|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.
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.
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.
Fear and Loathing In The App Store
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|Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 March 2021 )|