Does Apple charge developers too much to use the iOS App Store?
That question is dominating a high-profile court battle between Apple and Epic Games, the creator of the ultra-popular “Fortnite” and other interactive entertainment. Epic’s lawyers are arguing that Apple’s App Store policies effectively give it an unfair monopoly over a huge swath of the mobile-software market. Apple’s lawyers insist that the company’s mandatory fee on app purchases and subscriptions, combined with its other policies, are necessary to give users the safest, best experience while using iOS.
Some pundits insist that Apple demands too much. “Apple’s tax is a great boon to its bottom line,” Farhad Manjoo argued in a recent New York Times column. “It is a costly drag for the users who spend enormous sums on its products and for developers looking to create apps to add tricks to your iPhone. And it can no longer be defended with a straight face.”
But other pundits and analysts have spent the past few years insisting that Apple’s fees aren’t all that punitive, especially when you consider how other digital storefronts charge similar amounts. Either you allow Apple to leave its fee structure in place, they argue, or you force virtually every marketplace to change how it does business, from Google’s Play Store to the various video-game emporiums.
It’s clear that Apple is hyper-aware of developers’ irritation over its fees, given last year’s launch of the App Store Small Business Program (which lowers its cut of developers’ sales from 30 percent to 15 percent, provided those developers make less than $1 million in annual sales). But is the expense worth it, given the security and curation of the App Store? Let us know what you think in the handy quiz below! We’ll post the results in a future article.