What do you consider to be a fair app platform / marketplace fee?

Hi there, I am looking to probe what people think on the subject app store tax. There have been some news on the subject recently, and some fairly limited impact changes, like lowering fees to 15% for developers, revenuing below a fixed amount, but overall it seems the bulk of revenue is still hit with a 30% tax across the major app stores.

Provided that the “app store” comes as part of the typical platform SDK and whatnot, i.e. the service comes with most of what you may need to create an average application:

What would you consider a fair app store tax in the case of your typical dividend paying corporate entity?

What if the service is provided by a non-profit entity that only invests tax income into maintaining and expanding the service in ways, requested by its user base?

Edit: Evidently, I should take some extra characters to clarify:

By platform I refer to a software development platform, it doesn’t in any capacity imply that this software platform is tied to any particular hardware platform or proprietary code.

Which means that the scope of the question extends a bit beyond just a marketplace to sell a finished product, it also includes the tools that developers use to build said products, an integrated development and distribution ecosystem if you will.

Not to be that guy, but the days of closed source app development and paywalls are numbered, in my humble opinion. We should focus on incentives to support developers directly through donations by making it super easy like the F-Droid app store has already done.

That way, you’re not relying on a corporate entity, nor are you installing apps on your device that do god knows what in the background just to verify that you’ve paid for the app already. It feels very distopian.

It reminds me of when Cyanogenmod almost implemented DRM that would scan all your installed apps and automatically remove any apps it deemed you didn’t pay for or “illegally downloaded”. There was so much rage against it they immediately slashed the idea.

the days of closed source app development and paywalls are numbered

As are the days of everything. I personally don’t really see the current such de-facto platform monopolies breaking off that money making scheme any time soon - at the very least, their revenue from this are linearly increasing at the same rate for the last decade - there is no sign of peaking or decline. Also, pretty sure android is open source. Also, definitely sure there is no such thing as “free” - everything is ultimately paid for, one way or another, and in the bulk of instances, a free “service” is only provided because of estimates that it would be able to extract more profit by putting on the “free” facade, and I am pretty sure there are scores of people who’d rather pay a fair price for the service they receive than being treated like cattle in a “free” farm.

support developers directly through donations

Sure, and those donation services come with fees of their own. IMO quite significant for what little they offer on top of a basic money transfer, or that marvelous “I am special for paying to be special” experience. And considering they get to do transactions cumulatively and at a discount cost for whatever they are using underneath their service, those do appear to charge 100% and up on what the actual money transfer costs, for what is essentially a fanboism exploiting scheme.

Finally, you could have been that guy but also answer it rather than deflect away from it. The question didn’t specify valid ranges - it just implies that there is a tax, it could be 30%, 10%, even 1% - whatever the individual things is balanced fair toward all involved parties. If anything, a fee value which you get to set yourself is, for all intents a purposes, a willful donation on your behalf. Actual substantiation of the number through argumentation is welcome.

I’d say, without putting concrete value to it, what it costs to host the app on the marketplace and a small fee to keep the marketplace profitable.

The problem is that the cost structure of such marketplaces(or large business in general) isn’t at all transparent.
And it isn’t as easy as just paying for the traffic; Marketplaces (need to) offer various other services, such as moderation, marketing, payment services, etc. that are often difficult to break down to individual apps.
Plus, the “small fee” is entirely subjective past just paying for expenses.

The real solution is not finding the perfect cost structure(because that doesn’t exists, and also changes over time), but to provide enough transparency to proof that you’re not ripping of developers, and being flexible enough to support custom structures for large or special developers.

In my opinion all that would have happened if the marketplaces were smaller businesses and/or would not have their respective monopolies - most other smaller companies would never dare to abuse customers like that, because they would loose those customers, and they can’t afford to.

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Let’s assume it is all that - it is transparent, well moderated and inclusive enough to cater to the requests of its community in the process of spending the income and improving the service, as mentioned in the OP.

How much should that cost?

The reason I am putting it at a percentage rather than a flat cost is that IMO it is only fair to pay for it proportionally on what you make on it.

And just to clarify once again - a “fair price” not as in “fair to you” but “fair the community you are a part of”.

For me, it isn’t a question of how much it costs to participate in the marketplace. Instead, it is a matter of competition. If I develop a great app that I want to sell to iPhone users, I cannot sell it to them unless I get permission to put the app on Apple’s store and let them take a 30% cut. Also, iPhone users can’t seek out an alternative market to buy my app without contributing 30% of the app’s asking price to apple.

I would argue that without an alternative market, I’ll never view the fee to participate as fair because the terms will never be fair.

I’m offering my opinion and advice here, completely on point to your topic and directly related to it. We are not here to simply answer your questions. We are human beings. I am not looking to argue with you any further on this subject.

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Evidently, users so far are unable to put a value on having the convenience of a software development and distribution service.

It should go without saying, nobody should feel obligated to post vaguely related stuff as a substitute to the requested answer.

@ablebit You posted in the community section. You’re asking for opinions, advice and ideas. People gather in the community section to discuss things.

If you want technical support maybe categorize your post better.

I’d say somewhere between 0-10% cut.

You’re asking for opinions, advice and ideas

Nah, I didn’t ask for any of those, I asked a single, 2 part, fairly specific question.

I can’t tell. If I were to put it to a percentage, I’d says for small apps probably less than 5%, large apps maybe up to 10-15%.

But a flat percentage is really a bad metric for this, and also heavily depends on the arbitrary definition of “small app” vs “large app”.

The problem with a combined fund, aka. a percentage is that it plays the app developers against each other, somebody always has a disadvantage, somebody has the advantage.

I think being “fair to the community you are a part of” would mean that all people of that community don’t cost the community by using more resources than their price-point would grant them - everybody pays for what they uses.

Free apps are still possible, they just have to be financed directly by the marketplace(instead of being financed indirectly by the appstore fees of other people). The marketplace has an incentive to enable free apps because they drive the sales of other apps.

The only reason it’s not that way is because it necessarily makes it obvious how greedy the marketplaces are. If you get a bill for the services you use, you could compare it to the costs to host that service. Then it would be obvious that there is no way to host it yourself because the marketplaces are a monopoly.

Imagine the marketplace being a supermarket. You could finance the supply of the supermarket by having everybody pay a percentage of the costs to finance the supply. Everybody pays the common percentage, and can use what ever they need. Sounds like the supermarket is nice, as it allows some(very few) people to use stuff for free/below cost. But that scheme is ideal to hide the greed of the supermarket owners; If people knew the costs of each item, they could compare it to other supermarkets. They just claim that the percentage needs to be ${PERCENTAGE_VALUE_HIGHER}, and nobody can verify. Did I mention that the supermarket owners also own all the land, so no other supermarkets can be built?

What has ever been wrong with just paying for what you use? It has worked since the bartering days of humanity, and especially with computers that can easily keep track of the costs of your app, I don’t see a reason why something else is necessary, except to hide the greed of the marketplace owners.

Edit: Oh, and yes, this contains a LOT of opinions and non-fact writing. There is no objective truth here, IMHO.

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I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that there is an objective answer to a question as broad as this.

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And I offered my answer, humbly. You just continue to provoke an argument here instead of continue the topic you started, out of what, hatred for my alternative viewpoint? I need a break from this negativity.

I didn’t request an objective answer. I requested just answers, hopefully enough to extrapolate some objectivity out of a larger sample group

You got 417 words of subjective answer from me, take it or leave it :stuck_out_tongue:

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You were asked, indirectly rather than by name, to specify a number, and optionally - to clarify why. It doesn’t really matter how humble you claim to be, it doesn’t change the fact that rather than answering the question, you just went with your personal worldviews instead. If you still want to argue with the facts, I am afraid you will have to find someone else to do it with.

Yep, I will come back to it shortly.

Okay, I’ll answer your question directly: 30% seems very generous. It may as well be 90% for apple’s app store at least. Prices will just go up and devs will pay it because that is the only way they will make money from the ios ecosystem.

I’ll take the option to clarify why: Honestly I don’t think the percentage matters that much. Even a 50/50 split might be reasonable depending on the features and benefits of the of the marketplace. If we were talking about jewelry, obviously Walmart will take a smaller cut of the retail price of a necklace than Tiffany & Co. but the features of both marketplaces and the types of items which can be purchased are very different. If we imagine that only Tiffany existed and you were prohibited from selling to customers at another marketplace, on the street or to another user unless it was sold through Tiffany and they took whatever cut they desired, you’d find it the most fair option because that’s the only way you could make money selling jewelry.

If I were an app developer, then something like 10-20% cut to who ever is maintaining the App store sounds reasonable.