Google Matches Apple's App Store Cut
Wednesday, 17 March 2021

The headline news is that Google has cut, from July 1st, the percentage it takes from the Play Store to 15%, down from 30%, but only if you don't earn more than $1 million per year across all your apps. This matches the Apple App store terms announced in November 2020, but why has Google taken so long to follow suit?

Google is following Apple and both are responding to increased pressure on their monopolies. We all know about the battle Epic Games is waging on both Apple and Google, but regulatory authorities in a number of countries are also looking at the situation.

googleplay

Google has taken nearly six months to consider the problem and react. Probably Google doesn't see itself as much in the firing line as Apple because the Play store isn't a complete monopoly. You can point at Amazon's app store and claim that this means there are other marketplaces for Android apps, but in reality this isn't really the case. If you have a Fire tablet you quickly discover that there are many apps you can't run because of the need for Play services and, while there are ways round this, the average user of the app is locked to Google's version of Android and hence to the Play store.

Apple may be running an absolute monopoly but Google is running a de facto monopoly.

Of course, you may think that the monopoly of the app stores is justified in terms of user safety and developer revenue, but what is the going rate? Apple and Google used to charge 30%, but now they charge half that up to a million dollars. Why not a quarter or an eighth? And what justification is there for doubling the rate once the revenue reaches a million? Does the cost of servicing the app double or even increase? The big problem with a monopoly is that the market doesn't have any say in setting prices.

It all looks like a bribe to keep developers on side and to stop them rocking the boat. Google's offer of a bribe is more attractive than Apple's in that once the threshold is triggered Apple charges 30% on the entire sum while Google is promising to apply it only to the value above the threshold. This means you get more with Google and the artificial $1 million barrier isn't such a hurdle - if you are an Apple developer going one dollar over $999,999 costs you a lot, whereas you are not penalized in any way by Google.

Then there is the even bigger problem of regulation. True both app stores take money out of developer's pockets for doing a task that we can't really price, but they also lay down the law about what can and cannot be in the store. The problem with this is that Apple and Google have set themselves up as judge and jury and with only token rights of appeal. A programmer pushed out either app store suffers loss of income without an alternative way of offering their program to users minus the blessing and recommendation of the app store. This also has implications for freedom of speech and expression that I'm sure more politically aware readers don't need me to spell out.

Here is an off-the-wall idea. If gig economy companies like Uber are being legally forced to treat their clients as employees, perhaps the same holds for app store operators. Given we programmers don't have alternative markets, you could argue that having an app in an app store is a contract of employment - and the app store should pay for your time, plus benefits etc. An Uber driver logs on the app and waits for a customer. We upload our apps to the store and wait for a customer. Uber provides the online services that make the transaction possible, the app store is the online service that makes the transaction possible. Uber takes a cut of the profit and the app store takes a cut of the profit. The more you think about it the more the parallels become apparent.

This whole issue isn't about price, it's about principles of operation.

 playappstore

More Information

Apple Is Playing With Us - App Store Tax Cut To 15%

Boosting developer success on Google Play

Epic Games Takes On Apple - Unintended Consequences

Epic Games V Apple & Google - Smash The App Stores

Developers Finally In Revolt Against Apple

App Store Or Google Play? Where To Earn Money From Apps

App Store Takes $1.22B In A Week As Apple Falls

Ten Years Of The Apple App Store

Revenue Generation For Mobile Platforms

Revenue From Apps For iOS and Android
App Store more profitable than Android Market

Making Apps Pay

Fear and Loathing In The App Store

  1. Apple Drops Bitcoin App 
  2. Apple Rejects App For Being Too Simple     
  3. Banned For Life      
  4. When Apps Vanish
  5. Apple Doesn't Want Amateur Hour       
  6. Apple's Reasons For Rejection 
  7. Google Wants Everyone To Know Where You Live   
  8. Apple Takes Down Innovative App      
  9. The EFF Refuses Apple's Conditions       
  10. Firefox Gets A Walled Garden        
  11. Apple Is Watching       
  12. Apple Punishes IFixit  
  13. Fear And Loathing In the App Store 13 - Apple Rejects Gravity 
  14. Apple Rejects F.lux And It Isn't Even In The App Store!
  15. Apple Bans F.lux And Then Duplicates  It
  16. App Store Income Dashed With No Appeal
  17. The Strange Case Of AdNauseam
  18. Apple Bans Templated Apps
  19. Apple Rejects Net Neutrality App
  20. Apple Stops Crypto Currency Mining App
  21. Oracle Owns JavaScript and Apple Pulls App
  22. Apple Revokes Facebook's Developer Certificate
  23. Is The Walled Garden About To Close Around MacOS?
  24. Apple Promotes Own Apps Before Yours
  25. Developer's Facility Used To Create Open Apple App Store
  26. Devs Finally Angry At Apple's App Store.
  27. Epic Games V Apple - Smash The App Store

Jailbreaking the Developer  

Epic Games CEO Finally Notices That UWP Apps Are A Walled Garden

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 March 2021 )