Following months of controversy over some of its App Store practices, Apple has announced that it will lower its cut of app developers’ sales from 30 percent to 15 percent, as part of a larger initiative titled the App Store Small Business Program.
As the name of the program implies, developers eligible for the cut must make less than $1 million in annual sales. Apple hasn’t announced how many developers qualify, but it’s probably a significant percentage of those who build apps for the App Store. The program will launch on January 1, 2021, and involve some additional caveats, including (according to Apple’s press release):
- “Existing developers who made up to $1 million in 2020 for all of their apps, as well as developers new to the App Store, can qualify for the program and the reduced commission.
- “If a participating developer surpasses the $1 million threshold, the standard commission rate will apply for the remainder of the year.
- “If a developer’s business falls below the $1 million threshold in a future calendar year, they can requalify for the 15 percent commission the year after.”
For months, developers have complained that Apple exerts too much control over its store, while taking too much money in exchange for hosting apps. For example, Basecamp got into a much-publicized tussle over Hey, an email app that Apple said violated App Store policies. Then Epic tried to release an update to its ultra-popular “Fortnite” game that sidestepped the App Store’s payment system, unleashing a vicious legal battle. And that’s in addition to WordPress claiming that Apple pressured it to monetize a free app.
Granted, Basecamp and Epic are massive companies, and WordPress is one of the most recognizable brands on the web, but Apple may have feared that all the publicity over its rules and its payment system might have triggered larger developer discontent. For years, iOS developers large and small have grumbled that Apple takes far too large a cut of App Store revenue, a practice that Apple has traditionally defended by saying the App Store provides developers with enormous benefits, including security and a relatively frictionless payment system.
By adjusting App Store fees, Apple might also be hoping to avoid additional scrutiny from the federal government, which lately has explored anti-trust actions against Google for supposedly dominating a few key markets, and may eventually target other firms.
However the fee cuts impact developers’ feelings, it’s clear that companies won’t stop building iOS apps anytime soon. If you’re interested in a job as an iOS developer, make sure that you have the right skills and a portfolio of projects that you can show off at a job interview. Those interviews generally focus on the candidate’s previous experience and existing technical skillset.