Apple’s Big Baby Moments

It's weird to see companies having public temper tantrums. The year is not even two months old and Apple has been on a tear with taking its ball and going home.

First it was Apple's legal loss resulting in it being forced to allow outside payments from the App Store. On the surface this ruling looks like a big win for the likes of Spotify, Netflix, and any other company that doesn't want to pay a 30% cut to Apple for all purchases. Fair enough.

But Apple, always one to want total control, is going the Full-Greed route wherein it will charge a 27% comission on outside purchases. Companies must keep records of purchases outside the App Store and submit to audits by Apple. This, combined with the standard 3% credit card processing fees (sometimes higher) means companies using outside payments will... you guessed it, still pay 30%. Ben Lovejoy at 9to5Mac has a great roundup of this saga.

Next up is the Digital Markets Act (DMA) ruling in the EU. This was a legal case that has deemed it illegal to not allow competing app stores on a device. So Apple, now forced to allow other app stores on its platform, has gone ahead and charges a slightly-less-than-the-US rate of 17% comission. Then they're lobbing on a "Core Technology Fee" of about 54-cents per app install. Because... fees. Jon Porter and David Pierce at The Verge have a good breakdown of this cumbersome situation in the link above.

Lastly comes news this past week that in EU versions of iOS, Apple is pulling support for PWAs. What's a PWA? Simply put, it's when you go to any website and then use the Save To Homescreen feature of your iPhone. This creates a Progressive Web Application which basically takes a website and turns it in a pseudo-app on your phone. Apple invested in PWAs lately by adding push notification abilities and other quality of life features.

The advantage of PWA over an app is, well, it's not an app. No downloading or creating more accounts, or other nonsense you don't want to deal with. However, Apple is pulling PWA support in the EU because of the aforementioned DMA ruling. Juli Clover at MacRumors has more.

According to Apple, ‌Home Screen‌ web apps are built on WebKit and its security architecture, and are designed to "align with the privacy and security model for native apps on iOS." Storage isolation and system prompts to access privacy functions on a per-site basis are crucial.

Without isolation, Apple claims that malicious web apps could read data from other web apps and gain access to a user's camera, microphone, and location without user consent. To fix these security issues, Apple would need to build a new integration architecture, which it says is not practical because of the other Digital Markets Act requirements and because ‌Home Screen‌ web apps aren't used by many people.


This is a lot of words that boils down to: Apple believes it's too difficult to support PWAs when it would have to find a solution that enables PWAs for competing web browsers.

In other words, Apple, a company that essentially claims to bend the laws of physics in order to bring you a face computer from the future also believes supporting PWAs is too hard and can't be done.

Apple's malicious compliance with new laws and regulations reeks of greed, a betrayal of customers it claims to embrace, and a willingness to kneecap its products simply to spite governments. None of this surprises me. What does surprise me is how public Apple is about this.

Apple makes really good hardware. That's no secret. And the 'ecosystem' of how devices work together is far and away its biggest strength. But when the unstoppable need to wring every penny out of developers and companies for the privilage of developing on its platform (which is that company's voluntary choice) comes out like this, Apple needs to tread lightly.

The Vision Pro's app store has about 1,000 apps as of this writing. It has been in the news that major players like YouTube and Netflix explicitly opted out its apps from Vision Pro. Without a healthy and vibrant app marketplace, modern devices cannot survive. A lack of apps was the death knell for Microsoft's Windows Phone. People want apps and a piece of tech that doesn't have the software people want will not go far.

If Apple pisses off enough people with its greed, companies will back out of developing for its platforms. The Apple Watch has lost many 3rd party apps over the years and the iPad struggles with getting apps on it. Google took so long to make native iPad apps that it was a running joke. Vision Pro could easily miss out on everything it needs to be successful with Apple's alienation of developers.

Time will tell how things go in all these areas. As smart as the people at Apple are, now is a good reminder that in 2024 they have not proved to be smart enough to do the right things.

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