Wow. I'm literally stunned. Apple just doubled down on their rejection of HEY's ability to provide bug fixes and new features, unless we submit to their outrageous demand of 15-30% of our revenue. Even worse: We're told that unless we comply, they'll REMOVE THE APP.
On the day the EU announced their investigation into Apple's abusive App Store practices, HEY is subject to those very same capricious, exploitive, and inconsistent policies of shakedown. It's clear they feel embolden to tighten the screws with no fear of regulatory consequences.
Like any good mafioso, they paid us a visit by phone. Stating that, firstly, that smashing our windows (by denying us the ability to fix bugs) was not a mistake. Then, without even as much of a curtesy euphemism, said they'd burn down our store (remove our app!), lest we paid up.
This is while @RepCicilline is literally preparing another hearing on big tech antitrust where @tim_cook might be asked to appear! While the DOJ is taking to witnesses of App Store abuses! While @vestager and her team is investigating. HOW BRAZEN CAN YOU GET?!
It's clear that Apple feel like they're now so far above the trifling concerns of antitrust law that even while under the scrutiny of regulators and justice departments on TWO CONTINENTS, they can still afford to tighten the screws. Gotta make that pivot to services pay!!
Apple has been capriciously, inconsistently, and in a few cases, cruelly, enforcing their App Store policies for YEARS. But most of the abuses were suffered by smaller developers without a platform and without recurse. Apple saw that it worked, and that it paid. Now moving up.
This is exactly the issue I gave testimony in front of congress earlier this year! We hadn't yet launched HEY, but I said it worried me, what Apple might do, if you're in direct competition with them. And now we know what they'd do. Attempt to crush us. https://m.signalvnoise.com/testimony-before-the-house-antitrust-subcommittee/
Testimony before the House Antitrust Subcommittee
My name is David Heinemeier Hansson, and I’m the CTO and co-founder of Basecamp, a small internet company from Chicago that sells project-management and team-collaboration software. When we launche…https://m.signalvnoise.com/testimony-before-the-house-antitrust-subcommittee/
But while I'm sure Apple's attempt to cut off the air supply to the likes of @spotify is board-room stuff, I think what we're facing is simply the banality of bureaucracy. Apple has publicly pivoted to services for growth, so KPIs and quarterly targets trickle down.
And frankly, it's hard to see what they have to fear. Who cares if Apple shakes down individual software developers for 30% of their revenue, by threatening to destroy their business? There has been zero consequences so far! Most such companies quietly cave or fail. We won't.
There is no chance in bloody hell that we're going to pay Apple's ransom. I will burn this house down myself, before I let gangsters like that spin it for spoils. This is profoundly, perversely abusive and unfair.
Yesterday was such a happy day. We've worked so diligently for over two years to make HEY. The press and customer reactions were making me euphoric. To have Apple, of all companies, be the ones to piss in our puree, and ruin that moment, is just personally heartbreaking
I don't think people understand. We did everything we were supposed to with the iOS app. Try downloading it (while you can?). You can't sign up, because Apple says no. We don't mention subscriptions. You can't upgrade. You can't access billing. We did all of it! Wasn't enough.
We've been in the App Store with Basecamp for YEARS. We know the game. It was always rigged. It was always customer-hostile, deeply confusing, but the unstated lines were reasonably clear. Now Apple has altered the deal, and all we can do is prey they don't alter it further.
*Pray, although, it does feel like we are prey for Apple's pivot to services. The need to juice that trillion dot five dollar valuation by showing ever higher growth.
Here's the rejection letter. I love how they frame their shakedown as "offer customers the option". Not a single mention of the fact that Apple will take 15-30% of our business through this. THIS IS ALL JUST FOR THE CONSUMER GOOD, YOU SEE.
But this is preposterously false and inconsistent. The Basecamp app has been in the App Store for YEARS offering access to a subscription bought elsewhere. The store is FULL of apps doing just that. Even other email apps! A few examples we compiled:
Apple sees no need to even justify these discrepancies, because this is what ultimate market power affords you. Apple's review literally said on the phone, when we raised these objections: "We are not going to talk about other apps". Abusive is case by case.
This certainly does not get any better by the fact that we're technically competing with Apple head-on now. Apple sells email services as part of their iCloud bundle. So not only are they running the only shop in iPhone town, they're also selling their own competing service.
Remember the Apple pirate flag? When being a pirate meant being a rebel? Countering the navy, the establishment? Now this flag is a better symbol for Apple plundering small, independent software developers. https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-is-flying-a-pirate-flag-over-its-headquarters-today-heres-why-2016-4?op=1
I hear from a little bird that March was the date for the new, extractive stance. The policy 3.1.1 didn't change, but Apple apparently decided in March that it could be a growth opportunity to start enforcing it harshly. That's why old apps haven't been hit yet. Just fresh prey.
This is scary. Apple is doubling down on the threat to forcefully remove us from the App Store, unless we pay the ransom. If you think you might ever want to use HEY, you might want to download the app now. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?! https://twitter.com/pierce/status/1273009825031413762
When I testified in front of @RepCicilline, @RepJoeNeguse, and @RepKenBuck earlier this year, specifically about Apple's App Store abuses, I never thought I'd need to repeat my OBI-WAN KENOBI cry for help so soon. But here we are. Begging not to be squashed by Apple
We've invested millions of dollars, and years of effort, into building HEY. We're already taking on Google's stronghold of Gmail. Listen, I don't mind a loop-sided fight, but we can't run a business wrestling Google with one arm and Apple with the other. It's just too much.
We legitimately considering this. Have a perfect name for this plan too: THE DON. Or maybe, PROTECTION PLAN? https://twitter.com/bntzio/status/1273015246056292352
Apple's abusive behavior with the App Store has been an open secret in the developer community for years. But very few people are interested in talking to regulators or the press, because you don't want to get on Apple's bad side, or you might get crushed. https://twitter.com/cabel/status/1272982476378390528
My DMs and HEY account is blowing up with stories from other developers who've been shaken down under 3.1.1 as well. I really hope @vestager and friends in the EU gets somewhere with this new investigation