At the end of 2021, Apple was required to implement 3rd party payments for developers in their App Store policies. In the 2 months since Apple managed to get an extension on the implementation, a lot of questions have surrounded the new rules. The most important question, though, is how will Apple treat developers who decide to use payment systems that Apple does not have anything to do with. Some rumblings from the company suggested that they would attempt to charge a commission on external payments, but nothing was set in stone. Now, after a similar implementation in the Netherlands, we have some new fears.
According to a new support document, Apple will begin to charge publishers in the Netherlands a commission of 27 percent for payments made outside of the Apple App Store. This is in comparison to the 30 percent fee they charge for App Store transactions. The company has long argued that the fee is fair for the amount of service that they provide in streamlining payments. But, to charge nearly the same fee to use absolutely no services from the company seems to be tipping their hand that the 30 percent is not a fair fee.
If Apple believes that they are owed 27 percent of transactions that are made outside of their ecosystem and 30 percent for those processed within their ecosystem, it would appear that Apple is saying that they provide very little value in payments. In reality, it would appear that the company believes that the real value they provide is unrelated to payment systems, and they have been offsetting that value with payment fees. It would certainly explain why the company has fought against changes to the ecosystem with everything they have. In all, they have likely spent more money fighting the Epic Games lawsuit, for example, then they would have lost in allowing external payments in Fortnite.
The other possibility, of course, is that this is purely greed on Apple's part. The company has built many of the other products in its lineup using the fees charged on on-app purchases through the App Store. By allowing these fees to get away from them, they would lose a large amount of profit. This loss could translate into a slowdown in new product development, which would affect investment an possibly even consumer confidence.
The problem in all of this is that Apple is showing its hand a little bit. And they are showing it to the people who already feel like they have seen a glimpse at their cards. Developers have long been annoyed by several aspects of the App Store, as Apple has always shown that they don't really care about developers. Hopefully, the backslash against this ludacris fee for literally nothing will force the company to change its plans, or for legislative bodies across the world to prevent this type of behavior before it becomes an even bigger problem outside of the Netherlands.