I’m with John Gruber on this one:
Whatever revenue Apple would lose to non-commissioned web sales (for non-games) is not worth the hit they are taking to the company’s brand and reputation — this move reeks of greed and avarice — nor the increased ire and scrutiny of regulators and legislators on the “anti-Big-Tech” hunt.
I find it incredibly ironic that the flag allowing—allowing!—an app to have an external payment link is called an “entitlement."1 Apple is a company with a valuation only matched by oil companies, and here they are reaching for 12-27% of app developers' revenue even if they use their own payment and purchase-tracking systems. And all this still requires apps to use in-app purchases; external payments can only be a second option.
I want to blame some of this on Wall Street. The stock market expects infinite growth, and while Apple’s profits are legendary, growth has slowed. This is why Apple has been so keen to start services like Apple TV+ and Fitness+. Why they keep pushing iCloud+ and Apple Music even at the expense of the user experience. Why they didn’t want the details of their search deal with Google getting out.
But the more I think about it, the more I worry that this is just in Apple’s character. This is still very much the company that got pantsed by Microsoft in the 1980s and refuses to forget. Now that they’re on top of the world, I worry that they don’t know how to stop. And they need to.
Apple is certainly entitled to reap the rewards of its hard work. As John Gruber (again) put it:
Apple’s 30/15 percent commissions from App Store purchases and subscriptions are not payment processing fees. They include payment processing fees, but most of those commissions are, in Apple’s view, their way of monetizing their intellectual property. And they see the entire iOS platform as their IP.
We all pay for the phones. Developers pay $100/year to get and stay on the store. We give a 15-30% commission to tie into the App Store’s payment infrastructure (which includes purchase management and verification, asset hosting, and a bunch of other stuff that makes it definitely worth it for my little app. But this demand for 12-27% of outside-app purchases just because? Grow up.
(Yes, I know all app permissions like this, including ones for iCloud and Health data, are called entitlements. Go bug Mike Trapp.) ↩︎