturer selling my product on Walmart.com or even the brick & mortar store - do I have a say in what payment method can be used to buy my product?

You can sell it in other stores as well, can't you?

Yep, I can sell it on myWidget.com or at another store.

So how is this different than App Store policies?

On Apple app store you can't sell on other stores to the same customers. If you extend your abstraction to say that Android and Apple are two neighborhoods, it's like to say that Apple app store have a monopoly to sell in Apple neighborhood and for you to sell to people that lives in Apple neighborhood you have to pay apple 30% and use their payment system.

But on Android neighbourhood you can sell in other stores, or even create your own store, if you don't like to use android's app store or pay them 30% or use their payment system.

Some people living in Apple neighborhood says that they prefere the Apple app store monopoly because they can be sure that Apple store is safe to shop and there is only good products.

You’re forgetting consumer choice.

The consumer choosed to buy a product (iOS device) that only allows you to install for 1 App Store.

Can you sell it on myWidgetAppStore? Can someone install myWidgetAppStore that sells apps? (the way I can visit myWidget.com if I don't want to use Walmart.com, because Safari doesn't block other websites but iOS blocks other appstores)

If I own an XBox, can I buy a game digitally anywhere expect from XBox own App Store?

If I own a TiVo, can I install an app from anywhere other than TiVo App Store?

And if you did, there’s plenty of examples where it would void your warranty. Eg John Deere, Tesla, etc can only be serviced by the manufacturer otherwise it void warranty.

> And if you did, there’s plenty of examples where it would void your warranty. Eg John Deere, Tesla, etc can only be serviced by the manufacturer otherwise it void warranty.

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act says otherwise.

Yup, same exact problems as with App Store on iOS, I think you got it!

Because you are not forced to sell exclusively at walmart. You can sell your product at any store and people can get to it. Because of the walled-garden nature of the iPhone and iPad, the only way for people to get apps and make purchases for those apps is via the App Store. So, in your comparison, you would only be able to sell at walmart.

Control over payment flow is already in the right place imo, though I think the charges should be per transaction flat rates and not % based.

App developers are bad actors and should not be trusted to control payment information, refund policies, or subscription management. They will abuse all of them, and they already abuse the limited tools they have for in app payments.

Payment flow needs to be controlled by an entity that is trying to protect the buyer, not the developer

If only Apple would protect us from the thousands of bad actor developers selling physical goods that they give free reign to take our credit card information and abuse it however they please.

Apple now moved on this by the smallest possible amount. They‘ll allow media apps (like Netflix and Spotify) to link to their own payment system on the web. Though the details aren‘t quite clear afaik.

And how would it be enforced? (If charged outside of the app store and get an invoice from google instead on their cut)

Why should Google get a cut for a payment made outside of their app store?

Here are some non-obvious reasons why this is a big deal:

1. Regulatory and technology changes are making advertising a less effective business model. It's both more expensive to acquire users and less profitable to run ads. So each week more companies are switching to one-time IAP or subscriptions as a primary revenue source. This change will further accelerate this transition.

2. A lot of apps sell digital content at a low margin. For example, Spotify and other music apps have to pay record labels for content. You can also consider marketplaces for user generated content that have this issue. Apple and Google's high service fees have prevented a large category of businesses from existing on the app store. Yes, they could try to direct users to pay through the browser, but anti-steering policies made this nearly impossible for companies without an established brand.

This seems like a significant milestone in what I really hope is the path toward the app ecosystem opening up to the level of freedom we’ve enjoyed in the web and desktop software space for decades now. Needing the recurring approval from two mega-corps scrutinizing whatever details of your business and customer relationships they wish, forcing their way in between… feels terrible compared to hooking up to a standard payment processor and doing your thing on the open web. I don’t want your help marketing and distributing my app, I just want to be able to serve my customers and I’d prefer if you mostly ignored us. The phone calls with Apple begging for them to see our point of view and interpretation of their deliberately vague requirements, the stories about companies hiring someone whose personal Google account activities become toxic for the company’s Play Store account, it all just sucks. I didn’t dedicate my life to doing business in software and the internet to be this directly under any one thumb. Crossing my fingers for more moves in the right direction.

Even if this came to fruition, someone is still the gatekeeper. Many often forget that safe browsing gates access to every domain you type in and will throw up an error page if it's been flagged as malware. The same already happens for side-loading apps via Play Protect[0], iOS would surely have a similar system with Apple collecting samples of side-loaded apps and continuously scanning & expanding their blocklist of malicious apps.

0: https://support.google.com/googleplay/answer/2812853?hl=en

Even this system would be a huge leap forward, because we'd go from a whitelist model controlled by a monopoly to a blacklist model controlled by a monopoly. The sheer effort of keeping up to maintain the absolute user abuse by apple and google is infintitely higher than what we have now.

I get that - it’s not like traditional payment processors never shut anyone off. Reality is all in the squishy gray area, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a meaningful difference between what it’s like selling a service on a website vs. with an app.

>Today, we’re also making changes to the service fee in the Media Experience program, to better accommodate differences in these categories. Ebooks and on-demand music streaming services, where content costs account for the majority of sales, will now be eligible for a service fee as low as 10%.

And I think Google has always been taking 15% on the first million revenue on services. Which wasn't clear in the post.

The 10% changes is welcome. But may be too little too late in terms of legal and regulation.

Great news for anyone building business based on IAP/Subscriptions on Google Play. It is really sad to see mostly negative views on the topic.

Here are important benefits compared to previously made changes by google:

1. Subscription revenue share drops to 15% instead of 30% without 1 million/year limit.

2. E-Books and Music Streaming services will pay 10% instead of 30%.

This is great news not only for developers on google Play but also iOS Developers, it will put pressure on Apple to cut Apple Tax further.

The google play subscription API is probably the worst I ever had to integrate with.

For example

* Response leaves out historic data (i.e. a subscription doesn't show it was paused, had a trial, etc. once they're over)

* Fetching the subscription state frequently returns data inconsistent with previous results (e.g. the start date of the subscription keeps changing, the expiry date keeps jumping around), so piecing together a subscription's history by combining versions observed at different times is practically impossible

* Each subscription is a singly linked list, but doesn't give you enough information to actually follow the link. And it's from newest to oldest

* Authentication is a mess (it's half integrated into the google cloud, but not really)

* Settings changes take about ~24h to take effect

And the API has a huge omission: you can't get a list of all subscriptions! That's something every other subscription API provides and important for many reasons - planning, accounting, marketing, etc. There's no way to export a dump, feed, etc.

I still think I'm missing something, but my StackOverflow question on it remains unanswered (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/48606203/list-all-play-s...).

Using push notifications should give you all (new) subscriptions.

> That's something every other subscription API provides

I don't think Apple and Amazon provide such an API either.


Should be 0% or otherwise heavily discounted for your first $x in sales. More money in early products today will mean more revenue for google later.

Can someone explain the subscription on Google Play and Apple App Store today?

I launched an app for a B2B SAAS service that clients paid ten of thousands of dollars a year for. We put the app which was secondary to the web dashboard which the clients used mostly during business hours in the Apple App Store and on Google Play without mentioning any payment in the product description which both allowed. When I first submitted the app Apple said we had to remove the link to the payment form on our website after which they were cool with as long as it wasn't on the app description. We billed the users and maintained the accounts through the web application and web dashboard without giving any money to Google or Apple.

Is this still allowed today?


3.1.3(c) Enterprise Services: If your app is only sold directly by you to organizations or groups for their employees or students (for example professional databases and classroom management tools), you may allow enterprise users to access previously-purchased content or subscriptions. Consumer, single user, or family sales must use in-app purchase.

Apple allows B2B to bill outside of the app store. Can't speak for Google's Play Store.

Is your app Mixpanel?

Maybe I'm a pessimist, but it feels like all of this "fine, we'll cut our commission fees" is all just leading up to another shoe about to drop... "But now you have to pay $x/month to have your app hosted on the app store"

That seems like a good trend to me. The app stores do incur serious hosting and review costs. Let’s pay for those.

I’d much rather pay Apple/Google a fixed amount per download and per app update than pay them a lifetime cut of my subscriptions.

Wow, that first sentence is something to unpack:

"When we started Android and Google Play more than a decade ago, we made a bet that a free and open mobile ecosystem could compete with the proprietary walled gardens that dominated the industry."

Do people today really believe that "the industry was dominated by proprietary walled gardens" in the past? The whole thing pretty much started with iOS and Android (Android isn't exactly an open ecosystem compared to Windows, Linux or even macOS).

No need for complicated pricing tier systems. Here's what I think fairer pricing would look like:

For anything that competes with the platform owner's paid apps (eg. Spotify, Netflix, Sweat with Kayla, Audible/Kindle, Fastmail etc compete with Apple Music, YouTube, Apple Fitness+, Google Books, iCloud+ Mail etc) - they should be allowed to use their own payment service in their apps just like Uber and Doordash do.

Anything else should be no more than a 15% cut.

This will put a lot of pressure on apple to lower there fees.

Overall this is a good thing as long as it doesn't take away from the anti trust cases made against these companies.

>The vast majority of developers could distribute their apps on Google Play for free (currently 97% do so at no charge). For the developers who offered a paid app or sold in-app digital goods (currently just 3% of developers), the flat service fee was 30%.

Do they mean only 3% of dev accounts who ever published something became sustained? Nice corp speak!

>Do they mean only 3% of dev accounts who ever published something became sustained?

It doesn't take much effort to make a dev account and publish Android apps. The vast majority of Android apps are free, ad supported, and made by hobbyists.

Majority of the android app are ad supported.

On my Android phone this website is just a title and blank. It feels a bit ironic.

More evidence of price fixing[1] from Apple and Google's mobile app distribution and payments cartel.

If there was real competition in the mobile app distribution and payments markets, and not just Google and Apple working in tandem to protect their profits, then consumers would benefit from increased efficiency and lower costs when it comes to how they get and pay for apps.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_fixing

Wow Google must have done some major restructuring to cut their revenue in half! /s

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