Apple’s been in the news a lot lately. First because of Epic Games' (the company that makes Fortnite) lawsuit, and then more generally for pissing off everyone in their ecosystem for their trash App Store policies.
I’ve been a fan of Apple for a long time (and I worked at Apple Maps as a contractor for a year) and usually like their product decisions and the overall vision they used to have for technology. Not so much these days.
I’m not a fan of modern services-oriented Apple. I get the business need to push for services, but it’s not what they’re good at, and it makes them make a lot more shitty decisions about their behavior, marketing, and products. I do not care about Apple Arcade, Apple News+, or Apple TV.
The App Store falls under “services”, and as far as I can see, that same ugly decision making that’s been annoying af is affecting that too.
Apple has had and defended the 30% cut they take from all App Store related sales for a long time. They also have been very controlling of the customer relationship through the App Store (meaning billing, contact, etc is always controlled by Apple, not the developers/businesses). This has been bothering everyone in the Apple ecosystem, including Epic Games, Facebook, Microsoft, NY Times, and individual app developers.
Here’s a timeline of the aggravation. Oldest to newest.
Mid-size app developer (Basecamp) released an email service/app called Hey. Apple threatened to remove the app unless it starts offering in-app subscriptions (subject to the 30% fee to Apple).
News publishers (including NY Times in this case) were very unhappy dealing with Apple’s policies.
Apple upsets Microsoft by not allowing games to be streamed to iOS devices (this is the xCloud project Microsoft has been investing in).
Our testing period for the Project xCloud Preview app for iOS has expired. Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store. Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content. All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated for content by independent industry ratings bodies such as the ESRB and regional equivalents. We are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform. We believe that the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience and gamers tell us they want to play, connect, and share anywhere, no matter where they are. We agree.
The policies Microsoft is unhappy about also aggravated Facebook.
Epic breaks the App Store agreement and slips direct payments into Fortnite. Setting the stage for the legal challenge. Apple, as expected, kicked them out of the App Store.
Then, Epic Games sues Apple after the company removed the game from its App Store. In the lawsuit, Epic accuses the Apple of anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior:
Epic brings this suit to end Apple’s unfair and anti-competitive actions that Apple undertakes to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion dollar markets.
Then Apple threatens to cut off Epic from all Apple development services/tools. Epic also sells Unreal Engine, which is a game engine many other games use.
Epic has filed for a preliminary injunction against Apple, asking the court to stop the company from cutting it off. Epic says it will be “irreparably harmed long before final judgment comes” if it does not obtain the injunction. “Apple’s actions will irreparably damage Epic’s reputation among Fortnite users and be catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business,” Epic writes. Epic also asks for Fortnite — with its lowered prices and alternate payment option — to be returned to the App Store.
News publishers still mad.
In a letter to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook on Thursday, a trade body representing the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and other publishers said the outlets want to know what it would take for them to get better deal terms—which would allow them to keep more money from digital subscriptions sold through Apple’s app store.
Apple eventually apologized for this, but it definitely had people asking questions.
Now Apple is telling developers they can’t say anything about App Store fees?
Facebook Inc on Thursday told Reuters that Apple Inc rejected its attempt to tell users the iPhone maker would take a 30% cut of sales in a new online events feature, forcing Facebook to remove the message to get the tool to users.