So, it turns out that, even if you don’t use Apple’s payment mechanism for in-app purchases, they’ll still charge you 27% or so.
Somehow folks are shocked by this.
I’m really not sure how anyone can be surprised. Apple’s 30% cut is payment for access to its audience; the payment gateway was a bonus and an excuse to justify why developers should pay.
But, at the end of the day, you pay 30% to get your app into the hands of Apple’s very Very VERY lucrative users.
I actually sort-of-called this back in September 2021 when a lot of the Apple/Google app-store controversy was starting to boil over.
Now, of course, certain governments are going to try to place price caps on how much of a fee Apple can charge.
And Apple is going to get around it by charging an annual listing fee equal to a percentage of the prior year’s revenue. Or a review fee for every time the app needs to be updated. Or some other fees that all total up to that 27%.
They might even charge a fee for every country in which an app is exposed. Right now, the developers in the Netherlands have to submit two apps – one for use within The Netherlands and one for use outside of it. That’s potentially two sets of fees.
Thus, developers are likely to be in a situation of “Be careful what you wish for.” Processes that were dead-simple in the past will become needlessly more complex as governments intrude more and more into tech businesses.
There are times when Government intervention is needed. This is not one of them. Apple set a fee of 30% years ago and never increased it. Developers are likely to end up paying more than that by the time they account for all the costs to jump through the hoops Apple sets for them to get around government mandates and regulation.
In the most extreme case, they will just increase the costs of all their products.
Government intervention rarely drives prices lower; they just end up redistributing the costs of products. When was the last time a government mandated price cap or other price control ended up actually driving prices lower in the aggregate while satisfying demand?
I’ll wait while you figure out the answer. <insert Jeopardy theme song here>
Bottom line, one way or another Apple will get its fee. It’s just a matter of the mechanism used. And consumers and developers will ultimately end up paying more in the long run.