Some people believe it’s a negative that Apple controls so much of the iPhone experience. Some of those people would point to the Mac and say, “See? They don’t have to have such a heavy-handed approach” and maybe they’re onto something. But a lot of folks out there don’t see it the same way, calling Apple’s “guiding hand” just one less thing they need to think about on a day-to-day basis.
Your mileage may vary. Personally, I find myself in the latter camp more often than not. I definitely don’t agree with some of the things Apple has done in the past, but it’s not even a “lesser of two evils” situation here, comparing iOS and Android. I just prefer the former over the latter, and I definitely prefer macOS over Windows. However, there are some things Apple does that kind of drive me crazy.
But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. No, instead of that, I want to talk about muscle memory. Or, more importantly, what happens after a major change is forced upon us and what we’re supposed to do after that.
We’ve run into this over the years with hardware and software changes. I remember so many people out there complaining about Apple ditching the Home button on the iPhone lineup, opting for gestures instead. Change happens, and more often than not we’re forced to deal with it and adapt. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes it isn’t — like with the butterfly keyboard that Apple forced on so many people (figuratively speaking, Apple didn’t actually make anyone buy a device with a butterfly keyboard obviously).
People in important and powerful positions want Apple to change something else: App Store rules. And, as we reported not too long ago, that may be a reality Apple needs to face in South Korea. Which could lead to sweeping changes across various regions across the globe if other governments follow suit (or even get kind of close). Apple’s App Store tax, the up to 30% fee the company takes from app purchases and in-app purchases, bears the brunt of the attention, be it from developers or governments or companies. In South Korea, that aforementioned bill could force Apple and Google to stop forcing developers to use their own payment systems, and, therefore, avoid each company’s fees.
These changes would slip down to the user, too. That’s what I’m most interested in. Because these agencies and government officials believe they are doing right by the end user and developers out there. And maybe they are — that’s up to you to decide. But if it comes down to it, this might ultimately result in more of a frustration to the end user than anything else. Because, for better or worse, we’ve all been using the App Store in the same way, basically universally. And if these agencies and governments have their way (in most cases), then we’ll all need to figure out a different way to use the App Store and Google Play.
As I mentioned earlier, adapting is all something we’re used to. So while changes may come down the line, I don’t have any doubt that all of us will figure out how to cope. And if these changes really are good news for developers in the end (and in the short-term), then that’s a nice bonus. It’s not like Apple’s going to stop making money — and they’ll just figure out other ways to make more of it. The difference here, and what doesn’t happen often with software and hardware changes, is choice.
Because, like in the case of the Telecommunications Business Act in South Korea, this will prevent Apple from forcing developers from using its first-party payment system, but it won’t force Apple to remove it. This means developers and companies will be able to offer up their own payment options, bypassing Apple’s fees — but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stop using Apple’s own option, too.
I imagine in a perfect world that companies will offer up choices for the end user. Though, some won’t, because why would they? Companies that don’t offer a way to sign up for a subscription right now in their iOS app via Apple’s payment option aren’t going to change their minds if governments force Apple’s hand. Still, a lot of apps out there will offer up multiple options, which means users will be able to choose.
If Apple is forced to adopt new policies within the App Store, do you think you’ll stick with how things are, with how you’ve been using the digital storefront for years now? Or will you be happy to embrace the new ways?
Updated, because Apple did some things: So, in light of a $100 million resolution to a class-action lawsuit levied against Apple, the company has come to an agreement with developers in the United States. This has led to some sweeping changes for Apple’s App Store, giving a bit more leeway to the developers, while still not changing all of the things some people believe the company should be changing. You can check out our original report of Apple’s announcement last night for the details. As for this opinion piece, it mostly still stands because Apple didn’t touch on all the things people have been requesting. Still, this week’s announcement looks like it could be a step in that direction.