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$99 Is Not Nothing

Apple has published a new “Principles and Practices” page regarding the App Store, which seems clearly in response to this month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing a class action lawsuit alleging the App Store to be an illegal monopoly to proceed. This bit caught my eye:

84% of apps are free, and developers pay nothing to Apple.

Like any fair marketplace, developers decide what they want to charge from a set of price tiers. We only collect a commission from developers when a digital good or service is delivered through an app. Here are some of the ways developers commonly make money on the App Store.

Any developer distributing an app through the App Store, free or paid, must pay Apple $99 per year for a developer account. You can build apps using Xcode free of charge, but you need a paid developer account to distribute them through the App Store.

Pretty good defense of the App Store overall, though, including a list of great third-party apps that compete directly against Apple’s own apps — camera, calendar, email, maps, etc. And of course, music. But one thing iOS users have complained about for 10 years now is that third-party apps can’t be set as the system-wide default in iOS. (They can on the Mac.) I’m not sure how tenable that is.

Update: There are exceptions to the $99 developer fee, for nonprofit organizations in five countries:

You can request to have the 99 USD annual membership fee waived if you’re a nonprofit organization, accredited educational institution, or government entity that will distribute only free apps on the App Store and is based in an eligible country. Apple will review your request and contact you to let you know whether your request is approved.

Eligible countries: Brazil, China, Japan, United Kingdom, United States.

It’d be interesting to know how many of these waivers have been granted.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019