A small group of iOS developers is challenging Apple’s App Store policies. The Developer’s Union was formed to “advocate for sustainability in the App Store.”
The group currently has 417 supporters with 468 apps. The union’s founders told Wired that they are looking to increase their membership to 1,000 this week, and hope to have 20,000 members by the time Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference rolls around this June.
The founders describe the group as a “non-union union” in that it does not collect dues or act on behalf of individual developers as standard unions do. Instead, the grassroots group plans to focus on broader issues that affect all iOS developers.
The Developer’s Union has posted an open letter asking Apple to allow free trials for all apps in the store. They would like to see the company commit to this by July 2019, which will be the tenth anniversary of the App Store. After that they will look to advocate for reforms in Apple's commissions from apps.
“We really want this to be community-driven, so this is about your ideas,” the founders say in the FAQ. “One thing on top of developers' minds is the revenue split between Apple and developers. That could be next.”
"We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it."
Currently, Apple takes a 30-percent commission on apps sold in the store. Getting Cupertino to lower that cut might be an uphill battle. Apple has already reduced its take on subscription-based apps to 15 percent. Asking Apple to take another hit in what is now a $38 billion-per-year industry might be more than the tech giant is willing to consider.
The current 70/30 split is similar to the cuts that Google takes from the Play Store and Valve takes from Steam sales. However, there has been some movement in the industry favoring developers. For example, later this year Microsoft will begin giving developers 85 percent of revenues from non-gaming apps purchased through its store and 95 percent if the customer discovers the app through an external webpage or another application.
The Developer’s Union would like to see Apple follow this example, but would settle less.
“This new group is just looking for a few more breadcrumbs,” said co-founder Jake Schumacher. “And not the kind you buy in mobile games,” referring to revenues generated through in-app purchases. "We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it."
Apple has not responded to the union nor its open letter.
If you are interested in supporting the Developer's Union, you can sign up on its website. You do not have to be an iOS developer to be a supporter, but if you have an app, they will list it on the apps page.