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By Jason Snell for Macworld
What are third-party app developers worth to Apple? What is access to Apple’s platform worth to developers? While the past year has brought squabbles and lawsuits and regulations related to dating apps in the Netherlands, the core issue is this: the iPhone and its App Store have generated an enormous amount of money, and as is so often the case, all the involved parties would like more of it.
What’s clear, at least right now, is that Apple has decided to fight any court- or regulator-mandated reduction in the amount of money it takes from the App Store ecosystem. (Apple itself has reduced its cut voluntarily a few times, including for subscriptions that last longer than a year and for developers who make less than a million dollars in revenue.)
What’s also clear is that Apple doesn’t feel that the 30 percent it takes from most App Store transactions is a fee for running the App Store and handling its finances. Instead, Apple feels that it is money owed to Apple for the creation and maintenance of the iPhone as a platform for third-party apps. It’s not just credit-card transactions, bandwidth from servers, and the salaries of the App Store’s approval and editorial teams. It’s Xcode, documentation, and developer relations. And most of all, it’s access to a billion people who use and love their iPhones.