Antonin Carette

A journey into a wild pointer

The disastrous communication from Apple to apps developers

Posted at — Jan 30, 2024

This blog post reflects my thoughts as a (European) software / apps developer, after the response of Apple about the EU’s DMA.
My blog is followed by tech people, and I suppose everyone here knows the subject and just want to read my old thoughts about “what iz goin’ on in da’techie world?!”, but let me summarize briefly what happened recently in the latest episode of “Apple and the DMA”…

In order to comply with the EU’s DMA (Digital Markets Act), Apple has been obliged to make a few “concessions” about its internal apps management / system to match the requirements.
Among the most significant changes, something that some of the apps developers waited since a long time, is the App Store.
We know that the limit for Apple was for March of this year, and I was very interested in listening to their decisions to know how / when they will handle the requests from the EU.
Their response has been released online on 26th of January 2024, "Update on apps distributed in the European Union" and, as a developer point of view, they seriously disappointed me and made me realize again how evil Tim Apple is.

Quick note: I will not talk about the new browser rules in this post, as I am 100% agree with Mozilla’s response to The Verge given last week.

Apple’s response to EU’s DMA is, first, to embrace what Unity tried to initiate a few months ago (in an epic fail): after a limit of downloads (1_000_000 to be accurate), the developer will have to pay 0.50$ per download and each month to Apple.
Second, to be considered as an alternative App Store and to be published as it, the main entity that holds this alternative App Store will have to prove that they have 1_000_000$ in their bank account, followed with a very big list of other “necessary requirements”…
But wait wait wait, the farce does not stop here: the app developer still has to pay a fee of 99$ to publish and sign the app to be installed on iPhones via an alternative App Store… so why this 0.50 cents fee per download for an app that is not published in the official App Store? Who can tell me again that “the app costs in Apple servers” in this case?

The main shitty idea from Apple is actually to nip in the bud: if they “force” developers not to release their apps in alternative stores, then alternative stores won’t be a thing!
But, weirdly, Apple is managing its communication as publishing on alternative App Store is a “gift” for developers who want to release their app(s) in the EU. A gift that costs $$.
Apple published in the same time an “Estimating fee changes” page to help “Developers […] to adopt these new business terms, or stay on Appleā€™s existing terms.” available here.
What a joke.

This is an absolute evil idea, especially as the distribution of the App Store apps shows clearly that the App Store is 95% of free apps. However they are helping developers of paid apps to make more money, which might be okay as they represent only 6% (at most) of the distribution of the App Store.
Don’t they even know that the market is leaded by free apps? Or the response isn’t just simply “we don’t care!” maybe.
This breaks my heart as a developer: they do not help any developer of free apps in this situation, but they keep all of them behind their back telling everyone else that “if they are following us this is simply by choice”. The term “choice” is inconvenient here, or incomplete. I prefer to talk about a “poisoned gift” actually, as the real deal is, let’s be honest:

  1. to walk with Apple
  2. or to run after Apple cut off both your feet.

This decision is definitely not the attitude of a leader, but the attitude of someone who scare for its first place.

I tend to wonder what alternatives are for us, software developers and Apple products owners. The most difficult thing is not to move from one operating system to another actually (especially for a software developer), but actually quitting an ecosystem for another. This is pretty hard when you are inside the same ecosystem and consume inside that ecosystem since a while now…

This company can keep its rotten apple, developers don’t want to eat it (and will certainly make that idea clear in the future).

As always I am available by email if you want to discuss and / or argue with me.