Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

Summary: Let the backlash begin.If anyone thought that struggling newspaper and magazine publishers were the only ones who would be impacted by Apple's new 30 percent policy on in-app subscriptions, think again.

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Let the backlash begin.

If anyone thought that struggling newspaper and magazine publishers were the only ones who would be impacted by Apple's new 30 percent policy on in-app subscriptions, think again. The rules are also hitting small developers - and at least one is mad as Hell and is taking Apple to the mat in the way that geeks know best: Its execs have penned an open letter to Apple. (Techmeme)

The company is called Readability, an online subscription site that splits the proceeds with the people who actually write the words that are being read. Of the fees, 70 percent go to the writers while Readability keeps 30 percent to reinvest in the ecosystem. And since the company built an iOS app that falls under the new subscription rules, that means that Apple wants 30 percent of Readability's 30 percent cut.

I love how founding partner Richard Ziade acknowledges that his open letter was written in anger, noting that "Before we cool down and come to our senses, we might as well share how we’re feeling right now: we believe that your new policy smacks of greed." On Friday, the company was notified that its app for iOS was rejected because it utilizes a system other than Apple's In App Purchase API. Ziade writes:

Subscription apps like ours represent a tiny sliver of app sales that represent a tiny sliver of your revenue. You’ve achieved much of your success in hardware sales by cultivating an incredibly impressive app ecosystem. Every iPad or iPhone TV ad puts the apps developed by companies like ours front and center. It was a healthy and mutually beneficial dynamic: apps like ours get exposure and you get to show the world how these apps make your hardware shine. That’s why we’re a bit baffled here.

So what's a company like Readability to do? Well, Ziade says it has little choice but to abandon the iOS app and focus its efforts on the Web - but not until laying a bit of guilt and some warnings on Apple.

Ziade warns Apple that staying on this track will only "discourage smaller ventures like ours to invest in iOS apps for our services." But he also recognizes that Apple has every right to impose such a policy because it's Apple's hardware and Apple's channel. Apple can do whatever it wants.

It's hard to sympathize with Ziade because he wants Apple to bend its policies to accommodate Readability's business model when, in fact, the one that may need to reconsider its current business strategy is Readability. If that model isn't working in the channels that will produce the best results for the company, then maybe the company needs to revisit the model.

That doesn't mean that I like Apple's new policy. In fact, I think it's Apple trying to take advantage of the fact that it's pretty much the only player in tablet PCs today, milking every buck out of that segment of the business before competitors jump into the mix.

But can there be enough of a backlash to make Apple reconsider this approach? Certainly, the app developers are important to Apple - after all, look at how heavily the company talks (especially in TV commercials) about the significance of apps in the larger ecosystem. Still, I doubt that Apple would actually budge over one disgruntled developer. Apple is pretty strict with its policies and while it wouldn't be unheard of for the company to reach out to Readability to resolve the matter, I wouldn't hold my breath.

It's Apple's policy - and if guys like Ziade want to be in the Apple ecosystem, it will either have to do things the Apple way or head straight for the highway.

Topics: Software Development, Apple

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  • I think

    Apple is a greedy and unreasonable company. Apple deserves a cut of course but 30%? Maybe 5% - 10%. Every time I hear about how Apple is great because they are so profitable I have to think why that is. Here is why because they extract every dime they can out of their consumers and developers because they have a huge ego and are money hungry. 30% is a bit unreasonable for a subscription that Apple is not providing the content don't ya think?
    bobiroc
    • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

      @bobiroc

      Until late last year, Amazon took 70% and gave publishers 30%. Where was your outrage then?

      [u]http://techcrunch.com/2010/11/08/amazon-allows-kindle-magazine-and-newspaper-publishers-to-take-70-percent-of-revenue/[/u]
      msalzberg
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @msalzberg

        Then the same thing applies to Amazon. It honestly cannot cost them that much to be a host for the information that others provide.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @msalzberg
        Two wrongs don't make a right! Both of them are milking every dime for a very very small part of their revenue. Lets hope Google, Microsoft, and RIM see this and go the other direction.
        OhTheHumanity
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @msalzberg
        Anyone buying from Amazon is a moron to begin with as the prices are crazy high. Always compare and Amazon will always be at the high end so it if you use the web and take 10 minutes to search you wouldn't be on amazon anyways same with apple products and app store. Why would you buy a limited apple product then a high priced app version when its usally free for any other platform and so many less exspensive much more capable phones. The fix is easy for the company...dump apple all together and code for android and windows phones and dont get raped by apple.
        Fletchguy
      • So ummm....

        @Fletchguy

        What you are saying is it's better to work for free than to get paid but have to give Apple 30%? I'll tell ya that sounds like a fine deal to me. I mean I surely won't begrudge parting with a buck or two for a decent app, but I love free apps as much as the next guy.
        oncall
    • Hey, better yet, where's your outrage against Readbility?

      from the article: "Of the fees, 70 percent go to the writers while Readability keeps 30 percent..."
      fr_gough
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @frgough@...

        Did you read the article? Readability used the 30% they charge for the Development and Maintenance of the App while providing the content. Apple does non of this and all they are doing is putting the App up on iTunes and allowing it to be on their iOS device which they charge separate fees for.
        bobiroc
      • @bobiroc

        Yeah, I read that part. I simply assumed you were intelligent enough to realize that Apple also has to pay for its infrastructure. But perhaps I made a mistake and you actually think it's all run by elves and powered by pixie dust.
        fr_gough
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @frgough@...

        [i]"Yeah, I read that part. I simply assumed you were intelligent enough to realize that Apple also has to pay for its infrastructure. But perhaps I made a mistake and you actually think it's all run by elves and powered by pixie dust."[/i]

        Are you intelligent enough to realize that Apple charges fees to people/companies that want to develop an app for iOS and they also charge a percentage of the app cost each time it is sold on iTunes?
        bobiroc
    • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

      @bobiroc <br><br>I don't really have a problem with Apple choosing to charge 30% even though it is kind of a ridiculous number. I don't really have a problem with them asking that content be the same price inside the apple ecosystem as outside.<br><br>But I DO have a problem with them trying to do both at the same time. It puts an "Apple Tax" on a company's entire product line, whether it is bought within the Apple ecosystem or not. THAT should be fought as hard as the developers and companies can possibly fight it.
      SlithyTove
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @SlithyTove It is simple really... just don't provide inApp purchases. Duh. Make it work from a web site and force users to go navigate to it on their own if you don't want to pay the Apple tax to use inApp purchases.
        However, Recognize that Apple is trying to make sure it gets paid on an ongoing basis so it can afford to sell the iOS devices at a cut rate in order to draw more people in to buy more apps and subscriptions.

        Makes a lot of sense to me, lower device cost = bigger marketshare and if you get 30% of all app sales...the devices can be much lower in price.
        condelirios
  • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

    1984 called, they want their dictator back.


    Jobs needs an ego deflation. Maybe once he has moved on, Apple can return to being a respectable company again. But for right now. I do not own any Apple iToys and refuse to buy any first hand, and Apple software was removed from my systems a long time ago, even the wretched Quicktime has gotten the ban hammer.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

      @Cylon Centurion 0005 <br><br>Always glad to read an unbiased opinion like yours, as the phrases "return to being a respectable company", "iToys", and "wretched Quicktime" attest.<br><br>Strange if you have no Apple products that you have such a strong second hand opinion of their matters.
      meelder
      • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

        @meelder

        I have enought experience with them to know that my lifestyle does not agree with their walled <s>garden</S> Hell of an ecosystem. Developers are toys to Apple, and mean nothing to them judging by the way they treat them.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Really?

    @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
    Weren't you just advocating the other day that Android users stay within the confines of the Android App garden to avoid getting ravaged by the viruses starting to appear on the Android platform?

    Choice is great, until the choice is between Apps that work safely and Apps that lead to malware. Some choice.
    Tigertank
    • Another one who doesn't get it.

      @Tigertank

      Bueller?
      Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

      @Tigertank I was just reflecting back to those same comments. It's funny how those that have gone on and on about the great Android advantage being you can get apps anywhere also think it's best to stay in Google's little garden.
      non-biased
  • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

    @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate - iOS: FreeBSD with copyrighted bits from NeXT in the GUI added.

    And choice is good - until those offering the choice manipulate things for their sole benefit.
    HypnoToad72
  • RE: Developer backlash begins: Is Apple powerful enough to dismiss it?

    @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

    If its all about choice how come Google doesn't open source its search algorithms and all the other bits that help earn it revenue?
    holycow_z