My stance on the Apple/Epic drama: Epic deliberately broke App Store rules every developer has to follow. Why have they done that? It looks foolish to intentionally break the rules just to launch a huge campaign when faced with the foreseeable consequences.
However, they’re certainly not dumb and lose $25,000 per hour for fun. It was a well orchestrated campaign instrumenting their user base in a PR fight against Apple and suing them at the same time. They wanted to get kicked out of the App Store in order to portray themselves as the David fighting against the Goliath and have a reason to file an already prepared lawsuit. They try to compel Apple to a better deal. Certainly their timing is good since Apple is under increased scrutiny with the current App Store antitrust investigations.
As an indie dev I certainly welcome any reduction in Apple’s fees. While I do appreciate what an amazing platform Apple has created with the App Store in the last dozen years and while I do think Apple should make fair money running it, their 30% cut is no longer appropriate in my opinion.
So Epic fighting the 30% cut should be more than welcome for us indie devs? Not so fast. I’m not sure this will be the outcome of this Epic/Apple tug of war. Epic is a multi billion business and their interest is most likely not aligned with us indies. So while I hope for change, I hope there will be change that everyone benefits from, not only the big guys. Epic wants to legitimize their payment infrastructure outside of the App Store. That’s certainly not what most smaller developers want to build and operate.
Drew McCormack wrote an interesting proposal how a new App Store sales model could look like. I think it would be fair to let every commercial app pay their share for the cost of running the App Store, and not only tax App Store revenues. Currently, multi-billion dollar companies with ad-based business models pay nothing for the App Store platform while every purchase is taxed with 30%. By requesting a fair share from everyone based on download volume, the “sales tax” could be lowered substantially.
We should also not forget there are quite a few issues besides the sales model: unclear and overly broad rules, incoherent application of those rules, the lack of an independent ombudsman or panel to resolve disputes – to name just a few.
The best aspect of Epic (and others such as Facebook) picking a quarrel: There’s quite a momentum now to achieve meaningful change of the App Store. I’ll be watching closely how this will unfold.