Time for Apple to reevaluate how the App Store does business
Macworld|December 2020
The App Store is the most contentious business Apple runs, and it needs some fixes.
DAN MOREN

If there’s a segment of Apple’s business that seems to fly in the face of the company’s philosophy—not just in terms of making a product that is substandard or lackluster—but in terms of actually being at odds with the way it otherwise does business, you couldn’t put forth a more prominent example than the App Store.

The discussion, always at a constant simmer in the Apple community, bubbled up once again last week even as Apple CEO Tim Cook was grilled by lawmakers over antitrust concerns. Developers, regularly dissatisfied with the company’s lack of transparency and equality over rules, took the opportunity to renew criticism of not only that, but the hefty 30 percent cut of proceeds.

The App Store has been a profitable business for both developers and Apple in the decade-plus since its launch, but there’s a strong argument that as much of its benefits have accrued to those making the apps that feed it, just as much—if not more—has found its way into the coffers of the platform owner. Enough so that the company has built an entire fast-growing segment of its income around Services, amongst which the App Store is undoubtedly the crown jewel.

Apple’s impetus to keep on keeping on isn’t hard to understand. But, as the App Store embarks upon its second decade of operation, it may at least be worthwhile to investigate what changes could be made to improve it.

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