Email app Hey launched on Monday 15 June. A few days later the developers received an email from Apple that indicated that unless users were able to sign up for the necessary $99 annual subscription through the app – which would mean Apple would earn a 15-30% commission – the app would be removed from the App Store.
The CTO and co-founder of developer Basecamp, David Heinemeier Hansson, complained about Apple’s “outrageous demand” in a tweet.
Wow. I’m literally stunned. Apple just doubled down on their rejection of HEY’s ability to provide bug fixes and new features, unless we submit to their outrageous demand of 15-30% of our revenue. Even worse: We’re told that unless we comply, they’ll REMOVE THE APP.— DHH (@dhh) June 16, 2020
(Hansson has since weighed into the debate over a proposed law in North Dakota that would require Apple to allow alternative app stores and payment systems on iPhone.)
Apple has responded to a report in Protocol here, indicating that it had made a mistake approving the Hey app in the first place and that the Hey app doesn’t conform to Apple’s guidelines.
Apple requires apps that require a subscription to do so via their app – rather than through a website sign-up, as is the case with Hey. However, there are some apps that manage to get around this requirement – such as Netflix and Spotify – and it appears that Hey though that it would be exempt from the rules based on this.
Apple sees things differently. It told Protocol it only allows sign-in only apps for business services, not consumer products. In Apple’s eyes Hey does not qualify as a ‘reader’ app.
Apple is holding back an update with bug fixes until the developer offers in-app purchases for the App Store and even threatens to completely remove the application from the store.
“Not in a million years,” said Heinemeier Hansson.
Meanwhile, the App Store is being examined by the EU Competition Commission relating to the allegation of restricting competition.
Apple said that the App Store ecosystem generated a $519 billion in 2019 with Apple taking a cut of less than 15%. In Apple’s eyes it provided the platform for these sales and it’s entitled to its cut.
Read about the EU antitrust case here.
Apple’s Schiller has responded to this particular incident – read what he has to say here.
Update: Apple has since agreed to halve App Store fees for small businesses. It turns out that Most developers will only have to pay 15% to Apple now following the change of policy at Apple.