🗓️ November 25, 2018
🔗 SCOTUS Blog
📷 Daniel M. Wall for petitioner (Art Lien)
This comes up every few years, and there have been tons of lawsuits between people and Apple over Apple’s App Store policy.
If you’re reading this blog, you probably know how the App Store works. If not, here’s a quick summary:
Apple runs the iOS App Store for iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Apple TV. In exchange for hosting the files and providing payment, advertising, and delivery infrastructure, Apple keeps 30% of each sale. This seemed reasonable a decade ago when the App Store started. Before the App Store, if you had software to sell, your best bet was putting it in a box and convincing CompUSA to put it on the shelf. Then CompUSA kept about 80% of the sale. So Apple’s 30% seemed like a real deal.
But, that was a long time ago. Online delivery of software is mainstream, and 30% may be a bit high these days. It should be noted that Microsoft and Google’s app stores also keep 30%, but they are not part of this case.
Why? Because Microsoft and Google allow users, once they set certain permissions, to “side load” apps. Side loading an app is a way for users to load an app directly from the developer without going through any sort of third party. There are serious security risks involved in side-loading, but if you have a trusted developer and are careful, it can be a good way to try things that aren’t necessarily “app store approved”, and it allows the developers to keep more of their profits.