back to article A decade on, Apple and Google's 30% app store cut looks pretty cheesy

The Google-Fortnite spat will be being watched keenly in Brussels and DC, although we understand no formal complaint to the competition authorities has yet been made. The free-to-play "battle royale" third-person shooter has become a cultural phenomenon since it launched last year on PC and consoles – spawning dance crazes. …

  1. Vanir

    But we're taking about games here

    aren't we?

    I'm ignorant of any details of app stores so that's why I ask the following questions.

    What's the proportion of all software in all app stores that are classified as games?

    What's the mean and median prices of all apps in all app stores? The maximum and minimum?

    Might as well add cross referencing with the number of sales for each app.

    Governments must be envious of Google and Apple's tax raising powers.

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      Re: But we're taking about games here

      I don't know about proportions, but games have a special place. This year, Microsoft have reduced their cut on apps from 30% to 15%... Except for games.

      To foster app store competition, maybe the EU could just force Android to include as first-class citizens a couple of other app stores, like Amazon's and Samsung's. The tricky part is that for them to be successful, they need to give incentives to developers and users. Meaning, the developers need to take a bigger cut, and yet the apps themselves need to be sold cheaper; which would mean the app stores would have to massively reduce their own cut.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: But we're taking about games here

        Perhaps a better comparison would be the margins in retail stores?

        Or for software sold through distribution?

        Gross margins in both cases are normally higher than 30% even with the amount of competition on the high street.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: But we're taking about games here

          Perhaps a better comparison would be the margins in retail stores? Or for software sold through distribution? Gross margins in both cases are normally higher than 30% even with the amount of competition on the high street.

          Perhaps you should consider net margins, rather than gross. In the case of B2B software distributors, there's usually a lot more these do than pure retail intermediaries, and in the case of retail stores there's vast overheads and other fixed or partially fixed costs.

          The whole point of the debate here is what do Google do that justifies a 30% cut? They do little or nothing to assure security, judging by the malware that has crept into the Play store. They don't actively promote the software they sell, they don't support it, they don't help with its development. And they've got (in relative terms) bugger all fixed costs in running an online app store. They're not even crediting the app and game developers for exploiting their customer's data. Google take ZERO commercial risk in running the Play store, so a 5% margin seems more than enough.

          Clearly Google won't agree, hopefully other developers will see how Epic have sidelined Google, and consider doing the same.

          1. Arctic fox
            Headmaster

            @Ledswinger Re: But we're taking about games here

            "The whole point of the debate here is what do Google do that justifies a 30% cut?"

            They are of the opinion that they do not need to, they do it because they can. Indeed that is not surprising given that they have about 85% of the moble os market. In the circumstances it is hardly amazing that the European competition authorities are beginning to look very closely at the situation. Bluntly put, as Andrew has pointed out, there is no app store competition because each of the two "biggies" have a closed market in practice. Yes, I know you can side-load on Android (and indeed I have) but in reality, for hoi poloi (due to lack of knowledge) Android is in practice almost as locked down as ios. The net result of all this is (as this article is pointing out) that to all practical intents and purposes, there is no competition worth the name. The devs are getting screwed and so are the punters.

          2. Potemkine! Silver badge

            Cost does not justifiy Value

            what do Google do that justifies a 30% cut?

            Why should this 30% cut be justified by something else than people being ready to pay that price?

            The value of a service is what people are ready to pay for, it is unrelated to what the service costs to the provider. The link between cost and value is benefit, the higher the better for the provider.

            1. Ledswinger Silver badge

              Re: Cost does not justifiy Value

              Why should this 30% cut be justified by something else than people being ready to pay that price?

              That's the point of having competition authorities. In some cases (luxury watches, for example) most of us would say that the buyers and sellers can sort it out themselves and the margins are indeed what people choose to pay. Where there's good knowledge, commodity or near-commodity goods (eg groceries) likewise, the market sets the price. Where you have a dominant company appearing to abuse its market power, then that's why the authorities should act.

              If Tesco or British Gas had a similar market share and chose to extract a similar margin, they'd be hung drawn and quartered by the relevant competition authorities - and even then, I come back to the important point that Google's net margin is the thing to focus on not gross margin.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Cost does not justifiy Value

                "If Tesco or British Gas had a similar market share and chose to extract a similar margin"

                They can't because of the competition not the authorities. If Tesco hikes its prices it looses market share to Aldi etc. The problem here is that there isn't any competition. The only source of Apple apps is Apple and Android fares little better, so it should be something for the competition authorities. Rather than reducing their margins it could be addressed by forcing them to open their phones to third party stores, unfortunately that would lead to security concerns, but it would end ridiculous margins.

            2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

              Re: Cost does not justifiy Value

              The value of a service is what people are ready to pay for

              That is true in a competitive marketplace. But this is not.

              As already mentioned, for the vast majority of Android users, if it isn't in Google's store then it doesn't exist. For Apple it's virtually all users since Apple don't allow any sideloading and go to great lengths to prevent users breaking the locks so they can use the hardware they bought as they wish. So as a developer (unless you are big enough to run your own store, which is not the case for most devs) it's not a case of whether you think it's a reasonable price to pay, it's a question of "do I want to sell this ?" - if the answer to that is yes, then they have no choice but to pay whatever Google "asks" for.

              Ie, it's not a choice between 30% or some other cut a different store will charge - it's a choice between 30% or no business.

              1. Potemkine! Silver badge

                Re: Cost does not justifiy Value

                it's not a choice between 30% or some other cut a different store will charge - it's a choice between 30% or no business.

                It's still a choice, and there's another alternative, the one used by Epic.

            3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Cost does not justifiy Value

              "The value of a service is what people are ready to pay for,"

              When it's an effective monopoly, you pay or you do without. In a multi-national market, a few choosing do without is neither here nor there to the monopolist. They'll squeeze 'till the pips squeak and then squeeze some more.

            4. CRConrad

              People being ready to pay that price?

              People "being ready" to pay that price in a captive market, you mean...?

          3. David 164 Bronze badge

            Re: But we're taking about games here

            well Google can justify the costs by stating it got to fund the development of Android operating system and it doesn't have much of a hardware to do it.

            What does apple do to justify the cost of it store?

            1. MacroRodent Silver badge

              Re: But we're taking about games here

              Google could also argue it gives the basic development tools for free to anyone interested. (Not sure about Apple, do you have to buy the sdk?)

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "Perhaps a better comparison would be the margins in retail stores?"

          Comparing apples and oranges? Retail stores has far much higher costs - physically packaged software as well. Many physical shops each selling to a relatively smaller number of customers would actually need *higher* prices to survive. Why Amazon can easily undercut them with far lower margins?

          The comparison should be made about what electronic distribution costs to a company like Epic, compared to what Google asks. Epic isn't going to sell its software in retail stores.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Perhaps a better comparison would be the margins in retail stores?"

            We only have gross margins to compare! You can't compare the retail outlets net margin with the app stores gross margin either.

            If you compare to a large software company selling through partners (my experience is with SAP), the large partners make 50% at list price, but do have large annual fees to pay.

            Smaller resellers are making at 20-30%.

            1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

              Re: "Perhaps a better comparison would be the margins in retail stores?"

              You think that Google and Apple pay the say taxes that the retail stores pay then?

              My guess is that they manipulate the "expenses" so that the 30% disappears at tax time.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                "My guess is they manipulate the expenses so the 30% disappears"

                Since both Google and Apple are profitable overall, there isn't any such manipulation possible. If they lump expenses into the app store that maybe don't belong there, those expenses can't be used again against some other income.

                This kind of arbitrage is only possible / only worthwhile if you have different tax rates. Since a dollar of profit from the app store is taxed at the same percentage as a dollar of profit from selling an iPhone or slinging an ad, there's no point to doing this. At least I'm not aware of any countries that might tax the two differently, but I suppose some may do so.

              2. Dinsdale247

                Re: "Perhaps a better comparison would be the margins in retail stores?"

                https://www.creditloan.com/blog/double-irish-deception-how-google-apple-facebook-avoid-paying-taxes/

                1. CRConrad
        3. bilston

          Margins to high

          If I got 30% mark up as a retail buyer in the mass electrical store business ide be hailed a god (which sadly I’m not) average margins about 12% and of course they don’t hold any stock to look after deliver or repair. Looks like a gap in the market for a discount download store. Let’s crowd fund one sounds like fun

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As regards Game Store - Steam / GOG - charge 30% too

      Most of the stores run off with 30% except maybe Itch.io and a few other small players. What's interesting is that Epic's CEO Sweeney is the only big-player I know of, that's been shaming the 30% cut for years. So this isn't a headline grabbing recent move:

      https://www.pcgamesn.com/steam-revenue-cut-tim-sweeney

      Now that Epic are a billion dollar player with a stellar reputation and kudos / respect because of their game tech, they could open a competing store and charge 15%. They dropped the fee for their creator marketplace already down from 30% recent. so it has to be a possibility:

      https://forums.unrealengine.com/unreal-engine/marketplace/1500420-unreal-engine-marketplace-88-12-revenue-share

  2. Nathar Leichoz

    What is the fee as a percentage?

    Why is the fee a percentage of sales? Why not a flat fee like $0.5 per download. Or make it dependent on the app's download size to reflect network costs. Why does Walmart charge a percentage of sales? Why can't it be dependent on how much physical shelf space a product takes up? The world does not make sense.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: What is the fee as a percentage?

      Why does Walmart charge a percentage of sales?

      I doubt they do. Most physical retailers are very savvy about where they make margins, and the margin varies from negative to double figure positive - and sometimes much more. I've worked for a company that dealt with major retailers, and they have an exceptionally good idea of how much goods cost - not just the wholesale cost and shelf space, but stock turnover, likely spoilage and losses, "cross-sell" potential and customer draw effects, return volumes, impact on competing products in the same store etc etc.

      The flat % charge shows both the market power, but also the utter ignorance of Google when it comes to retailing.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "Why can't it be dependent on how much physical shelf space"

      So toilet paper would cost more than caviar?

      1. Joe Harrison Silver badge

        Re: "Why can't it be dependent on how much physical shelf space"

        Why not, it tastes better...

      2. CRConrad

        So toilet paper would cost more than caviar?

        No, it would just have a higher margin for the retailer. Low price-in + 6 cheap units of margin still equals a low price-out, whereas astronomical price-in + 1 cheap unit of margin still equals an astronomical price-out.

        Yeah, still feels weird, but it wouldn't be as absurd as your example.

  3. GordonD

    Apples and Oranges

    Always interesting to see the app stores compared as if they do the same thing.

    One does meaningful human audits of every app uploaded ( sometimes to the chagrin of us developers), spending a ton of money on checking there aren't a sea of trojans and other malware infecting the platform. The other does pretty much nothing for the same markup.

    I'm sure that both Apple and Google make a ton of money from their app stores, but only one has a plausible security justification for it's monopoly.

    Also a bit disgusting to see the proposal that successful businesses should get a discount. The cost of entry and failure rate among mobile apps punish the small players, so further rewarding the most successful players might seem a natural consequence of a competitive app store market place, but the effect on the general app development market place would be extremely pro-monopolistic.

    Full Disclosure: I am not an Economist :)

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Apples and Oranges

      GordonD,

      You're right about the important difference between Apple and Google. Apple are actively trying to keep their users secure, whereas Google look to be going through the motions a lot more. By making side-loading a lot harder Apple are also preventing their consumers from accessing cheaper (or more likely pirated) competition - but on the other hand that also means the consumers get better protection from malware and the app creators protection from being ripped off. Hence Apple consumers tend to get the best access to apps - so you've got ammunition for the walled garden versus freedom argument right there.

      But on discounts for big producers you've got it a bit wrong. If I'm Epic and Fortnite is getting downloaded millions of times, then Apple's costs are going to be lower, because they only have to manually check the app once. Which is a much bigger cost than the data for each individual download. So you're not so much punishing the smaller developers, as aligning the price to the developers with the costs they cause. Which is what you'd exepct to happen in a properly functioning market.

      The market failure here isn't amongst app developers, it's that smartphone OSes have become a duopoly. Worse, Microsoft didn't sell PC hardware and generally didn't take a cut of software sales, except where they sold their own. Obviously you got some dodgy competitive practises with MS Office, but not really with games and lots of other software.

      In Apple's case, they run the hardware, so are less interested in data-harvesting and their app store cut also acts to help the app writers - since they try to block side loading for normal users. I know there's a way to get corporate apps onto iPhones.

      Google at least allow sideloading. But that doesn't help app writers so much, as it's allowed a lot more piracy. And of course malware.

      These markets probably can't be made to function properly at this point without government intervention. Which might well create problems all of its own.

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Re: Apples and Oranges

        But what kind of intervention?

        Forcing both Apple and Google to allow multiple stores on their phone? s/ Of cause I'm sure the competition watchdog will be fair to both google and Apple on this issue /s

      2. imaginarynumber

        Re: Apples and Oranges

        Erm, apple do data harvest.

        They used to brag to prospective advertisers that-

        "iAd is part of Apple, and we know Apple users, all 800 million of them.

        We know what apps and other items content they downloaded and we know how and when they use it."

        Apple and Google seem to forget that it was third party apps that made their devices desirable in the first place.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Apples and Oranges

      One does meaningful human audits of every app uploaded

      For a given value of meaningful: the value of Apple's checks was debunked a while ago. I have a couple of apps on my Mac went back to selling directly beause the App Store was so shit.

      Of the two Apple is definitely the most anti-competitive. Android will let you use and trust other stores and also let you install your own browser, mail client, etc.

      Stores should be opened up and, if there is no fixed price for books any more, there shouldn't be for apps. Developers should be able to sell directly but there should also be some thought given to avoiding a race to the bottom.

  4. ratfox Silver badge

    What's the situation in China?

    Seeing as Google is blocked out, there should be a lot more competition between app stores. How many are there? What percentage do they take?

    I heard there's more malware in China, which might be a reason for the rise of super-apps like WeChat: the app becomes the app store.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What's the situation in China?

      Just because Google is blocked doesn't mean there will be more competition. People get a phone with a suite of stuff that replaces Google Play Services.

      I heard there's more malware in China…

      Moving the app store to add-ons for apps won't necessarily make anything safer. Piracy and knock-offs are common in China so people have less of a problem installing less legitimate stuff.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft ?

    Do Microsoft have an App Store ?

    What cut do they take ?

    A journalist might have mentioned that.

    1. ratfox Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Microsoft ?

      They used to take 30% everywhere, but they have recently reduced it to 15% or 5%... Except for games: Announcement here.

      This probably reflects how desperate Microsoft is to attract developers. As to why the article did not mention it, I can only assume they thought it was irrelevant.

      1. JimmyPage Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Microsoft ?

        how desperate Microsoft is to attract developers

        Not so desperate they didn't manage to break every single incarnation of Windows Mobile with it's successor. 8 broke 7.5 which broke 7.1 which broke 7.0 which broke 6.5 which broke WinCE ....

  6. Reaps

    say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

    article seems lopsided, pushing the blame on google.

    But never explains how fortnite dodges the Apple tax????

    Remember Apple are the bastards that started this shit, and there excuse of security is bull, it's to make sure your not bypassing their Apple toll.

    Remember Apple stops anything that attempts to do what apple does ( true 3rd party browsers NOT allowed).

    and if apple make a new app that nicks others ideas, the other app gets banned.

    Put the anger where it really belongs fucking apple!!!.

    1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

      true 3rd party browsers NOT allowed

      And there are good reasons for that - browser engines are complex beasts. Given Apple's insistence on checking every app for trojans, malware and other nasties, as well as trying to ensure they run smoothly on all supported hardware and don't munch battery power like a hungry robot in a Batteries 'r' Us warehouse, you are at least getting something from the "Apple tax" here. That's why Apple users rarely sideload anything.

      Android, however, not only gives you the possibility of shooting yourself in the foot, but will happily hand over a fully loaded shotgun should you ask it to...

    2. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

      "But never explains how fortnite dodges the Apple tax????

      Probably because they're not. But that's not to say that they would not if the option was available - as you quite rightly point out Reaps, "Apple stops anything that attempts to do what apple does" - so unless you're willing to jump through the hoops of a jailbreak, there's no easy alternative to loading an app than via the app store.

      However, this exact same level of lockdown makes it a lot harder for me to do something like creating a malware app, making it look suitably close to the official Fortnite branding, and floating it on the store. So security is not an excuse here, it's a fact. In fact, having made mobile games myself and seen how easy it is to put a fake app up on Play, I for one would feel more confident about side-loading an APK that I had downloaded from the official Fortnite site than hoping I'd found the right one in the store.

      However, as the article points out, avoidance of the 30% "tax" is at least part of the reason behind the decision, as the CEO freely admits. And why not? It's just business - and like I said, I bet if the option were there on iOS, they would do the same.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

        However, this exact same level of lockdown makes it a lot harder for me to do something like creating a malware app, making it look suitably close to the official Fortnite branding, and floating it on the store.

        It strikes me that if apks are properly signed, and certificates properly checked by the OS on install, then your 'foortnight' app purporting to be from Epic Games would not have the appropriate certificate to identify it. True, there isn't much of a barrier to obtaining a signing certificate legitimately, but I can't see how some simple checks in the store could stop the more rampant abuses (certificate registration, checks, and a human eye on each to make sure it tallies with what it says it is). These needn't be costly - a one-off fee for each certificate submitted to the store's registry and a fee for each app submitted, both of which should reflect the amount of work required to check them - say £10.

        The certifying authority (which could be the app store itself) would do some basic checking when a new certificate is issued (e.g. rejecting that certificate for the Russian start-up calling itself 'Epick Games')

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

      Remember Apple are the bastards that started this shit, and there excuse of security is bull, it's to make sure your not bypassing their Apple toll.

      > Why can't it be both? Why does it have to be one or the other?

      Remember Apple stops anything that attempts to do what apple does ( true 3rd party browsers NOT allowed).

      > Err... Nope. I have other browsers installed. From the App Store.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

        "> Err... Nope. I have other browsers installed. From the App Store."

        Err... Nope you dont, you have a shell that encapsulates apples browser, (with extra limititations)

        1. GrapeBunch

          Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

          On my Apple iPod Touch 2g, I have Opera Mini, Version 7.0.5.45389 Copyright (c) 1995 - 2012 Opera Software ASA All rights reserved. They list 12 "Third Parties", none of whom is Apple (though ironically one of them is google). Mildly disappointed to learn that this is just window dressing around Safari. Though the important question is whether it works.

          Before malware and internet banking, I was anti-Apple. Now there's a point to a walled garden, if well maintained. And thanks to the masons.

    4. David 164 Bronze badge

      Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

      You do realise the The Register is one of the biggest haters of Google on the web for reasons unknown to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

        "You do realise the The Register is one of the biggest haters"

        El Reg - biting the hands that feed IT.

        It doesn't matter if it's google, apple, microsoft, intel, some random tech company or the government. If they are being shitty, El Reg bites them. It's the very reason we come to here.

        By the way, Welcome to El Reg.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

        You ALSO realize El Reg is very much against Big Brother (they have an icon), which they feel Google and the like are trying to achieve through the back door.

      3. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

        "... for reasons unknown to me

        Well, there's little things like the streetview cars scanning for wifi, scanning email contents, anticompetitive behaviour, product tying, "illegally" using NHS data without consent, attempting to patent material already in the public domain, tracking locations of Android users despite said option being "switched off"... you know, little things...

        I can provide links if needed...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: say again, how are they dodging 30% apple tax?

        Vulture search results for 'Google News' shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media,In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake Reg is prominent. Google News & Fair Media is shut out.

        The Register & others are suppressing voices of Googlers!

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    You have to remember that the 30% of paid for content also covers the cost of Apple/Google distributing free content.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      30% of paid for content also covers the cost of Apple/Google distributing free content

      They wouldn't have to distribute free content if they allowed other people to do it (the famously permissive Apple) or didn't make it a scary "untrusted" process (the famously trustworthy Google).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    profiting from consumer inertia

    profiting from consumer inertia is THE corner stone of business in general. As long as your "consumers" are not TOO pissed off, they'll stay stuck forever with your bank, supermarket, electricity supplier and ISP. People are lazy (and auto-renewal anchors their inertia, same as "opt-in by default"). Gotta shear them sheep, eh.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: profiting from consumer inertia

      No, effective monopoly (either literal or just collusion among the few players to offer the same terms) is THE cornerstone of business in general - actual competition is well and truly dead, buried, rotted to dust and long forgotten in practically all but a very select few markets - essentially, everywhere where barriers to entry could be erected to any sort of meaningful height, which is almost everywhere. When the overwhelming majority of customers shop in supermarkets, you can't even "compete" on stupid-basic stuff like fruits or vegetables - you sell to a store chain for whatever it is they are offering (and kiss their feet for the privilege...) or don't sell at all. Everything else is much worse.

  9. LDS Silver badge

    No surprise...

    I've been saying for years that those high cuts would have not be acceptable by larger companies selling more expensive software. OK for cheap apps from small developers without the infrastructure to sell themselves, with little or no other expenses (i.e. promotion), those already using third party distribution channels, but not for the others who have it already, have larger structures to pay for and also have also other costs like support, promotion, etc.

    I think Google, Apple & C. are quite avid and blind - they should have offered better deals to companies selling applications which would have brought a lot of money anyway. Think the hate and outrage if Microsoft ever tried something like that on Windows - it's actually trying now, as it worked for the others - as usual, maybe too late...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: No surprise...

      Google will at least let you install and trust other stores, most notably Amazon for film and music. It's also pushing "Progressive Web Apps", ie. it's perhaps more interested in the advertising revenues that what it makes from selling apps, though I'm sure it doesn't mind that.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Only a decade?

    I think it was 2001 or 2002 when I looked at Handango and Jamster - both of whom took 30%, and more to the point took complete control of distribution - i.e. all they had to do was put your app below the fold of their web page, and you'd never sell anything - and I remember thinking at the time, "Seriously, what idiot developer is ever going to buy into this?"

    The internet gave me my answer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: what idiot developer is ever going to buy into this?

      "The internet gave me my answer."

      And before that, Jamster gave the world... can I, should I...

      Sod it.. I'm not going to name the barstewards and their most famously succesful "product". Hanging's too good for them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: what idiot developer is ever going to buy into this?

        I won't name it, but someone wrote some lyrics for it.

        They went :-

        'Buy my ringtone

        Stupid f*cking ringtone

        Buy my ringtone

        Only three quid'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Buy my ringtone Only three quid

          Wasn't it actually three quid (or more) **per text message** unless you cancelled your (undisclosed) subscription following the agreed and documented process whose details were on display?

          "On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

          “That’s the display department.”

          “With a flashlight.”

          “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”

          “So had the stairs.”

          “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”

          “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Frog.”

          RIP Mr Adams

          Good Riddance Jamba.

  11. SVV Silver badge

    Agree we need more app stores to improve competition

    It will need a big established company to be trustworthy though.

    Oracle?

    1. alexmcm

      Re: Agree we need more app stores to improve competition

      I hope that was a joke.

      Oracle will charge you per core, so good luck if you've got an octa-core phone, that'll be 240% thanks.

    2. CRConrad
      Joke

      "Big established company to be trustworthy ... Oracle?"

      Muahahahahahahahahaaah!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I own an Android and IOS product and never have paid a cent for an app, if I have to pay then I don't need it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. idiotsavant

        Not sure about SwiftKey

        SwiftKey on iOS means giving it access to your contacts and your Gmail (so it can learn the way you type), then telling it your date of birth (so it can ensure it applies its "high standards" of data protection apparently), then it wants to send you notifications... Then once you go to enable it in the settings it encourages you to give "full access" which allows the app to transmit anything you typed and anything in your typing history back to the app owner.

        Thanks but no thanks.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Windows

        Multiling O keyboard worked for me

  13. fishman

    Since Fortnight is dodging the Google tax...

    Does this mean that Android users are getting a 15%-25% discount now? If not, it end up the users get fleeced at the same rate, but the money is just flowing into different pockets.

    1. NBCanuck

      Re: Since Fortnight is dodging the Google tax...

      "Does this mean that Android users are getting a 15%-25% discount now? If not, it end up the users get fleeced at the same rate, but the money is just flowing into different pockets."

      - If I recall correctly, part of the agreement with Apple for selling something through its app store is that it cannot be sold anywhere else for less. So according to that, the game developer may make more profit, but CANNOT sell for less.

      1. hollymcr

        Re: Since Fortnight is dodging the Google tax...

        .. which is the real anti-competitive bit here.

        Do we, as consumers (or the EU, as our "champion"), really care whether the game developer can avoid paying the store tax if it can't pass it on to us, the consumer?

        Google have their faults but in this situation, Apple are the problem. Other app stores *are* available on Android, and they're not hard to install. If a third party app store could set up offering all your favourite games at 15% discount compared to Apple/Google by offering 20% lower fees to the publisher to do it, then *that* would introduce competition. However, that wouldn't currently be possible if you wanted to sell the game on iOS as well.

      2. CRConrad

        Potential loophole?

        They "aren't selling Fortnite for iOS" anywhere else...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Andrew Orlowski - How about a followup article?

    #1. The market isn't just Apple / Google. PC games on Steam are a major earner but Valve charge the same 30%. Plus cast a wider net and in the EU GOG also levy 30%. So all the games stores are mugging people! Well almost all, a nod to Itch.io and other smaller players that are less greedy! Smaller stores are gaining traction in tough economic times for Indies.

    #2. The media needs to give credit to Sweeney @ Epic for repeatedly highlighting the unfair 30%. This isn't some recent headline grabbing effort or protest especially targeting Google. Steam do zero filtering or screening of games anymore except for Malware. So, why not ask Sweeney if he'll open a competing Games Store and charge no more than say 12%-15%?

    https://www.pcgamesn.com/steam-revenue-cut-tim-sweeney

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: @Andrew Orlowski - How about a followup article?

      Also, maybe get Tom Robinson to explain where the money goes too.

      Back in the early days of iTunes, he made a big point of having his own stuff freely downloadable, and even occasionally publishing the well hidden details of where the money went from iTunes downloads.

      Then his stuff became available through iTunes and the free downloads (and articles about who got what from iTunes) stopped. Purely by coincidence, I imagine.

  15. Anonymaus Cowark

    amazon is charging 30 % too.

    did all companies agreed to have at least 30%?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: amazon is charging 30 % too.

      This is effectively a cartel. The T&Cs probaly prohibit offering lower prices on other platforms/stores.

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Re: amazon is charging 30 % too.

        I doubt that, that would have certainly got everyone a slapdown by the EU Commission by now.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google and Apples problem may be

    the fact that as far as the great unwashed are concerned, they are tax-dodging corporations themselves. People might use them - they might have no choice. But they don't have to like them. I suspect that Trump (or his handlers) have cottoned onto this are are starting to play with it. Maybe Fortnite is simply a stalking horse.

  17. Sam Adams the Dog

    They still distribute the IOS version via the Apple store.

    "This means it doesn't pay the high, non-negotiable distribution fee Apple and Google both require."

    Not. They still distribute the IOS version through the Apple store, perhaps because that's the only way you can distribute and IOS app.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh the irony. An article concerned about market duopoly from the guy who thinks that Net Neutrality is something that's unfair to those poor wickle ISPs.

    And suggesting that Samsung do something about it? Oh my. Samsung's the same kind of crap-shoveling oligopolist, just not good enough at it to compete with the others.

  19. dankell

    Back in the day, when I was looking at the iOS app store the 30% looked like a good deal

    As an independent it provided me with a content delivery system, that reached all my potential customers, and I didn't need to worry about anything other than writing my App, knocking together a simple html only website for some promotion and a bank account.

    And I would have avoided any upfront costs as it would all be paid for as the "cut" from my apps.

    For me where it falls apart is that Apple have been crap at protecting developers from knock-offs and copycats, and some of the development restrictions are, shall we say opaque.

    I can see why a large company like Epic, which have their own channels to deliver, bill, etc. should feel that the 30% is much less value.

  20. adnim Silver badge

    Late post...

    It stinks of greed and silent collaboration.

    I support these companies via my contractual obligations, I am not yet financially secure enough to choose my employer.

    However, I personally avoid Apple (easy) Google (harder) Microsoft (easy).

    The choice is yours.... Who you encourage, who you support.

  21. karlkarl Bronze badge

    It is embarrasing that we need "one of them big fancy companies like Epic" to show us idiots the way.

    App stores have been digitally raping humanity for so many years now and yet developers and consumers have willingly bent over. They might as well keep on doing so.

    Myself? As a consumer I still just grab mobile software from the Pirate Bay. A much more user friendly experience.

    As a developer... I refuse to make phone apps quite frankly lol.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Myself? As a consumer I still just grab mobile software from the Pirate Bay. A much more user friendly experience.

      And you wonder why your phone runs really hot and the battery life is close to zero? That would be the bitcoin mining malware owning your £500 phone. Or did you download the phone from TPB as well?

    2. alexmcm

      " I still just grab mobile software from the Pirate Bay. A much more user friendly experience."

      I don't like with app stores taking 30%, but seriously, what is user friendly about downloading it from piratebay?

      -Get torrent or magnet ink

      -Download unverified software.

      -Unpack software.

      -Scan software.

      -Sideload software to phone.

      - Install software

      Or with an app store

      - Tap Install

      - Tap Open

      I think they do win the user friendly argument. That doesn't mean it's worth 30%.

  22. David 164 Bronze badge

    Because Google and Apple want a fair playing field. Blockbusters apps already got every advantage going over smaller rivals they don't need a cheaper deal from Apple or Google to survive or increase their advantage over small rivals.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Because Google and Apple want a fair playing field"

      I don't think they care one bit about whether or not there's a fair playing field for developers. They want to maximize their own profit, nothing more.

  23. JohnFen Silver badge

    Exposure?

    "Small developers may need the Google Play Store for exposure"

    If they do, they're pretty much hosed from the get-go. The amount of exposure you get from just being in the Play Store is minimal -- if you want actual exposure, you still have to engage in your own marketing.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Exposure?

      Not really. Of course, google play won't help with exposure, but it will help keep people who already know about the app from drifting away. When you say in your advertising to go to the google appstore and search a phrase, people know what that means. If you tell them to go to a website, no matter how clear you are on that site as to how to download the APK file and install it, fewer of them will. That's why the google store can effectively constrain developers to using it, even though sideloading is possible. The same would be true, for example, if you told them that the app could be found in FDroid or another relatively unknown store. The non-technical, for most apps, the main customer base, won't get you, and you'll lose their business.

  24. DrRobert

    I wouldn't care if they charged 99% . Perhaps fewer people would be turning themselves into drooling retards by playing video games then..

    win-win

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Perhaps fewer people would be turning themselves into drooling retards by playing video games

      Do you also consider those who listen to music to be gibbering loons? Those who watch TV knuckle-dragging cro-magnons? Maybe those who go to the cinema are slavering zombies?

      Or perhaps, your arrogant disdain for the ways in which others choose to entertain themselves in their own time just frames you as a small-minded idiot.

      FWIW, the global games market is worth well over $100bn annually, compared to the movie industry, worth somewhere shy of £40bn p/a. That's a lot of "drooling retards", isn't it?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        ...just to add to that, there have actually been several high-quality studies that show that, far from turning players into 'drooling retards', video games can improve coordination, reaction times, and stave off dementia.

        For instance, https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13423-015-0912-6, and https://www.alzheimers.net/9-28-15-video-games-for-brain-health/

      2. CRConrad
        Holmes

        Drooling retards

        A " Loyal Commenter" writes:

        Do you also consider those who listen to music to be gibbering loons?
        No, not gibbering loons — mindless drones. Worse, people who are doing their best to make themselves mindless drones.

        Come now, have you really not realised that people who walk around with earplugs in all day, constantly drizzling their brains in muzak, are doing that so as not to have to listen to their own thoughts (or lack thereof)?

        Those who watch TV knuckle-dragging cro-magnons?
        Depends. Is that something, say, narrated by Simon Schama they're watching? Or "Reality" TV...?

        Maybe those who go to the cinema are slavering zombies?
        No, just sheep eager to be shorn.

        Or perhaps, your arrogant disdain for the ways in which others choose to entertain themselves in their own time just frames you as a small-minded idiot.
        Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

        FWIW, the global games market is worth well over $100bn annually, compared to the movie industry, worth somewhere shy of £40bn p/a.
        "argumentum ad lots of money"?

        That's a lot of "drooling retards", isn't it?
        Yes, indeed, that's a lot.

        Why, you thought "argumentum ad lots of people" is any better than "argumentum ad lots of money"? It isn't. Sturgeon's law, you know.

  25. skwdenyer

    Bigger oixture

    I’ll admit I’m pretty staggered at the blinkers in this thread.

    As much as anything, that 30% pays for OS development.

    I’m an Apple user. I’m very happy with the deal I have - buy a phone every couple of years, get free OS updates and security fixes, access to an App Store that “just works” in delivering me free and paid content, etc.

    And I really like the fact that every software developer gets the same chance of me downloading their app from the same store.

    As others have said, 30% is not huge in mark-up terms. There’s this obsession with the idea that the internet is cheap - it is not, but it is flexible.

    Fortnite’s developers don’t like that their successful app should be so encumbered. Of course not - successful companies always like to “pull up the drawbridge” when they’ve made it.

    The *next* successful app can just as easily come from a small startup under the current model. Which is yet another reason why I like it.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Bigger oixture

      As much as anything, that 30% pays for OS development.

      At around £1k a pop, I would have thought that the mile-wide margins on the latest iShiny cover the development costs of the incremental OS updates, and more.

  26. Richtea

    Amazon

    > In a functioning marketplace, surely that would have encouraged third parties like Amazon to enter the market. In short, why is that 30 per cent still 30 per cent?

    Amazon App Store:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1000644603

    It also takes 30%. Who would have guessed.

    The one disruptive bit they did do well was Amazon Underground, where popular paid apps were free, in exchange for Amazon popping up adverts of their choice. We made some significant income from that, but they've now pulled the Underground feature from recent devices.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really simple

    They don't need to change anything until they stop making x amount of money.

    And as is show by this article you do't have to use them, IF you want to provide your own storefront.

    Many people surely don't want to or indeed can't do that themselves or want the extra ease for their customers etc so take the hit.

    It's all a business decision on many levels but in the end it's up to you whether you want to take the hit or go it alone or go somewhere else like Steam, no idea about any cut there,

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its great to see a worldwide company like Google and Apple being able to slap a huge percentage on developers to advertise and use its services. Lets hope that Google and Apple aint hypocritical when it touts those services in countries and abides with their TAX laws in the same way they expect others to abide by theirs. All i can see is Fortnite is playing the exact same game to avoid higher taxes.

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