Apple pressures email app 'Hey' to integrate in-app purchase option [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2020
Apple has halted updates for and is threatening to remove new iOS email client Hey because it doesn't offer the ability for customers to purchase subscriptions from within the app.

Credit: Hey
Credit: Hey


Hey, which launched on Monday, was developed by the creators of Basecamp to be a streamlined email service on both web and mobile. Access is priced at $99 a year, but customers must purchase that subscription outside of the App Store.

The lack of an option to buy a subscription -- which keeps Apple from getting its 30% cut -- is at the heart of the dustup between its developers and Apple, Basecamp co-founder and CTO David Heinemeier Hansson said.

Wow. I'm literally stunned. Apple just doubled down on their rejection of HEY's ability to provide bug fixes and new features, unless we submit to their outrageous demand of 15-30% of our revenue. Even worse: We're told that unless we comply, they'll REMOVE THE APP.

-- DHH (@dhh)


According to Protocol, Apple originally approved version 1.0 of the app but rejected two new versions that contained bug fixes. That has essentially halted Hey's ability to issue updates to its app.

Instead of offering an in-app purchase option, Hey users must sign up for the subscription on the company's website and then log in through the app. That allows Hey to avoid paying Apple the 15 to 30% cut of subscription costs. App Store reviewers told Hey's developers that the app violated section 3.1.1 of Apple's guidelines, which states that developers are required to use Apple's in-app purchase system for digital goods or services.

As Heinemeier Hansson went on to explain, Apple's App Store team also said that they will remove the app unless an in-app purchase option is introduced. He added that Apple doesn't regard Hey as a "Reader" app, which are allowed to skirt the in-app subscription requirements.

According to section 3.1.3 of Apple's guidelines, "Reader" apps allow users to "access previously purchased content or content subscriptions" as long as apps don't persuade or point iOS users toward a purchasing method outside of the App Store. That provision of the guidelines is what allows popular apps like Netflix and Spotify to avoid offering in-app purchases. But although those apps don't point users toward a separate sign-up page, neither does Hey.

Despite the threat of removal, Basecamp's creators have no intention of backing down. Heinemeier Hansson told Protocol that "there is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues."

The battle between Hey and Apple comes on the heels of the launch of an official European Commission antitrust probe into Apple's App Store and Apple Pay practices. That formal investigation will take a look at Apple's role as a "gatekeeper" of third-party apps on its platforms while offering potentially competing apps, such as iCloud or Apple Music.

Apple has come under fire in the past for alleged anticompetitive practices. Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek has been an outspoken critic of the company's App Store policies, and even lodged a formal complaint with the EU.

The Spotify CEO appears to have since softened his stance in light of Apple taking steps to "open up" it platforms.

Apple is also facing a big tech investigation in the U.S., with matters of interest ranging from App Store policy to the "Sherlocking" of third-party software features. CEO Tim Cook has been asked to testify on behalf of the company.

Coincidentally, Heinemeier Hansson called attention to Apple's iron fist App Store tactics in testimony to the House Antitrust Committee earlier this year.

The seemingly heavy-handed application of App Store guidelines runs counter to Apple's attempts to brand itself as a friend to all developers. As part of an ongoing public relations campaign, the tech giant this week touted its App Store ecosystem as generating half a trillion dollars in commerce during 2019.

"In a challenging and unsettled time, the App Store provides enduring opportunities for entrepreneurship, health and well-being, education, and job creation, helping people adapt quickly to a changing world," Cook said in an accompanying statement.

Update: Apple in a statement to Protocol said Hey's initial approval was a mistake. There appears to have been some confusion around the client app and its intended audience. Apple allows client apps marketed as business services, like Basecamp, onto the App Store, but but does not allow the same for consumer apps like Hey.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    SydNaderutter
  • Reply 2 of 55
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,840member
    jgreg728 said:
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    So they should both enforce their policies and not enforce their policies? 
    lolliverrepressthisiOSDevSWEchasmaderutteruraharamike1mwhiteITGUYINSDmagman1979
  • Reply 3 of 55
    djfriardjfriar Posts: 26member
    jgreg728 said:
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    No. No No No. No! The locked down nature of iOS is paramount to its security and appeal. If I want to have the wild, wild west of app loading I’d use Android. I don’t. Stop trying to make iOS like Android. Having such a tightly integrated platform is what makes Apple’s ecosystem work so well. It’s why I switched form Windows a decade ago, and its why I choose to use iOS and why I chose to primarily develop for iOS and macOS. This insane idea that they need to break that to let shitty apps made by devs who just want an easy way in or to bypass a cost of business that has been around for 10 years is not the correct path forward.

    As for Hey specifically, from reading the Verge article about what they are doing With the app, I actually do think Apple is in the wrong here and it should be considered a Reader style app. The subscription isn’t specific to iOS and they aren’t advertising it in iOS, so it is exactly the same as Netflix. It appears to be a new email address as well, so it is even more like a reader app.
    edited June 2020 Anilu_777lkruppDancingMonkeyslolliverOferjrcrepressthisRayz2016chasmaderutter
  • Reply 4 of 55
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 285member
    My first reaction was $99 a year?!?! And they call Apple gougers? I won’t be downloading Hey at all. That’s ridiculous. 
    macpluspluslolliverronnrepressthisRayz2016rotateleftbytechasmaderutteruraharaDogperson
  • Reply 5 of 55
    jgreg728 said:
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    You are looking at it through a very binary lens. Apple has become so huge now and controls an entire ecosystem. This is not just a commercial company anymore; they effectively decide what you consume, how you do it, what they deem to be acceptable and what not. They have become a world power. 

    That is not freedom of trade anymore; this is robbery of it. Ironically going against the free market system that made Apple who they have become today.

    The EU commission, since the USA is failing on this front (and many other fronts), should force Apple to allow for third party stores on their platform, enforce ‘default apps’ to combat unfair 1st versus 3rd party app competition, deliver open software APIs, and the commission should write laws that combats and supersedes these crazy contractual obligations - it’s borderline fascism. 
    elijahgOferavon b7
  • Reply 6 of 55
    FatmanFatman Posts: 513member
    Does Basecamp want special treatment? LOL Go sell your software on Android - the larger installed base and stop complaining ... oh wait Android users don’t buy anything. Hey schmuck just pay Apple’s fee and try not to cheat the system. Apple spends billions developing and maintaining the hardware,software and infrastructure so companies like yours can (easily) use Apple’s free dev tools, promote their app ... and make a lot of money. As for Basecamp CEO, he’s arrogant. Update your lame project management software it hasn’t changed in a decade - and you refuse to add features people want. Good luck with that model.
    edited June 2020 lolliverjrcAnilu_777repressthischasmaderutteruraharaDogpersongeorgie01magman1979
  • Reply 7 of 55
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,091member
    He sells the app elsewhere then tries to use the AppStore as a free repository without paying anything. No law in the world would endorse such a behavior. If you want to sell a functionality outside the AppStore then build a web app.
    edited June 2020 Anilu_777repressthisaderutterDogpersongeorgie01magman1979
  • Reply 8 of 55
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,633member
    jgreg728 said:
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    You are looking at it through a very binary lens. Apple has become so huge now and controls an entire ecosystem. This is not just a commercial company anymore; they effectively decide what you consume, how you do it, what they deem to be acceptable and what not. They have become a world power. 

    That is not freedom of trade anymore; this is robbery of it. Ironically going against the free market system that made Apple who they have become today.

    The EU commission, since the USA is failing on this front (and many other fronts), should force Apple to allow for third party stores on their platform, enforce ‘default apps’ to combat unfair 1st versus 3rd party app competition, deliver open software APIs, and the commission should write laws that combats and supersedes these crazy contractual obligations - it’s borderline fascism. 
    NO, Apple does not effectively control what you consume, how you do it, or what they deem acceptable or not. You chose, of your own free will, to use the platform Apple has created. No one twisted your arm to do so, you volunteered to. You have every ability to control what you consume, how you consume it, and what you deem acceptable or not. You have many options outside Apple's ecosystem yet you choose to stay within the platform and bitch about it. If you disagree with Apple's policies the door is before you, step through it to freedom. Why haven't you? I really, really don't understand your ilk. Why are you unwilling to let the marketplace decide what Apple does? If enough people leave the platform because of what you call fascism (an amazingly ignorant premise on your part, by the way) the market will punish Apple. But the market isn't doing that is it and you want to force Apple to do something when you have ability to leave it behind. How dare you when your path is before you. Switch to Android and all the complaints you have about Apple vanish. And I'll bet you have no intention of doing so, do you. Pathetic.
    edited June 2020 macplusplusronnjrcrepressthisRayz2016chasmuraharaDogpersonbeeble42georgie01
  • Reply 9 of 55
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 222member
    This isn’t Android. I pay for the security of the service, customer service, the tight integration of software and hardware and the experience. I’ve never owned an Android phone nor do I plan own it. Sorry. I digress. 

    This guy knows that people with Apple spend money and just wants the free repository and exposure without paying. Those hosting servers ain’t going to pay for themselves. Rather they could if people stop trying to get over. 
    lolliverjrcAnilu_777repressthisaderutteruraharaDogpersongeorgie01
  • Reply 10 of 55
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,506member
    And this kind of thing is why the EU is investigating Apple for antitrust violations.
    Oferprismaticslkrupp
  • Reply 11 of 55
    pujones1pujones1 Posts: 222member
    elijahg said:
    And this kind of thing is why the EU is investigating Apple for antitrust violations.
    You’re absolutely right. Doesn’t matter if you should pay for the hosting service or the backend. Let me (Hey) advertise in your yard and other peoples’ yard but not give you anything for it. 

    Apple is the big bad monopoly nowadays. They built this thing from the ground up. It’s like some agency forcing Walmart to put Kroger stuff in their food department for free. Walmart should have the right to set the terms of store and if Kroger doesn’t like they should kick rocks. 

    It’s the sense of entitlement that kills me with this guy. 
    Anilu_777repressthisRayz2016uraharaDogpersonbeeble42georgie01jdb8167magman1979
  • Reply 12 of 55
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    Developers airing their dirty laundry in public for attention or to shame Apple should be kicked out of the App Store permanently. All developers should sign an NDA and a legal agreement to settle disputes privately first.
    Anilu_777aderutteruraharaDogpersonmike1magman1979lkrupp
  • Reply 13 of 55
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,506member
    pujones1 said:
    elijahg said:
    And this kind of thing is why the EU is investigating Apple for antitrust violations.
    You’re absolutely right. Doesn’t matter if you should pay for the hosting service or the backend. Let me (Hey) advertise in your yard and other peoples’ yard but not give you anything for it. 

    Apple is the big bad monopoly nowadays. They built this thing from the ground up. It’s like some agency forcing Walmart to put Kroger stuff in their food department for free. Walmart should have the right to set the terms of store and if Kroger doesn’t like they should kick rocks. 

    It’s the sense of entitlement that kills me with this guy. 
    Yeah so when you buy an iPad from Walmart, Apple should pay royalties to Warmart for every purchase the customer makes on that iPad, because the iPad was bought from Walmart? I have no problem with a small percentage cut to Apple for hosting etc, but when they take a cut for in-app purchases which involve zero data fees from Apple, it's a bit much.

    The difficulty of equating the App Store to a real store is what kills me with this guy.
    prismatics
  • Reply 14 of 55
    Anilu_777Anilu_777 Posts: 285member
    elijahg said:
    pujones1 said:
    elijahg said:
    And this kind of thing is why the EU is investigating Apple for antitrust violations.
    You’re absolutely right. Doesn’t matter if you should pay for the hosting service or the backend. Let me (Hey) advertise in your yard and other peoples’ yard but not give you anything for it. 

    Apple is the big bad monopoly nowadays. They built this thing from the ground up. It’s like some agency forcing Walmart to put Kroger stuff in their food department for free. Walmart should have the right to set the terms of store and if Kroger doesn’t like they should kick rocks. 

    It’s the sense of entitlement that kills me with this guy. 
    Yeah so when you buy an iPad from Walmart, Apple should pay royalties to Warmart for every purchase the customer makes on that iPad, because the iPad was bought from Walmart? I have no problem with a small percentage cut to Apple for hosting etc, but when they take a cut for in-app purchases which involve zero data fees from Apple, it's a bit much.

    The difficulty of equating the App Store to a real store is what kills me with this guy.
    If Apple provides a platform where a developer can make money, of course Apple should get paid for that platform. Trying to avoid that while still keeping your app in the App Store is plainly trying to cheat. 
    aderutterDogpersonmike1magman1979
  • Reply 15 of 55
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,686member
    djfriar said:
    jgreg728 said:
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    No. No No No. No! The locked down nature of iOS is paramount to its security and appeal. If I want to have the wild, wild west of app loading I’d use Android. I don’t. Stop trying to make iOS like Android. Having such a tightly integrated platform is what makes Apple’s ecosystem work so well. It’s why I switched form Windows a decade ago, and its why I choose to use iOS and why I chose to primarily develop for iOS and macOS. This insane idea that they need to break that to let shitty apps made by devs who just want an easy way in or to bypass a cost of business that has been around for 10 years is not the correct path forward.

    As for Hey specifically, from reading the Verge article about what they are doing With the app, I actually do think Apple is in the wrong here and it should be considered a Reader style app. The subscription isn’t specific to iOS and they aren’t advertising it in iOS, so it is exactly the same as Netflix. It appears to be a new email address as well, so it is even more like a reader app.

    Yes I have to wonder why it's a different case to Gmail app? I mean from Apple's perspective it should be treated the same. for customer perspective, well that is another story.
  • Reply 16 of 55
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,404member
    I agree more or less completely with DJFriar. Apple is trying to bend its own rules to cover a loophole IMO.

    Apple should approve Hey because it does not actually violate any of their rules, just an opiniated judgement call of what a “reader” (passive consumption) app is. Then codify what precisely they’re not allowing, and wait for Hey to bring out a non bug fix update and then remove it for violating the new rule Hey inspired. If Apple can’t codify precisely why Hey is different, leave it be. Should help with the monopoly abuse investigations.

    At $99/year for ***EMAIL,*** I expect they may grab as many as 34 consumers a year.

    Bottom line: this problem will solve itself.
    jdb8167prismatics
  • Reply 17 of 55
    michelb76michelb76 Posts: 310member
    Anilu_777 said:
    My first reaction was $99 a year?!?! And they call Apple gougers? I won’t be downloading Hey at all. That’s ridiculous. 
    Cheaper then what you pay for Gmail, with your data.


    Apart from Hey's offering, this kerfuffle shows how the App Store is become a relic more and more. This, and the many, many more issues developers face getting their stuff on there is not benefitting developers or customers.
    edited June 2020 elijahg
  • Reply 18 of 55
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    elijahg said:
    pujones1 said:
    elijahg said:
    And this kind of thing is why the EU is investigating Apple for antitrust violations.
    You’re absolutely right. Doesn’t matter if you should pay for the hosting service or the backend. Let me (Hey) advertise in your yard and other peoples’ yard but not give you anything for it. 

    Apple is the big bad monopoly nowadays. They built this thing from the ground up. It’s like some agency forcing Walmart to put Kroger stuff in their food department for free. Walmart should have the right to set the terms of store and if Kroger doesn’t like they should kick rocks. 

    It’s the sense of entitlement that kills me with this guy. 
    Yeah so when you buy an iPad from Walmart, Apple should pay royalties to Warmart for every purchase the customer makes on that iPad, because the iPad was bought from Walmart? 

     
    Er … no, because no one bought the iPad because they could get it from Walmart; they chose the iPad and then decided where to buy it. However, if buying a product on the iPad several months later was because of the costly infrastructure that Walmart put in place AND also incurred a cost to Walmart, then yes, Apple should pay Walmart.
    But it wasn't, it doesn't, so they don't.

    The reason developers make money on the Apple platform is partly due to the fact that Apple has spent, and still spends, billions (yes, billions) to make the environment secure, private and easy for its customers to use. And the reason Apple can afford to do that is because it has a simple rule: if you make money off the platform, you pay for that. 

    If this company really believes that every penny of the subscription earned is down to them (and I am amazed that anyone would pay $99 a year for something that they can do with built-in spam handling and email filters) then they should prove it: they should remove their app from the store and just host it on Google Play and the Microsoft Store. If what they say is true, then they won't lose a penny in subscriptions because the money he's making has absolutely nothing to do with Apple's work and money Apple puts in to make the platform popular, safe and attractive to the sort of customers who will actually buy a subscription.

    And it's odd that his argument is only directed at Apple, even though Google has the exact same fees: 30% of the subs revenue in the first year, dropping to 15% in the second year and subsequent years. I imagine this is because Google is happy to let him circumvent the rules because its no real loss for them: they make money on sifting personal data. Apple does not.
    Dogpersongeorgie01jdb8167magman1979
  • Reply 19 of 55
    arlomediaarlomedia Posts: 271member
    Last I checked, Apple doesn't require charging the same amount for subscriptions purchased inside the app versus on the developer's own website. So if the cost is an issue, Basecamp could simply add 30% to the prices shown in the app.

    For myself, it's not just the cost but the increased difficulty in implementing and especially supporting purchases that go through the app store. It's so much easier to support customers whose transactions go through my own system than Apple's completely opaque system. This also gives me flexibility to offer discounts, free accounts to VIPs, give someone a free month to make up for some problem they experienced, etc.
    uraharatokyojimu
  • Reply 20 of 55
    uraharaurahara Posts: 588member
    jgreg728 said:
    Apple has the right to enforce their policies. Tbh they should double down with the likes of Netflix to set that precedent.

    What IS wrong about the whole thing is that iOS doesn't give the option to load apps from anywhere other than the App Store. That's what needs to change.
    It is already possible to load apps from anywhere else than App Store. For Enterprise. 
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