Apple agrees to relax store requirement

This is interesting. It is allowing at least some of the things developers and users have been asking for.

They will allow:

  • more price points (current 200 will be replaced by the end of next year with 500 price points).
  • Developers will be allowed to communicate directly with users by email.
  • Developers will be allowed to inform users about alternative (E.g. cheaper direct payments) in the app and by email.
  • a $100 million fund for small devs and payments of at least $250 million to the plaintiffs over time, as long as their annual revenues remain under $1 million
  • 15% commission will remain for small developers for at least 3 more years.
  • changes to the search algorithm, so that high quality and new apps can be found (so they are only returning low quality apps at the moment?)
  • more transparency around app rejections, so that devs will know why they have been rejected, not left guessing
  • an annual transparency report on the app store “with meaningful information regarding app rejections, search queries and results, and other issues of interest to developers”.

But the bad news is:

  • it only applies to the US market.
  • it does not cover the Epic case (alternative payment methods within the app)

I would say, it is a good start. It isn’t ideal and, until it is global, it is only Apple buying themselves out of one monopolistic court case. But great oaks from a small acorns grow,


And, in other news, South Korea looks to be moving to force app platforms to accept alternative payment methods - Apple & Google appealed to the US Government to get them to put pressure on SK, claiming it was an anti-American action; seeing as Samsung and Huawei, among others would also be affected (and Samsung is a South Korean company), that would be hard to prove.


This is the most important change in my opinion. As someone who has published apps across several app stores (mobile and OTT), this was always a bizarre and unfair policy. I can understand restricting IAP to Apple’s own system, but not allowing publishers to let their users know that alternate methods exist has created an objectively bad user experience. You open the Netflix app and it just presents you with a login screen and leaves it to you to figure out what to do next.

All of that being said, I am still going to favor IAP since it is easier to manage and more secure. Let’s see what users favor given the choice.


And the hits just keep on coming…

But it would be better if you could, you know, actually buy books in those apps…


I am fine with this concession, but let’s keep in mind that this isn’t a huge sacrifice for Apple. They weren’t making any money from these apps.

I think it’s fine to limit IAP to their own system but I think that all apps should be allowed to link to Safari as well. Let people decide whether they are willing to do that or not. I personally will stick to IAP.

I don’t see why the likes of Amazon should be forced to pay Apple 30% for doing absolutely nothing - given that Amazon has a better merchant system than Apple, for sample.

I want to be able to buy frikkin books in the Audible app!!!

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They still rely on the App Store, its APIs, SDKs, Xcode, CDN, etc. Why should Apple offer that for free?

Then DON’T offer it for free, charge $1000/year for it, but let the user post anything they want on the store. Seems pretty fair to me. Oh wait, the reason why they give it away is because it benefits them to do so… such that they have more apps on their platform. If they make the platform cost too much money to participate in, developers would RUN away before they ever get to worrying about IAPs.

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I stand corrected.

Good. Sounds like there are market pressures in place that eliminate the need for legislation.

Well, you have to buy a Mac extra, in order to develop for the iPhone. With all other platforms, you can use any compiler on any other platform and just cross-compile a compatible image.

Then you have the annual store fees for the privilege of selling your app, something you don’t get on the Microsoft Store, for example.

And the content download for an audio book or normal book (or streaming service) doesn’t touch the Apple APIs, or CDN, that flows through the services own infrastructure. Apple is, in these cases, literally taking 30% for providing the payment transaction and nothing else. Most other payment providers take around 1/10th of that.

If the content was being delivered over the CDN, using Apple’s online APIs, then, yes, you could justify that continuous payments, although 30% is still steep, but it isn’t costing Apple a single cent, outside the credit card payment.

Charge the companies that use their own payment systems a reasonable charge to cover downloading the app and its updates. That would be fair. Apple takes its 3% and charges for the updates, not for content it doesn’t even have to transport.

Totally free apps, that doesn’t include in-app payment remain free, apart from the annual developer fee. And they take a cut of initial app purchases, as they do now, but probably at 15%, instead of 30%.

Here is my issue with this argument. There are far more closed ecosystems that don’t have this level of scrutiny. Microsoft didn’t want to abide by Apple’s App Store policies so they launched their streaming service via a web app in Safari. On the Nintendo Switch, XBOX, and Playstation you can’t allow anyone to purchase any digital good without giving them a… wait for it… 30% cut. There is no Safari or Chrome that gives you a workaround. You don’t like it, too bad.

Agreed, but that doesn’t make what Google and Apple do any better. Worse, in fact.

If Apple was selling the iPhone 12 for $499, they could justify the 30%, as they would be selling the iPhone as a loss-leader, winning back on services and app fees. If you look at the Xbox, for example, no generation has ever even broke even, let alone made a profit.

Their market share is also miniscule, compared to smartphones, which is why Google and Apple are the first ones to be scrutinised.

Apple sells the SE for $400. Even if that wasn’t the case, why does that matter? I don’t understand why a government has the right to tell a private corporation how much they can charge. Why is 30% too much? How much should it be? 29%? 28%? 25%?

That depends entirely on how you define the market. In the console market, PlayStation has a monopoly (52%) and they charge the same 30%.

In terms of the consoles sell in there lifetime fewer units than Apple often sells on release week for a new iPhone.

And I was talking about an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro for $400

Sure, but I don’t know how many units a company needs to sell before their absolute monopoly over an ecosystem warrants scrutiny.

Let’s do a thought experiment, and see if we can find a problem. Imagine you believe that it is a necessity to have a pair of sneakers and yours are worn out (literally have holes in them.) You’re on a fixed budget, so you really can’t afford to over spend on new ones. You make a list of places where you can buy them in your community, and the list has one entry: Walmart. You go to Walmart to shop, and find they have decided that your big feet (size 14) are too uncommon. They have nothing in stock, and this is Walmart, the computer does the ordering and there is no way for an employee to override it. You have no sneakers and no easy way to get new ones.

This is the problem with a monopoly. They generally reduce choice and increase prices. If you don’t like the availability or price or service, you can’t do anything but complain because there is no second choice to take your business to. It may or may not be fair or legal, but it’s certainly clear that competition would probably be better than the lack of it.


This should be interesting

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It’s about to get even more interesting:
Apple must allow other forms of in-app purchases, rules judge in Epic v. Apple - The Verge

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I am curious as to whether this means that Apple can still require IAP but devs can use their own system in addition to that. I would rather have that choice.