Thursday, March 3, 2011 [Tweets] [Favorites]

Trust

By now, I think we’re all just repeating the same points, but Marco Arment has a well-written post on the bait-and-switch:

The root cause for so much of the subscription ruckus, I think, isn’t that 30% number — it’s that Apple pulled the rug out from under some major apps after the fact. And unlike nearly every App Store rule change in the past, this is a major change that developers couldn’t have been reasonably expected to anticipate, and it’s not based in any practical need for the health of the Store or the platform (malware, abuse, etc.).

(Though I’d quibble with the “nearly every” part.) Remember that this “major change” is what Apple’s spokesperson claimed was not actually a change.

And Jim Dovey runs the numbers on his business:

Switching from what I had before to Apple’s 30% fee has taken me from a $90’000 profit to a loss of over $2 million. And if I make more sales, it doesn’t help—only my net loss increases.

3 Comments

Pierce Wetter

I'm not sure Jim Dovey is correct. He can still decline to sell his content via IAP and use a Safari link instead. Then he keeps it all, except for 2% to the credit card company, any store fees etc. That's precisely how the Kindle app works.

If he sells via IAP, then he doesn't pay the credit card or store fees but Apple gets 30%.

If he tries to do both, the IAP price has to be the same.

The only thing that has changed is that last sentence.

For subscriptions, which are a new service, if you want Apple to deal with the billing and support it's 30%. however, WSJ and others don't do IAP. The Daily does YMMV.

The only thing I think Apple should change is that subscription renewals should be 15% + $.10. That way you're just paying Apple 15% for the first customer acquisition. For renewals, Apple takes a smaller cut but still covers credit card costs and other expenses.

Y'know, unless Apple has a truly major change of heart, I trust them to continue running iOS as a game console platform, as they have been since the beginning, which means that complaints like Dovey's and Ament's are features, not bugs, from Cupertino's POV. Game console platforms always give all power to the platform maker, and none to users and developers. You play on iOS at your own risk, with no guarantees of future behavior on Cupertino's part. That's part of the explicit bargain in game consoles.

What I'd like, and what I don't have now, is some trust in the concept that they won't continue slowly bringing the game console model over to OS X. And right now, I have no trust in that concept whatsoever. Apple could give me some trust in that regard if they'd just come out and explicitly say something along those lines. I'd still trust their word. But they never explicitly say anything like that, and so I have no trust.

“He can still decline to sell his content via IAP and use a Safari link instead. Then he keeps it all, except for 2% to the credit card company, any store fees etc. That's precisely how the Kindle app works.”

@Pierce Wetter That’s not correct. The new rules are that if your app has digital content you may not include a Safari link and you must use in-app purchase. Existing apps like Kindle are grandfathered only until June 30.

@Chucky I think you’re exactly right. Absent specific statements from Apple, the operating assumption should be that iOS will be more of the same and the Mac will ratchet in the iOS direction.

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