Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why We Hate the App Store

So by now we have all heard and mentally processed that Fortnite is no longer available in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. So why are we still putting up with the app store when they are so willing to take away precious games like Fortnite? I’m shocked we haven’t seen an uprising of middle schoolers protesting this yet. But believe it or not, this isn’t the first time the App Store has gotten into a dispute with an app. In fact, Apple and Google Play have very strict policies that often hurt developers and benefit the app store.

What Happened to Fortnite? 

As an example, let’s dive into what happened to Fortnite. Both the Apple and Google Play Store have a policy allowing them to take 30 percent of the revenue the app generates. Also, both app stores require that all in-app purchases are made through the app-stores official purchasing system to increase the security of the app and ensure the app store gets 30 percent of each purchase. Fortnite tried to bypass this policy by sneaking in an in-app purchase that is directly paid to Epic Games, the company that created Fortnite, but they were caught and removed from the app store.

How App Stores Hurt the Little Guy

While it is a huge bummer Fortnite and the app store had to part ways, the effects the app store has on little developers is even greater. Apps can already be expensive to develop, especially if you are a small developer. Then you add a 30 percent cut in revenue, and you end up with small developers struggling to get by. On the other hand, this cut is very small for large corporations that are putting apps on the app store. What makes it even worse is that big corporations are sometimes exempt from paying this tax, especially if they don’t directly compete with Apple (ex: Uber). The good news is more and more people are starting to take notice of how unfair these policies are, as we have seen when the four Tech Giants called to testify in front of Congress. The bad news is there hasn’t seem to be any change in app store policies despite the backlash.

Why We Should Say Goodbye For Good

So what should we do? Ditch the app store! While this might not be an option for everyone, there are more opportunities to bypass the app store than you might think. My personal favorite (if you have read any of our other blog posts you know where this is going)… build a Progressive Web App (PWA)! PWAs are the perfect way to build an app that looks and feels like a native mobile app, but avoid the app store download. Obviously I am not expecting everyone to convert their native mobile apps to  PWAs, but it should start to be a consideration going forward. Major brands including Starbucks and Pinterest have made the switch and have seen incredible success.

So moral of the story, the app store is not the end all be all when it comes to apps. It is time to say goodbye to downloading apps and giving money to the app store, and instead try building a PWA and a web app. Who knows, maybe you will discover that a PWA is the mobile experience your consumers have been wanting all along.