The App Store EU regulations

Okay, it is unlikely anyone will read this blog, and it is even less likely you will read it on 26 January 2024. But if you do, you are likely to know about yesterday’s changes from EU lawmakers. These changes flooded my NetNewsWire feed and made me want to drink heavily last night. The reaction from the indie dev community is, to be blunt, not fruitful. There’s two things to unwrap here, first my disappointment with the third-party dev community public reaction, and second my own opinion on how these changes should be seen — not as a decease symptom but rather ripples on a pond. Ripples on a pond from a kid who threw a couple of stones. What the dev community wants to see is a magical mystical fairy-tail creature emerging from the pond and giving the angry kid with a blue T-shirt a bunch of apologies moving the pond away and replacing it with a bouncy castle. But life is not a fairy tail, and the situation beyond the surface is always more complex than it seems.

So there’s a lot to unwrap, If you still reading, I wanted to say, that daily news is not what excites me, because they are ripples. I think there’s a bigger story here, we can interpret ripples and see a big picture, where tech workers workflows and consumer electronics are heading. And it pisses me off, but I don’t see any useful clues from the huge news outbursts which happened this week. Nevertheless, the community are quick to judge Apple for being greedy and demanding immediate App Store policy changes worldwide. Apple PR has been good with handling these kinds of stories, and the best thing they can do is to do the same thing they have always done. Is complete radio silence. These iOS changes and laws do not matter now. iOS is a mature software platform now, The EU is as late as ever with their lawmakers trying to do the right thing, without understanding the matter or how the actual user experience for common people, for the rest of us is going to change.

So let’s make some bets. Nothing, nothing for the majority of the iOS customer base should change. A minor portion of big businesses will try to create either their store or host their binaries. Most likely all of these initiatives are going to be abandoned, like they abandoned their Apple Watch apps and iMessage apps. They do not care, and they won’t care when they see their metrics are dead in comparison to the App Store metrics. What Apple did here with their reactive defensive approach is a strategy to make sure the App Store platform remains the same. We all, me included, are not happy with the App Store policies and we want the App Store to change. Laws and regulations are not the way to do it. The change has to come from creative energy, not force. The only good change that can come is driven by the creative mindsets of brilliant people working hard right now on the future of computing.

Now some of you might think right now, that if Apple would be more proactive we would be in a different scenario right now and all these stories with lawmakers and Spotify, Epic pushing Apple for a revenue cut won’t happen. That’s not how reality works. I am mostly convinced that the current state of The App Store policies and APIs has zero to no influence on EU lawmakers and leadership in companies like Meta, Spotify and Epic. When you grow big and successful jackals come to have a bite of your pie, no matter how good you are and what pie-sharing policy you had in the past. The jackals always come, and they will come again for more. And no matter how much you give them, they always come back and ask for more. So giving them as little as possible is a perfect and only logical strategy. Give them scraps, mixed with rock-hard marbles, and let them break their teeth.

I ask Meta, Spotify and Epic, where are your apps which take in-app payments on a Mac? There are no technical reasons which stop you from shipping better apps for a Mac. You are not interested, because you are only driven by numbers and don’t care about good user experience. You rather develop bloated monsters, take advantage of free web technologies, pack all up and ship to as many platforms as possible, with little to no care to details.