App Developers Are Forming ‘The Developers Union’ Ahead of WWDC to Get New Demands Heard

This year’s Worldwide Developers Conference is going to be a busy affair, as it typically is, but it looks like some app developers are starting to make a concerted effort to get Apple to make some changes of its own.

WIRED has a new profile up of what is being called “The Developers Union”, which is a new union initiative put together by app developers to basically advocate for specific changes within the iOS and Mac App Stores. The first order of business for the new union is free trials for apps available in both digital storefronts, but there are other matters the union wants to address in the future as well.

The Developers Union has a new dedicated website, with an open letter to Apple published on it:

    Dear Apple,

    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 Developers Union was put together by app developer Brent Simmons, independent artist Jake Schumacher, product designer Loren Morris, and software developer Roger Ogden. At the time of publication, and according to information on the website, there are 57 individuals who support this new “non-union union”, along with 67 apps that support the cause as well.

In the interview with WIRED, The Developers Union makes it clear that this is just the beginning, stating that they want to gain at least 1,000 new members before the end of this week, and aim to be 20,000 strong by the time WWDC rolls around this year, which is the beginning of June.

Technically speaking, Apple implemented free trials within the Mac and iOS App Stores, but they are only available for subscription services at this point. That means a service like Netflix can offer a free month, or week, of service, before the user is charged for the standard subscription fee.

But a standard free trial for apps and games that aren’t subscription-based isn’t available in the App Store, and that’s something these developers (and many others) are reaching for.

Another area that The Developers Union wants to address? Revenue sharing:

“Another topic The Developers Union says it will attempt to tackle is revenue sharing. Apple’s longstanding policy gives App Store developers 70 percent of the money made from most apps, while Apple takes 30 percent. Back in 2016, Apple changed this split to 85/15 percent for developers who are able to maintain long-term subscription customers.”

Whether this new initiative will see Apple change anything remains to be seen.

Our Take

Having a dedicated collection of app developers is certainly one way to try to get Apple’s attention. Of course, the demands that The Developers Union is aiming for aren’t new, and it’s not like Apple has not seen a request for free trials before, or heard companies like Spotify demand a change to revenue sharing, or a removal of the “Apple tax”. Still, maybe a union can get Apple’s attention.

[via WIRED; The Developers Union]