Your Thoughts on the App Store: Apple Should Change, but Voluntarily

Originally published at: Your Thoughts on the App Store: Apple Should Change, but Voluntarily - TidBITS

After outlining the major complaints against the App Store, we asked for your feedback on how Apple runs the App Store and treats developers. We received strong answers, some of them surprising.

When I’m trying to find something in the App Store, I often think back to the good ol’ days of User Groups, shareware, floppy disks; and fondly remember all the fun things I installed on my Mac to make it more fun, prettier, and more functional. Of course, some of those apps caused my Mac to crash, or interfered with other programs that I was running, but it was actually fun. Now I’d be screaming at the top of my lungs if I had to deal with all of that. Ahhhh … life is different now. :wink:

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I wouldn’t have an issue with Apple being broken up. As long as other duopolies be broken up as well. Amazon, Google, Facebook, the 3 remaining US cell carriers, etc. All too big to fail which is why they keep getting away with all the crap they pull. In the old days huge companies were broken up. That was obviously when politics still owned making policy rather than choose to have it dictated to them by their corporate overloads who bought them wholesale through PACs and Super PACs. Capitalism relies on free markets to work. We cannot have those market dynamics work for us, when as consumers we’re forced to choose from 2-3 companies per segment with no real competition.

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I apparently slept through the call for reader input on the App Store. I think breaking Apple apart is a terrible idea. I also think the Apple’s 30% cut is exorbitant.

My primary objection to sideloading is about malware. I don’t know whether Apple’s review process helps prevent privacy infringement, but if it does, that would be another reason against.

Finally, I don’t know how or if any of this affects family sharing of in-app purchases, but lack of support for that is an extreme irritant.

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I found this link amusing:

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It does, and Apple has a very strict security vetting process. In addition to vetting and security, Apple is also responsible for payments, distribution and promotion for App Store developers. They also spend many billions every year on iPhone and iPad hardware and iOS software development.

And Apple’s App Store provides an audience that very significantly outspends Google’s:

Apple’s App Store generated an estimated $32.8 billion globally from in-app purchases, subscriptions, and premium apps and games in the first half of 2020. This figure is 24.7 percent more year-over-year from the $26.3 billion spent during the same period in 2019. Spending on Apple’s marketplace was nearly twice the estimated gross revenue on Google Play, which clocked in at $17.3 billion. That was up 21 percent Y/Y from the first half of 2019, when we estimate consumers spent $14.3 billion on Google Play.

Android takes the same 30% commission that Apple does. But when you walk in to a department store and see the makeup and accessories areas, as well as what products are featured where in sporting goods and big box store they take a % on that as well. Supermarkets, both big and small charge slotting allowances as well as for freestanding displays, and for special displays for holidays, seasons, back to school. Before Amazon became a big thing, book and magazines publishers were charged big bucks for premium in store positions as well.

Before Amazon bought Whole Foods, small purveyors of fresh and shelf stable products were up in arms because the original owners made a point of discovering and displaying local brands that couldn’t afford slotting allowances, and encouraged them to do in store sampling at no extra cost. That went out the door once Amazon bought it. Amazon also charges for search optimization, as does Google.

It’s not like Apple is charging game developers anything different that Sony (who also charges 30% for PlayStation games) Google or Microsoft is charging. And it’s not like they are doing anything other than mass or midsized retailers have been doing for more than a century. And IMHO, Fortnight needs Apple and Android more than Apple and Android need them.

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Don’t know how I missed this but hey I did.

  • Don’t want sideloading.
  • Happy with the App Store as a user bar the search.
  • Apple should treat developers fairly and equitably and they don’t.
  • 30% could come down at this point.
  • I like governments and they should keep an eye on legitimate concerns and enquire as necessary but should not be legislating beyond existing consumer protections.
  • the breakup of Apple is the end of what makes it great, the ecosystem thrives because Apple can stay responsive in what it focusses upon.
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In this process there are three major stakeholders Apple, the developers and the customer. As In any contract it is not good if it is not a win win win. Everyone needs to set aside their egos and do what is best for all parties. I personally am mostly happy with the App Store but I know several are not. does this mean Apple needs to stop or reduce some of their control? Does it mean that the developers will pay less? Does it mean that the user will have more choice?

The answer lies somewhere in the middle of that triangle.

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Apparently, you included the survey about the App Store in an article about the App Store and Developers. I think that those of us who are not developers (like me) wouldn’t read an article like that when we’re busy so it doesn’t represent all your readership.

As a long-time Apple user, I’m generally happy with the App Store and have no problems with it.

Yep, Snaggy and Nitrozac knocked it out of the park with that one!

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And the Fortnight people developed a truly great, not to be missed, “Nineteen Eighty Fortnight” video:

Just one economic comparison point: at least in The Before Time, around five or six years ago (don’t know what it was like in, say, December, 2019), movie theaters typically got 40% of the price of a ticket, plus all the overhead they could add to refreshments (served only in large, gigantic, or galactic sized portions). Of the remaining 60%, maybe 10% goes for promotion, so the distributors, before they take their cut, can’t hand over more than 50% to the people who actually made the movie (writers/director/producers/cast/support personnel/SFX &c.).

What, exactly, os so unfair about Apple’s 30/70 split?

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I think, in principle, nothing. Provided it’s applied equally to all developers. Apple itself has however through their actions and recently released emails cast doubt on that though.

That aside, you could also argue that if developers/users don’t like Apple funneling off 30% they could choose another ecosystem. Of course the latter argument falls apart because the only real competitor, the Google Play Store, charges the exact same 30%, i.e. customers cannot vote with their wallets.

This IMHO is the real problem. Apple should be able to charge what they want and customers should be able to choose what they want. If Apple is right, they’ll remain in business. If not, they either smarten up or their store goes out of business. The real problem is those market forces cannot come into play because there is no market. There is a duopoly and customers can only choose whom to hand over their money. Our regulators should never have stood by idle while this situation unfolded (and case in point: if Apple and Google actually had a contract where they stipulated they’d both charge 30% their CEOs would be facing jail time).

And it’s not just the app store where we have this problem. US consumers are faced with pseudo competition all over. You can only choose from 2 smartphone ecosystems, you can only choose from 3 cellular providers, we are down to 4 nationally operating air majors etc. We need more competition and it needs to be fierce. You don’t get that with two fat companies who are content splitting up the pie 60-40 and keeping it that way for all times with zero newcomers able to enter the race. Those are the situations where it appears to me breaking up companies to brute force many-company competitive market places are required to end duopolies and return to working free market capitalism that benefits consumers. IMHO our regulators have failed us by allowing too many mergers (eg. Facebook) and not breaking up companies before they became dominant.

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I probably agree with more things you said than disagree, but I will point out one thing: the last time there multiple, profitable US airlines was back in the 1970s, when they were (1) regulated and (2) pacified with US Air Mail contracts (in the latter case, as they had been since the 1920s). We had age 12 - 21 50% standby fares, middle seats were almost never occupied, and it wasn’t outrageously expensive to fly. Oh, and there were direct flights from cost to coast as well as almost everywhere in between. If you were flying a a small airport you could get flights there on multiple airlines from multiple large airports. Hub and spoke did not exist, because there was no need to squeeze every last penny out of the operation. And it may be my geezer memory going, but I seem to remember decent food you could actually taste, in coach. It’s cutthroat competition that has made flying a miserable experience for everyone not in GOP class, up front.

So I’m a little restrained in my support for cutthroat competition. Free market capitalism is good for the consumer, up to a point — the point at which government needs to step to make certain the consumer is not screwed or, as in the “good old days” before the Pure Food and Drug Act, poisoned.

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Isn’t that the anti-Apple ad from whinny Epic? I can’t tell because all I get is an error message:
“An error occurred. Please try again later. (Playback ID: -Jo_yEWf_UfSdrci)”

With the one big difference being that Android users don’t have to buy from the Play Store. There are other Android app stores (including one run by Amazon). You can also download the .apk package from another source (e.g. directly from a publisher) and manually install it. It’s an extra step to authorize a third-party store or your local file system as an installation source, but it’s also not a big deal.

Sure, you risk getting malware, but given the state of the Google Play Store, I wouldn’t consider it perfectly safe either. You just have to be careful what you’re downloading from where - just like we all had to do in the days before app stores.

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It is applied equally. In addition to Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung also have App Stores. They all charge 30% for the first year and for subscriptions, 15% after that, just like Apple:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/mas/get/amazonap

Tencent, Baidu and Oppo have very successful App Stores in China, and there are other competive stores to Apple and Google around the world. They all charge 30% for starters:

“Our study shows that Apple’s App Store commission rate is similar in magnitude to the commission rates charged by many other app stores and digital content marketplaces. The commission rates charged by digital marketplaces most similar to the App Store, such as other app stores and video game digital marketplaces, are generally around 30%.
Marketplaces that distribute digital content such as videos, podcasts, eBooks, and audiobooks generally charge commission rates of 30% or more. Commission rates charged by e-commerce marketplaces vary by industry but sometimes exceed 30%”

Epic Games should stop whining about Apple. If they don’t like the App Store’s commission fee, they can withdraw from the service. Then they see how much money they can make from a side loaded app.

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I originally found it here. I think it’s really cool regardless of the cheesey animation:

Compare it to the production values and originality of the original “1984” Apple ad at the bottom of the page.

I think you paint those who favor regulating companies such as Apple and Google with too broad a brush when you label them confused and uninformed, and I have to question your political bent and ethics when you call out two Democrats, specifically. Only in the article for which you provided a link does it say that conservatives are actually more in favor of regulation.
I found Senator Warren’s argument for splitting up these giant companies at least worthy of consideration. She makes a good case as to why managing the store where your goods compete against others probably tilts the game in your favor and diminishes competition and service to the consumer that might have resulted from fairer competition.
As to your contention that Apple can’t protect us from apps that are bad actors if they don’t manage the store where they are sold seems preposterous on the face of it.
Given a choice of sourcing an app directly from its developer, or from the Apple App Store, I ALWAYS choose dealing directly with the app developer. He gets my money; I get his app. Most times, I also get support, including timely updates, that is not available from the Apple App Store.
I like macs and iPhones. Apple makes good products. I just wish they’d put more priority on making them better and less on becoming a behemoth purveyor of exorbitant luxury items and services.

I mentioned two Democrats because Republican lawmakers don’t talk about the App Store much. Republicans generally focus on three issues surrounding tech companies:

  1. Production of devices outside the United States, specifically in China.
  2. Collaboration with China.
  3. Bias against conservatives on social media.
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