Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

Support this Site

Become a Six Colors member and get access to an exclusive weekly podcast, community, newsletter and more.

By Jason Snell

Brent Simmons provides some App Store reality

I love a good Fisking, and Brent Simmons has done a number on a Cult of Mac piece about the App Store:

[That the App Store was a much better deal for selling software than what came before] is enormously untrue. I know because I was one of many small developers who were there.

We used Kagi as our payment processor at the time, and I think we paid around 5% for our storefront and payment processing and everything. Completely reasonable, and we were perfectly happy with it.

There were a lot of small companies operating that way. Hardly any of us were selling boxes through retail stores in the 2000s — we were already selling over the web by the mid ’90s.

Nobody saw this as a bargain. The developers I knew — small developers with nice toeholds! — were shocked and astonished, because we were used to paying 5-10%.

Tim Cook will be speaking before Congress on Wednesday, and will apparently be using a version of this argument in his opening statement.

It’s so misguided. The right argument is that the App Store provided a safer, more convenient place for people to find and buy software. To make a disingenuous comparison to buying a box of software at a brick and mortar store misses the reality of how software was distributed on the Internet before the App Store was founded.

The truth is, Steve Jobs really believed that everyone who made money off of the Apple ecosystem was a parasite living off Apple’s greatness.1 The 30% App Store cut is rooted in that philosophy. We can argue about whether it’s fair or not. But don’t tell developers like Brent Simmons that it’s a bargain, because he knows the truth.


  1. The iPod Hi-Fi, for example, was a (failed) product largely created because Jobs couldn’t stand that Bose and other companies were making so much money selling iPod speakers. 

Search Six Colors