Apple is now writing App Store rules to do everything but…
How stupid does Apple think we all are? I mean, seriously. The announced changes this past week to the App Store rules are maybe the most absurd attempt to placate bad PR that I’ve ever seen. Instead, they helped clarify something pretty fundamental: Apple no longer wishes to compete.
I feel as if I’ve been dancing around this realization for a few months now. But reading over Steve Jobs’ statements in the original press releases around in-app subscriptions and Marco Arment’s recent post on the matter, mixed with these changes, really drove it home. Again, Apple clearly — I mean this: clearly — does not want to have to compete with the best offering and experience any more. They want to leverage their user base to bend the will of developers.
I’m not an antitrust lawyer, nor will I play one on the internet. And there’s obviously a lot going on here at the moment.¹ But simply as a diehard user of Apple products, I find this extremely disappointing.
I want an Apple that wins not by obfuscation, but by offering the best experience. Make everyone want to use the in-app purchasing system across the board because it’s the best. Because users demand it. Because it’s so seamless for developers. Not because if you don’t, it’s no app for you.
Look, it’s Apple’s App Store. To date, they’ve earned the position of power they’re in. They do and should benefit from this. But I also want them to aspire to be better than using that strength to prey upon the weakness of others. Again, I want them to win on the field. To compete. These days, they seem more interested in some Sun Tzu shit.
But it’s more like the CliffsNotes version of Sun Tzu. It’s hilariously obvious what they’re doing. They’re now re-writing rules on the fly based on specific exceptions they wish to grant. And they’re doing so because they’ve gotten bad press around those deviations. It’s ridiculous.
Apple, revisit and rewrite the App Store rules. Don’t Frankenstein the rules to try to please certain developers (and the public) with some one-off changes. This is a Band-Aid on a dam. Blow it up, and start again. And more generally, just go back to competing for business by offering the best products and services. The ones both users and developers love.
I know this is easier said than done. It may not be as lucrative at first. And that’s hard as the most valuable company in the world trying to appease the public investors.² But this is the definition of short term “pain” for longer term gain. Think about this differently.
² Of which I’m one, in a small way.