As Apple faces both an antitrust case with huge implications and a formal EU investigation into its App Store tactics, Apple is publicly defending itself today against Spotify and other critics of the company's massively successful software store.
"Today, the App Store is livelier and more innovative than ever and offers developers equal opportunities to deliver their apps and services on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch," the message reads a new page on the Apple website with the title "App Store – Principles and Practices. "" We are proud of the store we built and the way we built it. "
Apple says it has paid $ 120 billion to App Store developers worldwide since the platform was launched, and the company is once again challenging the rapid approval process and efficient work of its app review team, which now & # 39; 81 languages in three time zones represents & # 39 ;. Sixty percent of the approximately 100,000 apps and app updates reviewed every week are approved, with rejections that are usually the result of "minor bugs, followed by privacy issues." Apple notes that anyone who believes they have been wrongly rejected can view their situation on the App Store Review Board.
But the most interesting parts of this new site relate to competition. In one section, Apple goes into more detail about the core of the built-in apps on iOS and lists the many popular third-party options that are available in the category as alternatives.
The company does not report that none of these apps can be chosen as the default messaging app, folder service, email client, web browser or music player. That restriction is not always a deal-breaker – just ask WhatsApp, which is more popular than iMessage in many countries – but it still offers Apple & # 39; s services an advantage. Apple also claims that "developers have many choices for distributing their apps – from other app stores to smart TV & # 39; s to game consoles. Not to mention the open internet that Apple supports with Safari and our customers regularly use web apps such as Instagram and Netflix. "
The message here seems to be that if companies don't like Apple's policies, they have other options. Go find your wealth on Android or create a Roku app. But developers have a huge financial incentive to be in the App Store. It is often reported that iOS users spend more money on apps than people with Android phones, and Apple relies on that benefit. "Even though other stores have more users and more app downloads, the App Store earns more money for developers," the company notes. So ignoring the App Store is not really practical for companies that want to earn a lot of money. Regarding the open web, how often do you use Instagram or Netflix in the Safari browser on your iPhone or iPad instead of the app itself? On the desktop, perhaps, but Apple is about to let developers bring their iPad apps to the Mac, and how do you think you'll ever see Netflix when that happens?
Apple also lists the different types of apps in the store, from completely free to paid for many with in-app purchases or monthly subscriptions. You may not know that some of the essential apps that you use every day are classified as & # 39; reader & # 39; apps because those companies have decided not to give Apple a discount on their in-app purchases and subscriptions. (Apple takes 30 percent off subscriptions for the first year that a customer signs up and 15 percent for each following year.)
This category includes Amazon Kindle, Netflix and Spotify. Apple says that customers of these services "have access to that content in the app on their Apple devices" and that "developers receive all the revenue they generate to bring the customer to the app."
But here Apple is ignoring a major problem that developers have been reporting for years: if an app does not use Apple's purchasing system in the app, developers are not allowed to tell their customers where and how they can pay outside the app. Save or offer a handy link. "Not only should Netflix link to their website, they cannot even tell the user to go to netflix.com to sign up," John Gruber wrote back in January when Netflix stopped by allowing new customers to subscribe via the iOS app. "Apple can make the rules – it's their platform. But it's just wrong that one of the rules is that apps can't explain the rules to users."
Apple's new site takes a great look at the App Store's unparalleled success and reach, but in some ways it also brings more attention to how difficult it can be to compete against Apple.