Pull a 'Steve Jobs' on the App Store

Apple could lead the way on changing the 70/30 split...

Earlier today, I linked to Steven Levy’s look-back at the launch of the Power Mac G4 Cube on it’s 20th anniversary. Now I’m going to link to John Gruber linking to Steven Levy’s look-back at the launch of the Power Mac G4 Cube on it’s 20th anniversary. Gruber focused on the same key point (which is what Levy focused on as well, of course), that Steve Jobs was clearly great at changing his mind. To that end:

Why not pull a Steve Jobs on the App Store? Cut the commission rate to 85/15 across the board and act like it’s innovative and something only Apple could or would do. Open up the Netflix rule to all developers — maintain the rule that if your app charges money as an in-app purchase, you must use Apple’s in-app payment system — but let any and all apps choose to do what Netflix does if they want to opt out of that, and sign up customers on their own outside the app. Just make all of this antitrust stuff disappear before it even starts by eliminating the complaints about money and maintaining what matters more to Apple: independence and control.

I obviously agree with this, but it’s not really about the actual numbers. I tend to think 30% is too high, and I think the idea that it was pulled out of thin air (by which I mean, iTunes individual song sales) is silly. And the notion that it was created to ensure the App Store could run at “break even” is laughable at this point. More importantly, I just think this world is very different than it was a decade ago, and Apple should re-think the rules they implemented back then because, well, obviously.

But all that aside, Gruber’s point pulls out what really doesn’t sit well with me here. Yes, Apple can argue until they’re blue in the face — and they will — that their App Store cut is fair relative to other comparable stores and digital goods. But who cares? Apple is the leader in this space. Whatever they do, others will follow.

Hell, they may be on the verge of becoming the first $2 trillion company. So I’m just not interested in their argument that “everyone is doing it.” They should lead by example here and revisit these rules. Would Steve Jobs have done that? I don’t know. Maybe not. But I’d like to believe if he was shown that Apple was making a mistake, he would change course.