Absolutely vile: Devs react to Apple's 27% cut of third-party payments

Absolutely vile: Devs react to Apple’s 27% cut of third-party payments

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Apple third-party payments
"Apple is going to fight dirty all the way."
Image: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple on Thursday confirmed it will charge developers in the Netherlands a 27% cut of sales revenue when they use third-party payment systems. And, just as expected, that has not gone down well with developers.

Steve Troughton-Smith, creator of apps like Broadcasts and Pastel for iOS, called the move “absolutely vile” and said Apple executives “should be ashamed.” Here’s what others are saying.

Devs aren’t happy with Apple’s greed

Apple’s new rules for developers in the Netherlands, where regulators say dating apps must be allowed to offer third-party payments systems, are clearly designed to discourage transactions outside of the App Store.

Apple not only makes developers jump through hoops to take advantage of the new laws set by local regulators. But it also charges a 27% commission on all transactions, which it calls a “reduced” rate.

That’s despite the fact that Apple doesn’t have to handle payment processing or after sales support. Developers are understandably upset.

“This says everything about Tim Cook’s Apple and what it thinks of developers,” Troughton-Smith said. “I hope the company gets exactly what it deserves. Everybody on their executive team should be ashamed, and some of them should not be here when it’s all over.”

Apple has ‘created enemies among developers’

“They’re making non-App-Store payments as painful, expensive, and clunky as the regulators will tolerate,” said Instapaper creator Marco Arment. “Come on, THIS is comedy. Amazing, ridiculous comedy. I’d be surprised if a single app ever took them up on this. (And that’s exactly by design.)”

Indeed, it looks like Apple’s rules were crafted with the primary objective of dissuading developers from using third-party payment systems altogether. After all, the “reduced” 27% cut, when you factor in taxes, will see developers losing just as much as they already do by selling through the App Store.

“Wow, Apple is going to fight dirty all the way,” said independent developer Frank Reiff. “Never mind the damage it does to its reputation.”

“Apple is going to fight this tooth and nail instead of adjusting its services business model from being that of a rent seeker,” said Dare Obasanjo. “They’ve created enemies among developers and regulators with their shenanigans.”

What now?

It’s now up to Dutch regulators — and those in other countries pushing for third-party payments — to decide whether Apple is being fair. They have ruled it must accept third-party payments, but they have not stated how much Apple can charge for apps and subscriptions it does not process.

With that being the case, Apple is technically complying with the rules — it’s just doing it in an incredibly greedy and obnoxious way. And that’s a shame (but perhaps not surprising?) for a company that hosts an annual keynote, during which executives get on stage and profess their love for developers.

As we’ve said before, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Apple has to just accept that its strict App Store rules aren’t going to last. It’s not just third-party payments that regulators and lawmakers are calling for, but also the ability to sideload apps and to install alternative app marketplaces.

Apple will continue fighting these things, no matter what kind of damage it does to its relationship with and reputation among developers and consumers. But it seems it would be more sensible — and more dignified — to accept that, 14 years after the App Store opened its doors, it’s time for an overhaul.