The Elon Musk news of the day is his beef with Apple. He claims the company has threatened to kick Twitter out of the App Store. And this Elon vs. Apple moment has re-focused attention on complaints from companies like Meta and Spotify, that say Apple demands too big a share of revenue for selling in the App Store.
If you’re a developer, the most important place to be is in Apple’s App Store. The problem is, it’s expensive real estate.
Apple takes a fee from almost everything, said Eric Seufert, an analyst with the site Mobile Dev Memo.
“They make money when you buy tokens in a game,” he said. “They make money when you buy a subscription to a meditation app.”
That cut is between 15% and 30%, depending on a few variables.
Apple gets a lot of attention because it dominates the app market. The App Store generates more than double the amount of money than Google Play, according to research firm Sensor Tower. That’s because Americans favor iPhones over Android. And unlike Apple, Google allows phone makers like Samsung to create their own app stores.
“Apple is shutting out any potential competition, right, to their own developed services,” said Daniel Hanley, a senior legal analyst at the Open Markets Institute.
This has gotten Apple into some legal trouble, most famously with Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite. A judge’s ruling — which is being appealed — largely determined Apple is not violating antitrust law. And there are a bunch of in-the-weeds reasons why. One of them is a little heady.
“It’s a philosophical conversation of what is right and OK for a marketplace,” said Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies.
Apple says it’s not so different from a store like Walmart, which curates its offerings, decides where they’re positioned on shelves and makes money off the sale.
Bajarin’s firm regularly polls developers about Apple. And even as the company faces criticism of its business model, developers are feeling better.
“The challenge is how fast can something like this change and will there be a fundamental business model change around that,” he said. “They’re at least feeling like Apple’s listening to them more.”
Congress is listening, too. It’s currently considering legislation that would give app makers more control over how and how much they’re paid.
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