p0pcult
"If you were a product person at IBM or Xerox, so you make a better copier or computer. So what? When you have monopoly market share, the company's not any more successful.

So the people that can make the company more successful are sales and marketing people, and they end up running the companies. And the product people get driven out of the decision making forums, and the companies forget what it means to make great products. The product sensibility and the product genius that brought them to that monopolistic position gets rotted out by people running these companies that have no conception of a good product versus a bad product."

-Steve Jobs

yashg
It is absolutely ridiculous that Apple and Google demand 30% cut of all transactions happening in the apps that run on their OS. Imagine if Windows had done that or if Netscape/Firefox/Opera had demanded 30% cut of transactions happening on their browsers.

Back in the days when App Stores hadn't launched Android and iOS did not exist, apps for platforms like Palm, Pocket PC, Symbian, Blackberry etc worked like how Windows software still works today - you bought them directly from the developer's website. Stores like Handdango and Pocketgear were multi platform app stores who were taking 30% cut. I remember even back then there were voices being raised against those fees. But back then, those were not the only ways one could distribute their apps. None of the smartphone platforms back then mandated developers to distribute their apps only through their store. Even when Android launched, it was open and these stores carried Android apps as well. Apple launched the app store and changed everything in the name of security and user experience. It was just a shameless money grab by a giant corporation.

Microsoft got all the flack just for bundling a browser for free with OS while Google and Apple have been arm twisting developers into paying 30% of their revenue for years.

crazygringo
You know what baffles me? That Apple doesn't have a separate, "VIP" review process for apps that are from established, known companies.

When I see a independent developer complaining about Apple (or Google) being arbitrary in their app review process, I can at least understand how it's some low-paid employee trying to fulfill a daily quota. It still sucks, but I see the economic rationale of low-paid, low-skilled app reviewers there.

But it really surprises me that when it comes to apps from well-known tech companies like Coinbase, that Apple isn't doing a higher-quality review by people who actually know what they're doing and understand the industry. That there isn't a knowledgeable team inside of Apple making sure that corporate partners are treated like partners rather than niche indie developers.

I'm not saying a two-tier system would be more fair, because obviously it wouldn't be. I'm just saying it surprises me that a company like Apple shoots itself in the foot like this with bad decisions that then lead to bad press. It's such an own-goal. (Because in this case, the 30% cut doesn't even make sense conceptually, it's like trying to tax Amazon 30% on physical goods sold through its app.)

bredren
This reminds me of the last time Coinbase had its app removed from the app store in 2013. Our secure messaging app, Gliph, had the ability to send bitcoin and was still live in the App Store.

Our companies shared an investor, and our app was the first to implement Coinbase's API. Between that and SF Bitcoin meetups, I interacted with Brian regularly enough and the App Store was a common topic because in that first year of funding for crypto, the goal was generally find a way to breaking Bitcoin mainstream. (It seemed like it might happen soon, but was in fact still quite early.)

After some press, Apple took our app down. I blogged about it [0], (I believe the first survey of App Store policy toward bitcoin) and that got picked up by Tech Crunch. [1]

I remember speaking with Brian about it on the phone. Apple's objection was on legality of sending Bitcoin in the regions our app was available, so I suggested we could file a legal brief as part of our appeal.

Brian's response was they had already tried that and that Apple was unswayed by their brief. There wasn't much we could really do other than commiserate on being under the thumb of the App Store.

Those were some heady, yet comparatively innocent days in crypto compared to now.

[0] https://blog.gli.ph/2013/12/09/the-state-of-bitcoin-mobile-a...

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2013/12/09/how-does-apple-really-feel...

pavlov
Imagine a bunch of game developers join forces to create something called the Game Asset Service. When you unlock a feature in a game by one of these developers, it gets delivered through the GAS.

The GAS is legally a separate entity from the game companies (although controlled by them), and it sets a varying fee for its delivery network. Maybe the fee is quite high, and unlocking a $6 game feature actually consists of $5.50 fees paid to the GAS and $0.50 paid to the game developer.

Would Apple say: “Sure, this delivery fee you’re paying to GAS is something completely separate from the in-app purchase. We’ll just take our cut only from the $0.50 and let you pass all of the $5.50 through to this GAS corporation that you partially own.”

Of course not, because that structure would be such a transparent attempt by the game developers to evade Apple’s fee.

The situation in crypto isn’t all that different. These gas fees are ultimately paid to Ethereum stakeholders, and Coinbase happens to be a big one.

madrox
At this point in the "30% is unfair" game, I'm fascinated by the general reaction by the crowd. In every high profile case, it comes down to which company you have more affinity for. I watched a lot of the gaming community side with Apple against Epic, because from their perspective it was Epic being greedy and not the other way around.

This time, I'm sure anyone still excited about web3 will side against Apple. It's going to take a coalition of companies with enough goodwill amongst enough people to break the general conception that Apple is, overall, working more in the interests of the consumer than other businesses.

Andrew_nenakhov
Apple's evil AppStore monopoly should be dismantled by the lawmakers. Users should own the device, not rent it from Apple. Until the users are in complete control which apps they can run, it is rent, not ownership.

For people happy with the current state of affairs: nobody will be forcing you to install third party stores or sideload apps.

rich_sasha
If I were a Coinbase and iphone user, I would be irate. I'm neither but that's besides the point.

Will Apple demand 30% of bank transfers made with a bank app? 30% of a firstborn if the hookup happened on Tinder?

dcchambers
It's hard not to see that Apple is playing with fire here, but they've gotten away with so much and they have so much to lose.

The "right" way to fix this is:

1. Apple allows users to download/install software that is not on the app store. If a user owns the device they should be able to do what they want with it, even if it's "risky" or whatever. But this means those users that feel the most comfortable continuing to only use apple-approved apps in the app store can continue to do so.

2. Software downloaded from the app store, using apple servers and services, must give Apple the cut (30%) they ask for. If the app doesn't use apple's infrastructure or payment system, apple shouldn't have any right to a cut of the payment.

Apple has billions of dollars of revenue at stake here, so of course they're going to fight it as long as they can.

efields
The exchange is NFT for eth. In order to do that, it requires gas. That is a fee imposed on the user, meaning they have to pay something in order to pursue a digital transaction for digital goods. Payments in iOS for digital goods and services must go through the App Store. It's right there in the developer terms, and has largely not changed since the App Store was introduced.

Doesn't matter that it's gas. It's a purchase the user is trying to make. The rules apply.

Coinbase may think it's unfair, but that's what they agreed to when they put the app in the App Store. Apple can continue to enforce this rule as long as they're legally allowed to, which doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

No sympathy for Coinbase here. They chose to whine in public when they could just sue Apple like a grown up.

exabrial
Apple at this point has no fear of regulatory action.

I think both Red and Blue can agree they need to be reigned in and split up.

dontblink
I don't understand why the disgruntled companies don't simply band together and remove their apps from Apple until Apple complies? Apple is as reliant on their third party apps for their ecosystems as much as the inverse.
Dig1t
I think higher ups at Apple know things we don't know WRT how politicians and agencies will act. It seems they are pretty confident they won't be regulated any time soon, at least in the US.
josephcsible
The next logical step is for Apple to demand a 30% cut of the revenue when you order physical goods on Amazon from your iPhone, or 30% of money you send to people with Venmo. If you don't think those behaviors would be okay, how can you think this is okay?
gjsman-1000
Apple... what the heck is wrong with you?

This is not the time to be strengthening the rules. You've got the Digital Markets Act already entering force in Europe which is going to most likely break App Store dominance over there in just a year or two. The US has senators eyeing the Open App Markets Act again after Elon's threat (and if it doesn't pass now, when senators see an open Europe and a closed US, what about then?). You've got antitrust investigations opened in the UK. This is time to be giving concessions hoping to keep power - not doubling down!

Edit: If Apple's claims about it being "privacy and security" are true, here's how to keep power. Drop the 30% cut, make a $25-$50 fee every time a new version comes out for a quality app review from a 3rd party independent board, drop some of the more onerous restrictions, and maybe then regulators would be willing to allow the App Store to remain. Instead...

marcfr
I remember when in school in history class we all were upset when we learnt that the land lord demanded a "tenth" from the agricultural gains. Those were the times...
bryan_w
This would be like apple blocking your stockbroker app because they charge $2 per trade but the broker allows you to use the cash sitting in your account.
mensetmanusman
Ahahaha, they will soon be asking Charles Schwab for a 30% cut for anyone that sells equities in the iPhone.
segmondy
One day a bunch of companies are going to get together and have an Apple Blackout. Turn off their backend to all iOS devices. Imagine Coinbase, Twitter, Spotify, Facebook, WhatsApp, Epic, etc. Turn it off for a day, few days or a week. That will drive the point home. Apple thinks it has leverage, but united other companies can force their hand.
skc
I'm in the "too bad" camp.

This is what happens when customers and companies gleefully buy into the idea of a walled garden.

Because I can bet anything that there are iPhones and Macs on every desk at Coinbase.

newbie578
Can't wait for Apple and Tim Cook to be brought back into reality by the EU.

I'm popping champagne on that day.

ShamelessC
> The biggest impact from this policy change is on iPhone users that own NFTs - if you hold an NFT in a wallet on an iPhone, Apple just made it a lot harder to transfer that NFT to other wallets, or gift it to friends or family.

Wow, so decentralized. /s

asdff
Why don't companies just get ahead of apple here, decamp from the app store, and heavily advertise a web app instead? Most of these apps need online connectivity anyway, so having a native app isn't all that useful.
okokwhatever
Why is Apple not requesting 30% of the commission to transfer money from one bank account to another in a banking App?
josteink
As an iPhone-user, Apple is really doing everything they can to make sure I don’t like them or their products anymore.

The China riot iOS censor-update, this, the Twitter app threats. And all in a about a weeks worth of time.

Wtf guys. Seriously.

andrewstuart
The best thing about Apple's outrageous 30% cut is it's some of the biggest companies in the world and Apple smashing each other to bits.

In this society, big companies usually get all the breaks and the little guys get nothing, so it's nice to see the big guys forced to brawl.

Governments, for example, folded many years ago and stopped taxing big companies 30% and instead give them money. Apple isn't as easily bribed as politicians.

tylersmith
The title is currently wrong. This is not about exchange fees paid to Coinbase, but transaction fees paid to the Ethereum network when using smart contracts through the Coinbase app.
stevenkkim
"The American crayfish was introduced in the '20s. A guest, if you like. And like most guests having a good time, they didn't wanna leave. Next 50 years, they consumed all the local crayfish, wiped them out. And then, they started eating each other. That's the thing about greed, Arch. It's blind. And it doesn't know when to stop." - Lenny Cole, from Rocknrolla
veidr
Whew, I was worried by the headline! But it means they blocked an update to the app (for blah blah App Store compliance), not blocked the app outright.

(I only care because I pay my kids' allowance in crypto, and they manage it with Coinbase Wallet on their iPads. This is what I have been doing with all that promotional XLM I got for free from Keybase before they got resorbed into Zoom.)

JOnAgain
What about the wire transfer fee I pay to my bank on my app when I send a wire?
andrewflnr
We have to ask the question: is Apple actually this stupid? I don't particularly like or trust Coinbase, so I'm not going to take their word as gospel. I have to wonder if (a) it's an oversight, a possibility they raised in the thread (trying to give Apple an out?) or (b) there's something weirder going on that we can't figure out from outside.
shaburn
Dorsey's call for an open mobile web os could not be more important for this subject. Mobile payments, device to device with crypto is so dangerous for the existing payment/financial system, don't expect anything but resistance from establishment players.
thelock85
Can anyone here provide some ideas of sensible regulation on this issue (or point to someone else talking about it)?

IANAL or even novice on antitrust issues but seems Apple would just find another way to make up the slack if App Store (iOS/Android/other) fees were regulated.

As a good friend of mine likes to say about DNC vs GOP, it's "steak or fish" with Android and iOS (you can choose which is which). They take up too much space for anyone else to fundamentally reimagine and reintroduce an app ecosystem (no disrespect to PWAs and the like). I feel regulation would ultimately hurt developers and consumers more, at least in the medium to long-term, but I'm open to forming a new opinion.

SoftTalker
> If you were a product person at IBM or Xerox, so you make a better copier or computer. So what? When you have monopoly market share, the company's not any more successful.

Yet when Xerox and IBM were monopolies they were at their most innovative. Xerox had PARC. AT&T had Bell Labs. IBM had --- well I'm not sure but their mainframe architecture and OS was very innovative in its day.

Now that those companies are just one of dozens that do what they do, you can't name anything groundbreaking that they are producing.

arvindrajnaidu
Apple collects 30% if the product is purely digital and has no monetary value outside of the app.

Could one not prove that NFTs have value outside of Coinbase? Oh wait I see the problem.

barumrho
Maybe I’m off here, but this doesn’t really seem like it’s about the 30% commission. Maybe Apple is taking a position against allowing crypto trades on their platform?
rvz
I did say that the roles have been switched, and Apple in 2022 is like Microsoft in 1998 and is getting away with by doing even more worse things. [0]

It is going to take more than just Epic, to get rid of the 30% cut in fees.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23564759

Manuel_D
At this point it'd probably be better to invest in building good browser web UIs over dedicated apps. No appstore verification, no fees, it basically seems like a no-brainer at this point. I guess it sacrifices viral growth through appstore installs, but maybe just don't support transactions on the app and kick them to the browser.
stefandesu
Imagine Apple starts taking 30% of all transactions done via PayPal or your banking app. This is getting ridiculous.
nightski
I feel like I am the only one who has never made a single transaction on a mobile device. I refuse to contribute.
brundolf
I just feel like they're digging the antitrust hole deeper and deeper. How do they see this ending?
seydor
At what point does Apple get classified as a Bank?

What is the point of a Coinbase wallet at this point in any case? Free tracking by coinbase, apple, the NSA etc etc?

If you consider the reason why Bitcoin, ETH etc were invented in the first place, this is beyond ridiculous, absurd and a travesty

bloppe
Gas fees are peer-to-peer transactions. This is like Apple deciding that all Venmo transactions should be subject to their 30% fee. Not only would it be impossible to implement given the existing infrastructure; it would be dumb.
FounderBurr
Surely these apps should be treated more like banking applications than buy/sell applications?

This is akin to apple demanding 30% of the funds of every wire transfer initiated within its App Store app for your bank.

irusensei
While I like Apple products and despise coinbase and the NFT fad it is about time users should be able to choose alternative stores on iOS, preferably with options to self host your own catalog.
camdenlock
Why is it seen as acceptable for a government to tax people for the privilege of transacting in their (the government’s) markets, but it’s seen as bad form for a corporation to do the same?
m3kw9
Essentially they are using crypto to bypass fees. It’s inherent that selling NFT(digital good) on a blockchain will by pass them, but that’s what is viewed as from Apples angle
raymondgh
Next Apple will demand 30% of every Venmo transaction on iOS
andy_ppp
I thought protection rackets were illegal? 30% is insane.
moistly
Every Apple thread rehashes the same complaints over and over and over. One should just have GPT do the discussion, save everyone the effort.
ProAm
Double taxation refers to the imposition of taxes on the same income, assets or financial transaction at two different points of time.
Traubenfuchs
Why can‘t companies like that just make a good web app? It‘s time to kill native apps unless you really need them.
Apocryphon
This doesn't even make business sense. What money is there to be made in NFT transitions in December 2022?
EGreg
Why not use the open web?

What are these app stores giving us?

Or are they going to start blocking web sites next, and have a permissioned web

anm89
I'm so confused as to why anybody still supports apple. They have utter contempt for their customers.
Ekaros
Just imagine if Microsoft or Linux distributions could do this on desktop. They would make so much money.
g42gregory
Why wouldn’t companies like Coinbase just release an iOS App on their web site? Why would they even need to go through the App Store? What are the benefits of the App Store for established companies with large existing customer base? If Coinbase or Amazon, for that matter, publish an iOS app on their website, I would not hesitate to just install and use it, without an App Store.
tensor
So if I use my bank's app to pay a bill will Apple want 30% of that too? This is really too much.
Maursault
NFTs are brilliant and essential. Shame on Apple for blocking Coinbase wallet from transferring NFTs
mrhands556
Does apple require Apple Pay for all in app purchases? Why isn’t Apple Pay an option on Amazon?
joyfylbanana
Apple should be given a medal for making it harder to trade NFT's. Those are bad for you.
faangiq
Protecting their customers. Crypto well established as total scam at this point.
imchillyb
The entire world should be required to read: The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair.
jhoelzel
Oh Nice. Now people need to buy a physical wallet.

... with batteries... and most likely a samsung logo.

;)

WanderPanda
Have a nice walk with Tim around Apple Park, Mr Armstrong!
hn_throwaway_99
Ack, a real conundrum here. On one hand, Apple's ridiculous behavior. On the other hand, hard for me to imagine a more useless and counterproductive invention than NFTs...
2OEH8eoCRo0
Add it to the antitrust pile. Is their strategy to attack unpopular things in the current zeitgeist so nobody complains about antitrust? Facebook, Twitter, now crypto?
ftyhbhyjnjk
Apple at this point is a Mafia org
lizardactivist
I'm literally waiting for the day Apple attempts to take a cut on people's income via their banking app.
trasz2
FWIW, Coinbase Wallet hasn’t been very useful simply because it’s owned by Coinbase, and thus cannot be trusted.
dmitrygr
And nothing of value was lost
patchtopic
so apple also expect 30% from everything transacted on every banking app?
dboreham
The new vampire squid.
christkv
Next they will want 30% off every stock purchase you do using the E*trade app
zenexer
HN title is incorrect. Apple is demanding 30% of gas fees, not exchange fees.

Personal opinion: That’s even more ridiculous. Coinbase has no access to or control over gas fees.

mkrishnan
throwaway290
Maursault
mkrishnan
mkrishnan
noasaservice
sr.ht