Application storefronts for smartphones and other industries such as games take a straight 30% cut of all revenue generated through the application from in-app purchases (IAPs). This 30% cut is to help pay for distribution of the application as well as management fees for the services the app uses such as notifications and messaging.
Apple lowers this fee to 15% if your app has generated less than $1m per calendar year, which at first glance is good news for app developers when in reality the 50% cut was in response to increasing pressure from industry figures such as Epic.
But I think it should be lower. Much lower.
Let me explain: as mentioned above the fee is there to pay for things such as app distribution as well as provision of features the store provides.
Let’s focus on distribution for a moment: previously developers would need to find a publisher to publish their software. The year is 2000 and you have developed a professional calendar application for Microsoft Windows, to get it in the hands of the general public you need to be able to distribute it. Sure, you can purchase replication equipment in order to mass-produce copies of your golden master disc, but this is extremely expensive and time consuming. You need a publisher who already has this network in place who can publish your software for you.
You find a publisher who likes your software and wants to publish it. They offer to assist with the logo and branding in general for 5% extra taken from each sale with a revenue floor of 25%, but as you already have this nailed down you decline (as long as the publisher is happy with it).
Sure you lose 25% of the sale, but you’re paying someone to do lots of heavy lifting for you.
Now, let’s change this to the year 2022: you have written a calendar app for iOS. The calendar app uses only the OS’s notifications system as well as IAPs- there are dozens of iOS and App Store features you could have used but don’t need to use them.
You are still charged 30% per purchase, despite using only 5% of the features that you could have used.
Here lies the problem: you’re now paying for things that you do not use and did not ask for. The 30% fee is great if you leverage the features available to you, but you don’t and that’s pretty unfair.
Digital storefront fees should be tiered
The premise of this is simple: if you use less features, you pay less money. Perhaps a minimum contribution floor of 5% should apply, up to a maximum of 30% based upon the features used, for example:
|>=2 && <=4
|>=5 && <=7