You’re Paying Into a Broken System Whenever You Buy Something on iOS
Apple’s unfair, monopolistic policies on its App Store hurt developers and consumers alike. But there’s a better way.
Someone always pays the price for convenience. When you pay for something using the iOS App Store or Google Play on Android, developers may actually be the ones shouldering the burden, thanks to unfair policies around payments.
For example, Apple takes a 30% cut of anything sold through its App Store — be it an app download or a microtransaction within Candy Crush — which means a smaller profit for developers than they might get in an open app market. It’s the basis of a long-running lawsuit against Apple alleging a monopoly, one that the Supreme Court and European Commission have proven sympathetic to, but the problem exists elsewhere in the industry. Tinder earlier this month launched a new default payment system on Android asking users to type their credit card information into the dating app rather than simply tapping into the default Google Play option that similarly supplies the search giant with a 30% cut of the app’s revenue.
Tinder joins a growing contingent of developers, big and small, that are removing App Store payments from their apps to protest what amount to convenience fees. Tinder, Netflix, Spotify, and Fortnite-maker Epic Games have all implemented similar workarounds on Android — but on iOS, Apple bans any alternative payment methods, leaving developers stuck paying 30% if they want their products distributed to iPhone and iPad users.
Apple also expressly forbids apps to mention alternative ways to pay, such as on the web. (“Apps and their metadata may not include buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase,” the policy states.) In protest, Netflix and Spotify recently removed the ability to subscribe to their services via Apple’s App Store entirely — no more revenue-sharing with Apple — leaving customers at a dead end. Tinder still accepts payments on iOS, but it may only be a matter of time until it takes a similar step.
This is a textbook case of abuse of…