Developers Union urges Apple to allow free app trials, make it easier to earn a living

Posted:
in iPhone edited May 18
On Friday a fledgling group calling itself the Developers Union published an open letter to Apple, calling on the company to both expand free app trials and provide developers a livable revenue cut from the App Store.




The group is being led by four people: Jake Schumacher, the director of "App: The Human Story," developers Roger Odgen and Loren Morris, and most notably Brent Simmons, responsible for popular apps like NetNewsWire and MarsEdit. Though the Union doesn't yet have a strategy for voting, collective bargaining, or any dues, it's hoping to recruit 1,000 people this week and reach 20,000 by early June, when Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference kicks off.

Apple already permits free app trials, but only for subscription services like HBO Now. Enabling trials for all apps could help entice shoppers without making them pay for an unknown quantity.

"Apple owns the App Store. Apple shapes its economics," Simmons told AppleInsider. "Those economics could give indies a better chance at making great apps that last -- and free trials would be a big step forward. Not the only step, but an important one."

On the revenue front, the Union said it wants to "advocate for a more reasonable revenue cut." Apple currently takes a 30 percent cut from most App Store transactions, the exception being subscriptions, in which case the cut can drop to 15 percent if a customer stays active long enough.

App Store economics are said to primarily favor games with repeatable in-app purchases. Apps with a one-time fee can fall by the wayside, especially since their creators may not have a dedicated team.

Apple will likely be resistant to any calls to share more App Store revenue, since that would eat into the company's skyrocketing services segment. At the same it could face pressure triggered by changes at the Microsoft Store, where later this year, 85 percent of non-gaming revenue will go to developers. For titles discovered through a third-party app or webpage, developers will get to keep 95 percent.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 90
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member
    Apple hosts the servers and provides billing. It also checks apps to (hopefully) make sure they are abiding by the rules, which helps all users. Isn’t that worth 30%? If developers had to do all of this on their own (if App Store was open) I bet the vast majority would never even get more than a handful of downloads. 
    bb-15MisterKitwizard69viclauyycmac_dogwatto_cobraanton zuykov
  • Reply 2 of 90
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    SpamSandwichcornchip
  • Reply 3 of 90
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,237member
    rob53 said:
    Apple hosts the servers and provides billing. It also checks apps to (hopefully) make sure they are abiding by the rules, which helps all users. Isn’t that worth 30%? If developers had to do all of this on their own (if App Store was open) I bet the vast majority would never even get more than a handful of downloads. 
    Microsoft just changed their policies. Developers get 95% if user made purchase via deep link and 85% if Microsoft assisted in the sale in any way. Of course there’s a huge app gap between Windows 10 and iOS/Android and Microsoft is trying to entice developers with these changes.

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsofts-windows-10-sweetener-new-deal-gives-devs-bigger-cut-of-app-store-sales/

    I don’t see Apple changing their 30% cut or upping their free cloud storage from 5GB as these are the things driving “services” revenue increases. I think some of these game IAP are awful and not anything to brag about but so long as it increases Apple’s “services” revenues the company will continue to push them.
    jbdragonksecanton zuykov
  • Reply 4 of 90
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,105member
    rob53 said:
    Apple hosts the servers and provides billing. It also checks apps to (hopefully) make sure they are abiding by the rules, which helps all users. Isn’t that worth 30%? If developers had to do all of this on their own (if App Store was open) I bet the vast majority would never even get more than a handful of downloads. 
    Prior to the Mac App Store there were, probably still are, other payment and download services. Not that’s it too onerous for large devs  to do this either. 

    The mac Mac App Store might be good for discoverability if featured. 
  • Reply 5 of 90
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,105member
    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?

    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    Me. I need apps that Apple don’t supply. Apple also needs developers to supply those apps. That’s why they have SDKs and court developers at the WWDC. 
    brertechnunzy
  • Reply 6 of 90
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,237member
    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    Right, because Apple doesn’t need developers. What’s so wrong with offering trials? I’d love to be able to try an app and see if I like it before I buy it. I’d love to know how indie developers are doing on the App Store. I’ll bet most of Apple’s payouts are going to large companies or game developers with stupid IAP.

    I’m curious, what do eBay and Amazon charge to sell things on their website? Is it comparable to Apple’s 30%?
  • Reply 7 of 90
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,329member
    If a developer can't make a living at 70%, they're not going to be able to make a living at 85%.   If these developers were selling physical software via physical retail as everyone once had to do and going through a distributor, they'd wind up with around 30% and they'd have the cost of manufacturing, because wholesale was about 50% of list and the software distributors also took their cut.  

    IMO, the issue isn't the revenue split.   The issue is discoverability.   While there's no real solution unless Apple selected apps (and then everyone would scream bloody murder if their apps weren't chosen), there are simply too many apps in the App Store and the whole thing becomes self-fulfilling because the apps that sell are the ones that get highlighted and then they sell more because they're highlighted.    

    The real problem is that too many developers are making apps that no one needs, either because the app doesn't fulfill a need or because there are already 25 other apps just like it.  
    bb-15chasmuraharawatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 8 of 90
    The App Store isn't the only way for a developer to advertise the app. If their app is being "crowded out" in the App Store, perhaps they could, you know, advertise? Buy some ads on web sites, blogs, etc. It used to be that developers had to know how to sell their product, as well as create it.
    chasmwatto_cobraanton zuykovcornchip
  • Reply 9 of 90
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    I'm all for the free app trials, but the cut Apple gets seems fair and is much better than what existed before the iPhone and its App Store hit the market.

    That said, the 30% cut may not be ideal today as it was back in 2008 now that the platform is mature. That isn't to say that is should be lower than 30%, but that the optimal cut could be higher or lower than 30%. Whatever can strengthen the platform is likely what is best for Apple and their customers.
    MplsPwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 90
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    asdasd said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple hosts the servers and provides billing. It also checks apps to (hopefully) make sure they are abiding by the rules, which helps all users. Isn’t that worth 30%? If developers had to do all of this on their own (if App Store was open) I bet the vast majority would never even get more than a handful of downloads. 
    Prior to the Mac App Store there were, probably still are, other payment and download services. Not that’s it too onerous for large devs  to do this either. 

    The mac Mac App Store might be good for discoverability if featured. 
    If Apple wants Mac App Store to be the best for its customers, it should make Mac impossible to sideload with malware. It works great for iPhone. Security is paramount to the user experience.
    watto_cobraanton zuykov
  • Reply 11 of 90
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    Right, because Apple doesn’t need developers. What’s so wrong with offering trials? I’d love to be able to try an app and see if I like it before I buy it. I’d love to know how indie developers are doing on the App Store. I’ll bet most of Apple’s payouts are going to large companies or game developers with stupid IAP.

    I’m curious, what do eBay and Amazon charge to sell things on their website? Is it comparable to Apple’s 30%?
    Apple doesn't allow free trials. And they know why. Believe me, Apple knows why.
    bb-15
  • Reply 12 of 90
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    zoetmb said:
    If a developer can't make a living at 70%, they're not going to be able to make a living at 85%.   If these developers were selling physical software via physical retail as everyone once had to do and going through a distributor, they'd wind up with around 30% and they'd have the cost of manufacturing, because wholesale was about 50% of list and the software distributors also took their cut.  

    IMO, the issue isn't the revenue split.   The issue is discoverability.   While there's no real solution unless Apple selected apps (and then everyone would scream bloody murder if their apps weren't chosen), there are simply too many apps in the App Store and the whole thing becomes self-fulfilling because the apps that sell are the ones that get highlighted and then they sell more because they're highlighted.    

    The real problem is that too many developers are making apps that no one needs, either because the app doesn't fulfill a need or because there are already 25 other apps just like it.  
    Apple curates App Store like a museum is curated. No app is allows unless  it meets the standards for curation.
    bb-15
  • Reply 13 of 90
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 709member
    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    Right, because Apple doesn’t need developers. What’s so wrong with offering trials? I’d love to be able to try an app and see if I like it before I buy it. I’d love to know how indie developers are doing on the App Store. I’ll bet most of Apple’s payouts are going to large companies or game developers with stupid IAP.

    I’m curious, what do eBay and Amazon charge to sell things on their website? Is it comparable to Apple’s 30%?
    In physical stores it used to be 40%
    edited May 18
  • Reply 14 of 90
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,732member
    So, do what everybody else does. Offer a free game with an in-app purchase to get the whole magilla.
    HeliBumuraharawatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 90
    IreneWIreneW Posts: 112member
    nunzy said:
    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    Right, because Apple doesn’t need developers. What’s so wrong with offering trials? I’d love to be able to try an app and see if I like it before I buy it. I’d love to know how indie developers are doing on the App Store. I’ll bet most of Apple’s payouts are going to large companies or game developers with stupid IAP.

    I’m curious, what do eBay and Amazon charge to sell things on their website? Is it comparable to Apple’s 30%?
    Apple doesn't allow free trials. And they know why. Believe me, Apple knows why.
    And you know this why? Because Apple can do no wrong?
    nunzy
  • Reply 16 of 90
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,237member
    nunzy said:
    Who do they think they are? If Apple is so horrible, then they can simply go somewhere else. Who needs 'em?
    Right, because Apple doesn’t need developers. What’s so wrong with offering trials? I’d love to be able to try an app and see if I like it before I buy it. I’d love to know how indie developers are doing on the App Store. I’ll bet most of Apple’s payouts are going to large companies or game developers with stupid IAP.

    I’m curious, what do eBay and Amazon charge to sell things on their website? Is it comparable to Apple’s 30%?
    In physical stores it used to be 40%
    You can’t really compare physical and digital stores.
  • Reply 17 of 90
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,237member
    Soli said:
    I'm all for the free app trials, but the cut Apple gets seems fair and is much better than what existed before the iPhone and its App Store hit the market.

    That said, the 30% cut may not be ideal today as it was back in 2008 now that the platform is mature. That isn't to say that is should be lower than 30%, but that the optimal cut could be higher or lower than 30%. Whatever can strengthen the platform is likely what is best for Apple and their customers.
    Why do you think the optimal cut might need to be greater than 30%? IMO a big issue with the AppStore is most of the money going to a small number of developers.
  • Reply 18 of 90
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member
    asdasd said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple hosts the servers and provides billing. It also checks apps to (hopefully) make sure they are abiding by the rules, which helps all users. Isn’t that worth 30%? If developers had to do all of this on their own (if App Store was open) I bet the vast majority would never even get more than a handful of downloads. 
    Prior to the Mac App Store there were, probably still are, other payment and download services. Not that’s it too onerous for large devs  to do this either. 

    The mac Mac App Store might be good for discoverability if featured. 
    This article assumes the discussion is about the iOS App Store not the macOS App Store. You can still supply macOS apps without going through the App Store, you just need an official developer ID and they should install. These apps can be hosted on the website belonging to the developer and Apple doesn’t get anything. Thus isn’t the same with the iOS App Store where no side loading is allowed except when using managed iOS devices but even these require some monitoring by Apple. This is mainly done for corporate and government users. 

    The bottom line is there’s a value added benefit to using any of Apple’s services but if a developer doesn’t want to they can always change platforms. If you program for Microsoft devices you can’t run them on Apple devices as is so you’re stuck with windows. 
  • Reply 19 of 90
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,248member
    As a software for 30+ years, these "developers" are an embarrassment.  They do not represent me, or countless others that live in what is generally known as "Reality".

    They are more than welcome to create software to sell independently.  Go right ahead.  Code the software, set up a website to sell it, hire the people to run it, handle billing, merchant accounts, fraud, hire a security team to make sure your website doesn't get hacked and inject malware/ransomware/viruses into your app binaries, and hire a marketing person/team to actually sell your product.

    And don't forget to maybe create physical copies to sell in retail stores that no one visits anymore.

    Morons.  

    30% is a BARGAIN considering what Apple does by handling everything, freeing the developer to focus on their product.  I'll bet these are 20-something whiners that have zero clue what it takes to run an actual business.  It's because of ecosystems like Apple's App Store that gives the Joe-developer access to literally hundreds of MILLIONS of potential customers all over the world.  

    Face it... if you can't make a living on 70% of the revenue, then you're not going to make that living on anything higher.  In business-speak, it means your "app" is crap.  

    Unbelievable the arrogance that people like these have.  Last time I checked, Android doesn't have those "limitations".  They're more than welcome to give Apple the finger and go elsewhere.  Oh yeah.. I forgot.. no one pays for Android apps.  smh. 
    rob53mwhitewatto_cobracornchip
  • Reply 20 of 90
    Today, I'm forming the AI Readers Union.  I hope you will all join me.  Today we ask AI to give back 25% of the ad revenue to the readers.  It should be possible to make a living wage just reading AI all day.  After this is provided, we'll make other demands.  This non-union union is a community, so share your ideas for what's next.
    SpamSandwichmwhitetallest skilcornchip
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