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by Brandon Butler
Apple Tells Basecamp’s New Email Service Hey to Pay Up or Else 6/16/2020

David Pierce at Protocol, ‘A new email startup says Apple’s shaking it down for a cut of its subscriptions’:

The app sat in the queue for review, then in the "under review" status for far longer than usual. Then Waugh got a phone call. The Apple reviewer said he was calling because the new app hadn’t resolved the issue with rule 3.1.1. The issue had been escalated internally, and Apple had determined it was a valid rejection — the only way to move forward would be to implement Apple’s payments system. And not only that: Waugh was told that Apple would like a commitment and a timeline for implementing the payment system, or Apple might be forced to remove Hey from the App Store entirely.

When Waugh and Basecamp pointed out that there were many other apps — even email apps like Spark or Edison — that allowed users to log in to their existing accounts without signing up through Apple, the reviewer told them they wouldn’t discuss other apps. And that was that.

Hey has followed the Netflix/Spotify/Edison route but was called out by Apple for reasons no one seems to understand. Apple is trying to draw some sort of arbitrary distinction between a business app, which doesn’t need to follow this rule, and a consumer app. But John Gruber at Daring Fireball makes a strong point:

By sheer coincidence, before this controversy erupted I switched (at least temporarily) my public contact address for Daring Fireball to my email address. I’m paying for Hey using the same company credit card I use to pay for Basecamp. How is that not a business service? I’m sure as shit reporting it to my accountant that way. Who exactly is paying $100/year for email service and not using it for business in some way?

This is making the rounds Tuesday evening and by Wednesday it’ll be front page news on every Apple and tech website. It’s already at the top of Techmeme. This is really bad publicity. Earlier today the EU opened dual anti-trust investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay, and Apple won’t agree to send Tim Cook to Washington to testify in Congress’s anti-trust probe.

Reed Albergotti and Tony Romm for the Washington Post today, ‘Tinder and Fortnite criticize Apple for its App Store monopoly’:

“Apple is a partner, but also a dominant platform whose actions force the vast majority of consumers to pay more for third-party apps that Apple arbitrarily defines as “digital services,” Match Group said in a statement, adding Apple “squeezes industries like e-books, music and video streaming, cloud storage, gaming and online dating.”

“We’re acutely aware of their power over us,” the company added.

Hey’s developer, David Heinemeier Hansson:

"There is never in a million years a way that I am paying Apple a third of our revenues," Heinemeier Hansson told Protocol. “That is obscene, and it’s criminal, and I will spend every dollar that we have or ever make to burn this down until we get to somewhere better."

More history on this ridiculous, consumer- and developer-hostile rule 3.1.1. from Ben Thompson at Stratechery.

Whatever small amount of money Apple is making from their 30% cut of app store prices can’t be worth the bad PR and anti-trust nightmares to follow. This is literally the easiest PR problem for them to solve. And all of this bad news is on the eve of Apple’s first virtual WWDC on Monday.