Archive for March 13, 2019

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Spotify: Time to Play Fair

Spotify (Hacker News, MacRumors):

Apple requires that certain apps pay a 30% fee for use of their in-app purchase system (IAP) – as is their prerogative. However, the reality is that the rules are not applied evenly across the board. Does Uber pay it? No. Deliveroo? No.


If we choose not to use IAP (the only payment option on iOS), Apple, in return, bars us from communicating directly with our customers who access Spotify via Apple platforms. Apple won’t let us share awesome deals and promotions — like 99c for three months of Spotify Premium. And we aren’t just talking about what we are allowed to do on the app. Worse yet, they don’t even let us email offers after you register your account, claiming we are circumventing their rules.


But where Apple thinks that our app doesn’t abide by their unilaterally imposed restrictions, it routinely rejects bug fixes and app enhancements that would improve user experience and the app’s functionality – leading fans to believe our app and tech abilities are sub par.


For Spotify to use Apple’s billing system (IAP) — giving our fans the opportunity to upgrade to Premium — Spotify and others now have to pay 30% of any subscription fees. Apple now prohibits buttons or links to any other external ways to pay. This is the first of many moves from Apple that would make it harder and harder for our fans to upgrade to Premium[…] We elect not to use IAP for a bunch of reasons, including the fact that giving up 30% was too much for us to keep our prices low for our fans.


Now that Apple has Apple Music, rejections of the Spotify app start becoming more and more common, and they even go as far as threatening to remove us from the App Store. Those rejections seem to coincide with our promotional campaign seasons[…] Now just having a “Learn More” button is enough to upset the Apple cart even though this is the first time we’ve heard of such a rule.


This time, we are rejected because of a campaign that makes reference to a Spotify Premium promotion (“get 3 months now for €0.99”), despite only directing users to a landing page with no info on where or how to purchase Premium (which Apple had allowed only a few months prior). In fact, Apple’s chief lawyer told us a year earlier that such a landing page was OK, but that didn’t stop the App Store from blocking our app for this reason


Apple Music sends the very type of promotional push notifications that it forbids its rivals to send


So we announce two podcast acquisitions we are super excited about, and all of a sudden Apple arbitrarily decides to prohibit use of its API to recommend podcasts to users

Federico Viticci:

I personally believe Spotify is right here, and that it’s time for Apple to open up their platform more and lower their App Store cut.

Think about it this way: is what’s good for Apple also good for consumers in 2019?

Marco Arment:

Take Spotify’s complaints and timeline with a grain of salt.

It’s really just three things:

- Apple’s 30% cut is high
- The rules around it are anticompetitive
- Spotify gets rejected a lot for trying to evade them

Everything else is a bit bullshitty.

Many of Spotify’s complaints are ascribing malice to limitations of young products.

Any developer, Watch or HomePod owner, or Siri user can tell you that Spotify wasn’t the reason Watch podcast apps sucked before watchOS 5 or that SiriKit and HomePod have no audio intents yet.

There’s no Spotify for HomePod, but you can run it on a Mac SE/30.


Apple did the same thing to Kindle for iPhone back when it launched.

We submitted the original version to Apple with a fully functioning store built into it—and were then stuck in submission limbo. Two weeks later, Apple announces their intent to build in-app purchasing.

The kicker: Apple wanted a 30% cut of every book sold on the store …and at the same time, had negotiated with book publishers that the publishers MUST sell all books at a 30% margin on ALL stores if they want to sell their books via Apple’s own ebook store. Aka we couldn’t sell books at an increased cost, even if we wanted to. We would have had to take a loss on every purchase.

In the end, we had to remove all of the store functionality from the app, and weren’t even allowed to link people directly to the web store for purchasing (or even instructions for purchasing).


Update (2019-03-15): Peter N Lewis:

Forcing developers to use IAP, and forcing people not to offer a non-IAP purchase, is not a limitation, it is a deliberate financial move available to Apple only because of the lock-in on the iPhone App Store.


My $0.02: this will never happen unless something causes captive users to start switching away from Apple in significant numbers (highly unlikely) or there’s government intervention. If you see a third way out of this please let me know.

Felix Krause:

See company politics in action:

1) Use your iPhone to google a book
2) Tap on the Amazon link
3) Amazon properly deep links and opens its app
4) Amazon app: “Oh wait, if we sold a book now, Apple wants its cut, noooope, not with us”
5) Amazon app opens Safari again
6) Tadaaa 🎉


See the results of Apple’s greed and anti-competitive behavior in action.

Using the full featured Kindle, Audible, and Comixology apps on Android is such a revelation that I could never consider returning to such a crippled and user hostile platform.

I do see repurcussions with allowing apps to be installed outside of the App Store though. Apple would have to put a lot of effort into making the App Store a really attractive option for selling and promoting apps, otherwise someone else would do it.

Joe Rossignol:

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek elaborated on his company’s complaint against Apple with the European Commission in a speech today at the International Conference on Competition in Berlin, according to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

See also: Core Intuition and Apple Responds to Spotify.

Apple’s Declining Capex

Neil Cybart:

The most surprising revelation found in Apple’s recent 10-Q and 10-K filings is related to capital expenditures (capex). For the first time in 16 years, Apple expects its capex to decline during the current fiscal year. Declining capex is made that much more intriguing for Apple considering how Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook are each experiencing significant increases in capex. Analyzing Apple’s capex and the potential reasons for its decline provides a look at how the company is being managed and how Apple is unique when compared to other Wall Street giants.

Exporting a Blog Archive

Manton Reece:

Over a year ago I proposed a new blog archive format. The idea was to have a better way to save the posts and photos in your blog, or move your blog to another platform. I’m happy to announce that can now export in this format.

Exhaustive Swift Properties With Tuples

Joshua Emmons:

How can we get switch-like exhaustiveness when dealing with the properties of a type? The first step (and our first clue) is to treat the properties as a set. What if we put them in a tuple?


So, to be clear, habitually shoving all properties into a tuple won’t scale well. But it is a useful tactic to employ when dealing with models, mocks or anything that has:

  1. naturally constrained state,
  2. logic that depends on the shape of said state, and
  3. a strong affinity towards change in the face of shifting requirements