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App stores, trust and anti-trust

www.ben-evans.com

The app store model has been a central part of the smartphone revolution, bringing safe, trusted software to billions of people for the first time. Breaking it would be insane. The trouble is, it also means Apple (and Google) aren’t the pirates anymore - they’re the navy, the port and the customs house, so how do they manage that, and how soon do regulators step in?

That 30% adds up to real money, incidentally. When the store launched, Steve Jobs said it was aiming to break even - the 30% was to cover the running costs, and it is worth remembering how many huge companies are getting the App Store, the manual review and the file downloads to hundreds of millions of users for nothing more than their $100 a year developer subscription. But the App Store is not running at break even anymore: in 2019 it made somewhere between $10bn and $15bn of commission - 20-30% of the ‘service revenue’ Apple likes to talk about.

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