case study: UK Developer

This developer does not wish to be named out of concern for potential repercussions from Apple and Google.

An app developer within the aviation space has created the industry standard technology for flight plans. It designs the highest-quality software, while integrating and developing the highest-quality aeronautical data to provide an app that saves pilots time and money by making flying much easier and safer. Yet, this new and innovative application is under constant threat from the monopolistic practices of Google and Apple.

The Payments Issue

Three years ago, the developer was rejected from providing users with updates on the app store, so that Apple could force the company to use Apple’s own payment system – immediately creating friction between the business and its customers. The business in question operates via a subscription model, so they had no choice but to go along with Apple’s demand. Whilst the company tries to inform its customers that it’s cheaper to purchase directly through them instead of via Apple, Apple has enforced restrictions against doing that inside the app. This negatively impacts the customer experience, taking customers off the app preventing a more seamless purchasing journey.

The business wants to pride itself on its relationship with its customers, but this demand from Apple saw the tech giant get in between developer and user, often resulting in customers purchasing something from the app, without realising they’re also dealing with and having data collected by Apple. This clearly exemplifies the level of power Apple has over the customer/business relationship.

The Reviewing Process

The app reviewing process is fundamentally not fit for purpose.

When the app developer wanted to provide updates to the app to deliver a better user experience, they had to spend hours on the phone to an Apple App Store reviewer to justify why they needed customer details such as phone numbers (used in practical instances like search and rescue), information critical to the aviation industry. The reviewer didn’t understand that the app wasn’t a game and was a serious tool for real pilots. This blatant ignorance demonstrates that the theoretical advantages to ‘privacy and user safety’ with Apple’s review process are not the same in practice. Instead, it is detrimental to both the consumer and the business.

Better competition would enable this particular app developer, and others like it, to offer an experience that works for its customers, rather than having to give in to Apple’s demands. The business could also have better control over its customer service, as it would be able to communicate with them directly about app issues and respond to consumer demands regarding updates to the app. Currently, Apple wishes to “own” the customer relationship – and, by doing so, is stifling the prospect of growth for small companies.

Apple has a hold over everything, you can’t release anything without their say-so.

This level of charge on revenue would threaten our existence and prevent growth.”

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The App Store Limits Consumer Freedom

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