Welcome back to this Week in Apps, the Extra Crunch series that summarizes the latest operating system news, the applications they support, and the money flowing through it all.
With 204 billion downloads and $ 120 billion in spending in 2019, the app industry is hotter than ever. People are now spending three hours and 40 minutes a day on apps, which is competing with television. Apps aren't just a way to spend idle time – they're big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had an overall valuation of $ 544 billion, 6.5 times higher than companies without a mobile focus.
In this extra crunch series, we help you keep up with the latest news from the world of apps that are delivered weekly.
This week, a story has completely taken over the news cycle: Hey vs. Apple. An app store developer dispute made headlines, not because Apple was necessarily wrong according to the existing rules, but because developers' resentment against these rules increased. We're giving this story extra bandwidth this week before jumping into the other headlines.
Also this week we look at what is expected to arrive at WWDC20 next week. TikTok clone Zynn is banned from both app stores (which is perfectly fine, I think!) And Facebook's failed attempts to get its gaming app approved by Apple as well as some notable Android updates and other trends in the app Industry.
Main story: Hey vs. Apple
One story dominated this week's app news. If you have not lived under the proverbial rock, you have definitely not missed it. After Basecamp received approval from the App Store for its new email app called Hey, founders David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried contacted Twitter to explain how Apple had now declined further updates to the app. Apple told Basecamp that it had to offer in-app purchases (IAP) for its full email service within the app, and also had to offer it on the company's website. They weren't happy, to say the least.
This problem came to a head at a time when regulators were taking a closer look at Apple's business. The company is located in both the U.S. and E.U. This will in part attempt to determine whether Apple is misusing its market power to unfairly dominate its competitors. In Hey's case, the subscription-based app competes with Apple's built-in free mail app, which could put this case directly in the crosshairs of regulators.
However, it also raises concerns about how Apple's App Store rules have become a confusing mess that developers – and apparently even Apple's own App Store reviewers – don't fully understand. (Apple is reported to have told Basecamp that Hey should never have been approved without IAP.)
Apple has identified a number of conditions under which apps do not have to implement IAP by making exceptions for enterprise applications that may have per seat license plans for users, as well as a number of apps that compete more directly with Apple. Apple calls these "reader" apps because they were originally an exception for Amazon's Kindle. Now, this rule offers exceptions to the IAP rule for apps that focus on magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, VoIP, access to professional databases, cloud storage, and more.
Therefore, other digital service providers wonder why their apps have to pay when others don't.
Apple didn't help its reasoning when it released a report earlier this week that outlined how its app store enabled $ 519 billion in trading last year. The company's goal was to prove how much business flows through the App Store without Apple receiving a 30% commission and to position the part of the market that Apple benefits from as a tiny sliver. But after the Hey debacle, this report only shows how Apple picked out one type of app-based business – digital services – as the one the App Store uses to make its money.
Apple's decision to waste its goodwill on the developer community the week before WWDC is strange. Heinemeier Hansson, a content marketing expert, easily defeated the $ 1.5 trillion company by taking advantage of Apple's reluctance to speak publicly against it. He set fire to the discussion, posted email screenshots for review on the App Store to serve as Apple's voice, and had the community bled.
Amid the Twitter outrage, antitrust commentary from major publishers added fuel to the fire, including Spotify, Match, and Epic Games.
You can find more information on this topic in the most important articles:
- theinformationsuperhighway's exclusive interview with the head of the iOS App Store, Phil Schiller. The managing director said Apple's position in the Hey app is unchanged and no changes to the app store rules are imminent. "You download the app and it doesn't work. We don't want that in the store," he argued. (Except, of course, at times when such an experience with Apple is perfectly fine, like in the case of "Reader" apps.) Schiller also said Basecamp could have avoided the problems if Hey had offered a free version with paid upgrades , or if it offered IAP at a higher price than on its own website.
- Daring Fireballs comments about the "weakness" of business vs. Consumer as justification for Apple's rejection of Hey. John Gruber points out that the line between a business app and a consumer app is too blurred. Apple allows some business applications to do without IAP if they sell business plans (e.g., seat plans) that include frequently updated feature sets that are not even iOS-specific. But who can say these days that an email service doesn't deserve the same way to log out of IAP to serve its own business user base? What if it updates its paid service with web-only features – why should Apple restrict this business too?
- Criticism of The Verge's App Store Policy. Nilay Patel sat down with Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Basecamp's CTO, David Heinemeier Hansson, to discuss Hey's plight for his podcast The Vergecast. Cicilline said Apple's fees were "exorbitant" and basically "highway robbery." He said Apple bullied developers by charging 30% of their business for access to its market – a decision that kills smaller developers. "If there was real competition in this market, it would not happen," he added. Dieter Bohn of The Verge also argued that Apple's interpretation and enforcement of the App Store guidelines is terrible.
- The adoption of the Appec payment policy by the CEO of Basecamp: Basecamp, the manufacturers of the Hey app, have issued a company declaration on the app store rules. The statement adds nothing new to the conversation that was not yet included in the Tweetstorm, other than the Basecamp response to Schiller's suggestions, which was something like 😝. The bottom line is that Hey wants to make the choice for his own company whether it needs the benefit of being able to attract users through the App Store or not. One way does not require IAP and the other.
- Vox & # 39; Recode is investigating the antitrust case against Apple. The article does not refer to Hey, but contains some of the other antitrust arguments that are used against Apple, including "sherlocking" behavior.
Apple has rejected Facebook's gaming app at least five times since February
The Hey debacle is just one of many examples of how Apple exercises its market power over rivals. It has also repeatedly denied Facebook access to gaming apps to its app store, citing the rule (Apple Store Review Guidelines, section 4.7) that apps whose main purpose is to sell other apps are not allowed this week The NYT announced.
Facebook's gaming app, launched on Android in April, is not just another app store. The app offers users a hub through which they can watch streamers play live, social networking tools and the opportunity to play casual games such as Zyngas Words with Friends or Chobolabs Thug Life. The latter is the point of contention, as Apple wants all games to be sold directly on the App Store, where it is possible to lower its earnings.
One of the iterations that Facebook tried was a version that looked almost exactly like Facebook games are represented in the main Facebook iOS app – a single, alphabetically sorted, unsorted list. The fact that this format has been rejected if Apple already allows it elsewhere is an indication that even Apple is not playing by its own rules.
Zynn is kicked from the app store
Zynn, the TikTok clone that topped the App Store charts in late May, was pulled out of Apple's App Store on Monday. Sensor Tower estimates that Zynn was downloaded 5 million times on iOS and 700,000 times on Google Play before it was removed.