A group of iOS app developers concerned with Apple’s App Store policies has formed The Developers Union, an advocacy group that will push the company for “community-driven, developer-friendly changes.” With over 50 supporters as of now, the group hopes to hit the 1,000-member mark this week, then 20,000 ahead of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in early June, according to a Wired profile published today.
The Union says that it formed to “advocate for sustainability in the App Store,” a tricky issue given the huge number of small and large developers now competing for iOS users’ cash and attention. To help get more apps in users’ hands, the group is asking Apple to allow free trials for all apps by the App Store’s 10th anniversary in July. “Trials allow developers to show users their creation and establish value,” the group’s FAQs note. “Before iOS, Mac developers relied heavily on free trials, and they were able to make a living while making great software.”
To help struggling developers earn more money, the Union plans to ask for a “more reasonable revenue cut” than the 70-30 split Apple currently offers for apps. The group describes the issue as being “on top of developers’ minds,” though Apple has been largely intractable on the topic for almost a decade. In 2016, Apple made a partial concession, cutting its 30 percent fee for in-app subscriptions down to 15 percent — but only after a year of paid service at the 30 percent level.
The Developers Union was formed by Seattle-based app developer Brent Simmons of NetNewsWire fame and three collaborators from Boise, Idaho: filmmaker Jake Schumacher, designer Loren Morris, and software developer Roger Ogden. It calls itself “a non-union union” without dues, formed to bring developers together in a community, so membership is free. Developers interested in supporting the initiative can sign up on the Union’s website.