The App Store vs Developers

If you know me you probably know that I am a pretty big fan of most Apple products. I have personally owned 3 Macs and 3 iPhones over the course of 7 years and have a pretty big dependence on the iOS ecosystem as I do quite a bit of mobile development work professionally. Without iOS and it’s development platform, I wouldn’t have been able to kick start my career like I did when I developed my first commercially released iOS app 4 years ago. With all that said, I think that Apple has developed quite a track record with screwing over developers, the people who make their platforms so powerful.

I’m writing this in response to the recent battle between Apple and Basecamp, the group behind the Hey email app. While I don’t use Hey, I completely understand the outrage behind Apple’s move to force Hey to offer their subscription as an In-App Purchase, while letting other apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video get a free pass. At the core of it, Apple is taking a stance against smaller developers by forcing their hand into handing over a 30% cut on IAP sales. This is wrong. I would understand such a policy if it was enforced for any app that offers a subscription, but singling out developers is completely unfair. As someone who has had to deal with the App Store team firsthand, they mostly have good intentions about protecting the privacy of users and keeping the store well regulated, but when it involves financial motives it can quickly get ugly. Apple has developed a tendency to nickle and dime customers, and this trend is now making it’s way to their development platforms which is very disappointing.

At this point I don’t think it’s about the 30% commission, it’s Apple’s unfair treatment toward Basecamp while letting the bigger plays get a free pass. The fact that Apple doubled down on their demands and suggested the removal of Hey from the App Store if they don’t add their subscription just makes this even worse. Apple is looking more like Oracle with these type of tactics, where mafia mentality meets technology and platform management. The growing outrage from the developer community towards Apple is totally justified. Even though I have never launched a paid app or an IAP, I can sympathize with developers who have. From delivering lackluster releases of Xcode in recent history to ripping off smaller development teams, Apple is headed in a pretty dark direction from a developer’s standpoint. While can take a stance against Apple, due to their market share it’s hard to actually move away from their development ecosystem. All I can ask now is that Apple reverse their decision on Hey, and any other apps that have been subjected to this sort of extortion and allow developers to continue to provide the choice of purchasing subscriptions outside of the App Store. If Apple continues with this sort of behavior, who know’s what they will do next to screw over the people who make their products worth using.

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