Earlier this month, Apple introduced a pretty sizable change to the App Store, introducing the Small Business Program.
That new effort sees Apple cutting back on its commission from 30% to 15% for small businesses and developers. The threshold is $1 million in income — earn more than that in a year, and the fee goes back up to the standard 30%. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, said this about it at the time of the announcement:
Small businesses are the backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world. We’re launching this program to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love. The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea. Our new program carries that progress forward — helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich people’s lives.
Now, less than a week later, Apple has published a new press release touting praise from a collection of developers who appreciate the company’s shift. It’s worth noting that the new Small Business Program goes into effect on January 1, 2021, so it hasn’t quite rolled out just yet.
Still, some developers are indeed happy about the future.
Here’s a few of those positive comments, per today’s release:
Co-founder and CTO of Broadstreet, Andrea Huey
Apple has always stood up for the rebels — the little guy in the big fight. Brief is one of those tiny upstarts out to change the way the world gets news, and we’re so glad Apple has our back. It’s moments like this that show the company really cares about creative people everywhere.
You can download Brief from the App Store.
Co-founder and co-CEO of Shine, Marah Lidey
This is a really exciting update that could have a meaningful impact on our business. Given we’ve seen such strong traction from the App Store this past year, we’re both excited and eager to understand how much this update will affect the business next year.
You can download Shine from the App Store.
CEO of RevenueCat, Jacob Eiting
Now getting an extra 15 percent, small developers will have more disposable income to hire out more things like customer support. Spending on tools and services will improve your product, help you build a better business, and that will lead to more innovation. You can afford to do a lot more as a small developer.
You can download RCReporting for RevenueCat from the App Store.
The bare bones of the new SBP
That’s just a few of them. Apple has several other positive quotes regarding the upcoming Small Business Program. Apple said it would release more information about the program starting sometime in early December, but the primary bullet points are as follows:
- Existing developers who made up to $1 million in 2020 for all of their apps, as well as developers new to the App Store, can qualify for the program and the reduced commission.
- If a participating developer surpasses the $1 million threshold, the standard commission rate will apply for the remainder of the year.
- If a developer’s business falls below the $1 million threshold in a future calendar year, they can requalify for the 15 percent commission the year after.
Critics still exist, though
Apple isn’t a stranger to promoting positive feedback, even in this method. However, it comes only after several critics of the company have already raised concerns about the Small Business Program. Both Epic Games and Spotify, for instance, are not fans of the new program, and believe it’s just showboating and empty.
Epic Games’ CEO, Tim Sweeney said this:
This would be something to celebrate were it not a calculated move by Apple to divide app creators and preserve their monopoly on stores and payments, again breaking the promise of treating all developers equally.
By giving special 15 percent terms to select robber barons like Amazon, and now also to small indies, Apple is hoping to remove enough critics that they can get away with their blockade on competition and 30 percent tax on most in-app purchases.
And Spotify’s statement on the matter went as such:
Apple’s anti-competitive behavior threatens all developers on iOS, and this latest move further demonstrates that their App Store policies are arbitrary and capricious. While we find their fees to be excessive and discriminatory, Apple’s tying of its own payment system to the App Store and the communications restrictions it uses to punish developers who choose not to use it, put apps like Spotify at a significant disadvantage to their own competing service. Ensuring that the market remains competitive is a critical task. We hope that regulators will ignore Apple’s ‘window dressing’ and act with urgency to protect consumer choice, ensure fair competition, and create a level playing field for all.
And those are certainly not the only voices out there raising questions and eyebrows regarding Apple’s Small Business Program.
Still, it’s good that some folks out the are finding a positive with the change. If anything, hopefully it’s an indicator that more changes are coming down the pipe for the App Store.