The gist of the email thread was that Apple, for no other reason than that it wanted to create a new revenue stream, attempted to charge
a 30 percent fee for “membership subscriptions” sold on its service, even though it’s arguable that it did basically none of the work to help sell those subscriptions.
Uber and Lyft were the targets of this plan, and both balked at efforts by Apple to take such a large cut. A key passage from the emails:
Many of these developers recognize the benefits of using our subscriptions platform, particularly as a way to launch and operationalize these memberships quickly. However, we anticipate our 30% commission will be a key concern for them.
Both companies understandably balked at this plan. (Lyft, which was selling a $300 plan for heavy users at the time, had a lot of reason to do so, as that fee would have added nearly $100 a month to the cost of that offering.) But Apple had considered extending this plan to traditional retailers like Costco as well. It never happened, largely because tech companies understandably balked.
But that it was even discussed shows an astounding lack of moral compass on the part of Apple, already one of the richest companies in the world at the time this initiative was pushed. They wanted three-tenths of every dollar just for the right to sell a service using software that it was already paid for in three other ways.
In some ways I can’t help but to think that the reason we have developers that are so willing to trash their personal reputations and sully the work of others in the name of financial gain is because the people that run the platforms seem to have prioritized financial gain over innovation.
I’m not saying it widespread or even commonplace. But I have to imagine someone with a cutthroat desire to succeed on the App Store hears about things like this and sets their moral compass accordingly, not realizing that the other compass was broken.
Fix one, and you fix the other.