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Do App Store Rules Matter?

www.ben-evans.com

After a decade of arguing, regulators will change Apple’s App Store rules. How much money are we talking about, what might happen next and, most importantly, who cares? This is a big deal for Spotify, but does it matter to anyone else?

Apple’s rules are a structural problem for a small number of businesses that have marginal cost for digital goods - mostly, music and books - and are effectively unable to give Apple 30% of their top line. Ending the current rule would be a big deal here. Conversely, games companies have been able to build a $50bn industry even while giving Apple 30%, though some of them would like the extra cash. Here the issue is not so much Apple’s commission as the business model rules - Stadia is not allowed on the app store at any price, though Roblox is, for reasons no-one understands. Again, this is why a narrow focus on the 30% or side-loading misses the point - regulators are looking at the whole system.

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