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App Store Developers Form a 'Union' Ahead of WWDC Calling for Free App Trials, Better Rates


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

A group of App Store developers calling themselves "The Developers Union" today published an open letter to Apple asking the company to commit to allowing free trials for apps and a "more reasonable revenue cut."

The group says that it is first aiming to get Apple to implement free trials for all apps in the iOS and Mac App Stores by July 2019, with plans after that to advocate for other changes.
We believe that people who create great software should be able to make a living doing it. So we created The Developers Union to advocate for sustainability in the App Store.

Today, we are asking Apple to commit to allowing free trials for all apps in the App Stores by the tenth anniversary of the App Store this July. After that, we'll start advocating for a more reasonable revenue cut and other community-driven, developer-friendly changes.
The initiative is led by Brent Simmons (MarsEdit, Vesper, and NetNewsWire creator), Jake Schumacher (App: The Human Story documentary maker), Loren Morris (product designer), and Roger Ogden (software designer).

The Developers Union is not a "trade union" in the traditional sense of the word, but it is aiming to bring developers and supporters together to advocate for App Store changes.

In an interview with WIRED, the team behind The Developers Union said the aim is to gain a thousand members this week and 20,000 by early June, when the Worldwide Developers Conference takes place.
"It's a non-union union in a way," Morris, the product designer, said when reached by phone. "I'm not super interested in creating a traditional union; I'm more interested in bringing the voice of indies back into the spotlight and this is a step in that direction."
Free trials for apps in the Mac and iOS App Stores have been something that developers have wanted implemented for years. Right now, apps that offer subscriptions are able to provide customers with free trials before requiring payment, but for apps that do not have a subscription offering, there is no way for a free trial to be offered.

This is a major downside for apps that are on the more expensive side that people might not want to purchase without trying first, and it has been a major issue for Mac App Store developers in particular.

The Developers Union is hoping to persuade Apple to expand free trials to all apps, not just those that offer a subscription-based service. Free trials also must include an authorization for payment at the end of the trial, something developers would also like to see eliminated.

Revenue sharing, another topic the group hopes to broach with Apple, could be trickier than convincing the company to implement a free trial feature. Apple currently receives a 30 percent cut of all revenue developers earn from the App Store, and the App Store makes up a huge portion of its services business.

Apple has, however, made some tweaks to its revenue split in recent years. For subscription apps where a customer maintains a subscription for more than a year, developers are entitled to an 85/15 split, with Apple taking a 15 percent cut rather than a 30 percent cut.

The Developers Union has not yet outlined specific changes it would like to see to Apple's revenue sharing scheme as the focus right now is on recruiting new members and pushing the free trial agenda.

At the current time, just over 60 apps and 50 people and are supporting The Developers Union, but more developers are likely to join as word spreads. Both developers and non-developers can sign up on the Developers Union website to support the initiative.

Article Link: App Store Developers Form a 'Union' Ahead of WWDC Calling for Free App Trials, Better Rates


macrumors 6502a
Jul 29, 2011
The app store is headed for the same fail as purchased iTunes music. Apple weaseled its way out of the purchased music business and it will do the same with apps. All you "valued" devs had better save your nickles -- you will need them when Uncle Tim unveils the new and improved contract and payment terms.


Sep 15, 2016
Berlin, Germany
It really is time for trials. I am tired of requesting a refund through their „hidden“ page


Also obligatory: I still hate the App Store redesign. Just 5 minutes ago it took me forever to get to the categories. Why is there no longer a navigation point for categories?


macrumors 603
Sep 7, 2011
well. they are always free to not develop for iOS... it's not like there's a monopoly here. there can be arguments that the are right in opposiition to apples business model. But they are free to not develop their programs forthe platform if the platform is not equitable.

On the flip side; if enough developers eventually jump on board, APple has to ask itself if it's worth losing those developers or not.


Jun 24, 2013
No doubt they will collect a lot of signatures (members) and it will probably push Apple to make some concessions but unlikely to put a real dent in the App Store either way. A few million apps plus or minus a few thousand indies won't be missed. Guessing the apps that actually make Apple any respectable profit are also making their developers respectably profitable too. Would help in getting rid of a lot of slop apps.


macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
It's clear that Apple would rather there be no paid apps at all, and all apps had subscriptions instead. They favor that approach in nearly every policy change that has been made since the App store began. I don't like it, but think it will take quite a bigger effort to get Apple to change it's viewpoint on this.


macrumors 6502
Jul 30, 2011
I agree with trials but not the timeline for changes or the revenue change. Apple is the reason you have the developer tools and customers to sell your software to. If you don’t like it don’t use Apple’s store on Apple’s hardware and sell to Apple’s customers. It’s pretty simple.


macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
Let’s see if John Gruber discussed any of this when he has Schiller on his podcast during WWDC. He’s worked with Brent Simmons and I’m sure knows most of the others who signed this petition.
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macrumors newbie
May 18, 2018
What reason would Apple have for now allowing trials? Seems like it something that would benefit everyone.

Just this morning I was thinking of buying Pocketcasts, but I wanted to see how well it worked for me before I purchased it. Elected to shelve the idea instead of purchasing - a free trial would have been ideal.


macrumors 601
Nov 12, 2007
I understand what they're trying to do but this:

> Today, we are asking Apple to commit to allowing free trials for all apps in the App Stores by the tenth anniversary of the App Store this July. I'm sorry, if you're going to ask a big company to commit, setting an unreasonable timeframe is one sure way of making it not happen.

Apple legally cannot change contracts everyone signed on its own and do it in time for July, that's less than two months.


macrumors 68000
Apr 20, 2016
La Jolla, CA
The main problem is App Discovery, & that can ONLY be fixed if AAPL lets Devs sell their apps OUTSIDE of the App Store.

If that we're to happen, then, I believe, a cottage industry would very-likely immediately be created to assist such Devs promote & sell their apps via their own websites.

I have NO problem with using AAPL for the financial transaction part of it under that scenario.
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