Early on Wednesday, Apple announced a big change to its fee structure for the App Store. Specifically, that it’s reducing the money it takes from small businesses and developers.
Apple is dropping its rate from 30% to 15%, a move that should be a welcomed one for many developers out there. However, the move is not enough for some companies and developers out there. Some have released statements on the matter, making sure the world knows they are still unhappy with Apple’s fee in general. Meanwhile, others are displeased with the fee structure, but also remain consistent that Apple is simply too big and that’s where the real problem lies.
The Verge has a nice roundup of some of the feedback Apple has received since announcing its small business-focused App Store fee changes. For instance, both Spotify and Epic Games weighed in on the subject, which is not surprising in the slightest. Both companies have been some of the loudest railing against Apple’s App Store fees for quite some time now. In the case of Epic Games, for instance, the company purposefully broke the App Store rules to get the mega-popular battle royale game Fortnite pulled from the App Store (and Google Play).
Both Epic Games and Spotify see Apple as grandstanding here, and only prove the companies’ points that Apple doesn’t treat all developers the same, despite Apple’s claims in the past.
Per Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney:
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.
Sweeney went on to say that Apple is “gerrymandering the community” with its special rules, and continues to say that both iOS and Android “need to be fully open to competition in stores and payments”.
Meanwhile, Spotify continues to lean into the anti-competitive narrative for Apple:
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.
Software developer and co-founder of Basecamp and also the HEY! email app that saw its own issues with the App Store recently, David Heinemeier Hansson weighed in on the subject as well:
Machiavelli would be so proud of Apple. Trying to split the App Store opposition with conditional charity concessions, they – a $2T conglomerate – get to paint any developer making more than $1m as greedy, always wanting more. As clever as its sick. https://t.co/SLTh3qMOnP
— DHH (@dhh) November 18, 2020
He would go on to say that Apple is still taking too much money, even with the drop in fee:
But evne at face value, this is 🤯. If you’re a developer making $1m, Apple is STILL asking to be paid $150,000, just to process payments on the monopoly computing platform in the US. That’s obscene! You could hire two people at that take, still have money for CC processing.
— DHH (@dhh) November 18, 2020
So, nothing surprising here. Many critics want Apple to change its business model related to the App Store in major ways (like opening it up completely). Apple itself has not been open to that idea, even as antitrust investigations loom on the horizon.
What do you think of Apple’s move to reduce App Store fees for small businesses and small developers?