Friday, September 11, 2020

In-App Purchase Rules

Marco Arment (tweet):

A summary of today’s changes to 3.1.3 Other Purchase Methods[…]


How about an alternative that’s clear, fair, reasonable, and consistently enforceable?

Apps can offer other payment mechanisms in their app, as long as terms are clear and customers aren’t misled, and may or may not choose to implement in-app purchase based on its merits.

In one stroke, antitrust and regulatory pressure disappear, developer relations are significantly repaired, and Apple can go back to spending its time, resources, PR, and political capital on making their products better and customers happier.


This guideline is surprisingly similar to laws in authoritarian countries: Start with unclear/blurry rules but don’t enforce it. When the timing is right, begin interpreting/enforcing them more strictly without others knowing. If everyone realizes and rebel, add small exceptions.


Update (2020-09-14): Marco Arment:

I love how my ridiculous post doesn’t even actually include every IAP exemption. There are so many that I forgot at least three major ones.

Ryan Jones:

Are you missing the professional database loophole?

Ryan Jones:

Oh and this one?

See also: Hacker News.

13 Comments RSS · Twitter

A simple rule that applies to everyone* equally.


Just when you thought Apple couldn't possibly make it any clearer how absolutely insane they are...

In my opinion, if Apple did adopt a fully permissive stance towards non-Apple payment systems, that change alone ought not to make antitrust pressure disappear. I would like it better, of course, if Apple didn't siphon off 30% from as many companies' incomes as they feel they can get away with. But this is far from the only way their platform monopoly manifests itself, as has been documented extensively on this site.

Sigh. I have been hearing this shit for years now. Do you really think that other payment providers are going to be exactly that? No. It will open a can of worms where nobody exactly knows anymore where to complain if things go awry. Besides, do you think that developers will be clear, fair and reasonable and pay their dues when their customer pays them directly?

The low cost alternative where Apple does NOT have to police a herd of people not paying them what they will owe is the cheapest way of doing business for them and by extension for every developer that has an app on the app store - including the ones that create free apps. In fact, complainers are outright anti-social people that want everything for themselves and fuck everybody else. All little Tim Sweeneys... They fail to see the current situation as a win for everybody. For them, for Apple and most important for the consumers. Let the Epic kerfuffle be a wise lesson: they chased away 60% of their customers on iOS in a couple of weeks.

In addition the idea of 'tax' or 'syphon of' needs to die. Maybe some of you complainers should find out the cost of replacing the value you derive from the app store - both in terms of money and in terms of the time and energy you would have to spend with irate customers and the like as well as in terms of ease-of-mind that you can concentrate on doing what you like.

Phil, is that you?

Who is “Tim Sweeney?”

Seriously Apple generates irate customers due to platform bugs and and that’s another “tax” developers cope with.

I don’t have to write reviews at the (cr)AppStore but when some of my favorite apps are cratered down by 1-star reviews I feel compelled to.

Maybe next time say “Tim Epic?” I’m really bad with MBA names. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How is it that in some people's minds, 25+ years of downloading and paying for apps directly from developers via the internet simply never existed? And needless to say during this time the Mac was famous for not having any issues with viruses or malware. Why is it crazy to want the same thing on an iPhone?

The historical revisionism around this whole fiasco is astounding.

I'm still trying to figure out what value that I derive from the App Store. If anything, it's the inverse of value -- there's a whole potential world of software out there that doesn't exist because Apple would never let it into the App Store and/or developers are too scared to invest the time into making it because Apple might say it's allowed one day then change the rules mid-development, decide to Sherlock it by stealing the idea, or just randomly ban it after the fact. We have no idea what we're missing because it was never allowed to exist in the first place.

30% For All Gaming Related Purchase.

15% For All Other Apps.

10% for Subscription. Regardless of Category.

5% for All other Digital Services.

That's it. Instead of trying to defend the 30% of Services, why not have a clear and fair contract terms that everyone can follow.

Why should the fee change for the type of purchase? Apple isn’t doing six times more work for “gaming related purchases” as they are for “all other” purchases.

Yeah, why should Apple's fees be a percentage at all, other than the credit card processing fees? Their costs are fixed. It doesn't cost more in App Review time, server space, download bandwidth, etc to host a free app vs a 99 cent app vs a $20 app. Yet the developer of the high quality $20 app is punished the most, so the end result is that we have an App Store full of garbage free apps and very very few high quality paid apps compared to desktop platforms.

It would be the same reason as on Console. You are buying Games with console maker taking 30% cut ( and that is excluding the Retail Cut ) to recoup their R&D cost where the console itself is sold at break even or even at a lost. And 30% Cut is an Gaming Industry Standard.

Gaming is non-esstential, if you dont like PS5 or Xbox terms, you dont have to develop for it. And for the same reason even PC doesn't have those terms, consoles has always been getting more games before they are considering porting to PC ( Although recent trend is changing )

The same argument isn't so much for all other Apps. I understand and agree Apple holding the platform too tight, rules are their only to protect their services revenue, and are rent seeking in many cases. But at the same time I also dont want people to have the ability to side load Apps and then crying for help. And as much as I hate the argument itself, it really is Apple's platform. Until the law rules them as a monopoly they are certainly able to do what they want on the platform.

So the suggestion act as a compromise.

As to the why percentage. That is just Standard Business practice. I dont see the argument point here. Would you expect to gain the same Net Profits when you buy a $5 plate and $1000 dollar laptop ? Both having the same cost of stocking in your shop as in physical space? Or Why buying drinks at Shops gains you much higher percentage of retail profits compare to food?

> Both having the same cost of stocking in your shop as in physical space? Or Why buying drinks at Shops gains you much higher percentage of retail profits compare to food?

This comparison of the App Store to a physical retail shop is tiring and wrong. Please, find me a retail shop where 80% of the products are in the store are given away for free. Or where they say "Oh you're paying for that with a Visa card? The price will be 30% higher."

>But at the same time I also dont want people to have
>the ability to side load Apps and then crying for help

That doesn't seem to be a huge problem on Android, Windows, Macs, or any other non-toy system currently in existence. Even Chromebooks allow you to sideload apps.

Or are you also suggesting that people shouldn't be allowed to sideload apps on those systems?

>And as much as I hate the argument itself, it really
>is Apple's platform

Sure, apart from cases where Apple is (hypothetically) ruled a monopoly or (not hypothetically) otherwise constrained by courts or laws, they can do whatever they want with their devices. The discussion mostly isn't about what they are legally allowed to do, nobody is asking for Tim Cook to be put in handcuffs and thrown in the Tower of London.

The discussion is about what Apple should do for their users benefit, and for their developers benefit.

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