“App Store Monopoly” Discussion

For reasons having nothing to do with Epic’s claims against Apple, Fortnite’s popularity is on the wane. By July 2020, interest in Fortnite had decreased by nearly 70% as compared to October 2019.

It quotes disclosures from Epic that only 10 percent of Fortnite consumers play regularly on the iPhone, and claims that Epic has said Apple is the “smallest piece of the pie’” when it comes to revenue.

I’m sure that pie was said as being hundreds of millions? Not bad work for Epic!

I find these complaints bemusing. They’ve had since June. It’s not Apple’s fault if they wait until the last minute in the hope bugs are due of the betas and not their shoddy scripting. A week’s notice makes little difference, other than a guarantee that your app update is available on day 1. Bugs and crashes with your app should be ironed out by now and on the store before 14 ships. All you need yesterday’s Xcode update for was to simply to submit a version of your app that uses the iOS 14 specific APIs. If their app wasn’t ready to submit before this version of Xcode was made available, then that’s on them.

I have 3 apps on the store in active and ongoing development. Those are ready, and the versions with iOS 14 specific APIs were submitted this morning and approved, so we’re all good to go, with no known crashes or major bugs. I suspect a few issues will prop up, as they do every year once users update to the new iOS versions, but we’ll get those patched and updated too, as always. There’s no issue here, in my opinion.

ETA:
there does exist an edge case where you’d have to be incredibly unlucky, in that the GM release completely bricked your app. In which case, not always the dev’s fault and I sympathise. But this can happen with any software update versions, of which no notice is ever given. This is part and parcel with building apps though. You just have to adapt, and delay if necessary.
We once had an issue back in iOS 12, where one of our apps was quite happily running just fine on a beta build, then Apple released a slightly update version of the beta to the public, and our app would no longer launch. Wasn’t much we could do other than to rush out a quick fix to submit ASAP to tide us over a few weeks.

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I think the bigger problem here is that app developers can 100% fix and resolve issues for iOS14 etc, but they can’t actually publish iOS 14 apps publicly until the GM release of XCode is released, and then they have to go through review etc within Apple.

So, while it might seem inconsequential, app updates for iOS14 couldn’t have been submitted till late last night, so it did mean a bit of a rush for developers.

Additionally, the GM of iOS14 may bring with it new bugs that developers weren’t aware of… that’s the point in a GM, to let developers use the latest version before it goes public (normally a week or so).

Yea, it’s a bit crap for developers, and there should have been a week or so notice imo.

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Can’t say I have personal experience of this. We almost always have our apps ready for submission the moment the Xcode GM is installed. Review process for our updates is often quite smooth and without a hitch too. So there was no mad rush for us here, nor any concern, and the process and duration went about the same as it’s gone every year from memory. The general mood at the end of the event was one of excitement that the update was coming much sooner.

It’s interesting to see more Apple vs Epic news coming out. Apparently, Epic were actually getting quite a lot from Apple for the 30%:

Hardly the case of Apple charging a fee for doing nothing as is typically claimed.

It’s also interesting to see Epic withdrawing Fornite for macOS, likely in an attempt to harm Apple, but I think this is misguided and only going to work against them.

Finally, it’s also interesting to see Apple going for the jugular and attempting to get Unreal Engine development shut down:

I do think Epic has underestimated Apple and their willingness to rough things out. By creating uncertainty around Unreal and their other efforts Apple is going for maximum damage to Epic with what I suspect will be minimal long term effect on Apple.

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Not much detail, but it reads to me like Apple were providing support to ensure that the most popular shooter on the planet was well optimised for their platforms.

This isn’t altruistic support from the goodness of their hearts, it’s quid pro quo from which they both benefit.

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Sounds like some salty companies being salty. I think it’s been discussed that 30% is fairly standard across the digital platforms

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I’ve barely scrolled and…

The Coalition for App Fairness is an independent nonprofit organization founded by industry-leading companies to advocate for freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem.

This organisation might be non-profit, but the companies involved sure as shit make money and that’s why they want rid of the 30% cut.

For most purchases made within its App Store, Apple takes 30% of the purchase price. No other transaction fee — in any industry — comes close.

Not true. It’s the same on various console/game stores/distribution methods.

Then claiming that Apple are only a payment processor.

And absolutely no surprise to see the usual cry-babies Spotify are part of it.

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Spotify is a bit of an odd one to be claiming the high ground as many artists have claimed they do not compensate them fairly. They also claim to distribute around 70% of revenue to rights holders, which looks suspiciously like they keep 30% :face_with_monocle:.

Pretty sure at one point they blamed Apple’s 30% fee as preventing them from paying the artists as fair a rate as Apple does.

Don’t have a source, and I could be mistaken, as it’s been a few years now.

Edit: after a brief Google, it may be this that I’m thinking of here:

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All these greedy, ungrateful companies biting the hand that feeds them!

My takeaway from that is that Apple do far more than I ever thought they were doing, and that’s coming from someone who develops apps for Apple’s platforms. Far more than I suspect their competition do for the same fee. I’m glad they shared those insights.

Also, I absolutely love the privacy Apple padlock icon.

Distributing such a huge number of apps from 100% renewable data centres is an important thing too. If other app stores pop up, it can undermine to positive impact that has on the planet.

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Looks like Apple are the only big tech company without their own such service now. They’re really need to make changes to the App Store to allow for such services, sooner than later.

But it’s not really the same fee.

28 millions developers is $2.8B in annual developer fees alone. Before the 30% Apple Tax.

I believe the Google equivalent is a one off $25 and the 30% cut is only mandatory for games.

Obviously Apple is going to try and publicise everything it does to earn its rent but I would love to know what’s actually involved in reviewing an app in terms in actual human time and effort.

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I mean, both charge 30% for being on the respective stores. So the fee for that is the same. The price to access the respective developer programs may differ, but you’re paying for something entirely different. Google may undercut Apple here, but Apple’s program fee is quite a low level entry point in the grand scheme of things, especially if you compare to Microsoft or bring other platform developer programs into the mix.

You’re probably better equipped with the knowledge of Google’s fee than I, since I have little experience developing and publishing on their platforms.

I would like to know this too.

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But they don’t. Games aside, you’re not required to use Google’s in app purchase on Android.

Google actually compete for their 30% cut of IAPs. Devs can choose if it’s worth it for them.

And so far, I haven’t heard Google cry about their hosting fees, review costs, API development overheads etc…

You’re not required to on the App Store either. Apple just have safeguards in place to stop you bypassing parental controls, or device settings to fleece customers. Which for end users, is a good thing. Though with the caveat that if the developer doesn’t want to have in app payments as an option, it’s a poor UX for their users. We’ve been around the bush a few times on this point though. It’s not necessarily better or worse, just different. The rest it would seem is rather subjective.

Google aren’t exactly under attack from a coalition of greedy developers either. I wouldn’t say Apple have cried about such costs, but rather point them out in their public response to explain why they charge the fees they do, and why they believe they’re doing the right thing.

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My point was more that Apple may be doing far more than others, but they are also collecting vastly more tax than everyone else.

And who knows the tax : effort ratio?

I do love that its not the $2T behemoth that’s not framed as the greedy party!

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