One Infinite Logic Loop

Apple wants to stick to the standards they don't stick to

Jack Nicas and David McCabe for The New York Times reporting on Apple’s move to ask for revenue by businesses that made moves online in the pandemic:

Apple said that with Airbnb and ClassPass, it was not trying to generate revenue — though that is a side effect — but instead was trying to enforce a rule that has been in place since it first published its app guidelines in 2010.

Apple said waiving the commission in these cases would not be fair to the many other app developers that have paid the fee for similar businesses for years. Because of the pandemic, Apple said that it gave ClassPass until the end of the year to comply and that it was continuing to negotiate with Airbnb.

“To ensure every developer can create and grow a successful business, Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone,” the company said in a statement.

I mean, first of all, what an incredible bit of circular logic. Essentially: “we have to take a cut of these services because we always have.” Okay. Maybe, just maybe consider the cut in the first place? Especially if you’re “not trying to generate revenue”?

Second, the idea that “Apple maintains a clear, consistent set of guidelines that apply equally to everyone” is just demonstrably false. So much so that it’s essentially a joke at this point. Apple has different rules for different developers. Not only that, they will from time to time change the rules overall because they’ve changed them for one developer — which is in direct contradiction to point one above.

To be clear, that is a good thing. But Apple stance and statement on this entire matter are just dripping with disingenuousness.

To be clear about something else: no one is saying Apple shouldn’t be allowed to make money from the App Store. Even though that wasn’t the intent when they started out and even now, they’re comically alluding to it almost being a non-profit (“not to generate revenue”), Apple absolutely should be able to profit from a real service they’re providing. I just believe they need to revisit and re-write the rules for the App Store. Because they were written in a different era when many of the businesses now being built on top of the store weren’t yet dreamed up.

Instead, Apple wants to cling to the past because they always have. Except when they haven’t. Which is quite often. And they don’t want to talk about that. Because it’s not the case. Except that it is.


(Disclosure: GV, where I’m a partner, is an investor in ClassPass mentioned in the article. But you can substitute any other number of companies here.)