Apple’s App Story Policy Under Pressure From App Developers

It is being said that the United States based tech giant Apple Inc. is one company among the top tech companies of the world that is fast becoming friendless of the big tech companies.

The reason – the company’s polices and rules for its App Store which has been a source of friction for large and small app developers for a long time. It has now become a battleground this summer with Apple being severe with the rule of app developers requiring to pay a commission of up to 30 per cent of all transactions made through its App Store.

That rule resulted in a public standoff with the email app Hey that Apple blocked from its app Store after the app makers refused to allow subscribers to sign up in-app with th aim of avoiding the 30 per cent commission that Apple charges.

“We thought we knew all the written and unwritten rules,” David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of Hey’s developer, Basecamp, told the Guardian. “But then we, with all this knowledge … can be a victim of their capricious policies. If they kick you out of the App Store, it’s like you don’t exist.”

But it was just when that spat with Hey was almost resolved ht the app maker agreeing to build features for users without a subscription, Apple land in another a noisier tussle over the same issue with the developer of Fortnite, Epic Games. The conflict started after Epic offered a feature to its users to purchase in-game features outside of the App Store which, Apple alleged, violated its rules for the App Store. The aim of Epic was the same – to avoid paying Apple a 30 per cent commission. Epic has taken the issue to court alleging that Apple is abusing a monopoly that it has created and controls.

Apple however has made an exception for Amazon.com where in the e-commerce company was allowed to offer its users of streaming movies and TV shows to make purchases with their credit cards they have saved on file. Apple revealed that this was allowed in exchange of Amazon promoting the Apple TV hardware that is in trouble.

But according to a trade organisation representing some of the largest US news organisations including the New York Times and the Washington Post, called the Digital Content Next, it now also wants a similar treatment for its members.

“Nearly all of DCN’s members offer apps in the Apple App Store and … many offer subscription-based access to a wide variety of content,” wrote Jason Kint, the organisation’s chief executive. “The terms of Apple’s unique marketplace greatly impact the ability to continue to invest in high-quality, trusted news and entertainment particularly in competition with other larger firms.

“I ask that you clearly define the conditions that Amazon satisfied for its arrangement so that DCN’s member companies meeting those conditions can be offered the same agreement,” Kint’s letter concluded.

Apple claimed in June “the App Store ecosystem supported $519bn in billings and sales globally in 2019 alone”, based on a study it conducted with the help of the Analysis Group.

“The direct payments made to developers from Apple are only a fraction of the vast total when sales from other sources, such as physical goods and services, are calculated,” the company said. “Because Apple only receives a commission from the billings associated with digital goods and services, more than 85% of the $519bn total accrues solely to third-party developers and businesses of all sizes.”

“I hope the company will at least consider the possibility that this isn’t the 1990s, they’re not about to go out of business and that being perceived as an asset to developers and not a tax opens up the possibility of growing the pie, not simply taking their slice,” writes the influential analyst Ben Thompson, the founder of Stratechery.

(Adapted from TheGurdiaan.com)

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