Did you catch this week’s announcement from Google or the follow-up from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) group? It’s the news that Google will start allowing developers to build support for alternate payment systems into apps that sell through the Play Store in the UK.

Google is proposing a 3% reduction in their cut (in line with credit card processing fees) for developers who want to build alternate in-app payment mechanisms. I’m not at all surprised by that, as it’s the same solution Apple came up with when they reduced their fee to 27% in the Netherlands for dating apps and 26% in South Korea. They lose nothing, and developers are unlikely to make additional money without massive scale.

Unscrupulous developers of varying degrees will take advantage of it, though. Whether that’s something relatively innocuous like not sending renewal reminders/receipts for subscriptions or outright scams remains to be seen. I’d argue it will start eroding people’s trust in the stores and hurt developers in the long term.

But what is the alternative? Many app developers hoped that Apple and Google would reduce their fee significantly or even remove it altogether alongside measures like these. I think there’s a feeling that Apple, at least, could make up that money in other areas. Would it take $10 on every phone to make up for reducing their cut to 0%? $20? I did a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, and it’s more like an $80-$100 increase per device to make up for the loss.

I’ve drifted away from the issue the CMA investigated, so I won’t talk much more about it, but I remain convinced that making App Store fees fairer needs a bigger rethink than adjusting or removing the revenue split. The big apps and developers pay nothing as they avoid all transactions in their apps, leaving small and medium-sized developers to foot the platform development bill.

I still think that a single App Store with a single payment and IAP system is a net positive to the Apple App Store. If this ruling passes and eventually reaches Apple’s platforms, I believe it will lead to a loss of some of the simplicity and consumer trust that it currently has. The App Store is not perfect. Far from it, but I don’t think this is the answer.

The CMA is asking for feedback if you’d like to weigh in with your thoughts. I might submit this comment as mine.

Dave Verwer  




Apple Platforms Developer @ Cascable AB – Cascable is a small "indie" company based in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the job for you if you love working with and learning about multiple technologies. We have UIKit, AppKit, SwiftUI, and Swift-on-the-Server (Vapor) across our suite of products, and you'll be working with all of them! – On-site (Sweden) with some remote work (within European timezones)

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And finally...

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