Apple’s Entitlement

“Apple is right to charge 30%, it’s their platform. They own it.”

This is the line of logic I keep seeing The Apple Faithful use. They’re allowed to charge the fee! They own the platform! They put in all the hard work for developer resources and the App Store! (Even though this is precisely what the $99/year fee pays for, but go on.)

We’ve seen this play out before with the likes of Microsoft: Just because you did the hard work, just because you built everything, does not mean you get to go drunk with power when you command a large chunk of the market, going super dick mode on developers because they didn’t jump through the hoops you wanted them to. With great power comes great responsibility, and thank fuck we have government agencies like the EU willing to to knock companies in line when they do stupid things, even if they aren’t perfect at it.

Where things with the App Store take a more sinister turn is not only is Apple acting as the gatekeeper to their own platform, they directly compete with some of the services that they want to take a 30% cut from, and the optics of this are…not great. Let’s say you’re a service that competes with Apple Music. You have two choices ahead of you on Apple devices: Either you offer in-app purchases through Apple’s systems, and Apple skims 30% off the top, or you don’t offer IAPs and try to dance around Apple’s TOS to hint that maybe, just maybe you can subscribe elsewhere. Can’t be too direct, though, or Apple will break your legs for trying to dodge their payment systems.

But then, you have another choice to make: Where Apple makes the full $11 (minus credit card processing fees) from each Apple Music subscription, you…do not, if you go with IAPs. Either you need to take a 30% loss on each subscription gained through IAPs so you can match Apple’s own offerings, or you need to raise your prices 30% to offset the losses from Apple’s take. Apple has presented you with a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario. Because they own the platform, they can unfairly undercut competitors because as the platform owners, they themselves are not subject to the 30% fee.

This is the part I wish people got. The part I wish the Apple Fanboys would comprehend. Apple is no small company, and they command a large chunk of the smartphone market. They can’t just be utter dicks to people and stifle competition and expect to be let off the hook for it. The mafia-grade tactics in forbidding developers to even do so much as HINT that they take payments outside of the app is also dirty.

Coupled with getting advertised to every which way when you purchase a new Apple device. Free Music! Free Apple TV+! It’s already hard enough for other competition to compete when the platform owner themselves is all up in your face with their competing services.

This is why Apple needs the book thrown at them much like Microsoft had the book thrown at them for forcing people into Internet Explorer in the 90s. Given Apple’s choosing to play the malicious compliance card with the EU right now, I sure hope the time is coming when they get the reckoning they deserve.

Small aside: I do miss the days before Apple got into offering services like Music. They’re a lot better about it now, but I remember when it was first introduced the ads were unbearable and there was no way to really opt out of it. You’d open your Music app to listen to your local library and get stopped by a full page ad that had to be dismissed.

It is still annoying to set up a new Apple device and just get advertised to right out the gate, sometimes even under the guise of “finishing device setup” that pops a nice red badge over the Settings icon, and occasionally notifies you. Even if you very much don’t want those things. Apple used to be so good at this, now it almost feels like Android (so long as you buy an unlocked device straight from the manufacturer) is better at not getting in your face.

Makes me sad.