If you haven’t followed in the past few weeks, the tide isn’t for Apple when it comes to App Store. Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court declared it constitutional for users to sue Apple on monopoly charges with its app store; in the following weeks, the company has already been hit by the first such process – and others will certainly emerge in the future.
In addition, the company has come under criticism from many people and corporations for its allegedly abusive practices with the App Store: in addition to the very public war with Spotify, Apple has received similar charges from Yahoo’s Kaspersky Lab, from a Dutch antitrust body and American (and pre-presidential) senator Elizabeth Warren, to name a few.
To (try) to appease possible high spirits and expose their side of the story in a more friendly way, Apple put on the air today a new section on the App Store page on its official website. Entitled “Principles and Practices” (“Principles and Practices”), the page – for now only available in English – provides an overview of the company’s objectives with the store, noting its priorities in stimulating competition and protecting consumers.
The company highlights the incentive it gives developers to persevere with their creations, talking about how the Apple Developer Program offers partners “a range of tools, compilers, languages, APIs and SDKs – so that everyone has an opportunity to create innovative apps ”. Recent initiatives on the App Store, such as the “Today” tab and personalized recommendations, are also highlighted as ways to stimulate the success of third-party apps.
A section of the page illustrates Apple’s openness to competitiveness by listing a series of apps that compete directly with Apple’s native apps on iOS: Apple Music, for example, cited competitors Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify and YouTube Music; Maps, in turn, has Citymapper, Google Maps, MAPS.ME and Waze. Apple does not cite, at any time, that these apps cannot be set as defaults on the system.
The company also uses the page to describe the eight categories of apps on the App Store in terms of how they make (or don’t) make money. Four of them do not generate any revenue for the Apple:
- Free: apps that cost zero and have no in-house purchases or advertising, like Wikipedia.
- Free with ads: zero-cost apps that developers profit from ads, like Twitter or Instagram.
- Free with products or services: free apps tied to external products and services, like Airbnb or Target.
- Reader: apps in which the displayed content is purchased exclusively outside the app, such as Netflix or Amazon Kindle.
Four other categories generate revenue for Apple:
- Paid out: paid apps to download, like Facetune or Dark Sky Weather. Apple takes 30% of the money from each sale.
- Free with subscription: free apps that have their content unlocked with a subscription made within the app, like Hulu or Bumble. Apple takes 30% of a user’s revenue in the first year; if a user remains subscribing to the service, Apple will keep 15% of its revenue from the second year.
- Free with internal purchases: free apps with extra features that can be purchased on In-App Purchases, like Candy Crush Saga or TikTok. Apple takes 30% of the revenue from these internal purchases.
- Multiplataform: apps that represent services present on various platforms, such as Dropbox or Minecraft. In this case, Apple gets 30% of the revenue generated from internal purchases made within the app itself – purchases made on the service in question on other platforms are not taxed by Apple, of course.
Even presenting all the arguments to claim that your store is a fruitful territory for free competition, Apple reserves a section of the page to remember that the store is hers and she needs to be responsible for its contents – which means that in some cases, the company will have to act to curb illegal practices, unsafe apps or content that goes against its guidelines (which include a total ban on pornography or gambling, for example).
Whether the Apple initiative will give any practical results in this unlucky streak, we still don’t know. But the company’s argument – and its presentation, in particular – is quite convincing. What do you think?