Apple, we love you, but...

If you’re not already aware of the controversy surrounding Apple’s iOS subscription policy, I suggest you read this open letter before reading further... or before bothering to buy (or develop) any apps that rely on external servers for their content.

Although I’ve developed several iPhone/iOS apps for various clients and teams over the past three years, I still consider myself new on the scene when it comes to private commercial app development (ie, creating apps to generate revenue on my own). Still, I feel I have to stand in solidarity with other app developers when it comes to the bizarre moves made by Apple recently in regards to its subscription services -- and I really hope these moves don’t mark the beginning of the end of iOS development as we know it.

Since Apple officially announced its subscription service last week, it seems we hear daily of new cases of existing apps’ being rejected/denied from the store for not giving Apple what is basically a “finder’s fee” -- even if Apple didn’t find a damn thing. I honestly don’t have a problem with Apple’s requirement that anything available for purchase OUTSIDE of an app also be available INSIDE, via the in-app purchase mechanism: Apple has done a good job creating this service, and likewise, they should be paid for it. But what I DO have a problem with is the “catch” that anything available IN APP must be offered at the same price to consumers as it is offered elsewhere -- even though it now costs the developer 30% more to provide the service.

So now developers have three choices:

  1. Surrender another 30% of the revenues they’ve managed to earn on iOS devices to Apple...
  2. Pass on a huge price increase to ALL their customers -- iOS or not -- just for the privilege of continuing to offer iDevice users a chance to use the service
  3. Leave the iPhone development market

In other words, Apple wants EVERYONE to either eat or pass on a 30% increase in production costs -- even to non-iPhone users!

I for one am disgusted by this policy -- which is neither good for developers NOR consumers -- and I’m saddened for the developers and users of quality apps and services that may now find it necessary to leave the iPhone ecosystem in the face of this betrayal of trust (Skype, Netflix, Pandora, Last.FM, Hulu+, Amazon, DropBox, Readability,TinyGrab and InstaPaper, to name a few).

I’d hate to see any developer leave the iOS community... but I’d rather see them leave than levy an unfair “Apple Tax” on those that don’t even use Apple devices.