Microsoft Complains About Apple’s Business Practices

Posted on June 18, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, iOS, iPadOS, Microsoft, Mobile with 93 Comments

Microsoft president Brad Smith said this week that Apple’s antitrust abuses should be punished by regulators in both the United States and Europe. His voice is just one of many in a rising sea of complaints, but this one is particularly interesting given Microsoft’s antitrust troubles two decades ago.

“[Apple] impose requirements that increasingly say there is only one way to get on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created,” Smith told Bloomberg. “In some cases, they create a very high price per toll, in some cases 30 percent of your revenue has to go to the toll keeper.”

“The time has come—whether we are talking about D.C. or Brussels—for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created,” he added.

Microsoft is just one of many companies that run afoul of Apple’s brutal fees and policies that prevent it from communicating to its own users that they can sign-up and pay for Microsoft products and services on the web. But you can see the harm: If a user signs up for Microsoft 365 Family using an app on iOS, it loses 30 percent of the $100 annual fee, or $30, to Apple that first year. And when they renew in subsequent years, Apple gets 15 percent, or $15, for literally doing nothing.

As bad, Apple’s onerous and in this case secret policies have prevented Microsoft from expanding its Project xCloud service past a single game on iOS and iPadOS. On Android, gamers have dozens of games from which to choose. But the reasoning, which is not written into any rules that Apple delivers to app makers, is clear enough: Apple has its own gaming service, and Project xCloud is the competition.

The good news? Apple is under antitrust investigation for these very issues in both the United States and the EU, and given how obvious the abuses are, it’s probable it will be held accountable in both locales.

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (113)

113 responses to “Microsoft Complains About Apple’s Business Practices”

  1. olditpro2000

    I thought all of the Project xCloud iOS limitations were TestFlight restrictions...not saying it would be any better when it's out of preview.

  2. lilmoe

    I'd also like there to be a limit on how much a platform can be monopolized. But I'd also like to see this applied across the board, including XBox and other consoles.

    I'm no Apple fan/user, but you can't have it both ways, Microsoft.

    • Andi

      In reply to lilmoe:

      This is more about subscriptions than the walled garden approach. I never heard Spotify complain about MS and Spotify is present on the Xbox, but I've heard Spotify complain about Apple. This leads me to believe that the Xbox is not as strict and therefor not an issue. These lawsuits are not about the walled garden in the sense that Apple must allow sideloading. This is purely about subscriptions.

      • Hawaiianteg

        In reply to Andi:

        Thats because Spotify knows where they are making more money and that is iOS. It has nothing to do with what platform they are on.

      • ontariopundit

        In reply to Andi:

        Spotify doesn't complain about Xbox because they don't make any money off it. Who uses an Xbox to consume music?

        Instead, they want to get in on the iPhone pie that Apple created, fair and square. Apple didn't have to engage in dirty tricks to make the iPhone the phone that almost everyone wants to have. They earned their monopoly.

        If Spotify wants to have the same ability to earn a seamless income stream they should make a platform that people want to be on.

        Of course, they don't want to put in the hard work so they'd rather leech off someone else's genius.

        Apple is no different from its other big competitors. They all take a cut. Look at Amazon. Apple TV runs on Fire TV but you can't buy anything in the Apple TV app because Amazon charges its own fees. Instead, you have to buy whatever it is you want on an i Device or a Mac or iTunes before you can watch it on the Fire TV.

        May a pox be on all their houses. I do hope some of the anti trust actions are successful at forcing the ENTIRE industry to make amends.

        Getting Apple to change its ways won't improve how the rest of the bandits mistreat their customers.

        • dftf

          In reply to OntarioPundit:

          "Spotify doesn't complain about Xbox because they don't make any money off it. Who uses an Xbox to consume music?"

          True: even back in the PS1 days, I don't know many who used it as their sole CD player (though the PS2 was, for many, their first DVD player).

          But people do consume music on Android devices, and yet Spotify's website for this ( has a timeline explaining their version of events, and it does not mention Google or Android once. So clearly there must be something Apple does that Google doesn't.

          "May a pox be on all their houses. I do hope some of the anti trust actions are successful at forcing the ENTIRE industry to make amends."

          Entirely agree. And during the legal trials, Apple's lawyers will bring-up examples where Android does the same, and mention the console markets, and so the scope of the investigation will be widened to encompass them also.

          • Hawaiianteg

            In reply to dftf:

            I guarantee apple is going to bring up the Fortnite Android Debacle. Even though android lets you load apps externally and use a different payment system it just doesn't work and fortnite is proof of this. Even epic couldn't make that work and gave into google. Google did it because they knew tying everything to google play services will make that external option crap and everyone will be forced to use google play anyway. It's all lip service that most android apologist buy into when in reality if you wanna be relevant you have to be in the google play store and use their payment system. Its the cost of being on these platforms. If you made a business model that doesn't mesh with the requirements of the platform then its your own damn fault not google or apple. Its not their job to make sure your business model works. So many entitled people in this tech space its really sad to be honest.

  3. lvthunder

    Doesn't Microsoft do the same thing with XBox?

  4. mattbg

    It's almost like you need to regulate the App Store like a utility - a desirable monopoly, but one that needs to have price controls on it - without regulating the rest of Apple in the same way.

    Personally, having a single app store, a single way of installing apps, and a single way of paying is one of the appeals of iOS. If someone wants to do something different I'm fine if they need to find backdoors or workarounds - "regular people" are well-served by this model.

    It's a hard problem to solve, because "make the App Store a separate business" is a ridiculous argument, and there are definite costs to vetting, distributing, and (regularly) updating software for hundreds of millions if not multiple billions of globally-distributed devices. Moreso when a lot of that software is free and generates no revenue.

    Maybe they need to find a model that splits App Store operational costs from billing costs and conveys those to app publishers separately in a way that's closer to the cost of running the infrastructure. Not sure how that jives with Apple's apparent need for a 30% margin on everything they do, but maybe they need to bite the bullet on the App Store alone.

  5. jchampeau

    I look forward to the hero image for an article explaining how antitrust regulators will require Apple to reduce fees and allow app developers to accept payments other than through Apple's current system.

  6. red.radar

    So I guess this all goes away if Apple lets consumers side-load like they let companies?

    • Paul Thurrott

      I don't see that happening. But that doesn't address the real problems. Apple need to lower the IAP fees dramatically and remove them entirely on subscription service-based fees. It needs to let content providers sell content (like an Amazon Kindle or Audible) to their own users without extracting a fee for literally doing nothing. It needs to let app makers point their own users to third-party payment systems on the web or elsewhere. It needs to let app makers choose other payment systems right in the app.
      • skolvikings

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Maybe you should do the same with your site? I mean, apparently if someone starts up a successful business, we all complain that it's not fair they're making money from it. If this is such a problem, developers can abandon the platform. That they don't tells me they're still making bank off an ecosystem that Apple created.

      • lvthunder

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        How does Apple pay for the bandwidth of updates if they only make money when you buy an app? Microsoft updates the Office Apps on iOS what once a month. They are 300-400MB a piece. So that's 3.6GB-4.8GB per app per user per year.

        • Paul Thurrott

          Oh poor Apple. Opened an App Store and can't find the pennies to pay for it. Poor, poor Apple. They should start a virtual tip jar!
        • red.radar

          In reply to lvthunder:

          The problem is Apple's business model. If they let all the big players escape the charges then Apple doesn't have as many people to distribute the costs of maintaining the store. I believe Apple does more manual code inspections than Google who most likely automates their security screening.

          What I think you will see is apple having to spread the costs to everyone. Which depending on the policies implemented could have interesting consequences.

        • Hawaiianteg

          In reply to lvthunder:

          based on pretty much everyone in here it should be free. Everything apple does should be free and for the kindness of their hearts. Theres no such thing as overhead or maintenance, or paying the people that work on the app store and develop it, etc... You know stuff that costs A LOT of money. All these side chair quarterbacks think they can do better.

      • SvenJ

        In reply to paul-thurrott: I don't have a big issue with Apple charging a fee if a user buys out of the app store. There is some advantage to having Apple do some certification, and the sort of promotion of the app being there in the first place. The percentage could stand some discussion. The fee on the subscriptions though is ridiculous. There are two ways that manifests itself. Either the seller eats 30% each month, or they charge more. I noticed the later option this week on YouTube Premium. My wife subscribed and I wanted her to up it to a family plan so I could take advantage too. I told her how much it would increase too, so she went to do it. She noted I was about 4 dollars low. I looked on my browser and it said the family plan was $18. Her's said it was $22. I said what are you paying now? Her price was several dollars more than mine noted for an individual. Ah Ha. I asked, did you sign up on your iPad in the app? Yea. Well cancel that and go to You Tube on Safari. Son of a gun, it was cheaper that way. Had to wait till the end of the subscription month, but got Family for about what she was paying YouTube, and Apple, for an individual. Long story, but Google wasn't eating the cost, just passing it on to the customer.

  7. olditpro2000

    It looks like this got buried in all of the other news from today. In Apple's official PR about "new developer technologies" there's this bit:

    Additionally, two changes are coming to the app review process and will be implemented this summer. First, developers will not only be able to appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline of the App Store Review Guidelines, but will also have a mechanism to challenge the guideline itself. Second, for apps that are already on the App Store, bug fixes will no longer be delayed over guideline violations except for those related to legal issues. Developers will instead be able to address the issue in their next submission.

  8. dftf

    In reply to shameermulji:

    Depends where you get the stats from.

    According to StatCounter, they put iOS at nearly 27% globally (

    15% might be counting iPhone only. iOS will be iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch (I think Apple TV and the Apple Watch also run variants of iOS, though don't think it's referred to as iOS on either)

  9. dftf

    Some relevant external links:

    Examples of apps on iOS which allow external sign-ups, not in-app-only, collected by an iOS app developer:

    CEO of Hey's open letter:

    Spotify's timeline of how they got to complaining to the EU about Apple:

  10. sharpsone

    Apple set themselves up for this by not opening IOS up to other companies, they own everything top to bottom. I hope they throw the book at them to better the experience for customers and developers.

  11. ontariopundit

    I'm impressed. The discussion I've read has been shockingly intelligent. I've seen almost none of the typical mindless "Apple is evil" drivel I've come to expect from comments.

    When I see this I've got to laugh. Apple's behavior is no different from that of its competitors yet they aren't being investigated for anti trust issues. Gaming consoles are closed shop. You don't get to switch game stores. Amazon takes a cut of subscriptions and purchases made on fire TV.

    To watch Apple TV on a Fire TV you have to make your purchases using an iPhone or a Mac or itunes, all on a separate device.

    I concur, the cut that these companies take is quite high, but that's also a price that we pay for research and development. If something is not profitable companies don't devote scarce r&d resources to improving what doesn't make them money.

    As for the complaints about a walled garden? I've got lots of Android phones that are walled gardens. Their bootloaders are locked. Their manufacturers gave zero years of support (and no Android manufacturer gives more than three while Apple's bare minimum starts at six year in 2020). Or, Fire tablets. Amazon prevents you from changing your launch screen or installing Google Play Store (sure you can buy Amazon makes sure it doesn't work well at all).

    Ultimately, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple did engage in anti competitive behavior--though, I hope that any changes forced on Apple will be forced on the industry as a whole.

    It does me little good if Apple is forced to make amends if Google and the rest of Android OEMs aren't forced to make those same changes since I don't own any iOS devices.

    • dftf

      In reply to OntarioPundit:

      "Their manufacturers gave zero years of support (and no Android manufacturer gives more than three while Apple's bare minimum starts at six year in 2020)."

      There's actually an article published on The Register just this week titled "If Fairphone can support a 5-year-old handset, the other vendors could too. Right?". A 2015 model phone that has been upgraded to Android Pie (not 10) but that OS is still getting security updates.

      In the comments someone says "I have an original Jolla Sailfish phone from 2013. Still receiving updates and still working." Another said "I got a Oneplus 3T ... at the end of 2016. It was delivered on Marshmallow, and has had 3 major OS updates and is now on Pie. Admittedly it's not going any further than that and OnePlus have now ceased updates for it, but not bad for a device getting on for 4 years old." (And for a non-Android example: one pointed-out the their Lumia 950 XL from 2015 still got updates for the Windows 10 Mobile OS until the end of 2019.)

      Someone commented: "... the latest software updates for iPhones (13.5.1) apply to phones back to the 6S - a 2015 phone." So there are some examples of non-Apple phones which have had more than 3 years of support, though I agree it's certainly an exception, not a rule.

    • dftf

      In reply to OntarioPundit:

      Apple is getting all the focus as in the mobile arena, its marketplace is the most profitable. To quote myself:

      "When it comes to mobile though, Apple will be the top-focus as it's the biggest marketplace: in 2019, users spent around $51bn in the App Store versus $28.4bn in the Play Store [source: Sensor Tower], which clearly shows iOS users spend-more overall, given around 73% of devices are Android and 27% iOS [source: StatCounter, May 2019-2020 period]. So no-different to how Microsoft was the focus in the late 90s and early 2000s for PC dominance (and still is)."

  12. derekaw

    Poor Microsoft, This is very sad for them.

  13. jonhoneyball

    "Apple gets 15 percent, or $15, for literally doing nothing."

    Except handling the code, the download traffic, the installation and management of the app and updates?

  14. red77star

    Funny who complains.

  15. someguy1984

    First, how is 45% market share in the US and 19% globally a "monopoly". The statement below, "Apple may be a minority in total share, but they're a monopoly on their own systems" is really odd. Of course(!) they're a monopoly on their own systems! But a monopoly in the market? Nope.

    Also, with so many alternatives, I'm seeing Apple play rough with competitors, but anyone who doesn't want to use Apple hardware and be in the Apple ecosystem has plenty of alternatives. In fact, it looks like most of the most vocal critics don't use Apple devices, sort of proving the point.

    Don't get me wrong, the 30% fee for using the app store is too high. Of course, it's also not a "vig" as Paul loves to always call it. Look up "vigorish" and see. It's a fee for services, and I agree it's too high.

    • Paul Thurrott

      We're not going to keep explaining the same thing over and over again. Your notions of monopoly and market power and antitrust are not correct. And every time someone says something like "if developers don't like this they can just leave" is clueless. I've purchased and used virtually every single iPhone model Apple has ever made. I don't use them vs. Android BECAUSE of the limitations Apple has for both users and developers, because they literally impact our day to day usage. The most vocal critics, btw, are developers.
      • nbplopes

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Hey Thurrott. A company has a monopoly when it dominates a sector or industry. No way Apple dominate the mobile phone industry, wether through devices or apps. It is indeed a very powerful player on that industry.

        You want to compare with MS, But MS back in the day had around 90% market share. Meaning, around 9 in 10! Terminals were running Windows. And MS was and is systematically copy catting devs software and digital services features and undercutting prices empowers by their market share . Back than it was devastating. They should have been split.

        Every time done dev achieved a interesting position in the market, Mr. Bill Gates would get a strop.

        What Apple being I investigated is of over using its influence, not if it is a monopoly or not.

        Now in 10 smartphone, 7 to 8 are Android terminals .... That per si does not constitute a monopoly. It depends how Google waves their power. Furthermore it dominantes the digital Ad business.

        I fully agree that 30% shared revenue on the App Store is excessive. There should be other ways devs could contribute to the App Store service. Heck, customers already payed for App Store entirely.

        Apple’s measure is just to maximize profit, meaning, not leaving money on the table.

        Now. I believe that Apple maybe double charging for App Store devices. For one, to access the store one need an iOS device. The App Store service is a fundamental part of iOS ... and there is no other to value it from within that space.

        In the digital space, separating delivery from distribution makes no sense. By distributing you deliver and by delivering you distribute. So it’s one and the same thing. But Apple splits this in two services to charge developers and drive a distinct value. Yet the App Store is a service already payed for by customer when they bought an iOS device ...

        The litmus test that the App Store service is part of the iOS and the device is that if it is removed the devices would be dead in the water.

        This bundle it’s kind of a CDO.

    • Calibr21

      In reply to someguy1984:

      You don’t have to be a monopoly to be considered dominant.

      If I made a smart lightbulb controllable through an app, but apple decides to reject my app for “reasons” then that kills my product outright. Nobody is going to switch to an android phone to turn on my lightbulb, they will just buy a competing smart bulb with an iOS app.

      Apple could say “we will allow your lightbulb app in the store, if you give us 30% of all lightbulb sales.” Apple has the power to decide which products make it and which don’t.

  16. Winner

    i kind of agree with Microsoft here, but the karma is a bit sweet when Microsoft is the victim of unsavory practices, given their history.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Get over it. That was a million years ago and the company Microsoft is today proves that they've improved tons and have moved past that. It's like holding me accountable for something my father did.
      • Winner

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Oh and it seems to me that my mom's Windows 8 laptop was deceptively forced to upgrade through a dialog box change, only about 5 years ago. A lot more recent than "a million years ago".

      • nbplopes

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        The company improved because it lost mobile and the web (IE). So it needed to adapt.

        Make no mistake.

        Apple will also when it is forced to adapt to circunstantes not so favorable.

        On Windows there the prosumer app market is dead, MS killed it. Going to the business market is a sensible option considering that business use a lot of customization, custom made software solutions, consultancy so on and so forth. air the off the Steve market is mostly dead.

      • Winner

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        IMHO Microsoft has not fully exorcised their demons. They still try to use their OS position to force Bing and Edge upon me; they complained about Google advertising yet included an advertising ID in an OS, and they basically have ripped off Slack's ideas and are trying to destroy the little guy. I don't think I'll get over it, yet. But thanks for the suggestion.

      • pecosbob04

        In reply to paul-thurrott: No Paul it was not a million years ago closer to 20 and not something your father did, something you did 25 years ago. Also your legal analysis is totally inept and superficial so you may want to refrain from giving legal opinions.People can get in a lot of trouble for that sort of thing.

  17. ghostrider

    Apple may be a minority in total share, but they're a monopoly on their own systems. They viciously control everything on their platform, top to bottom. They force carriers to bend to their will, have developers over a barrel and take obscene cuts of all sales and they don't allow any competing services on their platform. Each iPhone sale is probably 50% pure profit and they rake in billions from Apple care packages (nobody else is allowed to legally service their phones) and Apple Pay is generating huge amounts in fees and surcharges.

    Microsoft are very much playing a pot/kettle/black game here, but Apple need to be taken down a peg or two. The problem is, they're so cash rich, a multi-billion dollar fine wouldn't even scratch the surface.

  18. yaddamaster

    simple solution - don't use apple products. I don't. Heck, I had a nice iPhone given to me and I gave it right back.

    It's simply not worth the headache.

    • dftf

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      Lots of people like the hardware though: like the people who run Windows on a MacBook

    • Stooks

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      I used the same simple solution with Google.

      I only use YouTube when I have too, signed into it with a Microsoft account. I use Bing, Apple Maps, new Edge (with multiple blockers), Office 365 etc and have never wanted or needed to use another Google product. With my multiple blockers on Edge I never see an ad on YouTube.

    • red.radar

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      that is a pithy emotional response. People can find reasons to not use android based on Googles behavior. Last I checked they were under serious anti-trust violations both in Europe and America.

      this is not a time to be a fan boy. It distracts from the real issues that need attention.

  19. mjarosch

    Saying Apple is getting a cut for doing nothing isn't true. They are providing a distribution platform, a payment platform and consumer confidence. A company like Microsoft doesn't need that, but smaller developers do. As a consumer, I appreciate the centralized application distribution and payment/subscription management. I know the Apple App Store isn't perfect, but I feel safer downloading apps from it then the random redirecting websites with clickbait "download" ads that smaller developers distributing applications online use because they offer cheeper distribution (free?). That safety comes with a cost of application reviewers and certification processes and is paid for by that cut.

    Apple is definitely wrong for requiring companies like Hey to offer the subscription service through the application. But, I think it is ok to not allow them to offer signup through the application unless it is through Apple. Apple is providing a service to these companies and not getting compensated for it because the companies are providing free apps and managing their own subscriptions.

    There is probably room to adjust the percentages paid, it was probably set at 30% to keep things simple. Maybe they need to hire some people from the Microsoft Enterprise Licensing team and then the companies will be to busy trying to understand all of the rules to even care.

    • dftf

      In reply to mjarosch:

      "Apple is providing a service to these companies and not getting compensated for it because the companies are providing free apps and managing their own subscriptions"

      Correct me if wrong, but if you have adverts in an app on iOS, aren't all of the adverts served from Apple ad servers?

      I'm sure Ars Technica did a story a while-back of an advert in an app compromising users on Android, where the ads came from Google's ad services, but the iOS version was not affected, as the ads were served from Apple's ad service.

      So does Apple not generate revenue through in-app ads also? (Except for apps made by Google, such as YouTube, or Microsoft, such as Microsoft Wordament or Microsoft Sudoku, of course.)

      • nbplopes

        In reply to dftf:

        "Apple is providing a service to these companies and not getting compensated for it because the companies are providing free apps and managing their own subscriptions"

        This forgets the fact that it imposes such service. On the other note, iOS without a App Store would be dead in the water, so the ability to sell iOS devices is a lot of compensation. Devs add a lot, I mean a lot of value to the platform. In fact as I’ve said, without the App Store would be dead in the water ... whey? Because of the value third party apps and digital services bring.

        The entire idea that Apple brings value to dev up corresponding to 30% of their revenue its absurd. Totally absurd. They can pull it off because Apple has such a huge market share that it can turn its customers into a product that than sells to suppliers by 30% of their revenue.

        Now, this business model might be good for some developers, startups as they have little money to invest such an infrastructure. But the minute the Startup business starts to be competitive and interesting due their efforts, repeat their efforts ... sharing 30% of revenue becomes competiveness hurdle, especially when competing with Apple’s own apps and services. Furthermore it hurst customers, because such money could be used to improve the app or service.

        No one thinks Apple should not be compensated for the service it provides to their customers. Simplifying locating, downloading and billing to customer its a huge thing. Not to mention security advantages. But a revenue share of 30% or even 15% of the entire market without no other option does not look like it foster competition and quality no more.

        Mind you. Apple’s biggest point is that the App Store generates way more revenue for devs than any other platform of its kind. So there seams to be some unique value to it for devs that others do provide.

        So the idea that the ecossystem does not bring value to supplier it not true. It does.

    • Omen_20

      In reply to mjarosch:

      Nothing you described requires Apple to have it designed the way they do. What does require the current design, is their need for revenue to keep the stock price high as hardware sales slump.

      The App Store could be a repository of links to the developers hosting provider. Apple sets up a protocol for notifying when the app has been updated. The developer configures it on their hosting provider. App is updated, the store sees that and adds it to your list of updates.

      For easier subscription management, Apple could advertise that to users. If you go through PayPal or the app itself, management may not be as easy or convenient. Still no reason to require a 30% cut, more like 4% maybe.

      • nbplopes

        In reply to Omen_20:

        I disagree. I think the intent was initially to simplify app downloads, updates and billing for customers. I really like this.

        It turned out they are using it way beyond this get a share of devs business, instead of making a business of this service.

        Even if Apple charged 5% it would have a good profit. Well by more profit. Just managing the financially flow of money passing by ...

        The could also charge for publishing apps. Or offer a different models ...

        • lvthunder

          In reply to nbplopes:

          Where is your proof that 5% would yield Apple a profit from the app store?

        • dftf

          In reply to nbplopes:

          I don't think anyone disagrees with the idea of having a central repository to get your apps from being safer and easier (though not an idea Apple came up with: old Nokia feature-phones had stores to get Java apps from before iPhone, and of course Linux distros have had "repos" that package-managers get apps from for years before that).

          The question is: is 30% in year-one, then 15% for every-year after-that, a fair-price, given that developers also have to pay $99 a year (on Android, this is a one-off $25)

          • ontariopundit

            In reply to dftf:

            30% 15% 4%

            That's what the market will bear. If you don't want to pay Apple's rates no one is holding a gun to your head. You can take your business to Google. To Microsoft. You can run a website.

            Google Play is $25 once while the App Store is $99 per year because there's a lot more money to be made on the App Store than in Google Play.

            This is because Apple built the ecosystem where people are prepared to pay for software and services. Google built an ecosystem where people want things for free.

            If you don't like Apple's iPhone, don't use it! There's another option called Android that has 75% of the global market share of devices. I use it.

            It's pretty good. Granted it's not as good in some respects as the iPhone but it's also a lot cheaper.

            Most of the complaints here are great for Apple since they distract from the real nasty stuff Apple does.

            There's nothing wrong with 30% or with $99 per year. That's business.

            Or the overreach in the EU to force all devices to have only one type of connector (primarily targeting the lightning connector when it was Apple that created the lightning connector five years before usb c was seen in the wild).

            What's maybe not kosher is preventing customers from making certain decisions... And that's for politicians and judges to decide.

            • dftf

              In reply to OntarioPundit:

              "... because there's a lot more money to be made on the App Store than in Google Play"

              Yeah... which is why they are the subject of focus right-now.

              During legal investigations, the scope will inevitably be widened-out to cover Android, and to the video-game consoles, as Apple's legal-team will ask those examples to be considered.

          • ontariopundit

            In reply to dftf:

            Why does access to the App Store need to be free? By putting up a $100 barrier you keep rank amateurs out. You also discourage all the scam artists that litter the Play Store. I am still amazed that one of the top rated mapping apps on the Google Play Store is nothing more than one big ad delivery vehicle that launches Google Maps to actually compete the search.

            I'm sure that if Google charged $100 per year that would prevent that kind of bad behaviour.

            Besides, it's not an onerous requirement. Every one needs to pay that. There's no advantage to anyone. And, for anyone who earns a living from iOS $100 is likely less than the electricity they spend on developing each year!

            Simply because one company chooses to give something away for free does not mean another needs to do the same. Different business models.

            Plus, focusing on that $99 does a service to Apple by distracting from legitimate complaints about their business practices.

            There's absolutely nothing wrong with charging am access fee to belong. If I'm not mistaken Thurrott does too. Other tech companies don't. Thurrott needs to be hauled up for anti trust behaviour!

            • dftf

              In reply to OntarioPundit:

              "Why does access to the App Store need to be free?"

              I'm not sure anyone has ever said it needs to be? I think reasonably people would expect Apple to get a cut from paid apps and from subscriptions paid-for using Apple Play (though the argument there is Apple Pay should always be a choice, not the only promoted method). Just like no-one expects in a supermarket for them to sell all items "at-cost" and make no profit.

              "By putting up a $100 barrier you keep rank amateurs out. You also discourage all the scam artists that litter the Play Store. I am still amazed that one of the top rated mapping apps on the Google Play Store is nothing more than one big ad delivery vehicle that launches Google Maps to actually compete the search."

              Yeah, well, Google aren't going to care about an app which (1) ultimately still takes users to Google Maps, so they get the data from that and (2) the in-app adverts are most-likely going to be served from Google's ad servers, so they get the money from that too. Again, no-one has said Android is a perfect alternative -- every month is some new story about "Google ask users to remove these apps found to have malware". And Paul has covered such stories in the past.

              "Every one needs to pay that. There's no advantage to anyone. And, for anyone who earns a living from iOS $100 is likely less than the electricity they spend on developing each year!"

              The $99 you have to pay each-year to list apps in the Store is likely not a big-deal to many developers, no. But many developers, especially on Twitter, do say the 30% cut Apple take in year-one is a massive-hit to them. Might be best if you find them on Twitter and reply to them, as they can offer you a better-perspective than most here.

          • lvthunder

            In reply to dftf:

            You aren't taking into account all the money Android makes off of ads.

            • Hawaiianteg

              In reply to lvthunde
              EXACTLY! Everyone thinks google is charging that much once for the goodness of their hearts. They make money off of ads to compensate. One of the many reasons they are now under scrutiny. They make money off of the ads that are offered on their platform by the way which is dominated by them. Apple makes money off the device and that only goes so far. This is what entitled android people think, that everything has to be cheap or free. Everyone feels that apple just hoards money and wants to make more money just because. During this pandemic they literally paid everyone that works for them including vendors and their retail staff their full pay and benefits for 3 months. That stuff is not cheap and that is why apple makes sure they make money on whatever they do. They almost went under in the 90's and they are never going to be put in that position no matter what you think of their business models. A business is not a business if it dies because it has no money.
    • rob_segal

      In reply to mjarosch:

      Offering only one way to install apps on IOS, while forcing app developers to use their payment system instead of a 3rd party one or even a message with a url to their own website is troublesome. This is problematic.

    • nbplopes

      In reply to mjarosch:

      As you I like the App Store service. But is it valued at 30% revenue share of businesses passing by through the store? Don’t think so. The only reason they can force this is because there is no other option and they have a mobile market share of 30% globally and in some regions ir reaches 50% or more..

      Why I don’t think it is actually valued at that? I test it with myself. Suppose that instead of including the 30% in the end price, it was something added to the price of the app or digital service. Would I like it that much to buy it from that store? Well it needed to be really cheap apps. For higher cost apps, inluiding digital subscriptions I would first change devices.

      Now you may think, Why don’t supplier add 30% to the cost and be done with ir? They cannot for Two reasons. One is that they need to choose the price out of a tablet set by Apple. Secondly they are required to offer a price as low as they do somewhere else, otherwise they would be in breach of App Store policy.

      So basically, they want the store to be payed by the suppliers including the high margin of profit, not the costumer. So indeed, they force the value delivered by suppliers down in Apple’s favor when it come iOS ecossystem. This while offering competing products and services.

      There was one time this was probably ok considering the little market share they had and how depended were apps from the App Store in terms of visibility. But today, people just Google for an app to do something,, read reviews, youtube videos ... and than simply do a search on the store and buy.

      Considering their market share maybe it is time to correct this. Because devs do bring a lot of value to the Apple’s ecossystem. Just check what happened to Windows Phone ... (well there were other reasons too to be fair)

      • shameermulji

        In reply to nbplopes:

        "But is it valued at 30% revenue share of businesses passing by through the store? Don’t think so."

        Pure speculation. Unless you know how much Apple spent, to date, to build the App Store infrastructure plus the year expenses required to maintain it, you haven't any clue if it's valued at 30%, below 30%, or above 30%. Figure that out first.

  20. IanYates82

    I finally got console streaming working for me. Spent an hour playing minecraft dungeons with the kids whilst I am away on work travel for a couple of nights

    It was great!

    However, I noticed that Microsoft specifically prevents you from loading the store app in your streaming console session, even though I'm on Android. Presumably that's a blanket thing to stick within content and/or purchasing rules imposed by the third party platforms. If it's due to purchasing and this Apple rule, then it's yet another dumb application of the rule. Should we have teamviewer's app block the launching of the Microsoft store on Windows 10 when it's being used to control a PC from an iOS device??

    (can't post this in premium comments area for some reason... So posting over here with the regular folk today)

  21. dftf

    There are a number of factors here that will make it hard for Apple to defend:

    (1) GATEKEEPER: on an iOS device, most people can only get apps via the Apple App Store. (Corporations can side-load apps via things like InTune Company Portal and VMWare Airwatch, though I understand you have to pay a annual fee to Apple to self-sign the apps). But there are no-other store options, such as Samsung Store or Amazon App Store, on Android.

    (2) PRICING: is 30% in year 1 fair, given developers have to buy a mac device to develop on, join Apple's developer program with a yearly subscription fee and pay I think something like $99 for every new app they introduce to the store? I know 30% is also true for PS4, Xbox and Nintendo stores: but the difference with consoles is they are usually sold at-a-loss, at-least in the first few years they're on the market. Whereas it's widely-known Apple makes a good-margin on their devices, way-more than anyone-else in the industry.

    (3) DELIBERATELY FORCING DEVELOPERS TO LIMIT CONSUMER CHOICE: it's one-thing to say to a developer "we expect Apple Pay to be a prominent option in your app" and another to say "Apple Pay must be the ONLY option, as you are not permitted to state that they can sign-up on your website directly. You can vaguely say they can sign-up outside the app, but no direct links, and it must be hidden on a help screen, not mentioned anywhere in the main UI".

    (4) INCONSISTENT RULES: it's not okay for some apps to allow users to sign-up outside the app, but for bigger-players, like Netflix and Amazon Prime, it is. And business apps don't have to pay the 30/15% fees (Office365 for Enterprise) but home-users do (personal Office365 subscription, if purchased in-app). Some apps where money is spent inside them, such as ebay, Amazon, Uber, Lyft or any supermarket app, you can pay in-app using any payment method, and Apple takes no cut.

    (5) APPLE ADVANTAGE: Apple doesn't charge itself the 30/15% fees, meaning if Apple Music and Spotify are both say $9.99/month, Spotify immediately lose 30 or 15% of that; Apple, none.

    • mjarosch

      In reply to dftf:

      (1) GATEKEEPER: Xbox, PS4, Nintendo are all the same. I can only buy digital titles from the respective companies. I can buy a disc from a retailer, but that is just adding a middle man because I can't play my Xbox game on my PS4. I am still locked in to those platforms.

      (2) PRICING: 30% probably is too high and should be re-evaluated. I wonder if part of the 30% goes to cover submissions that don't make it to the store from bad actors and random people. I think there are services where you don't need a Mac anymore, but not 100% sure. The $99 is per year and you don't pay anything per app.

      (3) DELIBERATELY FORCING DEVELOPERS TO LIMIT CONSUMER CHOICE: This is a hard one for me. I can see why Apple doesn't want your free app directly linking to a subscription page on your website. I view it similar to going to a store, talking with a salesman for an hour to learn about a product and then going online and buying from Amazon because it's cheeper. I do like the idea of a prominent option for in-app and allow the link to the website.

      (4) INCONSISTENT RULES: Ebay, Amazon, Uber, Lyft all follow the rules for physical goods and services, which allow for CC. Big companies are always going to get advantages, because they are big. But can you sign up for Netflix in the app? I don't think so, so not all the big players are getting special treatment.

      (5) APPLE ADVANTAGE: This is true and could be applied to any company that spans industries. Amazon doesn't pay for AWS. Microsoft doesn't pay for Azure. They all have an advantages over other companies using their platform that they are competing against. Does Apple pay a % of subscriptions for people who subscribe through the app on Android?

      • Paul Thurrott

        It's like it's 20 years ago again and we have to start explaining again why this kind of behavior becomes problematic when you dominate a market. And don't tell me that Apple doesn't. They have an audience of billions and 50 percent market share in mobile in the US and EU. This kind of control needs to be regulated, period.
        • Greg Green

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          But no one complains about this behavior with consoles. If we’re going to be against walled gardens we should be against all of them, not just the really really big ones.

          And isn’t the whole steam library it’s own walled garden? Can I get something on steam by ignoring the steam requirements? Or does steam make the rules there too? Why don’t developers have the right to break steam rules?

        • ontariopundit

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          First of all Paul, Apple certainly doesn't have 50% market share in Europe as a whole. In Germany, the largest and one of the richest European countries, IIRC they're closer to 25% than 50%. In the former East Bloc countries Apple's market share is also much lower than 50%.

          Second, it is primarily in English speaking rich countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia) where Apple has roughly fifty percent market share, and, the United Kingdom, Europe's largest English speaking country is now no longer covered by EU anti trust regulations.

          Third, since when is 50% a monopoly? Microsoft abused a 90% monopoly to destroy Netscape. Microsoft engaged in practices that were plainly illegal, designed to hurt their competitor and prevent them from being able to distribute their software.

          While Apple is a tough negotiator it's not like competitors don't have real options. Apple only covers 50% of the mobile market in the US, Canada, UK, Japan and Australia. They got that share by offering a much superior experience to the dismal crap offered by their competitors in the late 2000's and early 2010's. If Spotify wants to avoid paying the Apple subscription tax they don't have to list on Apple's store. They can provide a mobile web page. They can switch to an advertising model.

          Spotify and Microsoft want to use Apple's platform the same way that many Amazon customers use retail stores now. Customers try on things in the store and then order them cheaper online. If a company wants to use Apple's app store to showcase their clothes, shouldn't they have to also pay for Apple's overhead? The only difference between Apple and the bricks and mortar retailers is that Apple has the power to prevent that window browsing followed by online ordering.

          Ultimately I do suspect that some of Apple's business practices need legal redress. However, if the changes only occur to Apple that does nothing to improve the equally consumer and small business hostile business practices that Amazon and Microsoft engage in.

          • Paul Thurrott

            The dictator appreciates your uninformed acquiescence in this matter.
          • dftf

            In reply to OntarioPundit:

            "If Spotify wants to avoid paying the Apple subscription tax they don't have to list on Apple's store. They can provide a mobile web page."

            Mobile website versions of apps simply aren't viable.

            First, not many people even know they exist -- and for those who do, they often don't know that you can "Add site to home-screen" to get an app-like experience. And second: both in the App Store and Play Store, mobile websites are not allowed to be listed in there, so there is no discoverability (you'll never download an app and then see one appear in the list of "similar apps" for example. Microsoft initially also did not allow mobile web-apps in the Windows 10 Phone Store, but near the end did change this as they otherwise had barely any actual apps!)

        • lvthunder

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          Since when is 50% dominating a market of 2?

        • Stooks

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          "This kind of SUCESS needs to be regulated, period"

          There fixed it for you.

          Android dominates the world in smartphone sales. People have a choice and iOS devices are the minority choice.

          Like others have said, regulate this and once they are done with Apple move on to the game consoles. I want to play Forza on my PS5 when I buy it or God of War on my Xbox Series X.

      • dftf

        In reply to mjarosch:

        (1) For digital copies, not always: some games allow you to purchase an unlock-code, then enter that in-game. But sure, there are some titles where digital is store-only (especially indie titles), or will launch in the store for a while before going physical. But compared to iOS, you've still more-choice overall.

        (2) Maybe just do 15% every-year and drop the initial 30%? Many developers online say the 30% first-year hit is a lot to absorb. As for $99 being per-year, not per-app release: happy to stand corrected on that (worth-noting though I read for Android, it's a one-time $25 payment to become a developer). I'm pretty-sure to develop iOS apps this can only be done on macOS: I'm not aware of either an official Linux or Windows port of Xcode? A quick Google search suggests only real options are (1) a "Hackintosh"; (2) running a macOS virtual desktop via a cloud provider or (3) using unofficial, third-party apps to Xcode in.

        (3) Suggesting Apple Pay as the "preferred method" would be fine, along with a link to "Other payment options...". But it will be hard-to-defend given Google doesn't force developers to only offer Google Pay and hide-away other options.

        (4) Maybe big companies shouldn't always get advantages, and that is something the EU or US legal-systems could change? It's fine to have rules, but they should be clear and consistently-applied.

        (5) I agree, it's not entirely Apple-specific: and if other-companies also have advantages maybe their businesses should be broken-up too. When it comes to mobile though, Apple will be the top-focus as it's the biggest marketplace: in 2019, users spent around $51bn in the App Store versus $28.4bn in the Play Store [source: Sensor Tower], which clearly shows iOS users spend-more overall, given around 73% of devices are Android and 27% iOS [source: StatCounter, May 2019-2020 period]. So no-different to how Microsoft was the focus in the late 90s and early 2000s for PC dominance (and still is).

  22. tripleplayed

    Not exactly the same thing but I wonder if any of these future rulings will affect Video Game Consoles. They are essentially closed platforms as well, although they do have a little bit of openness with physical retailers selling games, but the console platforms still take their cut from those sales as well.

    • Hawaiianteg

      In reply to TriplePlayed:

      And if you guys didnt notice, Xbox and Playstation have all Digital consoles. Guess what? You can't buy games for those anywhere else. Discs are going away we all know this and you can see this coming from a mile away. Who cares if you can buy discs anywhere else you still have to pay Microsoft money regardless of where you get the game from to access their platform. its not free just because you bought It from gamestop.

      • Paul Thurrott

        The disc-less consoles are not the only way to buy into those platforms and gamers DO have a choice of which to buy and where to purchase games. But yeah, consoles are absolutely walled gardens too. And there's been some shakeup in this market, thanks largely to Tim Sweeney and the Epic Game Store. That will continue. The existence of other walled gardens doesn't make Apple "right" or "good."
      • dftf

        In reply to Hawaiianteg:

        At-least for-now, the "digital-only" editions are a choice, so if you still want to use physical-media, you can buy the console offering an optical-drive.

        There is no equivalent iPhone which allows alternate stores.

        Once all consoles do go digital-only, Apple will have a stronger-argument there. I mean, even their own macOS doesn't force users to only use the App Store -- you can still manually download a .DMG and do a manual install.

    • dftf

      In reply to TriplePlayed:

      With consoles, you not only have physical copies (which also means a second-hand market -- until all consoles go download-only or stream-on-demand, anyway) but also digital unlock-codes you can buy then enter in-game.

      But of-course the main comparison is Android: where the Amazon App Store is a competitor from a big-name company to buy apps from, plus you can also buy an app direct from a company and manually download and install an .APK, similar to installing apps on Windows or macOS.

      So, sure, while on a console you cannot choose who to make a digital purchase from, it's still overall more-flexible than iOS where it's Apple or "we'll make an exception for some big companies where people can sign into an existing subscription" (or Enterprise customers, who can side-load apps via an MDM solution).

    • luis3007

      In reply to TriplePlayed:

      Not the same at all since the console makers make not only the hardware but have to provide constant support and have to invest for development. You want free access, go to a PC.

  23. techwiz118

    I have a hard time fathoming why Apple would want this kind of negative publicity right before WWDC. Phil Schiller told TechCrunch today that Apple has no plans to reverse course on the Hey app. Surely Apple must be aware that public opinion is not on their side, so I don't know why they think they're going to be able to get away with this.

    • bart

      In reply to techwiz118:

      If Apple changes course now, it is an admittance of wrong doing. With the EU and US breathing down their neck, I guess Apple finds itself in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation.

    • Hawaiianteg

      In reply to techwiz118:

      When you almost go out of business because you were trying to "listen to other people" on what you should do as a company like allowing other companies to Make Mac clones to make them cheaper or make tons of models so there is "choice" for the consumer you tend to no longer want to listen to anyone and do what's right for you. Apple is 100% in the right to do what they want, 30% big was introduced at the start of the App Store and has not changed since. Yes they make exceptions for specific situations but those are exceptions not the rule. Apple should not have to bend to other companies because of other peoples poor choice of business model. Before you make a app you know exactly what you'll be paying in the App Store and if you didn't then thats on you.

      People say this is user hostile. You know what's user hostile? Making a platform less secure and less convenient because you don't like the way the platform hosts its store. If you are on the app store but don't let me purchase your subscription in store then I will find someone else who will and Ive done that many times. If you don't like iOS go to android. Users pick apple because of ease of use and they have the best ecosystem by far with the most lucrative customers. That didn't happen for free, it took a lot of investment from apple to make it happen.

      Think about this. Amazon has by far the best ebook store in the world. Since they are a monopoly and have the most customers, will they allow me to sell a book in their store but use my own payment system to charge customers and cut them out of the loop? Hell no.

      Apple will prevail from this because the whiney minority of tech pundits and developers are the 1% who feel entitled and think they can dictate how someone runs their own business. If I was apple I would give anyone who feels this way the middle finger and tell them go somewhere else.

      • red.radar

        In reply to Hawaiianteg:

        And the key point you are missing is that Apple is not a neutral party here. They are competing with their customers in their app store. They are leveraging their power of the platform to advantage Apple Music over competitive services. Its very harmful to the marketplace because as you let a big Company gobble up its competition it gets to leverage its monopoly beachhead to topple and disrupt other competitive markets.

        Also, Doesn't matter their intentions. When you look at the founding precedents of the Sherman Anti-Trust act the basic test applied by the Supreme Court was "to be harmful, a trust had to somehow damage the economic environment of its competitors" . Well... that is pretty obvious to see based on the evidence publicly available. The only way for Apple to win will be some razer thin technicality that they are not a "monopoly". Which considering the rapid abuses by all the platform vendors I am not certain the courts will be merciful. The EU wont be.

      • mpowell

        In reply to Hawaiianteg:

        OMG my kingdom for a downvote button

    • Paul Thurrott

      Apple is incredibly stubborn and they've never really learned the lesson of behavior change when you grow from struggling underdog to tech dominance. Frankly, this is bad leadership. It's all on Tim Cook and his increasingly dated worship of Steve Jobs.

Leave a Reply