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Apple rejecting applications which use Dropbox (dropbox.com)
710 points by dannyr 722 days ago | comments


kennywinker 722 days ago | link

This has gone way too far. The other day I downloaded the Google Play Books app. I started it up, signed in.. and nothing. No prompt to go buy books online, no hint at what the app does... just a blank screen.

It's completely scummy. You can buy Apple's iCloud storage upgrade from within the OS, and now you can't even LINK to a place where you could link to a place where if you click the right link you could buy Dropbox storage.

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davepeck 722 days ago | link

It's awful, and it's painful for everyone -- not just those using the DropBox APIs. The origins of these clauses are with iBooks and the Kindle app for iOS.

I wrote about it in a recent blog post:

http://davepeck.org/2011/11/04/kindle-clauses/

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nupark2 722 days ago | link

In terms of UX and as a consumer, I'd rather the Dropbox API not open a browser or even another app. That is not the best UX, it doesn't provide a security advantage, and it's simply not being done to benefit the consumer. This may not be Apple's primary rational for rejecting these apps, but I'm glad they're doing it.

As for the payment question, simply in terms of UX and as a consumer, I want only one payment provider and account on the device. I hate pulling my credit card out and remembering my password for the nth account.

Consumers are happy with the platform. Look at the sales numbers and earnings reports. Obviously companies like Dropbox see the value in the platform too -- I just wish they'd take the time to understand why it has that value, and why Apple has huge profits and very happy users.

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wvenable 722 days ago | link

The problem is Dropbox isn't exclusively an iOS app. So you can sign up for Dropbox directly and they get 100% of the fee or you can sign up through Apple and they get 70%. That might be more than their entire profit. They can't even make iOS purchases more expensive even if perhaps someone like you might pay 30% more for the privilege of a single payment provider.

The fact is that Apple is the one that requires apps to open the browser in the first place. It's rule upon rules upon rules. I'm an iOS user and I'm not happy with this aspect of platform, if that means anything.

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adgar 722 days ago | link

> So you can sign up for Dropbox directly and they get 100% of the fee or you can sign up through Apple and they get 70%. That might be more than their entire profit.

(Emphasis mine) Sounds like it might be time to find a new business plan, then.

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pyre 722 days ago | link

What business are you running that has larger profit margins than 30%?

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codesuela 721 days ago | link

Obviosly he is a drug dealer

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batista 721 days ago | link

How about one that you adjust your prices by whatever so that 70% is the old 100%?

If your competitors can offer lower prices and still give away 70%, then you're not competitive enough.

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grhino 721 days ago | link

If your competition is the one that you have to give away your 30% to, maybe your competition is rigging the game?

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gcb 721 days ago | link

just do like apple does with taxes.

create a subsidiary.

dropbox.com, charges $x for 5GB

idropbox.com, a dropbox company, optionally in the caymans, charges $(1.3 * x) for 5GB and has an app.

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kennywinker 721 days ago | link

You clearly haven't read about the clauses apple put in about payments. You can't charge more in the app via apple than you charge outside the app via whatever other payment system you use.

They've rigged the game.

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vsl 720 days ago | link

This is not true: http://www.macrumors.com/2011/06/09/apple-reverses-course-on...

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batista 721 days ago | link

>You clearly haven't read about the clauses apple put in about payments. You can't charge more in the app via apple than you charge outside the app via whatever other payment system you use.

No, I know of that rule. Just jack the price everywhere --if the iPhone is an important market to you, that 30% is a factor you have to take into account in your overall pricing strategy.

The same holds true for all of your competitors, after all. Either they give up the iOS market, or they have to do the same. So it's not like someone has an advantage over you.

( And, I'd say, if it IS an important market to you, well, you don't get to both have all those customers with their credit cards at the ready in a system someone else built out of thin air AND complain that you have to give him a cut).

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iloverobots 722 days ago | link

Many businesses (especially in the technology space) operate on far lower margins than 30%.

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tomgallard 721 days ago | link

Really? Are you talking gross or net profit?

I would be surprised to find many software products where the gross profit margin would be less than 50%.

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Almaviva 721 days ago | link

Why shouldn't we talk about net profit? Taking 30% off the top can quite easily mean the difference between viability and not, quite easily, when you factor in employees, rent, marketing, legal fees, and absolutely everything else. Isn't this precisely what the discussion should be about, whether it makes non-viable a lot of businesses that provide value to people?

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shod 721 days ago | link

Dropbox isn't a software product; it's a service. What's more, it's a service that needs to be priced to compete with Apple's own iCloud.

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batista 721 days ago | link

And it being charged 10 or 13 dollars a month doesn't make much difference, if it offers a compelling service.

Software and service prices seem mostly arbitrary to me anyway.

How else Aperture went from $300 to $100, Lightroom the same, BBEdit shed 70% of it's price in one day, etc etc... Same, why was iWork a $99 package and now it's 3 components are $10 each on the Mac App Store?

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shod 720 days ago | link

I haven't looked at Aperture or Lightroom, but iWork's price change isn't quite as dramatic or inscrutable as you think: the retail package was $80, and the 3 App store components are $20 each. Apple likely lowered the price as an incentive to push users into its App store, where it gets a cut from every piece of software sold. Dividing the components and selling them individually probably brought in quite a few new users such as myself who didn't want to pay $80 for the full iWork package since it's only Keynote I'm interested in.

Services are more deeply and negatively affected by price changes than software, though. A price change that seems insignificant to you can drive many users away. Look at the fiasco with Netflix last year; they changed their prices by about $6 and subsequently lost about a million subscribers within a few months. Some users see price increases as an indication of a service's instability in the marketplace (and therefore a cue to jump-ship). Most users have lower tolerance thresholds for price differences when comparing services than they do when comparing one-time purchases (like software).

Regardless, now would be a really bad time for Dropbox to increase their pricing. Many Mac & iPhone users are watching iCloud closely and realizing that it could make Dropbox redundant for them. A price increase, even one as small as a ~$30 a year change for their 50+ plan (corollary to your $3 a month change), could push enough users away from the service that Dropbox is better off sticking to its guns.

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kalleboo 721 days ago | link

Then have fun signing up for Dropbox on you iPhone using IAP and then only getting to use Dropbox on you iOS devices (no Macs or PCs or the web), since IAPs aren't allowed to give you services outside the app

> 11.3 Apps using IAP to purchase physical goods or goods and services used outside of the application will be rejected

In app purchases are simply a wildly inadequate solution for many apps and services, and Apple forcing everyone to use them is absurd and helps nobody.

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stickfigure 721 days ago | link

Are you willing to pay 23%[1] more for the convenience of not having to open a window? Because Apple's 30% cut introduces a new cost into the system. Dunno about you, but I'll almost always take the 23% discount and click a few extra buttons.

[1] 1 - (1/1.3) is the additional percentage that must be added to a price maintain constant revenue.[2]

[2] To be pedantic, Apple also handles payment card processing, which is ~3%. So the difference is really 1-(1.03/1.30) = 20.8%

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nupark2 721 days ago | link

> Are you willing to pay 23%[1] more for the convenience of not having to open a window?

Yes. If the choice is between UX and cost, I'll almost always pay more.

Not everyone will, but the people that don't are less profitable customers, as Apple is demonstrating.

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davepeck 722 days ago | link

I think we're actually in agreement about the positive effect of these clauses, at least for some users. I certainly want simplicity and unity in my experience too.

We perhaps disagree about the motivations behind the clauses, but without inside knowledge I suppose we'll never know for certain.

The piece that perhaps I didn't express clearly enough: there are cases where developers -- even the good ones, who care deeply about doing the right thing for their users -- are boxed in and, no matter how much they would like to play by Apple's rules, are unable to for one reason or another. The result is often worse for users.

It's the unintended consequences of the "Kindle Clauses" that I find so interesting; that was what motivated my original blog post.

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cageface 722 days ago | link

I'd rather Apple give developers the choice and let user preference sort it out.

In the long run the open market always wins.

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nupark2 722 days ago | link

In the long run the open market doesn't behave independently rational and doesn't 'win' anything -- it simply is.

If Apple wasn't forcing the larger industry to learn how to turn a profit by putting users first, the market would simply saturate the app store with whatever existent concepts are popular today.

Remember, prior to iOS, the Mac OS X market was both cry user friendly and very insular. Now, iOS has gone mainstream, but Apple's user-friendly focus hasn't (yet?).

Of course, your open market does still exist -- users can choose Android, which thrives on the notion of 'user choice'.

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bad_user 722 days ago | link

     Of course, your open market does still exist -- 
     users can choose Android, which thrives on the
     notion of 'user choice'.
That's one reason why I, as a consumer, chose Android in the first place.

When I decided to buy a smartphone, I wanted one that allowed me to block calls and SMS messages completely, without leaving traces in the calls/sms logs. I wanted this because somehow my number ended up on a lot of spam lists and a smartphone should be smart about these things, right? If my email address is protected by spam filters, it should be a no-brainer for my smartphone to do the same for calls and SMS.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that such apps are banned from the iTunes App Store and that the only way to get such functionality on iOS was for me to root it and install software through Cydia. And why should I as a consumer go through so many hoops to use such software, when the company (that receives my money in the process) is actively hostile to my use case, a use case which is in no way immoral or unjustified.

When it comes to Android, building an app that blocks calls and SMS messages is still hard, as the APIs you have to rely on are private and keep changing, so the results are unpredictable. But upon a search on Google Play, I did find one that works well, installed with a single click. And I didn't have to root my phone.

Now that's what openness gets you - user experience is important, but it's all for nothing if the apps allowed don't solve your real problems.

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rmc 721 days ago | link

In the long run the open market always wins.

The App Store is not an open market, nor is it intended to be an open market.

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batista 721 days ago | link

>In the long run the open market always wins.

I've never seen an open market in the wild, much less it "always winning".

You mean an open market like the "$1 trillion bailout not to collapse the whole economy" open market? Or an open market like "we enforce strict copyright laws to artificially limit each copyrighted product to one maker and it's pricing at his whims"? Or an open market with patents, for the same purpose? Or an open market with frequent cartels, to everything from dairy products to RAM? Last, but not least, an open market where a country with a military advantage has several army units deployed and several wars to secure resources and keep their prices down?

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frogpelt 721 days ago | link

Each of the things you mentioned were instances in which the government interfered with the open market and made things worse.

The free market left to itself would fix most of it's own problems (I say most because I think some regulation is necessary and good). But it requires patience to let the market work.

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mirkules 721 days ago | link

Not so fast: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._Rockefeller#Monopoly

The free market left to itself will eventually converge into a monopoly.

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kika 720 days ago | link

What's true for railways or airlines is not always true for applications and web services. The barriers in the latter markets are much, much lower.

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mistermann 721 days ago | link

> The free market left to itself will sometimes converge into a monopoly.

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batista 721 days ago | link

>Each of the things you mentioned were instances in which the government interfered with the open market and made things worse.

No, all the things that I mention are instances of actual markets. Were is this free market? If it's possible, why it hasn't been seen anywhere on earth?

>The free market left to itself would fix most of it's own problems

I mean, to reason about what the free market will do IF it exists has no value.

The free market, even if it was imposed by some power for one second, would have to be forcibly sustained by human agents --namely corporations, consumers, workers and the government. Nothing tells us that it would, in fact history teaches us otherwise.

One might as well say: "If everybody always was pro peace and love, and never did anything bad, we would have world peace and love".

Of course, but the whole point is in how to achieve that. So, to say "the free market would fix most of it's own problems" has zero value, if the #1 problem is how to create and sustain a free market itself.

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mkr-hn 721 days ago | link

You might want to hold off on the ideological rant and re-read. I think cageface was talking about application markets. I didn't know Google was using their market to bail people out and wage a secret resource war.

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cynicalkane 721 days ago | link

Why is this downvoted?

There's no reason to hijack a fairly specific discussion with a much broader ideological rant. This sort of thing has been happening on HN lately and it bothers me. It takes a potentially interesting conversation and turns it into an ideology measuring contest.

I understand that the theory of free markets in general might be applicable here, but the point is the way the GP is framing the debate it can't be resolved without much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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geon 721 days ago | link

> I think cageface was talking about application markets.

What application market is it that is open and always wins?

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mkr-hn 721 days ago | link

I can't read minds. You should ask the person who didn't appear to be referring to markets outside of app stores.

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epo 721 days ago | link

He said "open markets" you are putting words into his mouth to back up your own. ideology.

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mkr-hn 721 days ago | link

I've made no claims about markets. How could you even know if I have an ideology? That was an attempt at clarification so we could avoid the off-topic and inevitably unproductive political tangent batista was about to start.

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batista 721 days ago | link

>You might want to hold off on the ideological rant and re-read. I think cageface was talking about application markets.

The same hold true for application markets. In any market where money are involved and parties with interests of their own can get a stronghold on the rules, the results are the same.

>I didn't know Google was using their market to bail people out and wage a secret resource war.

Well, pushing their own apps to users with "picks" and front-page promotion is akin to a bailout. They can restrict apps that compete with their core businesses in a snap, they can change the rules of the game anytime, etc. They use it to do whatever offers them a competitive advantage.

Apple's marketplace is an even better example, as it is more closed. Google cannot close the Android marketplace at the same level, because they cannot do all the stuff Apple pulls and still attract developers away from more lucrative iOS at the same time (developers are the "scarce resource" here).

Btw: "ideological rant" implies that something I said re: "free markets" does not hold true and I say it because of my ideology. Can you point to it? Else it's not "ideological", it's mere empirical observation.

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kika 720 days ago | link

>"ideological rant" implies that something I said re: "free markets" does not hold true and I say it because of my ideology. Can you point to it?

I can. You didn't say (as in "state") anything. You asked a rapid fire succession of rhetorical questions. Rhetorical questions are one of the best indicators of ideology (as in "zealotry").

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philbarr 721 days ago | link

That is a fantastic rant about the open market. Do you mind if I use it and claim it as my own someday?

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mkr-hn 721 days ago | link

The rant is generic and uncompelling. I'm sure you can do better.

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kylebrown 721 days ago | link

as an alternative to a full-blown rant, just remind people that market fundamentalism died in the '08-'09 superbubble implosion. E.g. the new Dallas Fed report about enhancing "market discipline" and restoring "faith in market capitalism."

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batista 721 days ago | link

Sure, knock yourself out.

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ChuckMcM 722 days ago | link

[I have a zillion snarky type replies that itch to be free, but we'll keep that monster in the box today.]

"Way to far" is an interesting characterization. Apple has rules about their playground, they like their rules, they make Apple very profitable.

So the question becomes can Google leverage this liability to increase the penetration or market share of Android tablets? Once these tactics hurt Apple in the market they will change. Until then, well its their town and you either have to play by their rules or not play at all.

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jvm 722 days ago | link

I think parent was speaking as a consumer, not moralizing about it. In the eyes of the law or economics, of course this is completely reasonable, it is absolutely Apple's right to do this. But the consumer experience is horrible, something parent is probably not used to from Apple.

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greggman 722 days ago | link

Is it Apple's right to do this?

Didn't IBM lose the case where they said you can only run IBM software on IBM 360s?

IANAL but it sure would be nice for someone that is to speak up on why many of these old cases don't apply.

Is it that it is legal, Apple just doesn't have to feature it in their store? Phone companies were forced to allow 3rd party phones on their network. So where/are mobile companies as far as I know. Car companies are require to honor car warranties even if you change out the car stereo AFAIK.

Is there some reason similar rules don't apply to Apple (and Nintendo, and Sony, and Microsoft)?

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baddox 722 days ago | link

> Is it Apple's right to do this?

It should be.

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throwaway64 722 days ago | link

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

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baddox 722 days ago | link

Well, the real problem is that "right" is a very broadly-defined term that sometimes refers to is and sometimes refers to ought. I was operating on the definition (which I think is more useful) that a "right" is something a person (or corporation) deserves regardless of whether they're actually given it, so it's appropriate for me to answer with ought.

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baddox 722 days ago | link

Oh, and I forgot to add: did you read the article you linked? The is-ought problem is when someone confuses the two, which I clearly did not do.

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bo1024 722 days ago | link

Well, but as a consumer, you have options, and your number one way to make your voice heard is to switch to a better option. (The number two way is to threaten loudly, I think.)

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anusinha 722 days ago | link

You have to do the latter. If you just switch without making any noise, then the company just sees you as percentage of users using the competitor's product. Not very meaningful.

You have to write a short letter saying why you once used <product> or refused to purchase <product> because of <reason>.

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randomStuff 722 days ago | link

Not according to the EU law, did you see how the microsoft IE case got resolved.

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josephcooney 722 days ago | link

Microsoft got hauled through the courts and turned into the EU's personal cash-register for doing similar things in 'their town'.

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fufulabs 722 days ago | link

But in this case, the town is not 90% of the geography. Last i heard Google's town is bigger and there is also RIM Town (mass exodus happening there), a new WP7 town (lots of airport signs) and a few others around.

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nkassis 722 days ago | link

I don't think you need a certain percentage of a market for this to start becoming a antitrust issue. And it could be argued that they have a strong monopoly on Tablets at this time.

If this doesn't feel like anticompetitive behaviour, I don't know what does. They are using their rather large position in the smartphone/tablet market to enter another market (in this case storage) and snuff out the competition. And there are other examples.

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bilbo0s 722 days ago | link

Hmm...

Be careful what you wish for. If antitrust laws can be applied even when there is no monopoly, indeed, not even a majority market share, you are basically giving the government a green light to do a WHOLE lot of bad things.

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FreakLegion 722 days ago | link

Antitrust laws regulate anti-competitive behavior. Coercive monopolies are simply one of the forms this behavior may take. It's possible to run afoul of antitrust laws without having a monopoly, and it's also possible to have a monopoly without running afoul of antitrust laws.

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jahewson 721 days ago | link

Anti-trust covers attempts to gain monopolies too (though I don't think Apple are in violation of either, as mentioned above).

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jahewson 721 days ago | link

Anti-trust law (where "trust" is an antiquated term for "cartel") is all about preventing multiple companies from conspiring to price-fix or monopolise a specific market via non-compete agreements and the like. For example Microsoft's famous agreements with OEMs to bundle IE and not Netscape. Having a monopoly is no sin, and Apple are no more obliged to sell non-Apple software for their phones as they are to sell non-Apple hardware in their stores.

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twidlit 722 days ago | link

Its not anti trust because developers can switch to android or wp7. There are no unmoveable market forces that will deem switching as market suicide, in other words there is no monopoly.

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el_presidente 721 days ago | link

If it were so easy to switch, why wouldn't developers target all the platforms? It isn't market suicide, but it's not as easy as recompiling the code either.

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rimantas 721 days ago | link

Sorry, but this sounds a bit like "hey, they actually have a tablet worth something, let's punish them for that".

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recoiledsnake 722 days ago | link

Interesting, because the comments on other HN posts read like "There is no tablet market, there is only an iPad market", "Apple makes 80% of the money in the cell phone market, Apple is the only one making any money", "If you want to make money selling apps, the App Store is the best since it has the paying customers, Android is full of cheapskate freeloaders who want your app for free and install adblock". With the obligatory links to Asymco and Gruber to "prove" it.

Now it's kind of funny to see some of the same people make the argument in comments here that Apple has no significant marketshare or dominance of anything.

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Retric 722 days ago | link

There is no contradiction, Apple 'owns' the high end market where people actually pay for apps. But, as a percentage of overall phone / tablet OS there well under 40% so it's hard to call them a monopoly.

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politician 722 days ago | link

So... they have a monopoly on the end of the market where there is money?

Why is this a distinction?

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clarky07 722 days ago | link

because if linux had 60% marketshare and ms had "all the paying customers" nobody would have had a problem with the things they did. just because Apple's competitors don't know how to make money doesn't mean they don't have competition.

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sbuk 722 days ago | link

You can't have a monopoly on a portion of a market. The clue is in the first two syllables.

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pyre 722 days ago | link

It depends on how you define the market. When Sirius and XM merged, did it become a monopoly on the 'satellite radio' market or did they just become a larger player in the 'radio' market?

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netcan 721 days ago | link

This is all getting very murky.

Apple has a monopoly on the "market" (portion) that pays for apps. That's not as clean a definition of market as you would want. The defining characteristics of this market are also (arguably) inconveniently dependent on the offending practices. IE iphone user pay because it is easy, because there is a single payment provider, because users don't have to worry about a cheaper option some roundabout way, etc. etc.

Then there is the problem that any platform, regardless of overall marketshare is something like a little local monopoly. Our definitions of monopoly don't really work here but platforms can still exhibit a lot of what anti-monopoly rules are trying to prevent.

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sbuk 721 days ago | link

Doesn't matter? Were they abusive? Did the new enterprise fix prices or stop competitors entering the whole market (Apple are not stopping consumers from signing up for Dropbox, just not through the App Store)?

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hahainternet 720 days ago | link

I find it hilarious that you instantly switched arguments as soon as an example that showed you were incorrect was put forward.

Apple are being abusive, few would deny this. Few have. Why are you?

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sbuk 720 days ago | link

Except I didn't change the 'argument'. I asked a question. Was the new enterprise abusive? There is nothing unlawful about having a monopoly, controlling a market abusively is though.

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politician 721 days ago | link

Does a market exist where no money is being exchanged? If you are an abusive provider of things that you give away, are you a monopolist? If there are two providers of some product X where the first provider gives it away and the second provider sells it, is market share measured in units a meaningful metric of the economic activity generated by this product?

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zzleeper 722 days ago | link

BTW, in antitrust terms, they do have a monopoly in that segment, and could be charged for abusive practices.

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sbuk 722 days ago | link

No. They don't. It is impossible to have a monopoly in a market segment and under the law, it is perfectly acceptable for a business to control a small portion of the marketplace.

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chalst 721 days ago | link

If consumers face substantial barriers in switching to a rival then there might be an antitrust case. From the point of view of competition policy, the idea of "market for this" vs. "market for that" can be misleading

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sbuk 721 days ago | link

What barriers are they facing? As an owner of an Apple device, can they not sign up for Dropbox at all? Not being able to signup for a competing service that can involve a financial transaction is not anticompetitive if the consumer has other means, whit they do. Indeed if the consumer goes to the Dropbox website using Safari browser of their own volition, the can sign up immediately.

The issue here is one of sensationalism. As a community, we a far too quick to jump to the "$corp is evil!" conclusion without looking for a reason, however ridiculous it may seem. We, as a community, are too cynical for own good.

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anotherthrow 721 days ago | link

Why do you say this?

A market segment just is a market according to the dictionary definitions. And legally, a lot of EU competition law concerns exactly how one individuates such markets/market segments.

Can you draw out what you're claiming more?

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sbuk 721 days ago | link

Not really as its very simple assertion. Apple do not have a monopoly. They control a segment of a rather large, and competitive marketplace. To say that they have a monopoly over their products is not a cogent statement as every manufacturer has such a 'monopoly'. The EU laws that you are referring to concern the abuse of a dominant position in a market, something which Apple as we are all too often reminded do not have.

The fact remains semantically and legally that you a monopoly of the segment or niche of a market is not possible. A company can be abusive (which is what you mean when you say monopoly - something which in and of itself isn't illegal), but unless they control the significant majority of the whole the it is legally not an issue. Morally is different debate.

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anotherthrow 719 days ago | link

> To say that they have a monopoly over their products is not a cogent statement as every manufacturer has such a 'monopoly'.

Well, I don't know what you mean by 'cogent', as that's generally taken to be a property of arguments and not statements (there may be loser notions, but as I say you'd need to spell out what one you intended). However, the statement that 'Apple have a monopoly over Apple products' is a true statement, which is all that matters to establish the semantic point. It might be trivial, but it's trivially true.

If I might try a helpful suggestion, it seems to me your confusion is arising because you're thinking something like 'if x is a market segment, then x isn't a market'. But of course that doesn't follow, as one can individuate markets at different levels (more or less fine grained).

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sbuk 719 days ago | link

"It might be trivial, but it's trivially true." It's trivial to the point of not being relevant. If the justice system were to punish every manufacturer that had a monopoly over their own product then nothing would get made. Cogent isn't perhaps the right word. As statements go "$megaCorp has a monopoly over their own products" is meaningless, yet it is constantly cited in these discussions as reason to pursue damages.

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anotherthrow 719 days ago | link

Look, there are several issues here. There's a narrow semantic point. On that point (which I think you explicitly denied), you can have monopolies over market segments. Personally, I like semantics, and think semantics is often less trivial then people suppose, but I accept others may be less interested.

Then there's a legal point about whether one opens oneself to legal action for dominance when operating in certain ways over market segments - I think it's also true you can be. But I'm not that advanced in my legal training, so don't take a strong position on that.

Further, there are normative and moral issues about what should be the law, and what one should do in these cases - but discussing those would take a long time...

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recoiledsnake 722 days ago | link

That only means that if you're a developer, Apple's App Store is a monopoly since that's where the people are that pay for apps. "Just go elsewhere" doesn't work because they can't make money there, like Netscape did have Unix and Sun CDE versions but they were of no consequence compared to the Windows one.

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sbuk 722 days ago | link

Apple have no monopoly in the mobile app space and the iTunes app store is noway, shape or form a monopoly in any sense of the word. There are (is) other options that have a significantly higher market share that developers can go to if they don't like Apple's terms.

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elithrar 722 days ago | link

> Now it's kind of funny to see some of the same people make the argument in comments here that Apple has no significant marketshare or dominance of anything

> "Apple makes 80% of the money in the cell phone market, Apple is the only one making any money"

Making the majority of the profits is not a monopoly in the Microsoft Windows sense, which I assume is what we're talking about here. iOS does not have that in the handset market (esp. if you include Symbian!), and the tablet market is very young.

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tomflack 722 days ago | link

I'm not sure these rules are what makes their playground profitable - only painful. If it goes on too long and too far I foresee it hurting them.

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chj 721 days ago | link

apple do not deserve 30% cut from everything sold through apps. apple can not use a single rule to measure everything. as simple as that.

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rogerchucker 722 days ago | link

I don't think people characterizing this as "too far" are ignorant of that fact that Apple is within its rights to enforce whatever they want to. I think the thread is more about "is Apple being a dick here?"...

Unfortunately, Google is probably not capable of exploiting these mini-resentments and I don't think anybody else is either.

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ChuckMcM 722 days ago | link

Unfortunately, Google is probably not capable of exploiting these mini-resentments and I don't think anybody else is either.

I'd love to hear more about that.

This is my reasoning on why I think there is an opportunity there:

Lets say (patent issues not withstanding), you created an exact clone of the iPad and iOS and sold it at the same price but without the 30% 'apple tax' on purchases. It seems reasonable to assume that if that were the only differentiating feature you would get more developers (they get to keep more of the money) and so it would get more apps, and the platform would outsell Apple's iPad with its constraints.

Now granted that is a hell of a hypothetical, but if you can accept the claim that given two otherwise identical products, but one with more developer friendly policies, would allow the developer friendly one to be more successful, then we can talk about at what point the 'value' represented by that can overcome the fact that the product is not an iPad. Does that make sense?

The Android tablet ecosystem is currently horrible. Between the device diversity, the user experience diversity, and the release diversity, and the app experience diversity it is a wild and woolly place which has not been able to compete well with iPad. Contrast that to the Kindle Fire which started with Android, locked down a lot of stuff that Google doesn't, and that has gained more traction than any other Android based tablet.

To me, that shows a market for a non-iPad but with Apple like quality control and predictability. Depending on Amazon's success, Google might just wake up and fix their world (and of course they might not, it would not be the first time a large organization just didn't 'get' it)

But you also claim that nobody can exploit these resentments, and certainly Amazon is going to try and seem to have some modest success in that regard. Love to hear the counter point of view.

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mladenkovacevic 722 days ago | link

If your idea of waking up, fixing it and getting it right is to lock down Android as tight as Amazon and iOS did with their platforms for the sake of competing with the iPad then I'd rather Google just give up and leave it broke.

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cooldeal 722 days ago | link

>so it would get more apps, and the platform would outsell Apple's iPad with its constraints.

Apple has that covered. You cannot make your services cheaper on other platforms. You have to charge atleast what you charge iOS users for the same service. This is to prevent the success of alternative app stores that will take only 20% or 5% cut. The new ecosystem won't take off because the existing developers cannot afford to completely drop the App Store to jump to a new platform.

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creamyhorror 722 days ago | link

So I can't charge less for an Android app equivalent to one that I'm selling for iOS? That boggles the mind, and it seems pretty anticompetitive to me. It's almost a means of strongarming their way to prime network dominance.

Surely in a world where the network effect rules and the stakes (the global marketplace) are so high, we shouldn't allow networks to entrench themselves too easily? Else we'd just have a behemoth in each sector, probably the same few companies even.

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wanion 722 days ago | link

I believe the pricing restriction only applies to In App Purchases. The iOS edition of your app is unique to iOS so it stands to reason to price it independently. Sell a subscription to your service in the app? Then it needs to be the same price as on your website. It's protecting customers, not Apple.

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untog 722 days ago | link

It's protecting customers, not Apple.

That's one way of looking at it. Another is that it protects Apple from having their users find out that 30% of what they're paying gets nowhere near the person they think is getting all the money.

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tomkr 722 days ago | link

The 30% margin may be high, but the fact that the store keeps some of the money is not that surprising, is it?

I do not believe keeping the price equal to other helps the consumer, it's simply Apple keeping developers from charging the 30% straight to the consumer. I believe it would be interesting if they let this restriction slide. Perhaps the advantage of simple purchasing makes up for an increase in price. Convenience is also worth something, as supermarkets have found out.

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recoiledsnake 722 days ago | link

>It's protecting customers, not Apple.

What? It's specifically set up to protect Apple's cut of 30% and to prevent other app stores from charging less.

Lets say you price a service at $14/mo. Apple takes 30% so you price it at $20/mo. Apple takes $6/mo. Windows 8 ap store takes zero if you roll your own in app mechanism, but you can't charge Windows 8 users only $14/mo. You have to charge them $20/mo if you want to stay in the iOS App store.

How is Windows 8 users being forced to pay $20/mo instead of receiving a benefit from their platform competing, protect Apple customers?

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wanion 722 days ago | link

It's nothing so sinister as that. It's actually more simple: they're protecting their own users from being ripped off, by being charged a premium because they're iOS users. It has some negative effects but as a user it makes you feel safer buying something through an app if you know you're not being charged more than you would if you did it through the same supplier's website.

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recoiledsnake 722 days ago | link

>It's actually more simple: they're protecting their own users from being ripped off, by being charged a premium because they're iOS users

Apple is trying to protect their own users from being ripped off by Apple? That's some _really_ twisted logic there.

That rule is in place to safeguard their 30% cut. I don't see how the user benefits from having to pay 30% extra instead of getting a 30% discount on the same supplier's website instead of paying Apple the tax.

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sans-serif 722 days ago | link

It prevents suppliers from price discriminating (changing iOS users a premium) based on the fact that iOS users are more willing to pay up.

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hahainternet 720 days ago | link

No. It prevents suppliers from price discriminating based on the fact that iOS has an associated 30% cost that the other platforms do not.

That cost goes directly to Apple. It protects Apple, not their consumers. Their consumers see no benefit from 30% of their cost, whether larger or smaller than the alternatives.

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shurane 722 days ago | link

Wow, that's rather messed up -- and they're allowed to do something like that?

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rogerchucker 722 days ago | link

Are there a lot of examples, where an open and developer-friendly platform came from behind and usurped the incumbent that was also dominant in the market? I'm not sure the Mac-PC analogy flies here since Mac wasn't dominant - it was simply an incumbent. The only remotely-related example I can think of, given my limited knowledge and wisdom, is MySpace vs Facebook. But then again, I am not aware if MySpace was a walled garden and made its residents claustrophobic.

Based on the examples I have witnessed, I simply do not have any hope in the existence of an open platform with Apple-esque quality and eco-system (the assumption being viable eco-system automatically implies major market share).

Sorry if I spoke in circles!

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ChuckMcM 722 days ago | link

There are not a lot of examples. However, the markets adjust. [And for those trying to second guess me, there isn't any hidden message in the message or anything]

One of the areas that hasn't been explored a whole lot in the product space is 'moderated open' which is how I think of the Linux Kernel. You can change it all you want, get the source, etc, but if you want to get into the kernel that everyone else sees you have to go through Linus. He keeps the quality pretty high by doing that. It was similar to FreeBSD as 'open source' but 'moderated commits.'

Now in the tablet space I have yet to see someone to take that path. There do not seem to be too many successes for business people to draw on for inspiration. That being said, as an example the Kindle Fire has sold a lot of units. And it is a completely legit argument that Amazon 'makes it up in book sales' (which is their business model) much like the iPod can be subsidized by iTunes purchases.

And I am sympathetic to mladenkovacevic's comment about a wild and free ecosystem can be more useful/desirable than a locked down one. But I also recognize that there are lots of folks who are interested in the product, not deeply technical, and chafe under Apple's restrictions on developers.

If anyone could 'afford' to make a run at this, Google could. And perhaps they will with a 'Google Experience' tablet that has been rumored.

I understand your lack of hope given the things you have seen so far. Back in the before times of personal computers when they had lights and switches on the front, the introduction of the IBM PC for the 'suits' was a huge pain. And really successful brands at the time got pushed aside. Google pushed aside Alta Vista, Sun pushed aside DEC, Compaq/Dell pushed aside the IBM PC, and Android phones at least have put a huge crimp in Apple's style.

Interesting to see how this evolves.

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Terretta 722 days ago | link

People don't like to talk about this, but MySpace to Facebook was less about developer APIs and more about urbs to suburbs.

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philwelch 722 days ago | link

If you're implying it was a race and class issue, well, let's just say that hasn't kept anyone away from Twitter. I think it had more to do with the fact that MySpace pages all looked like crap and played shitty music at you automatically when you opened them. MySpace to Facebook was more about user experience, and Facebook's ascendancy was a fait accompli by the time they launched their API.

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batista 721 days ago | link

>Lets say (patent issues not withstanding), you created an exact clone of the iPad and iOS and sold it at the same price but without the 30% 'apple tax' on purchases.

What "Apple tax"? Haven't you noticed that competitors have struggled to offer the same prices for their tablets for example? The iPad/iPhone is one of the cheapest products on their market segment.

Just consider that when everybody expected the iPad to be like $999 or $799 on introduction, it came out at $499 -- and the mostly useless copies (now forgotten) that appeared of it, where in the range of $700.

Apple has their margin's with huge economies of scale and huge massive pre-orders of RAM, solid state storage and screen panels.

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arjn 721 days ago | link

Incorrect on the mostly useless copies part. The Asus Transformer is not a copy and is cheaper than its iPad counterpart. I've been using it since May 2011 and it can do pretty much what the iPad2 can do, and it has an IPS screen to boot.

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ChrisLTD 721 days ago | link

He's talking about app and in app purchases, not the cost of the device.

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batista 721 days ago | link

Oh, I see, I was confused by the "exact clone" part.

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guelo 722 days ago | link

Not capable? How about Google blocking Gmail, Youtube, Maps and Docs on iOS? They should do it now, Apple is playing hardball in the app store and the courts, time for Google to fight back.

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FuzzyDunlop 722 days ago | link

No one in their right mind would punish their customers/users for making a particular product purchase decision.

They would be cutting their own nose off to spite their face.

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guelo 721 days ago | link

You mean like how Apple punishes its customers that want Dropbox apps?

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FuzzyDunlop 721 days ago | link

Touché

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cooldeal 722 days ago | link

For what it's worth, Windows 8 App Store will not restrict in-app purchasing like the iOS App Store does.

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roguecoder 722 days ago | link

It's great to hear that Microsoft intends to be accommodating. However, unless you can convince at least 5% of my mobile users to buy a Windows Phone it's going to be hard to justify the extra effort for a third app.

Personally, the idea of hardware-accelerated HTML5/JS apps makes my heart sing, so I'm really hoping it takes off with consumers. Maybe it'll be the best texting phone ever and every teenager in the world will swap. A dude can dream...

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taligent 722 days ago | link

And the Mac App Store doesn't restrict anything either. What is your point ?

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recoiledsnake 722 days ago | link

There will be iPad-like Windows RT tablets running on ARM with Metro apps from the Windows 8 marketplace. In that sense, it is directly comparable to the iOS App Store, at least to the extend of iPad apps.

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DavidAbrams 722 days ago | link

Way TOO far. T, O, O.

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snarkinatree 722 days ago | link

Please share the snarky replies!

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gouranga 721 days ago | link

You're on their turf - stop complaining.

I wouldn't invest in app development ever, precisely due to these sorts of issues.

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kennywinker 721 days ago | link

My complaint is not as a developer, but as a user.

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jasonlotito 721 days ago | link

First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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hyperbovine 721 days ago | link

Nice one. I couldn't quite put my finger on what this reminded me of, but you nailed it: the Holocaust.

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jasonlotito 721 days ago | link

Ahh, the point is missed by the ignorant. I was not, in any way, comparing this at all to the holocaust. That you would think that says volumes about what your opinion means, however.

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hyperbovine 721 days ago | link

Sorry, my mistake. I see now that when quoting a famous poem about Nazi purges, you were actually talking about raising tulips and not the Holocaust. Of course, I was not in any way comparing you to the sort of naive moron who would draw parallels between the murder of 6 million people, and a hiccup encountered while installing an iPhone app. That you would think so says volumes about your self-opinion, though.

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jasonlotito 720 days ago | link

> Sorry, my mistake.

At least you realize it's your mistake. After all, what is written can only mean one thing, and one thing only.

Maybe one day you'll learn about context, and history, and how that poem was not about the Nazi purges, but rather people not speaking up about them until it was too late. That you would equate that poem to the purges implies you miss the meaning, the point.

> and a hiccup encountered while installing an iPhone app.

But it's not. Again, you miss the point. People are saying this crosses some line. But that line was crossed years ago by Apple. People defended their actions then, while others decried it, and this exact point (and poem) was raised at the time. People dismissed the warning. They said things like this would never happen.

Now they are complaining about Apple crossing a line.

Finally, I want to introduce to you a literary concept called hyperbole. It is an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally. So, while you want the poem I pasted to be about the holocaust, it isn't.

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xanthor 721 days ago | link

Thanks, Reddit!

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jasonlotito 721 days ago | link

That's not from Reddit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came%E2%80%A6

It's a poignant message and reminder that this is not the first time this has happened. It's especially important because the OP mentions Apple having "gone too far," as if everything they were doing before was acceptable.

As for your belief that this response is merely a quip from an recent migrant from Reddit, might I point out that your comment is, at the very least, far, far worse. I'm confident, however, they you merely don't care, and are at best a troll.

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