Professionalism/The Developers Union

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The Developers Union was an advocacy group for app stores. The group was founded by Brent Simmons, a software developer known for iOS apps such as NetNewsWire[1]. He currently runs a blog on, where he speaks about the The Developers Union and apps he has made[2]. Simmons was initially also joined by Jake Schumacher, director of App: The Human Story; Loren Morris, a product designer; and Roger Ogden, an iOS developer[1]. Their goal in creating The Developers Union was to create change within the App Store through getting their voice heard. The group has been featured on many popular news sites such as The Verge, appleinsider and Wired, where their story and missions have been written on.

Purpose and Mission[edit | edit source]

The goal of The Developers Union was for a fairer and more sustainable app store policy mainly for the iOS and Google App stores. In the Apple App store, Apple took a 30% revenue cut of all App store sales. One of The Developers Union's goals was to reduce this so that it is more fair and allows independent app developers make a living. Other issues they have advocated about were also the lack of free trials for smaller paid apps, user privacy protections, and transparency in app store policies.

Their mission statement read as follows:

Dear Apple,

We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it. So we created The Developers Union to advocate for sustainability in the App Store.

Today, we are asking Apple to commit to allowing free trials for all apps in the App Stores by the tenth anniversary of the App Store this July. After that, we’ll start advocating for a more reasonable revenue cut and other community-driven, developer-friendly changes.

Towards their goal, they have organized petitions garnering thousands of signatures, blog posts, as well as organized events such as meetings in WWDC.[3] Brent Simmons also has been vocal about the group on his Twitter as well as his blog. Some issues he has addressed in his blog include some press coverage stating that the group is '"angry" and "fed up"'[2] as well as addressing dissenters.

Current Activity & Redefinition[edit | edit source]

As of 2018, there has been no major activity from The Developer’s Union after the increase in support for app store free trials in the Apple App store. The Developers Union ceased its activity as an advocacy near the start of 2019, releasing the following statement on their website: "Although we failed to scale to a size that would necessitate Apple’s attention, we feel that with your help we were able to bring attention and change to the issue of trials in apps on the App Store"[4]. The web page remained in this state of inactivity for several years, before being transitioned into an educational blog in 2022 that now provides reviews and recommendations for a number of web hosting frameworks[5]. After this transition, the Developers Union adopted a new mission statement redefining the goals of the organization, stating that: "The Developers Union is a group of developers that have come together to publish content to help aspiring coders, developers and techies alike. We are mainly focused on Apple (App Store) apps and helping people create and finish their desired coding goals"[5]. This new statement marks a clear deviation from the original intent of the Developers Union.

Impacts & Achievements[edit | edit source]

Although ultimately unable to reach secondary goals such as fair revenue splits on the Apple App store, the efforts of the Developers Union were not entirely unsuccessful. By speaking out against Apple's policies and drawing attention to issues within the Apple App store, the Developers Union was able to raise awareness of the negative impacts these policies on smaller app developers. This awareness may have contributed to Apple's ultimate decision to expand free trials on the Apple App store, although this is unconfirmed as Apple has not made any public statements regarding the Developers Union. Such free trials are of particular importance to smaller or lesser-known developers, as it lowers the barriers to entry for potential new users and gives these developers a better chance at achieving traction in the market.

Coalition For App Fairness[edit | edit source]

The Coalition For App Fairness (CAF) is an independent nonprofit organization founded in September 2020 by 14 large Apple app developers including Epic Games, Match Group, Tile,, and Spotify. They are against Apple's 30% "App Tax" and anti-competitive policies in the Apple ecosystem. [6]

Impacts[edit | edit source]

In October 2020, Microsoft introduced a set of 10 principles for its app store policies based on the principles of the CAF [7]. Also, in November 2020, Apple introduced the Small Business Program, where developers making $1 million or less will have their revenue cut lowered to 15% after filling out an application.[8] Google also responded similarly, lowering cuts to 15% for the first $1 million of revenue for developers per year. [9] It can be perceived that the CAF was able to reach the attention of Apple and major app stores and influence their policies. The CAF is still standing and operating today.

Apple[edit | edit source]

Services[edit | edit source]

Throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Apple has been expanding from just selling iPhones and iPads to selling software and services and focused on being a 'services' company. Their multitude of services (Apple One, Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Fitness+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books) also helped them set a sales record in June 2020 and is the second largest division in the company [10].

Strategies[edit | edit source]

Since the app store's introduction in 2007, Apple's commission policy has always been a 30% tech tax. This policy has led to fights and lawsuits with software companies and tech giants. In response, Apple has also lowered its cut to 15% for developers that have not exceeded $1 million USD in yearly proceeds, which has still left large tech companies unsatisfied[11].

Fights[edit | edit source]

Fortnite, an app from the developer Epic Games, attempted to add it's own payment system to that bypassed Apple's 30% cut. This led to the game being banned from the Apple app store in August 2020 [12]. Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple over this but the judge ruled in favor of Apple, forcing them to pay the 30% cut. As of April 2023, Fortnite is not available for iPhone or iPad[13].

Spotify, Netflix, and Tinder have also banned together by asking users to sign up on their website and increasing prices for users signing up from the app. Since then, Apple has relaxed their regulations to allow them to link users to their site for signup[14].

Antitrust Concerns[edit | edit source]

The Developers Union's struggle against Apple and its app store policies reflects the antitrust and monopoly concerns that some individuals and groups have voiced with respect to the Apple App Store. In October 2020, an investigation by the House antitrust subcommittee found that Apple has “monopoly power” over the smartphone app market[15]. The European Commission has also issued antitrust charges against Apple over concerns about the company’s App Store practices, finding that Apple has broken European Union competition rules with its App Store policies[16]. However, the court sided with Apple in a 2020 antitrust lawsuit brought forth by Epic Games, prompting Apple to state that, "for the second time in two years, a federal court has ruled that Apple abides by antitrust laws at the state and federal levels. The App Store continues to promote competition, drive innovation, and expand opportunity, and we’re proud of its profound contributions to both users and developers around the world"[17]. The main justification for labeling Apple's app store as monopolistic is the near complete control that Apple has over app distribution on iOS devices, as Apple has long resisted and attempted to prevent the use of third party app stores on their devices on grounds that apps not approved by them may present security risks to their users. This lack of viable alternatives allows Apple to force arguably unfair revenue splits on developers and to ignore push back from smaller groups such as the Developers Union.

Comparison to Android App Stores[edit | edit source]

In contrast to the restrictive approach that Apple has traditionally taken for app distribution on its devices, Google has taken a more open and free market approach on their own Android platform. Although Google also operates its own first party app store called the Google Play Store that takes a revenue cut comparable to Apple's[18], Google allows for competing third party app stores to exist. This allows for users and developers who are dissatisfied with the Google Play Store other viable means by which to distribute and receive apps, and has led to a modest marketplace for alternative app stores. Some of the more notable alternative Android app stores include the Amazon Appstore, Samsung Galaxy Store, the Tencent Appstore, and Aptoide.

  1. a b Simmons, Brent. "Brent Simmons (@brentsimmons) / Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  2. a b "inessential: The Developers Union". Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  3. Goode, Lauren. "Fed Up With Apple's Policies, App Developers Form a 'Union'" (in en-US). Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. 
  4. "The Developers Union". 2019-04-29. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  5. a b "The Developers Union". HotFrameworks. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  6. "Home - Coalition for App Fairness". Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  7. "Microsoft outlines 10 app store principles in a jab at Apple". Neowin. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  8. "Apple announces App Store Small Business Program". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  9. Singh, Manish (2021-03-16). "Google Play drops commissions to 15% from 30%, following Apple's move last year". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  10. "Apple Statistics (2023)". Business of Apps. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  11. "Apple’s 30% Fee, an Industry Standard, Is Showing Cracks" (in en). 2021-05-03. 
  12. Speakman, Kimberlee. "Apple Bans Fortnite From App Store Until Court Appeals End". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  13. "Epic vs. Apple: Fortnite, history, court ruling, appeal results". AppleInsider. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  14. Leswing, Kif. "Spotify, Netflix and Match Group shares rise after Apple relaxes App Store rules". CNBC. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  15. Saul, Derek. "Feds Reportedly Preparing Antitrust Suit Against Apple". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  16. Warren, Tom (2021-04-30). "EU accuses Apple of App Store antitrust violations after Spotify complaint". The Verge. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  17. Fung, Brian (2023-04-24). "Appeals court largely sides with Apple on 'Fortnite' antitrust case | CNN Business". CNN. Retrieved 2023-04-30.
  18. "Service fees - Play Console Help". Retrieved 2023-04-30.