The First Rule Of Apple Is Don't Talk About Apple
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 31 August 2020

With tensions mounting in the struggle between Epic and Apple over the 30% App Store tax, Facebook stirs it further by trying to tell users that Apple is taking 30% - Apple tells Facebook it can't do that.

In the court of public opinion Apple wins over Facebook every time. For some Apple is a passion and it can do no wrong, but recently any reasonable person would have to come to the opinion that Apple is a shark pretending to be a saint. Yes, I know there are many users who buy an iPhone just because they believe that Apple will look after them by keeping them safe in its walled garden, but there are other ways this could be achieved that wouldn't give Apple the huge power that it has over matters that have nothing to do with user's security. For example, a right of appeal to an independent adjudicator for App Store decisions that remove an app or a developer from the App Store.

At the moment the only appeal a developer has is to go to social media and hope the bad publicity causes Apple to reconsider.

You almost certainly know that Epic is objecting to Apple's 30% cut of the App Store revenue and has been removed. In this case I doubt an independent adjudicator would help - Epic broke the rules and nothing but a revolution is going to help.

In the case of Facebook things are more subtle.


Facebook has created an app that allows users to host online paid-for events, ostensibly as a way of offsetting losses people incurred during the Covid-19 lockdown. I'm not sure why this is logical, or why Facebook is doing it but, let's not inquire. Where it gets complicated is that Facebook was going to waive any cut of the money that users made from the app. However, when it comes to Apple and the App Store any money taken by an app, even if it isn't taken by the app's creator, is subject to the 30% Apple tax. Facebook asked Apple to waive its 30%, but Apple said no on the grounds it was an in-app purchase and the App Store rules say that Apple gets 30% of all such income.

So far so predictable but the next twist is well, a twist...

Facebook decided that it was going to be up-front about the money situation and state on the App's home page that it wasn't taking any money out of their pockets but Apple was taking 30%, unlike Google who had waived its cut:

We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue. While Facebook is waiving fees for paid online events we will make other fees clear in the product. (Updated on August 14, 2020 at 1:07 PM PT to clarify where we will explain the fees.) Here’s how this will look on Android and iOS, which we submitted to Apple today for approval.


Just in case you can't read it, the message says:

Apple takes 30% of this purchase.

Honest, truthful, accurate and in no way putting a spin on the matter. Apple turned it down and insisted that the message be removed citing rule 2.310:

"Don’t include irrelevant information, including but not limited to information about Apple or the development process."

So is the information "irrelevant" or is it "about Apple"? Is this censoring material that puts Apple in a bad light or is it saving the user from having to see irrelevant information in case they get confused. I know what I think it is, but why should I get to decide. This is where we return to the idea that it isn't the App Store that is necessarily the problem, but its governance. Would an independent adjudicator conclude that what Facebook was telling its users was "irrelevant"?

Whatever you think of Apple, this is too much power in one place.


More Information

Paid Online Events for Small Business Recovery

Exclusive: Facebook says Apple rejected its attempt to tell users about App Store fees (Reuters)

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Epic Games Takes On Apple - Unintended Consequences

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Last Updated ( Monday, 31 August 2020 )