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Discussion on: Could Apple Be Forced to Reduce App Store Fees?

colbymelvin profile image
Colby Melvin • Edited

Unpopular opinion: Apple will not be forced to reduce App Store fees.

Even more unpopular opinion: I am glad, as a developer and consumer, that Apple is enforcing the rules in this particular case.

Re. App Store Guideline 3.1.1 In-App Purchase:
Hey has zero functionality when you initially download the application from the App Store; you have to purchase a subscription, effectively a software license, for the app to have functionality. Spotify, Gmail, etc., work for free without a subscription. Furthermore, If I'm being forced purchase a license for an application that I'm using on my iPhone, I want to be able to purchase that license through Apple Pay. I do not want to have to go through a different provider; I want Apple to manage that for subscription for me, just like all of my other iOS subscriptions.

Re. App Store Guideline 3.1.3(a) “Reader” Apps:
Pretty self explanatory. Hey does not provide access to purchased content; it provides access to email. They're attempting to treat email as purchasable content, which it is not. I don't "buy" my email from another platform and access it on my iPhone. I do "buy" books, music, and video from other platforms and access that content on my iPhone.

Re. App Store Guideline 3.1.3(b) Multiplatform Services:
Again self explanatory. Hey is intentionally trying to side-step Apple's in-app purchase flow for services provided by their iOS application but purchased on a different platform.

Bottom line: Hey knew they'd be in violation of the rules before submitting their app. What they've done is actually pretty intelligent in my opinion, because they've created a win-win situation for themselves. On one hand, if their app was approved as-is, they get to retain 100% of their profits. Win! On the other hand, if their app was rejected, they get to turn this whole thing into a free publicity stunt by aligning themselves against Apple, resulting in lots of free (and valuable) PR. Win!

Since the success of companies like Hey is predicated on the existence of stores like Apple's App Store (and access to the store's massive pool of users), developers should follow the guidelines and pay the Apple Tax if they want to participate.


karandpr profile image
Karan Gandhi

Very well written Colby.

guneyozsan profile image
Guney Ozsan

I found a good number of these points invalid.

  • I've seen a number of fitness apps, and also have worked on some apps that have zero functionality without a purchase. Is a free tier really mandatory?

  • Similarly I worked on implementing credit card forms that buys access/subscription to an iOS app, and confirmed.

  • Also about email, I don't think nothing wrong with charging for an intermediate tool. I am not arguing if it worths or not. It's up to consumer. There are paid git clients out there that does the same thing that already can be done for free by command line or say Sourcetree. You pay for the UX and convenience.