Ben Thompson reverses himself Apple’s App Store rate cut

He did the math — comparing Stripe to Apple at different price points — and cheerfully admits he might have been wrong.

From Thompson’s “More on the App Store” posted Thursday to Stratechery subscribers:

Apple is giving smaller developers an even better deal than I gave them credit for yesterday, and frankly, goes a long way to quell my irritation about the company’s policies. I have long been a big believer in the power of the Internet to unlock new small-scale business models that are only possible when the entire world is one’s addressable market — I’ve staked my career on the idea — and what always bothered me the most about the App Store was that, while it absolutely created this opportunity, it also imposed too many costs on small developers simply for the sake of Apple’s bottom line. Things are better now.

Of course, as that New York Times article noted, this change doesn’t do much for big developers, and, along the way, shows how arbitrary Apple’s rules are. To be honest, though, I have a more difficult time getting upset about that; I do think direct competitors like Spotify and Kindle continue to be treated unfairly and arguably illegally, but when it comes to Fortnite emotes and the like, this is simply a negotiation over pure profit, and Apple earned its position.

Anyhow, thanks to the folks that pushed back; like I said, this might have been a PR move, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an effective one, and after reconsidering things I would hold myself up as an example of its effectiveness.

My take: As Thompson puts it, sometimes admitting you were wrong is painful, and sometimes it’s fun.

See also: Apple’s App Store rate cut for small developers: What analysts are saying


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    WoW. Respect just went up, of course, doing some due diligence before opening one’s mouth would have saved him the embarrassment.

    November 19, 2020
  2. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Brrrrrr. It’s cold in California as hell just froze over. An analyst admitting they were wrong. A true mea culpa. Are you listening Mr. Hall?

    November 19, 2020
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      @ Michael Goldfeder —

      FYI —

      Ben Thompson (an ex-Apple — and others — tech employee) independently operates the tech-related subscription commentary blog site “Stratechery”.

      He’s more of a professional pundit, not a stock analyst.

      November 19, 2020
  3. Fred Stein said:
    It’s nice that he admits the comparison to Stripe was wrong.

    Regarding Spotify and Kindle assertion of being ‘treated unfairly and arguably illegally”, where is the case? Hint. There is no case, just an accusation.

    November 19, 2020
    • Robert Paul Leitao said:

      The “case” is being tried in the court of public opinion. Apple’s decision yesterday means the company just “swapped out the jury.”

      November 19, 2020
  4. Thomas Larkin said:
    It is my understanding that I can go to the App store, download the Spotify App, sign up on Spotify’s website, and start using Spotify on my Apple devices, and, that Spotify isn’t charged for that. Am I wrong about that? Kindle is Amazon’s loss leader for its bookstore, which, IMHO, got to where it is by engaging in predatory pricing, both as to other booksellers, and authors (who were also beaten down by Amazon, IMHO) and I think Amazon is still managing to sell some books. While the NYT has some great writers, I don’t think their tech riders get antitrust law in the least (nor do the tech writers on Bloomberg).

    November 19, 2020
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Very, very few tech writers have even a modicum of anti-trust law understanding. That’s because so many plagiarize others’ uninformed work product, taking the easy way to generate clicks.

      November 19, 2020
      • David Emery said:
        Well, to be fair: Copyright law is Very Complex! I’ve followed some of the cases, and you really do need to have your Law Dictionary handy as well as be able to reason about some pretty abstract stuff…

        (That doesn’t free reporters from engaging experts to help them with that. My guess is a lot of news organizations are too cheap to hire expertise.)

        November 20, 2020

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