Phil Schiller says no App Store policy changes coming after 'Hey' drama

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2020
Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller in an interview this week said the company has no plans to walk back scrutiny of Basecamp's Hey email app, noting the software must comply with all App Store guidelines in order to be offered on the storefront.




Speaking with TechCrunch, Schiller said Apple is not contemplating an exception for Hey despite Basecamp's pleas.

"Sitting here today, there's not any changes to the rules that we are considering," Schiller said. "There are many things that they could do to make the app work within the rules that we have. We would love for them to do that."

According to Basecamp founders David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried, Apple initially approved Hey on Monday, but later denied necessary updates because the app failed to offer an in-app purchase option for full access to platform services. As it stands, the Hey app can be downloaded from the App Store, though the software requires activation. Users must first pay a $99 fee on the Hey website, a subscription that is not offered in-app.

That Hey is non-functional out of the box is one reason why Apple requires developers to include in-app purchase options, according to Schiller.

"You download the app and it doesn't work, that's not what we want on the store," he said.

Apple does allow certain "reader" apps, or software that displays previously purchased outside content like videos and music, to operate without payment as long as developers don't urge users to conduct transactions outside of the App Store. Client apps marketed as business services, like Basecamp, are also allowed onto the App Store. Hey does not fit either benchmark.

"Email is not and has never been an exception included in this rule," Schiller said.

The decision to reject Hey's critical updates and threaten to pull it from the App Store has kicked up controversy ahead of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference slated to begin next week. Apple also faces an EU antitrust probe regarding overbearing App Store policies.

Hey's ordeal casts doubt on Apple's motives. Some argue the tech giant is not working to better the customer experience, but is instead chasing its customary cut of App Store purchases. Apple charges developers 15% to 30% depending on purchase type.

"I get why there's a question here," Schiller said. "But that's not what we're doing."

The executive argues App Store guidelines are in place to ensure consistency, which leads to consumer satisfaction.

Schiller noted a variety of fixes Hey can implement to fall in line with App Store rules, including offering users free and paid versions of the app, an RSS-style app that can be upgraded with an outside charge, and a free app that can be upgraded with an in-app purchase.

Hey does not appear to be backing down in the face of intense pressure from Apple.

"There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues," Heinemeier Hansson told Protocol in an interview this week.

Apple provided TechCrunch with the rejection letter it sent to Hey:
Hello Jason,

We are writing to let you know the appeal results for your app, HEY Email.

The App Review Board evaluated your app and determined that the rejection was valid. Your app does not comply with the App Store Review Guidelines detailed below. As you are aware, this is the reason your Hey Email app was rejected when it was submitted to the Mac App Store on June 11, 2020.

The HEY Email app is marketed as an email app on the App Store, but when users download your app, it does not work. Users cannot use the app to access email or perform any useful function until after they go to the Basecamp website for Hey Email and purchase a license to use the HEY Email app. This violates the following App Store Review Guidelines:

Guideline 3.1.1 - Business - Payments - In-App Purchase

If you want to unlock features or functionality within your app, you must use in-app purchase. Your app requires customers to purchase content, subscriptions, or features outside of the app, but those items are not available as in-app purchases within the app as required by the App Store Review Guidelines.

Guideline 3.1.3(a) - Business - Payments - "Reader" Apps

Reader apps may allow users to access previously purchased content and content subscriptions. Your mail app is not one of the content types allowed under this guideline for "Reader" apps (specifically: magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music, video, access to professional databases, VOIP, cloud storage, or approved services such as classroom management apps). Therefore, customers must be given the option to purchase access to features or functionality in your app using in-app purchase.

Guideline 3.1.3(b) - Business - Payments - Multiplatform Services

Apps that operate services across multiple platforms may allow users to access content, subscriptions, or features they have acquired in your app on other platforms or on your website, provided those items are also available as in-app purchases within the app. Your HEY Email app does not offer access to content, subscriptions, or features as in-app purchases within the app. In fact, the app does not function as an email app or for any purpose until the user goes to the Basecamp Hey Email website to start a free trial or purchase a separate license to use the app for its intended purpose.

Next Steps

To resolve this issue, please revise your app such that it does not violate any of the App Store Review Guidelines and terms.

There are a number of ways that you could revise your app or service to adhere to the App Store Review Guidelines. Customers who have previously purchased access to content, subscriptions, or features elsewhere may continue to access these items in your app, as long as new iOS customers are given the option to purchase access using in-app purchase as required by the App Store Review Guidelines.

If you would prefer not to offer users the option of in-app purchases, you could consider having the app function as marketed -- an email client that works with standard IMAP and POP email accounts, where customers can optionally configure the Hey Email service as their preferred email service provider. This would allow the app to function as an email client without requiring an additional payment to use its features and functionality. Under this approach, what you sell on your website is clearly an email service separate from the function of your app as distributed on the App Store.

We are here as a resource as you explore these or other ideas to bring the Hey Email app within compliance of the App Store Review Guidelines and terms.

Thank you for being an iOS app developer. We understand that Basecamp has developed a number of apps and many subsequent versions for the App Store for many years, and that the App Store has distributed millions of these apps to iOS users. These apps do not offer in-app purchase -- and, consequently, have not contributed any revenue to the App Store over the last eight years. We are happy to continue to support you in your app business and offer you the solutions to provide your services for free -- so long as you follow and respect the same App Store Review Guidelines and terms that all developers must follow.

We hope to assist you in offering the Hey Email app on the App Store.

Sincerely,

App Review Board

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    Based on what I see in this article, I have to side with Apple. If the app does nothing unless you pay, then it falls under the category of “an app with no function”. If it’s an email app, then it should be able to be used as such. Like the Outlook app. It’s able to use any email service, not just the 365 provider. So in the case of Hey, yeah, they need to make adjustments. 
    repressthiskurai_kagegeorgie01qwerty52svanstromjeffharrisrandominternetpersonjdb8167jony0cat52
  • Reply 2 of 52
    If you don’t like it, then develop solely for android. If you want your product in Apple’s App Store, then you follow the rules, like everyone else. 
    mac_dogtrashman69qwerty52svanstromjeffharrisjdb8167jony0cat52
  • Reply 3 of 52
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,081member
    An app that doesn’t work after downlading is the most common reason of furious user comments. The users always expect immediate functionality since they are allowed to download something: “If I must buy it to make it functional then sell it to me right now, or don’t waste my time and my expensive bandwith!” Even the most honest and legitimate demo / limited versions are not tolerated by users, just look at the user comments. 
    edited June 2020 mac_dogqwerty52svanstrombeowulfschmidtjony0cat52
  • Reply 4 of 52
    roakeroake Posts: 762member
    Are the executives all millennials or something?

    I don’t get how they feel entitled to be exempted from the rules.

    There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues,” seems to translate to, “There is never in a million years a way that I am letting Apple Pay us all the money we would earn from having the App available for iOS.”

    edited June 2020 mac_doggeorgie01qwerty52svanstromjeffharrisbeowulfschmidturaharajdb8167jony0cat52
  • Reply 5 of 52
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 393member
    roake said:
    Are the executives all millennials or something?

    I don’t get how they feel entitled to be exempted from the rules.

    “There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues,” seems to translate to, “There is never in a million years a way that I am letting Apple Pay us all the money we would earn from having the App available for iOS.”

    The sense of entitlement is embarrassing for Basecamp. ‘Hey Apple, we demand you let us use your development tools and app distribution which provides security and quality for users of your platform and which has made many developers a ton of money, but I don’t want to pay you for it because I deserve to use your services for free’.

    It reminds me of a certain political group which seems to have no meaningful understanding of where money comes from, who think the government just ’has’ it. They do not realise that the people who are actually creating opportunities for themselves and others to make the money need incentives to do that.
    qwerty52jeffharrisinTIMidatorjony0SpamSandwichcat52
  • Reply 6 of 52
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    You install the app, and it doesn't do anything until you go somewhere else?

    Wow.

    I think Apple's doing him a favour by keeping it off the site.

    Anyway, he has a choice. He should show the courage of his convictions and just remove the app from the store altogether, and then just rely on the revenues from the Google store.

    Oh, hang on …



    So he may have similar trouble there.


    jeffharrisstevemebslkrupproundaboutnowjony0cat52netrox
  • Reply 7 of 52
    svanstromsvanstrom Posts: 702member
    georgie01 said:
    roake said:
    Are the executives all millennials or something?

    I don’t get how they feel entitled to be exempted from the rules.

    “There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues,” seems to translate to, “There is never in a million years a way that I am letting Apple Pay us all the money we would earn from having the App available for iOS.”

    The sense of entitlement is embarrassing for Basecamp. ‘Hey Apple, we demand you let us use your development tools and app distribution which provides security and quality for users of your platform and which has made many developers a ton of money, but I don’t want to pay you for it because I deserve to use your services for free’.

    It reminds me of a certain political group which seems to have no meaningful understanding of where money comes from, who think the government just ’has’ it. They do not realise that the people who are actually creating opportunities for themselves and others to make the money need incentives to do that.
    Exactly. Incentives like future staff with an education, good health, easily can travel to work, can focus on doing a good job because good childcare being available. You know, a good functioning society providing the stability needed for creative ideas to grow into great businesses.
    jeffharriselijahglkrupproundaboutnowjony0
  • Reply 8 of 52
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    svanstrom said:
    georgie01 said:
    roake said:
    Are the executives all millennials or something?

    I don’t get how they feel entitled to be exempted from the rules.

    “There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues,” seems to translate to, “There is never in a million years a way that I am letting Apple Pay us all the money we would earn from having the App available for iOS.”

    The sense of entitlement is embarrassing for Basecamp. ‘Hey Apple, we demand you let us use your development tools and app distribution which provides security and quality for users of your platform and which has made many developers a ton of money, but I don’t want to pay you for it because I deserve to use your services for free’.

    It reminds me of a certain political group which seems to have no meaningful understanding of where money comes from, who think the government just ’has’ it. They do not realise that the people who are actually creating opportunities for themselves and others to make the money need incentives to do that.
    Exactly. Incentives like future staff with an education, good health, easily can travel to work, can focus on doing a good job because good childcare being available. You know, a good functioning society providing the stability needed for creative ideas to grow into great businesses.

    Yes, my reason for supporting social care is entirely selfish. 

    If people aren't starving to death on the streets, then they're less likely to try to breaking into my house.
    jony0
  • Reply 9 of 52
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,724member
    The Gmail app doesn't function unless you sign up to Gmail.  Apple aren't demanding 30% of Google revenues from the ads they deliver from privacy scraping your mailbox though.

    Hey should allow sign up to the free trial through the app, then send the user an email to subscribe on the website a few days before the trial is up.
    elijahghammeroftruthjony0
  • Reply 10 of 52
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 654member
    Schiller would seem to be misinformed. Lots of consumer apps don’t work when you download them. Netflix, Hulu, Gmail etc come to mind. Also the Amazon app - you can add things to your cart and then leave the app and pay (it also doesn’t work till you login). Maybe Hey needs to sell a $99 login on their site that you buy and then use. 30% seems a steep price to pay but so is the expectation that it should just be free and/or unmoderated (the chrome issues show the wisdom in some sort of walls around the garden though even there Apple has has its own failures). In the end it is the consumer who stands to lose either by not being able to use an app as it is pulled or because the dev charges more to cover the fees or they have to go through a convoluted way to pay for the app. 
  • Reply 11 of 52
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 353member
    Basecamp and it’s CEO are pathetic. He has to be one of the biggest complainers and crybabies our there and he comes across as a very angry person using his limited fame as a bully pulpit. 

    For those who do not remember he was the one outraged his wife getting a smaller credit line on the AppleCard than him. Lots of yelling but no proof discrimination was made. If he wanted to prove his point let’s see their credit scores and debt load. I suspect we will find out it was justified. 
    jdb8167jony0cat52
  • Reply 12 of 52
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,216member
    crowley said:
    The Gmail app doesn't function unless you sign up to Gmail.  Apple aren't demanding 30% of Google revenues from the ads they deliver from privacy scraping your mailbox though.

    Hey should allow sign up to the free trial through the app, then send the user an email to subscribe on the website a few days before the trial is up.

    You aren't required to pay $99.00 up front to use Gmail either... That changes the comparison a bit..

    Users must first pay a $99 fee on the Hey website, a subscription that is not offered in-app.

    sacto joejony0
  • Reply 13 of 52
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,311member
    jcs2305 said:
    crowley said:
    The Gmail app doesn't function unless you sign up to Gmail.  Apple aren't demanding 30% of Google revenues from the ads they deliver from privacy scraping your mailbox though.

    Hey should allow sign up to the free trial through the app, then send the user an email to subscribe on the website a few days before the trial is up.

    You aren't required to pay $99.00 up front to use Gmail either... That changes the comparison a bit..

    Users must first pay a $99 fee on the Hey website, a subscription that is not offered in-app.

    You're required to pay a fee before Netflix works though, and even though they have no IAP for the subscription that's apparently ok. Probably because Apple's removal of Netflix for not giving them 30% would cause uproar and Apple would look stupid, even if it is Netflix not following the rules. I have no idea why there are so many people here who would defend Apple to the ends of the Earth no matter what they did, makes no sense that they're so butthurt that the most valuable company in the world may be overcharging fees in the same way they overcharge for their Macs. It's not like they're exactly struggling to survive, whereas a lot of devs probably are. The arrogance of Apple as of late is really beginning to irk me.
    edited June 2020
  • Reply 14 of 52
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,311member

    bulk001 said:
    Schiller would seem to be misinformed.
     "Can't innovate anymore my ass"
    lkruppbulk001
  • Reply 15 of 52
    uraharaurahara Posts: 585member
    jimh2 said:
    Basecamp and it’s CEO are pathetic. He has to be one of the biggest complainers and crybabies our there and he comes across as a very angry person using his limited fame as a bully pulpit. 

    For those who do not remember he was the one outraged his wife getting a smaller credit line on the AppleCard than him. Lots of yelling but no proof discrimination was made. If he wanted to prove his point let’s see their credit scores and debt load. I suspect we will find out it was justified. 
    I remember that story about AppleCard. But I didn’t know that was also him.
    He is truly pathetic.

    I lost all respect for Basecamp and its creators. 
    sacto joejony0cat52
  • Reply 16 of 52
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    What controversy? Some company which has a loser of a product made a go of it to gain attention and now they’ll be forgotten. No one cares.
    jony0cat52
  • Reply 17 of 52
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,724member
    jcs2305 said:
    crowley said:
    The Gmail app doesn't function unless you sign up to Gmail.  Apple aren't demanding 30% of Google revenues from the ads they deliver from privacy scraping your mailbox though.

    Hey should allow sign up to the free trial through the app, then send the user an email to subscribe on the website a few days before the trial is up.

    You aren't required to pay $99.00 up front to use Gmail either... That changes the comparison a bit..

    Users must first pay a $99 fee on the Hey website, a subscription that is not offered in-app.

    It changes the comparison in that it makes Apple’s argument look dumb. Lots of email accounts require subscription fees, but Apple don’t demand a cut when you add them to Mail.  And For a privacy focussed company they’re curiously silent about the privacy costs of using apps and services of privacy-threatening rivals.

    Regarding Hey, it’s an email app, you don’t require the app to use the service and there is no reason Apple should have any claim to the subscription fee. They’re just being dicks.

    I think Basecamp could probably tweak the app start up to circumvent the rules, but they shouldn’t have to because the rules are straight up dumb. 
    elijahgbulk001
  • Reply 18 of 52
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 654member
    jcs2305 said:
    crowley said:
    The Gmail app doesn't function unless you sign up to Gmail.  Apple aren't demanding 30% of Google revenues from the ads they deliver from privacy scraping your mailbox though.

    Hey should allow sign up to the free trial through the app, then send the user an email to subscribe on the website a few days before the trial is up.

    You aren't required to pay $99.00 up front to use Gmail either... That changes the comparison a bit..

    Users must first pay a $99 fee on the Hey website, a subscription that is not offered in-app.

    That is not Schiller’s argument. He implies when you download an app it should just work  Lots of apps don’t work this way. 
    elijahg
  • Reply 19 of 52
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,084member
    It’s a double edged sword. There were apps that charged you over $99 and they were crap, but Apple got its 30%. Is that ok? Especially if they mislead you into thinking the app was something it’s not?

    if you have been on the iOS platform from the beginning, you have seen how Apple’s 30% cut was beneficial to keep the platform going and made it more popular than android. Now, Apple doesn’t really need 30% and should really have some public forums during WWDC to discuss why they should still charge 30% and developers who attend the forum could discuss why changing the percentage would benefit everyone. 

    That would be the only way Apple would be receptive to changing how they do things in the App Store. 
    elijahgbulk001
  • Reply 20 of 52
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 338member

    Hey is a fancy email app do you want it? It’s $99 and Hey gives you fancy organization features and you can go through your email fast and scroll it like instagram, you know you want it! Ha ha 

    It’s a publicity stunt, great way to launch a new service. I think it’s working for them. They will pay the fee gladly once customers come knocking. Good for them! 

    You should read all the fake 5 star reviews also! Ha ha people who actually download and try using, can’t do anything. 

    edited June 2020 svanstromjdb8167
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