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On eve of WWDC, Apple's app developers are not happy


Surely you’ve heard the saying “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” But on the eve of the first online WWDC Developers Conference, Bloomberg reports that Apple has been chomping away at one part of its business that generated $46 billion for the company during its latest fiscal year. App developers were responsible for bringing in 18% of the company’s revenue in fiscal 2019 and yet Apple keeps tossing rocks at this hive; in the end, the tech giant could get stung.

On eve of WWDC, app developers are steamed at Apple over its rejection of “Hey”

First, we should remind you that because of the coronavirus, the annual WWDC Developers conference will be streamed online starting tomorrow with the Keynote at 10 am PDT (or 1 pm EDT). The Platforms State of the Union will follow starting at 2 pm PDT (5 pm EDT). There is no charge to stream both and you can watch both from the Apple Developer website, YouTube, or the Apple Developer app.
App developers are an angry sort this year thanks to Apple’s decision to reject the “Hey” premium email app. Apple originally approved the app but then decided to reject it because it did not offer a way for iOS users to subscribe via the app. That cost Apple the opportunity to grab its 30% slice of such purchases; this was a silly thing for Apple to do in the middle of multiple antitrust investigations of the tech giant that focus on the App Store. It also left a bad taste in iOS developers’ mouths. Veteran software developer Aaron Vegh states, “We thought Apple realized that developers made the platform, but this incident has explicitly made clear that Apple sees developers as a source of revenue only, And that’s a difficult pill to swallow.” Speaking of revenue, the App Store generated $519 billion for Apple last year.
The rejection letter sent by Apple to “Hey” developer Basecamp noted that the latter hadn’t generated any revenue for Apple in eight years. That makes it sound as though Apple spits out and throws away developers once they are no longer making money for the firm. Longtime App Store developer Marc Edwards says that Apple is telling app developers that “‘you have no value to us unless you’re earning us tons of cash’.” Apple, noting that 84% of the apps in the App Store are free and don’t make any money for the company, responded to the developers by saying that it “developed the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers. We’re deeply proud of the countless developers who’ve innovated and found success through our platform.”

Not every developer is upset about Apple’s 30% cut of in-app revenue and 15% to 30% cut of subscriptions made through the App Store. Some simply see the so-called “tax” as the cost of doing business with Apple. David Barnard, developer advocate at RevenueCat, a company that manages subscription apps, said, “I’ve had Apple capriciously reject my apps for over a decade now. At some point, you just come to accept the fact that Apple is a for-profit company doing everything they can to maximize shareholder value.”

Still, lawmakers like Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline call Apple’s App Store policies “Highway Robbery” and refer to Apple’s 30% cut of in-app revenue as a “ransom” that Apple seeks from developers. Meanwhile, Apple should introduce new features tomorrow for the operating systems that run devices like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Macs, and other products. Apple also is expected to change the name of iOS to iPhoneOS, the original name used by Apple for the software from 2007 to 2009.

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