Yesterday, we saw several reports regarding Apple’s latest unethical behavior. A report by Forbes highlighted that the company has been “secretly” and “quietly” buying top Google Search ad spots for third-party apps. When users click on these ads, they get redirected to Apple’s App Store. Some developers consider this problematic as the Cupertino giant takes a 15-30% cut from subscriptions done through its billing system. Additionally, Apple shares little data about App Store subscribers, so offering support, refunds, or special deals becomes harder. The company has now finally clarified its position on these allegations.
The initial report stated that Apple would place the highest bid on first ad spots. This made it tough — and sometimes impossible — for smaller developers to compete for the first spot. As a result, developers’ websites would get pushed to the second ad spot, which could significantly impact traffic. In addition, redirecting users to the App Store meant that instead of signing up for a service on its website, many users would subscribe through the iOS app. This left developers with no choice but to give Apple a cut of the subscription fee.
According to MacRumors, Apple has clarified that it has been running similar ads for five years now and that these ads have a clear App Store tag on them. It also stated that this practice is no different than retailers promoting the products they sell and is a “very standard business model.” The company further defended itself by mentioning that its agreement with developers also covers this, so it’s neither shady nor illegal.
Apple has called these allegations an “overt mischaracterization,” considering it has developers’ consent. The company also shares that it sometimes communicates with the developers, and many express their appreciation for the promotions. Apple considers advertising — inside and outside the App Store — one of the tools it provides developers to help them succeed.
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