Apple App Store policy changes ‘very little,’ developer says

The developer battling App Store rules told CNBC on Tuesday that changes announced by Apple amounted to “very little.”

Apple said Monday it will allow developers to “challenge” its App Store rules. Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson had said the iPhone maker threatened to remove his company’s new email app, Hey, unless it implemented in-app purchases that would gave Apple a 30% cut of revenue. The Google Play tore also charges 30% on in-app purchases.

Hansson’s complaints tapped into long-running negative developer sentiment about App Store business practices and inspired scores of other app makers to voice their complaints ahead of Apple’s annual developer conference.

Hansson told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Tuesday that the changes Apple announced were a good first step toward marketplace reforms, but he was skeptical that they would be enough. 

“What they’ve given out is actually so far very little. Apple has said that you can appeal to Apple if you want Apple to investigate Apple. OK, maybe there’s something there, but it hinges on what those verdicts are going to be,” Hansson said. 

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. 

Apple also announced on Monday it will no longer hold up minor updates geared toward fixing bugs over App Store guideline violations. 

“I hope this doesn’t mean you just get one freebie, then you get sent to purgatory while Apple figures out what to do with you,” Hansson said. 

Apple approved a bug-fix update to the Hey app over the weekend, Basecamp previously said, but its major update to comply with Apple’s rules, including a new free tier of service, had not been approved.

Hanssen said iPhone users make up a substantial portion of his business, with 80% of Hey customers using Apple platforms. He added that his company can’t abandon the Apple platforms for Windows and Android.

“We did not want a fight with Apple whatsoever,” Hanssen said. “We just need to get on the iPhone, it’s the dominant platform for these kinds of services.”

Separately, Apple said Monday during its WWDC conference that it would enable iPhone users to change their default mail and browser apps, addressing an allegation made by competitors that the iPhone maker wields too much control over its platform. 

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