I don’t make a habit of calling out other developers on things they say or do but now and again I’ll make an exception when I seem something that is so off-the-mark that it makes me sit up and reach for my keyboard. In this case it was a single sentence hidden away in the FAQ page for an app called Muzzle, a great app for silencing the notifications on your Mac when you are screen-sharing via Slack, Skype or some other application. So what was it that brought me here? It was this little gem:
“Apple treats developers with very little respect, takes 30% of their income for nothing, and makes their lives difficult at every turn.”
In particular, it’s the 30% for nothing part which I think is worth breaking down as Brian (the developer in question) seems to overlook. So for those of you who don’t know what Brian is referring to, it’s the fact that when you publish an app on the Apple App Store and either charge for it up-front or take payments within the app, Apple take 30% of the money and forward you the remaining 70%. So what exactly are they doing to warrant this 30%? or is Brian correct in that they do nothing…
A Worldwide App Store
First Apple provide you with a marketplace that is worldwide, a route into everyones iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and Mac wherever they are on the planet. They give you the ability to have a store listing, upload screenshots, videos and even store the downloadable version of your app on their own servers, all without you even needing a website. That’s a lot more than nothing.
If you produce a really great app then Apple will feature it. Whether it’s Editors Choice, or included in their best of roundup each year (of which our own iDrated was included), you get massive exposure if you product is something worthy of it. Now in Muzzles case, I think it is worth such exposure so it’s a shame it’s not on the Mac App Store. That kind of exposure by any other means costs significant money. That’s a lot more than nothing.
Developer Tools, Resources and Training
Whilst it is well-known that the success of many platforms is based on the adoption by the developer community, it’s a two-way street. Apple provide some of the most exciting and feature-rich development tools around. Other platforms charge for their tools (Microsoft I’m looking at you…) but Apple give them to you for free. To help you on your journey, they also give you numerous resources, guides, sample projects and videos…all for free. And the only time this really costs you is when you start to make money via their platform, which seems like a fair trade. That’s a lot more than nothing.
Muzzle really is a great app and I’m not sure what trouble Brian has had with Apple (perhaps the review process.?!) but his statement just doesn’t stack up. We often get asked by clients if there is a way to bypass this 30% reduction, and our answer is always the same, “Sure, but you’ll need to provide your own tools, resources, marketing and distribution platform in place as well as a robust payment processing platform in order to take payments. You’ll need to spend a lot of money on marketing once your product has launched just to get the same basic visibility of every other app developer on the App Store. Suddenly 30% doesn’t sound too bad after all does it?!”