Can you sense it? The Apple world is a-buzz with something. Is it bees? That would be exciting. It hasn’t been bees since that fateful summer of ’13 when a laid-off Scott Forstall took up beekeeping in an attempt to stay active.
But, no, it’s not bees this time.
According to Mark Gurman, while the Apple headset will be the headliner for this year’s WWDC keynote, another announcement will also rock the Apple world.
Apple is working to overhaul the software to open up the iPhone to sideloading — the downloading of apps outside of its official store — to comply with new European regulations by next year.
Now, before you get all excited or hot and bothered or relentlessly stung by bees, remember that this is Apple we’re talking about here. The company has a strict policy of giving a millimeter when regulators legally mandate an inch.
“What are they gonna do? Fine us? Ha-ha-haaaa! We can pay your tens-of-millions-of-dollars-a-week fine until the heat death of the universe and never notice it!”
Not an actual quote but it might as well be.
As you can imagine, this rumor has people all atwitter, even on Mastodon. Marco Arment commented on a post from MacRumors making the claim developers would no longer have to pay Apple’s 15 to 30 percent fees:
Not a chance. Apple will just use another method to collect their “commission”: https://developer.apple.com/support/storekit-external-entitlement/
The link Arment provides is to Apple’s policy for dating apps in the Netherlands, where the company details its expectations for continuing to be paid even if the developer uses their own payment system.
The Macalope believes Arment is right, that Apple will still try to get paid for apps that are side-loaded, at the very least as a starting position. It would require further regulation to get the company to allow the kind of free-wheeling, anything goes side-loading they used on smartphones in the old west.
Arment goes on:
Remember: Tim Cook views our customers as THEIR customers, our sales as THEIR sales, and the 30% as what they rightfully deserve for gracing us with a platform that we provide no other value to.
Indeed. Which is kind of funny when you think about how Tim Cook described the App Store in his interview with GQ all of two weeks ago:
“The App Store we developed was about creating a trusted place where developers and users could come together in a two-sided transaction,” Cook says.
No one else involved in that transaction, Tim?
It certainly seems a messy business having to get developers to report revenue outside the App Store’s payment processing, but the Macalope can’t believe Apple would be willing to just let that money go. If it did, it would risk turning the iOS App Store into the not barren wasteland but surely second-rate regional mall that the Mac App Store represents. The kind of mall with a Ross Dress For Less as its anchor. The kind of mall with generic soda machines instead of Coke. Ironically, the kind of mall with a third-party Apple reseller instead of an Apple Store.
If developers are able to charge the same amount and take 100 percent of the revenue, the only reason they would stay on the App Store is for discovery. And if you’re staying on the App Store for that… well, God help you.
Looking at the quote from Cook again, the Macalope thinks he figured out what Cook really meant. It’s not one two-sided transaction. It’s two two-sided transactions. One between the developer and Apple and one between the customer and Apple.
That makes more sense.