back to article To our total surprise, Apple makes adding alternative payment systems to apps 'painful, expensive, clunky'

Apple's idea of complying with the law in the Netherlands offers a glimpse of what developers elsewhere have to look forward to if regulators elsewhere succeed in challenging the company's control of its iOS App Store. Apple is currently trying to fend off lawsuits and proposed legislation around the globe that threaten its …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    I'll get the popcorn...

    *Sets out shopping bags full of freshly popped, still hot off the stove, big & fluffy popcorn*

    *Sets out pints of beer to wash it all down*

    *Grabs a bag, a pint, & a chair from which to watch*

    Mmmmmm... popcorn! =-)

    1. davidp231
      Pint

      Re: I'll get the popcorn...

      "Mmmmmm... popcorn! =-)"

      Mmmmmmm..... beeer! =-)

  2. lglethal Silver badge
    Go

    At what point does it become contempt of court? Perhaps if the heads of Apple in the Netherlands, and perhaps their Lawyers (also in the Netherlands) were given the option of making sure that things worked well (and easily) or they could all spend some lovely time behind bars in a Dutch prison, then things would get moving.

    Until then, this is just Apple giving everyone the finger. Ban all new Apple sales (including the Appstore sales) in the EU until such time as they come back begging to be allowed back in, and promising to do as they are told. And then we will see how quickly they (and Google as well), will start obeying the European court orders...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      "this is just Apple giving everyone the finger"

      Um, nope. Not me.

      I don't have Apple gear, and I never will.

      Voting with my wallet and all that.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      It becomes contempt of court when Judge Lucy Fangrrl and a jury of iSheep rule against them in California.

      Until then, it's just meaningless foreigners being petty.

      Apple: It just works - unless we don't want it to, then it doesn't.

      1. Kimo

        It's only Contempt of Court if it comes from the Contempt region of California. Otherwise it is Sparkling Disobeying the Spirit if not the Letter of a Court Order.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Ban all new Apple sales (including the Appstore sales) in the EU until such time as they come back begging to be allowed back in, and promising to do as they are told. And then we will see how quickly they (and Google as well), will start obeying the European court orders..."

      While I thoroughly agree with the sentiment, beware of unintended consequences. Lots of educational establishments rely on Apple, specifically iPads issued to all students.

      1. Trenjeska

        Which is an error within itself.

        do.not.depend.on.tech.you.can.not.control

        1. Kimo

          Preach. The Ohio State University is about to end our free iPad program for students just after they had us adapt our courses to using them, including buying up a bunch of servers for virtual Windows desktops since the 3D modeling software the College of Engineering uses doesn't run on iPads. Now we have to make the choice of revamping our courses again or having students buy their own iPads

          (which will end up bring less powerful than the Pro versions we have been using).

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Everyone depends on tech they can't control...

      2. JohnSheeran
        Trollface

        The bright side is that the education system is so far behind on their Apple products that they wouldn't notice a moratorium for a while.

      3. DevOpsTimothyC Bronze badge
        Trollface

        Lots of educational establishments rely on Apple, specifically iPads issued to all students.

        Who's to say that was unintended ?

    4. Cubical Drone

      Problem is that they (the corps) would just have to wait until the consumers tossed a fit and then the politicians would cave. I think that the desired affect could be achieved if they could cut off these corps ability to hide thier profits in Ireland.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        At which point another country would offer preferential rates to "bring jobs" to their country.

        Sadly, much like every other big-tech story of this nature, the only people winning are the lawyers

    5. styx-tdo

      nah. what about...

      Allow all AppStore sales and force Apple to pay out 130% to the developers instead of 70% as before for all AppStore transactions and just 100% for all other payment processors until Apple complies.

      Also, developer prices cannot be modified. Any surcharges by Apple will result in some proper fines, like the GDPR stuff (x percent of global revenue.....)

    6. NoneSuch Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      They would have to do another lawsuit to get any onerous charges reduced or eliminated.

      Cheaper for Apple to finance multi-year legal battles then actually pay people an honest income. That tells you how much money is on the line.

      Anyone who has dealt with a cranky two year old has the same experience as vendors dealing with Apple.

  3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    So, we've started to walk down FU-lane

    Apple: "F U, third party payment processors"

    Lawmakers: "F U, monopolist"

    Apple: "F U, third party payment processors"

    ... to be continued

  4. cookieMonster
    FAIL

    This is one of the reasons

    I gave up on Apple. Many moons ago I was a big fan of their laptops, but they have become more and more draconian as the years went by. Since my employer at the time forked out the cash for the kit I didn’t care. But since leaving the IT industry I could no longer justify the cost and or condone/tolerate their attitude.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: This is one of the reasons

      I do wonder why people keep describing it as a 'walled garden' when the razor wire and machine gun emplacements have been visible for so long.

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: This is one of the reasons

        Because back some time, MacBook Pro's were excellent Linux machines. Around the latest retina models that had HDMI and USB ports. After that, they became unusable.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: excellent Linux machines

          But Lenovos have *always* been such, and field serviceable to boot.

          So besides the emotional imperative of style that seemed to make an Apple laptop so attractive for Linux, was there an actual, sound reason?

          1. Franco Silver badge

            Re: excellent Linux machines

            Lenovo themselves are up to some pretty shady things

            https://www.theregister.com/2021/09/03/lenovo_indelible_adware/

            and they've made it progressively harder and harder to manage their devices in a corporate environment, such as preventing unattended BIOS configuration (which is an essential part of any bare-metal imagine process)

  5. DS999 Silver badge

    Why would Apple offer less than 27%?

    They don't know what Netherlands' authority will consider acceptable, since no guidance was provided, so Apple made a bad offer to see what the response is. Maybe there will be a counteroffer, maybe they are told "no" and drop down to 25%, 22%, 20% and so on until it is accepted. If 20% would be accepted, they would be dumb to have started at 15%.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      The proper share is 5%

      And it is largely enough to cover the $100 million that their Store costs them.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: The proper share is 5%

        Apple profit from the app store was between 10 and 25 billion dollars last year, so if it costs them 100 million to run, they just need to charge between 0.4% and 1% to cover their running costs.

        Charging 15 to 42.5 times that is pure greed and unregulated monopolistic behaviour.

        1. hoola Silver badge

          Re: The proper share is 5%

          Maybe but it is easy money and something that most of their most customers appear happy to contribute to.

          I know they don't have a choice but Apple set the precedent on this that everyone else followed. To be fair, a 30% profit margin on a service for Apple probably is a pittance but that is simply because the product is priced (and always has been) on what the market will stand. Apple customers (along with quite a few other premium brands) have very deep pockets and are prepared to put they hands into them.

          Similarly Corian, Amtico, Miele, Maytag, Dyson, all brands that have products at the top end of the market that don't actually cost the price difference from cheaper products to produce.

          There will be plenty of others that people can add to the list. Brand awareness and perceived value is important. Price and branding is as much a differentiator as the actual quality of the product.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Why would Apple offer less than 27%?

      I suspect the result, in the longer term, will be far more strict rulings against Apple in those jurisdictions starting or considering similar actions. The various national legal systems will be watching with great interest how Apple pull every trick in the book to be as awkward and unco-operative as possible. Courts generally take a very dim view of that sort of contempt.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Middle finger indeed.

    I hope Netherland's authority will be offended and react accordingly.

    Lawmakers around the World, I guess some of you are bribed lobbied by GAFAM, but wake up before being caught in scandals. More and more users realize what they have to pay way too much because of that kind of monopoly

  7. naive

    Oligopolies are hard to regulate

    Mobile phone market is an oligopoly controlled by two companies, each worth more than most countries in this world.

    Microsoft doesn't care which apps are run on a windows desktop system, in the end the user is responsible for what happens.

    Given someone has $ 1000, that person can buy a windows laptop and run any app or an Android or IPhone, but can only run the apps approved by the overlords of the device for which he paid for in full.

    The latter seems seems to imply the manufacturer of the smartphone, be it Samsung, Apple or Motorola, is restricting ownership rights due to the limitations the makers of the operating system impose on it.

    Lawmakers could go after OEM device manufacturers installing software restricting ownership of devices sold to consumers, since owners should have unrestricted access to the capabilities of the device they own. This implies that apps with in-game payment systems should be allowed without restrictions or fees since the physical device is capable to run them.

    A more nuclear option would be to consider software like patents within the law, which expire after some period, that would help to reduce exposure of the world to de-facto monopolies persisting for decades.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Oligopolies are hard to regulate

      >Microsoft doesn't care which apps are run on a windows desktop system, in the end the user is responsible for what happens.

      They did before they were visited by the Justice Dept carrying a big stick.

      They had limits on the number of internet connections you could have before you had to buy the server version.

      The licence terms for their SDK banned you from writing anything that competed with Office

      They had a business model of simply copying competitors, waiting for them to go bust and then paying a $<1M settlement

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Oligopolies are hard to regulate

        At least, get your fact rights

        - You could always run non MS software on DOS and Windows. The antitrust issue was about IE only. It is true MS wasn't nice at all with competitors, but never blocked the installation of any software, nor you had to pay MS for the privilege of selling software on Windows.

        - That was a license limit on server connections on a machine acting as a server, not a client. In 1996. "In addition, the limit does not apply to anything that does not use the server and runs directly over the transport, such as Windows Sockets" (https://www.landley.net/history/mirror/ms/ntwk4.html)

        - The license terms was only for the Ribbon controls. You could write any Office competitor as long as you didn't use the Ribbon controls which were copyrighted. In many ways, they did developers a favor...

        1. Das Schaf

          Re: Oligopolies are hard to regulate

          Don't forget the AARD code ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AARD_code

          At least get your facts right. They were actively trying to prevent use of competing products with that little gem, as supported by docs that came out in the anti-trust case.

          Completely agree with you on ribbon controls. A UI designer's dream, a developer's royal pain in the bum, and a users nightmare trying to find stuff that used to be neatly organised and customisable in a traditional menu structure. I hate them as a developer of desktop software, I hate them as a designer of automated testing programs, I hate them as a user.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: Oligopolies are hard to regulate

            Was that code ever active, or as Wikipedia says "Microsoft disabled the AARD code for the final release of Windows 3.1," - so the code was there but never active? Very idiotic and anti-competitive move, sure, but even they found it was a bridge too far. Keeping them as a "nuclear options" was idiotic as well.

            But can you even install a different OS on iPhones/iPads?

            I never said MS was a nice company. I was using Borland tools and MS did its best to kill Borland (Borland was helpful in firing in its feet too - dBase, anyone?) - so I never was a MS fanboy. Still I could sell a lot of Windows applications that was never developed with MS tools, and for which MS didn't see a dime from me.

            I just said it never went to the extreme lock-in Apple does. Moreover MS had to resort to shady, illegal tactics that when found would just put it in bad waters. Apple strives for legally binding ways to cage developers and users into its walled garden and extract as much money from them as it can.

            Actually, looking at Apple, MS was stupid to try that trick. Using the Apple way it should have said transparently that Win 3.1 could only run on MS-DOS and actively enforce it through code signing. For security reasons, of course.... same for Office application - just assert you can install any Office suite as long as it is MS Office, just like Apple does with Safari. Ask for a yearly fee from developers, and force all applications to be signed by MS to run on Windows....

  8. iron Silver badge

    > Apple's response has not pleased anyone.

    Not true, I thought it was fecking hillarious.

  9. aebiv

    Ahh yes, the glory of building something, and then being told by everyone else how you can let others use it.

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      That would only be a vaid comment if it was something you had built for your own use - and someone came along and said you had to let others use it.

      In this case, Apple have built something (well millions of iSomethings) which they have sold to customers for the customers to use for the customers benefit. But they've reserved unto themselves the right to dictate what the customers can use that bought item for*, reserved unto themselves the right to prevent you buying accessories (i.e. apps) other than through themselves, and then use the second of those to justify charging devs for the privilege of being able to sell their wares to customers.

      Carp car analogy. A bit like Ford restricting your car so that you can only use petrol paid for via Ford financing, only fit tires paid for via Ford financing, only play CDs in the audio system that have been paid for via Ford financing, only listen to radio stations that have been approved by Ford (and for which they charge the radio station). Seems a bit different put that way doesn't it.

      * I wanted to use an iPad for WiFi surveys for work - but "not allowed" by Apple. Being pedantic, to do that means using a particular API which existed - but use of it was verboten by Apple for anything but it's own apps.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        A bit like Ford restricting your car so that you can only use petrol paid for via Ford financing, only fit tires paid for via Ford financing, only play CDs in the audio system that have been paid for via Ford financing, only listen to radio stations that have been approved by Ford (and for which they charge the radio station).

        I take it you've been around a few board meetings in the auto world.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          I suspect all of the manufacturers would do that if they could - luckily things like petrol and tyres are "open" to the extent that it can't be done. But yes, I bet they are all working on "electronic locks" to restrict what else you can do.

  10. Barrie Shepherd

    " "These changes will compromise the user experience, ............"

    Really? why not ask the users what they would like their experience to be?

    1. Falmari Silver badge
      Devil

      "These changes will compromise the user experience, ............"

      That really means:-

      These changes will be negated by us (Apple) deliberately compromising the user experience, .......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Barrie Shepherd

      If I was asked I would say "the same as they are now".

  11. quadibloc2

    Surprised Here!

    I'm surprised - that Apple allowed adding alternative payment systems to apps in any manner whatsoever, no matter how painful, expensive, or clunky.

    EDIT: Oh, a court in the Netherlands gave them absolutely no choice. At least until the United States decides that this is discrimination against U.S. exports, and will result in halting trade with the EU until legislation is enacted to protect Apple from such decisions.

    1. styx-tdo

      Re: Surprised Here!

      The US will do nothing. They export 202bn€ and import 352bn€ i goods from the EU (2020)

      Stopping that is more like suicide than anything else.

      Total US investment in the EU is three times higher than in all of Asia.

      EU investment in the US is around eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China together.

      just nope. The same as the US did not interfere with Facebook/Google vs EU when the privacy shield was unilaterally declared broken...

      Remember: Whatsapp is having a EU edition of their data privacy rules (well, not the UK nowadays, tho ;) )

      1. TimMaher Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: not the UK nowadays

        There, see... <snark>another Brexit benefit!<\snark>

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: not the UK nowadays

          @TimMaher

          See my, presumably above comment.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surprised Here!

        @styx-tdo

        I see you are not aware that GDPR is fully incorporated into the data protection act 2018?

  12. Annihilator Silver badge

    Third parties

    Here's an interesting thought. I have the Amazon app, Screwfix, Ebay and other apps to name a few. I can purchase things through those apps, and presumably Apple don't get to take a cut of that. Presumably because it's a realworld purchase?

    Notice Amazon nearly went to the brink with Visa transaction fee rates. From rumour, gossip and various insider sources, the payment processing fees for cards ranges in the 3-5% of the total transaction fees. It's unsurprising that companies are looking at Apple and thinking "what the hell, you take a THIRD of our revenue??"

    1. nsld

      Re: Third parties

      Amazon's volume is large enough that it gets way better rates than the headline 3% the average small business gets.

      The recent Visa spat was about cross border fees for using cards registered in the UK to purchase from Amazon SARL which has come about as yet another 'Brexit benefit' where the card schemes are no longer required to meet EU directives on maximum fees to be charged to merchants.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022