The Talk Show

396: ‘The Essence of Stealing’, With David Barnard


00:00:00   David Bernard, welcome to the talk show. I'm a terrible podcast host because I've wanted to have

00:00:05   you on the show for years. And here we are in 2024, first time on the show. Nice to finally be on.

00:00:15   You first covered my apps, and I gotta say thank you, back in the fall of 2008. So we have been

00:00:25   corresponding off and on, and you've covered my apps and writings I've done for decades now.

00:00:32   So yeah, thanks. What would that app have been? What would 2008 have been for you?

00:00:39   I think the very first thing you wrote about was TripCubby, a mileage logging app,

00:00:45   because you had lambasted this really poorly designed mileage logging app.

00:00:50   It was the only mileage logging app available when the app store first launched. Mine was ready,

00:00:55   but Apple hadn't approved my app store account, which to this day, it still kills me.

00:01:01   I actually, a funny story. I mean, I thought about going to WWC 2008 because I'd started my company,

00:01:09   I was building apps, but it was so much money and I borrowed money from my family to start

00:01:14   the company. It was like ultimate bootstrapping. It felt like an insurmountable cost trying to get

00:01:23   this business off the ground to go to Cupertino, or I guess back then it was San Francisco still

00:01:29   for a week. But had I gone, they were signing up people on the spot and I would have had the app

00:01:36   on the app store day one, and you could have been writing about that day one as an alternate to the

00:01:41   other one. But I think you wrote back in like August or September of 2008.

00:01:47   Yeah, I remember when I mean, it's still expensive, but I mean, I remember when it was a

00:01:53   sit down and really talk about it at the table with the CFO of the company, you know, my wife

00:02:00   and figure out what the budget is and pulling shenanigans like I don't 2008 I might have

00:02:10   already been paying for a badge. But yeah, and I was getting press press badges by then but the

00:02:17   press badges were only good for the morning keynote, not even like the afternoon State of

00:02:21   the Union. So and I wanted to stay all week and go to sessions. And so eventually for several years

00:02:28   in a row, I bought myself a full price ticket, even into the like the lottery years when it was

00:02:35   like when it got to the which was very soon after 2008. Like 2008 was the first year first year with

00:02:44   iOS apps, because 2007 was the year the iPhone came out. And the only thing they said it WWDC,

00:02:49   ironically, was that you could do web apps. Right, which put a put a put a pin in that one. We'll

00:02:58   come back to that later in the show. And then 2008, the App Store had been announced like in

00:03:06   March. I think that was like the first time JAWS hosted an event. It was like a special

00:03:13   Greg JAWS react hosted event. I think that was it. But then did the App Store open before WWDC? Or

00:03:19   did it open at W like they announced the SDKs and everything in March, but then they didn't open the

00:03:24   App Store till 2000 July 11. So it was like one month after WWDC. So WWDC 2008 was like,

00:03:32   on the cusp of the App Store opening. Exactly. Right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, all those dates are

00:03:39   kind of seared in my mind, because I had heard rumors in the fall of 2007. I think it was Steve

00:03:46   Jobs even said explicitly, yeah, we're gonna do an SDK at some point. I know it's like a huge

00:03:53   Mac nerd at the time. I worked in a recording studio. And so I had, I mean, I was using Macs

00:03:59   back in the 90s in the Texas State sound recording technology program where I where I studied and

00:04:05   finally bought my own Mac in like 2003. And then as a recording engineer, that's that was a primary

00:04:12   tool. And so I had a 17 inch power power Mac, power book, power book, power book, the lunch.

00:04:21   Yep. So I was super into all that and started in the fall of 2007, brainstorming, like what

00:04:29   possible businesses could I build? And my memory, and maybe we should pause and Google this,

00:04:36   but my memory is that it was Steve Jobs who made that full SDK announcement that I watched. And

00:04:43   this was back before live streaming. So I believe I watched it the night of, they posted the video

00:04:49   the night after whatever small group of press got to see it live. And I started my company

00:04:56   like days later. And so I was super inundated and all that stuff starting from March, early March,

00:05:02   when the announcement was made. I, as I recall, it was, we don't have to be, it's better to speculate.

00:05:08   No, but as I recall, it was in, in WWDC 2007, they announced that the greats, the sweet solution,

00:05:17   as they said, for third-party developers for the iPhone was developing web apps,

00:05:22   which I called a shit sandwich. And that was, I've told this story before, but in 2007 would have

00:05:29   been a year. I was there for the keynote with a press badge and still, I think it was my first

00:05:36   WWDC with a press badge and I, it was still, this is the greatest keynote of all time, right? So,

00:05:43   and I still think, man, if I had been like one year behind in terms of my popularity, whatever

00:05:51   it is that got me, that got somebody writing for a personal blog elevated to the level of the

00:05:59   attention of Apple PR, where you could qualify for a press badge. If I'd been like a year behind

00:06:03   and missed that one, I'd, I'd, I'd every day at some point, I'd think, God damn it. I missed the

00:06:08   best keynote of all time. But that was definitely, that might've been the last year where I didn't

00:06:13   pay for a badge for the full conference and a friend who worked at Apple supplied me with an

00:06:21   Apple engineer badge. And so for Apple engineers who were like in and out, there were a bunch of

00:06:29   badges that didn't have name, personal names on them. They just were like a different color badge.

00:06:34   And it just said Apple engineer. And the idea is they only printed so many of them. And people who

00:06:40   work at Apple would be like, I think I'm going to swing by on Tuesday, check it out. Somebody else

00:06:44   is coming on Thursday, might take that same badge. Well, I, I spent the week with a badge like that.

00:06:50   And I would just turn it around. It was only printed on one side. So I would keep it turned

00:06:54   around so that anybody who met me and knew me, I did, I just didn't want to talk about the fact

00:06:59   that that was my badge. I remember those early days of badge surfing. They've gotten a lot more

00:07:05   strict about it, but I I've definitely surfed a few badges and loaned my badge out over the years.

00:07:10   Ah, it's sorta like the way I, when I was in college, I pirated a lot of software

00:07:16   cause I couldn't afford it. But then once I became a professional and could afford it,

00:07:19   I pay for all my software now. I kind of felt that way about that badge. But the funny story

00:07:24   was the day after the keynote, it was Tuesday. That was the first time I ever met Phil Schiller

00:07:30   personally. And it was on the third floor of Moscone West. Were you ever at Moscone later

00:07:35   for WWDC? I was at every WWDC after that until, yeah, I missed a few in 2015, 16 era, but I was

00:07:43   there 2009, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. It's kind of a neat, it really was. I miss it. It's the Moscone

00:07:50   West. Moscone West was, is a beautiful building and, and it was perfectly suited for WWDC in my

00:07:56   opinion. And I was at the third floor. And so anybody doesn't know it's a three floor thing.

00:08:01   The first floor is just sort of a lobby. And I guess the cafeteria is down there. And the

00:08:06   cafeteria is sort of also where they'd have a whole bunch of high-speed ethernet set up.

00:08:11   So that develop, if you want to download the new X code, the new betas and everything,

00:08:14   you can go in there with your MacBook and connect to ethernet and get all that. But the first floor

00:08:20   isn't conferency. It's get your badge. There's a place to eat. There's the big room where you can

00:08:24   sit. Second and third floors where all the, where all the conference halls are. But you oftentimes,

00:08:30   when you're on the third floor, which was where the keynote hall was, and then what they call it,

00:08:35   Presidio, they'd smallen it up from the keynote, but it was still like the biggest room. So like

00:08:42   at any given time, there's often, at least back then, there was like, what's the main session

00:08:49   at 10 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday? Like the one that the most, like what's new in UI kit

00:08:55   or something like that, right? Oh man, everybody wants to go to that one. Well, they put it up on

00:08:59   the third floor in the big, big hall. So a lot of times when you're leaving, you'd have kind of a

00:09:04   zigzag escalator ride, third floor to second, walk around second floor to first. And I was at third

00:09:11   floor and right behind me was Phil Schiller with Ron Okamoto, who I think has since left Apple,

00:09:16   but was like head of developer relations. And I thought to myself, "Oh, I got to introduce myself."

00:09:22   But you know, and at the time I always still had the, "Oh God, what if he has no idea who I am?"

00:09:28   Well, whatever, people probably come to Phil Schiller all the time. So I turned around and

00:09:33   said, "Hey, Phil, I'm John Gruber." And he definitely knew who I was, obviously red daring

00:09:39   fireball instantly. He said, "Hey, great to meet you." And then the next word, really, really nice,

00:09:43   really friendly. And he said, next words out of his mouth were, "Hey, I read your piece on

00:09:47   the keynote yesterday. I got to disagree with the shit sandwich." Right away. And then I'm thinking,

00:09:56   I'm thinking instantly, "Oh, now I'm wrong-footed." Now he wants to talk about the fact that I call

00:10:02   the web absolution as "shit sandwich." Whereas I'd been coming from, "Does he even know who I am?"

00:10:10   too instantly. Now he hates me. No, but he was totally Phil. He was very, he said it with a smile

00:10:17   on his face, but he obviously meant that he disagreed with it. And instantly I thought,

00:10:21   "Which way is my badge turned right now? And how weird would it be if I looked down?" And I did,

00:10:31   I sort of like looked down as little as I could and saw that it was turned to the white side. So

00:10:36   that was, I was in the clear at explaining that. And then we had like a little, it lasted long

00:10:43   enough that when we got down to the lobby, we stopped and kept talking. And I remember too,

00:10:48   after talking about the web app thing, we talked about the big announcement in 2008 was enterprise

00:10:55   support in iOS, right? So that you could get first-class Microsoft Exchange support in the

00:11:02   settings app, which obviously surprised me. And then he explained why it wasn't,

00:11:07   shouldn't be surprising. And that they really saw already first year that iPhone was going to be

00:11:13   way bigger than the Mac was in traditional enterprise, quote unquote, "enterprise

00:11:19   companies." And it was just a really interesting conversation, but yeah.

00:11:23   How was your relationship with Apple back in those early days? Cause I thought you were going to say

00:11:28   something about your scoops cause you back then were a bit more of a Apple spoiler with spoiling

00:11:36   all the things that were coming. When was that? Maybe around 20, 12, 13,

00:11:41   you started drifting away from kind of spoiling. It was never contentious at all. And my impression

00:11:50   is that while Apple, and I've talked about it with Phil and I've definitely brought it up with

00:11:58   Jaws and Federighi in the years since just sort of on stage when I've been interviewing them in

00:12:05   the live show about leaks and the thing that angers them and it's the way that Jaws and Phil,

00:12:13   you can just see how Jaws worked as Phil's right-hand man for so long before taking over

00:12:19   the role. They're so aligned. They're not alike. Well, they each have their own very distinctive

00:12:25   personalities, but in terms of the way they think about their work and Apple's role,

00:12:30   they're so aligned and the thing that infuriates them aren't the people who publish the leaks.

00:12:37   It's the people inside the company who do the leaking that that's the betrayal. And it's the

00:12:44   only thing they're angry about. So nobody was ever angry with me. I talked to, I had a really

00:12:48   interesting, I went to lunch with Bertrand after he left Apple. It was like the first year

00:12:54   after Craig took over as the head of software engineering and Bertrand Cerlet was, I guess,

00:13:03   retired, semi-retired. He sort of became an investor, but he was at WWDC and we went to lunch

00:13:09   and he asked me about how I knew certain of the things that I had leaked. And he was really just

00:13:15   curious because he thought when his perspective, and I guess it reflected a bunch of other people

00:13:20   at his level, was that the things I leaked or spoiled were often very different than what

00:13:26   most of the leaks and spoils are before and after. What did I get? I think I got this,

00:13:33   the Windows version of Safari, you know, and the way I would do it was I wouldn't say Apple's going

00:13:39   to announce a Windows version of Safari. I would just say, here's my spitball ideas for what I'd

00:13:44   like to see this year at WWDC the night before. And then I listed a Windows version of Safari.

00:13:51   And then I remember that WWDC, the WebKit Safari team, you used to have an annual party,

00:13:58   wasn't it Chevy's, but it was somewhere, was that something Bear? It was like a beer place with

00:14:06   Bear in the name, sort of across from the W down there on the same, whatever that street is that

00:14:12   Moscone's on. Yeah, I've been there, but I can't remember the name either. Thirsty Bear, was that,

00:14:16   I think it was Thirsty Bear. And they would just have like an open, you know, hey, if you're WWDC,

00:14:22   come meet the WebKit team. And I went there and chatted them up and somebody,

00:14:27   their theory was that they blew it because the night before WWDC was when they flipped the switch

00:14:37   in the build for the Windows version of Safari to actually use the real user agent string they

00:14:44   were going to use. That said, it was Safari from Windows. And up until that point, they'd just,

00:14:50   I guess, been using the regular Safari Mac user agent string for all the builds. And when they've

00:14:57   made the build that they were going to ship to developers the next day with the actual user

00:15:02   agent string, they quick tested a couple sites and they tested Daring Fireball. And they thought

00:15:08   that's how they blew it. They were like, is that what happened? And then you saw it in your logs.

00:15:14   And I said, it wasn't. And I said, no. And I said, and think about it, what kind of a maniac would

00:15:20   I be if every night at midnight, I start looking at my server logs and they're like, yeah, actually,

00:15:26   that doesn't make sense. And then they're like, well, how did you know? And I'm like, I can't say.

00:15:29   I looked it up. Me.com. I think I got me mobile, me and me.com. I got the name the night before.

00:15:40   I don't know. I gave up on that because it just stopped. It wasn't fun. And as I did it,

00:15:48   I was growing in popularity and knew more people and knew more things. It almost felt like I was

00:15:55   cheating. Yeah. Shooting fish in the barrel. Yeah. Well, I looked up the announcement of the iPhone

00:16:02   SDK with Scott forest all believe you. And I both forgot that it was got forest all March 6. He did

00:16:08   the, I think Schiller opened it forest all did the meat and then jobs closed it and jobs talk more

00:16:17   about the, like the app store itself and the business opportunity and all that kind of stuff.

00:16:22   So, so March SDK announcement, is that video still available? I'll put it in show notes if it is.

00:16:28   All right. But let's go back to that. What was your developer experience before the iPhone?

00:16:32   None, none. So you were, you were a Mac enthusiast and a computer enthusiast,

00:16:41   but then the iPhone comes out and it was, I remember the original announcement was just one

00:16:46   of those great Steve jobs, open letters, right? Like thoughts on music and the thoughts, thoughts

00:16:52   on flash. There are the two big ones. And then I think it was just sort of a, okay, okay, shut up

00:16:58   about the SDK. We'll do it. Right. That was, it was like in the fall, right? And there was all of

00:17:05   this jailbreaking action going on, which is still amazing to me, like the pre app store development,

00:17:11   like Hockenberry had a version of Twitterrific going before there was an SDK. And I remember

00:17:18   Lucas Newman. I forget who worked with him on it, but he, Lucas Newman used to work.

00:17:22   Was he Steve Troughton Smith? I forget if he was out.

00:17:26   Well, Steven has it now, like in the version of lights app, that's currently in the app store

00:17:32   is his. I'm not sure if he helped with that original, I mean, obviously Steven Troughton Smith

00:17:37   is exactly the sort of developer who could do this sort of black magic of without an SDK,

00:17:44   somehow Jerry rigging the tools so that developers could produce Xcode apps using nothing but private

00:17:53   API. It was amazing. But there was the first app I remember using was lights out. But I know Lucas

00:18:01   Newman was sort of, he was a delicious monster with Will Shipley at the time. But there were

00:18:06   developers making apps without any SDK at all, which just seems impossible to me.

00:18:11   And then Jobs said, okay, fine, we'll do it. Give us a couple months. We're going to make this super

00:18:17   secure. We got to tighten things up and we'll get back to you early next year with this thing.

00:18:22   But you're instantly thinking you're you, it just struck you.

00:18:26   It struck me as a, as a huge business opportunity. I, and actually I remember specifically

00:18:33   listening to Leo LaPorte's This Week in Tech. He had Amber McArthur on the show and they were

00:18:39   talking about Facebook apps and how, how many people kind of rode the wave of Facebook apps

00:18:47   from the early days. And so I was listening to that. That was maybe like December of 2007.

00:18:53   And I thought this iPhone SDK is going to be like that. Like this is, this is a tech wave.

00:19:01   It's a, and it's going to be a huge business opportunity. And I, I gotta,

00:19:04   I gotta find a way to ride this wave. And, and so at that point I had never, yeah,

00:19:10   never developed, never written software. I mean, I had like tinkered in HTML and CSS, like, you know,

00:19:16   most nerds at some point build your own website and stuff like that. But in March, I had, I had

00:19:23   already started, I had already kind of like done a business plan. I'd already like started like

00:19:27   floating the idea to my folks who'd always said, if you want to start a business, we'll, we'll figure

00:19:32   out a way to support you. And so within like hours of watching the SDK announcement, I was kicking

00:19:40   off a corporation and borrowed 20K from my family to start the company. My parents and my aunt and

00:19:48   uncle both pitched in because there's a lot of money. And that that's where the, you know, not

00:19:52   going to WWDC. It's like, am I going to take this, this limited, you know, 20K that family put in

00:20:00   that they weren't like rich or anything. It was, it was a lot of money to them to put it in the

00:20:03   company and, and fly out to WWDC in 2009 and, and decided not to. But yeah, so I just, I hit the

00:20:12   ground running as soon as the SDK was announced. And originally my plan was to learn to code.

00:20:19   And so I got a big nerd ranch Objective-C book, and I got two or three weeks into it and realized

00:20:29   that it was going to take more than three months to learn to code, much less learn to code and

00:20:35   build an app. And I didn't have that much runway. My wife was working, but not making much money at

00:20:41   the time. That 20K investment from my family was going to run out fairly quick. And so,

00:20:47   so I actually ended up hiring a developer, Jonathan Johnson. He's still in tech somewhere.

00:20:52   And he had been a long time coca developer, but even he struggled. Anybody writing these days,

00:21:00   people just have no idea unless you were there in 2008, just how hard it was because

00:21:05   there was an NDA in place. So you couldn't talk in forums. You couldn't write blog posts. There

00:21:12   were no books on iOS development. It was, you read the docs and you figured it out. And if you had

00:21:20   some prior knowledge of cocoa, all the better, but it was brutal. Those first few years of writing

00:21:27   iPhone apps. I mean, not as brutal as Craig Hockenberry figuring out how to write his apps

00:21:31   without even an SDK, but it was, it was rough going in those early days. And so I actually

00:21:37   never ended up learning to code because after that my business started taking off. And so I've worked

00:21:43   both with partners and with, and just paying contract developers to build the apps with me.

00:21:50   Yeah. I'm sort of in the same boat where I'm, I mean, I have a degree in computer science

00:21:56   and program quite a bit. I mean, I wrote the reference version of markdown and I write lots,

00:22:05   you know, you, if you read my website, you know, I write little scripts from time to time,

00:22:08   but writing full apps is just beyond my can. I can't explain it. Maybe sort of along the lines

00:22:18   of my writing too. I've never written a book and I've never really had an idea for a book. I mean,

00:22:24   and I could in theory do a collection of the best of daring fireball, which does it to me, doesn't,

00:22:29   I mean, it would be a book, but that's not writing a 300 page thing that stands on its own with the

00:22:37   narrative flow, right? Like my writing, my ability to write is sort of article length. That's, it

00:22:43   just, that's just, and my programming, my programming ability is like script length,

00:22:50   right? And so if the division between a full app and a script is sort of scope scripts, I can do

00:22:56   and enjoy doing and feel like I can do pretty well and programs just, I think I could, but I think

00:23:02   it would take me forever, right? That's the problem. And when you find, when you know a

00:23:07   really good app developer, it's like they can move fast, right? And they can get something off the

00:23:12   ground fast. And that's a good thing. It's a good thing to recognize, right? And it's sort of,

00:23:17   probably it was a hard thing for you to admit, right? You think, cause you could probably could

00:23:20   have done it, but it's like getting a sense that I'm never going to do it well enough.

00:23:25   Yeah. Well, and it was like every six months I'd be like, oh, I should learn to code and I could

00:23:30   just do this. Anytime I'd get frustrated, like we're moving too slow. I'm spending too much

00:23:34   money. I mean, I had two separate projects where I got $50,000 into each of these projects with

00:23:40   contract developers and I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. And so I just, I

00:23:45   shit canned them and just took a hundred thousand dollar loss on those two projects. And so in

00:23:56   moments like that, I'm like, damn it, I should learn how to code. But what I think has ended up working out

00:23:59   for me in the long run is that by not coding, I spent my time thinking about things in different

00:24:08   ways and focused on different things. So I studied the app store hours and I would go look at the top

00:24:16   downloaded apps. I'd look at the trending, I'd look hours and hours unpacking all the different

00:24:21   apps and trying to understand the business models and reading you and a bunch of other folks. And

00:24:27   it just gave me such a different perspective, thinking more about the business and design and

00:24:35   marketing and that side of things versus being head down in code. And so I'm probably one of the

00:24:41   few people who's been around since the early days, who's just been like completely obsessed with the

00:24:46   app store, but not a developer. Well, but I think it's, oh man, how's my pal Merlin put it? I guess

00:24:57   it was a South by Southwest talk that Merlin and I, or panel just joint discussion around that time,

00:25:04   2006, 2007. But the way he put it was obsession times voice, meaning, and that it equals success

00:25:14   as an independent creator. And you need, the voice is sort of your own taste and your perspective,

00:25:22   like the sort of things you'd want to build and the way you'd want to build them. And also the

00:25:28   way the problems you see with the existing things in that category, whether it's other for me,

00:25:33   like with Daring Fireball, with other sites that wrote about Apple, what do I, what would I do

00:25:38   differently? What would I, what would be different about my site? And then, but the obsession part

00:25:44   is just something ineffable. Like you either have it or you don't. And lots of people are

00:25:51   successful in fields. I mean, everybody knows people like this, people who spend their whole

00:25:55   careers with a job that they really don't like. I mean, my dad was like that. My dad

00:26:01   was a train dispatcher for Conrail, which is like the train equivalent of an air traffic controller,

00:26:07   somebody who just spends eight hours at a time making sure trains get where they're

00:26:13   going without hitting other trains. And he didn't hate his job, but he had a long commute.

00:26:19   Cause, and it, and really for me and my sister, because he just, when we were really young,

00:26:26   decided he had to move or where he worked moved and it was either move the whole family and put

00:26:32   the kids in a new school or just have an hour plus commute five days a week, each way. And part of

00:26:39   he made that work cause there were other, he carpooled with other colleagues. So he didn't

00:26:44   have to do the driving all the time, but he didn't love his job. He really, you know, and it was high

00:26:48   pressure. I mean, you know, every single day he was responsible for making sure trains don't

00:26:54   collide. And every time there's a train derailment, it's national news. I mean,

00:26:58   whether it's a passenger car or not, or look at the thing in Ohio a couple of years ago, I mean,

00:27:05   terrible, terrible things happen. He didn't like the pressure. He didn't love the work. It wasn't

00:27:10   like a passion, but it was a good job, good career, good union. And so he did it for 40

00:27:17   years. I mean, it's a long time. I, and you know, it, it helped him promote the idea for me and my

00:27:24   sister to, to encourage us to follow, you know, try to find something you want, you want to do or

00:27:28   love to do. And I think for you, it's very clear that you just saw something ever since I've known

00:27:35   you in a way that you've always shared your knowledge about it. Like you saw the opportunity

00:27:39   with apps for the phone and you just had to do it. Right. I mean, yeah. So I started a business. I

00:27:47   probably would have figured out a way to do it on the side. So yeah. Yeah. Like something always

00:27:51   happens once an industry gets big, then it attracts the people who are interested in the money first.

00:27:58   So like when I was a teenager in the eighties, it was going to work on wall street, right? Example,

00:28:06   can't even be exemplified better than the fact that one of the most popular movies of the decade

00:28:10   was Oliver Stone's wall street. Right. But like that whole mindset I think American psycho with

00:28:18   Brett Easton Ellis's novel, and then the movie with Christian Bale, those sort of guys, it wasn't

00:28:24   cause they loved the work. It was just in the eighties. It was like, well, if you want to make

00:28:28   a lot of money, you go work on wall street. And then at a certain point after when the 2010s,

00:28:34   when mobile was clearly on a path to, Oh, this is going to be bigger than way bigger than PCs

00:28:41   ever were. Oh, it all of a sudden attracted all sorts of people who are just in it for the money

00:28:48   and the passion for making great apps was second. Right. But the people who I'm interested in are

00:28:54   the ones who are passionate about making great apps and then thinking, can I make a business out

00:29:01   of this app? Right. And that priority, that difference in priority makes is it, you know,

00:29:08   which one's first and which one's second, making the most money and then making a good app out of

00:29:12   that, or having this vision for a great app and then finding, figuring out a way to make it a

00:29:19   successful business. It makes a tremendous difference. And you can, you could go through

00:29:23   your app, your iPhone, and just go ABAB with each app and decide, you'll know, you, you know, which

00:29:31   apps were from our today from the obsessives who are after perfectionism and which ones are just

00:29:38   there for the money first. Yeah. And not to jump too far ahead in the conversation, cause I wanted

00:29:43   to bring this up later when we talk about the DMA and Apple and other things, but you kind of get the

00:29:51   sense that used to be Apple too, you know, Phil Schiller saying, Hey, what if we just cap app store

00:29:57   profit at whatever it was? It was a billion. Yeah. Like a 1 billion. Yeah. Just like a

00:30:03   spit ball idea. He put out an email, what if we cap it at a billion run rate? And then once it

00:30:08   gets there, just start, you know, go from 30, 30% to 25%. I mean, that was because that was before

00:30:15   the 30, 15 offering. It was all 30. And it was, I don't think there were subscriptions yet.

00:30:20   Yeah. But yeah, why don't we go to 25 and then when 25 hits a billion, maybe we'll go to 20.

00:30:26   That more than anything was like that ethos of Apple of we're not building the app store to make

00:30:34   money on the app store. We're building the app store to empower our platform, to empower

00:30:38   developers, to create opportunity, to have cool apps. Like there were so many other reasons behind

00:30:46   the app store and then somewhere in all of this, it'd be started to become a lot of money. And now

00:30:52   Apple's a little bit more about the money than the passion. It feels like externally anyway.

00:30:57   Yeah. So it was funny as you were talking about that. I wasn't thinking how many people inside

00:31:03   Apple is that true of that, you know, now it's, it's such a huge driver of their stock price that

00:31:09   the kind of passion that it feels like there's still so much passion inside Apple for apps and

00:31:14   the platform and everything else. But it feels like we've lost a little bit of that because of

00:31:19   how important it is to them financially. And the fact that the business, is it more so ahead of the

00:31:26   passion these days? Yeah. Well, and like I said, it, the order of your priorities matter. It's not

00:31:33   if there's three or four things you really care about. These are the three or four reasons why

00:31:37   Apple has the app store. They want to empower developers to make new creative things that,

00:31:46   that corner of liberal liberal arts and technology, the art part of it to let people

00:31:52   make the things of their imagination and put them out there. They want the users to be able to find

00:32:00   great apps that they love just because they want to make them happy. That's part of why people go

00:32:05   to work to Apple to make the users happy. And they know that just like the Mac where, yes, there's a

00:32:11   Mac app store now, but it's nowhere near as big a deal on the Mac as it is on the iPhone. And the

00:32:18   Mac itself is so much smaller, a user base that even if the Mac app store grew to be as important

00:32:24   on the Mac as it is on iOS, it still is dwarfed by iOS, but it's great for the Mac. Even in pre

00:32:32   app store days, it's great for Apple to say our platform has all of these great apps. And a lot

00:32:38   of these great apps are only available on the Mac because they're taking advantage in such deep

00:32:45   integrated ways with our system frameworks that that's great for us too, right? That's the win,

00:32:52   win, win circle. Apple does Apple's platform succeed when there are lots of great third-party

00:32:58   apps available. The developers succeed when they're able to make great apps and find a market

00:33:05   for them. And the users are happy when their device has all sorts of great apps games available

00:33:12   for their interests, right? That's that win, win, win scenario. And with iOS, with the app store,

00:33:20   like you said, it's very clear. I mean, there's, I don't, I think the only people who had disputed

00:33:26   are people within Apple who I think because they know the way their priorities used to be ordered

00:33:32   and never officially changed them. There was no, I don't think there was ever any kind of meeting

00:33:38   where they're like the new most important thing about the app store is increasing our rake.

00:33:43   Nobody ever said that it just happened and nobody wanted to turn the fire hose off, right? And so I

00:33:52   think in inside Apple, they still see the reasons why they joined the company. So many people at

00:33:58   Apple in higher positions have been there their whole careers or most of their careers with a

00:34:04   brief stint a couple of years away. And then they come back lots and lots and lots of Apple people

00:34:10   leave and then come back. That's one reason why, and everybody at Apple knows it. And it's one

00:34:15   reason why Apple employees often keep up their silence about their work after they leave because

00:34:20   they think I might want to come back because they know how many people come back. But yeah,

00:34:24   somewhere along there, it seems pretty clear that whether they admit it or not, or it's written on

00:34:29   the whiteboard in the CFO's office or Tim Cook's office, number one, make lots of money from the

00:34:36   app store. And I don't want to let Apple completely off the hook in those early days either though,

00:34:41   because there was a very strong commoditized or compliments vibe to the early app store was that

00:34:46   they were making a ton of profit on the iPhone as a hardware device and saw that as the primary

00:34:55   profit motive was to sell more iPhones. And the more apps we have, the more iPhones we sell.

00:35:00   And the cheaper iPhone apps are, the more value is accrued to the device itself. So

00:35:08   if you pay $400 and get your subsidized plan or whatever in 2009 to get an iPhone 3G and it costs

00:35:18   $500 to load it up with apps, well, now you're competing for consumer pocket book. But if it's

00:35:27   free and 20 bucks to load it up with apps, you spend that $400 on the device and it feels like

00:35:34   a great deal. And I mean, Steve Jobs, even when he was announcing iAd, he said, "We created iAd

00:35:41   to help developers make free, to monetize their apps so they can keep them cheap, free and cheap."

00:35:47   Something along those lines. I actually have it screenshotted because I've used it. I've tweeted

00:35:52   that one out many times, but there was definitely a vibe of that commoditized the compliments.

00:35:58   And so it wasn't fully altruistic motives. It wasn't fully passion for apps. I think there was

00:36:05   definitely a profit motive. It was just a different profit motive back then.

00:36:09   Pete: Yeah, definitely. And I know Jobs, I think, totally bought into it, but I know that iAd was

00:36:17   Scott Forstall's baby. That Forstall personally thought this... And really, really, really,

00:36:23   because I actually talked to Scott after that keynote, off the record, in the press mingling

00:36:30   area. And it was a really, really interesting conversation, but it was really, really clear.

00:36:35   He was super enthusiastic about it, but really specifically from the perspective of indie

00:36:40   developers, that he really thought that this was going to solve a problem that they saw was there

00:36:47   on the... Even that early in the app store era, that developers trying to make a go of it

00:36:55   professionally were having a hard time, in a way. And those of us...

00:37:00   Geoff - It's funny, all these years later, I have been wishing for iAd 2.0. And the history of all

00:37:09   that is that once they launched it, I used it day one, and CPMs were ridiculous. I made great money

00:37:16   on iAd. I think David Smith, our mutual friend, he made a ton of money on iAd in the early days.

00:37:23   And then all these other AdMob and a bunch of other stuff started popping up, and more and more

00:37:27   developers were able to use that. And it just deprioritized from Apple at some point. But today

00:37:34   in 2024, freemium subscription apps, which is what I publish generally and work with at my day job at

00:37:42   Revenue Cat, there's still a lack of good ways to monetize free apps. So my weather app, I actually

00:37:49   pulled ads from the app and ended up using a hard paywall because we were running Google AdMob as

00:37:56   our ad aggregator. And I would get tons of complaints about gambling ads that were distracting

00:38:03   and animated. And then I'd get gun ads, and I'd go into Google and I'd take every little box to try

00:38:09   and like, and every box you tick makes you less money because it limits the pool of ads that can

00:38:15   be served. And I would do all of that and still get crappy ads and still have no idea what all

00:38:22   these ad SDKs closed source are doing in my app. And so finally, I was like, enough is enough. And

00:38:26   I pulled all the ad SDKs from my app. And so even in 2024, I think Scott Forestall was right that it

00:38:35   is an important thing that Apple or somebody still needs to solve. And it's never, even once Apple

00:38:41   moved on from it and all these other platforms came in and there was Mopub, that Twitterbot,

00:38:47   Facebook had their audience network for a while. Like there's been tons of solutions over the years,

00:38:52   but it's all been like a privacy mess. The ad quality has been terrible. Like there's never

00:38:57   been another iAd. It really was genuinely a good thing, but to this day, sad that Apple abandoned

00:39:04   it. And then they haven't come around and built 2.0. Let's do this thing that is all the existing

00:39:12   ones are crappy for various ways. And the fact that they're all crappy, this is not just for ads,

00:39:20   but this happens in a lot of fields. If everybody's in a race to the bottom and using bad

00:39:26   patterns and practices and the frameworks are getting bloated, it just makes everybody else

00:39:32   follow the same thing. Well, everybody else is doing it too. So why don't we do that?

00:39:36   And then you have this opportunity to say, no, let's just do something totally opposite,

00:39:41   make it small, fast, lightweight in terms of the resources it consumes.

00:39:46   The original iAd announcement emphasized that they were going after mainstream big brands,

00:39:52   the Procter & Gamble's, that sort of thing, Crest toothpaste, not gun shops.

00:40:01   Right. And especially back then, casino ads where it's like sketchy because it wasn't as legal

00:40:06   or it wasn't legal in as many places. Let's make ads we can be proud of, right? I mean,

00:40:12   that's my career too, right? That spoke to me even though I didn't have an app,

00:40:16   but that's literally how I've tried to or have built so far and hopefully to come.

00:40:21   My entire business is sort of based on high quality ads that are lightweight,

00:40:29   good for the advertiser, lightweight, not annoying. Basically, I want ads that people don't want to

00:40:35   block, which I think is a pretty good baseline. Yeah. And I think, while we're going down memory

00:40:43   lane, I think younger people just cannot fathom how expensive apps were in the box software era,

00:40:52   that everything was hundreds of dollars. The early versions of Photoshop, as I recall,

00:40:58   were like $700 or $800 if you wanted to get Photoshop 2.0. And then when Photoshop 3 came out,

00:41:06   you could get the upgrade for $299 or something like that. Apple used to charge $129 for new

00:41:15   versions of Mac OS X, or Mac OS 9 and Mac OS 8. It wasn't like they started it with Mac OS X.

00:41:22   But you'd buy a Mac, and obviously it came with the latest version of Mac OS included,

00:41:27   and then a year and a half later, when the next major version came out, it was $129 just to upgrade

00:41:33   your Mac. And people, we'd line up. And people like me and you would line up.

00:41:38   I lined up for Tiger and Jaguar both, I think. Yeah. We'd line up to pay $130 to upgrade our

00:41:48   operating system. They were shorter lines than the iPhone era. They didn't go out in the parking lot.

00:41:55   The Apple employees didn't have to come out with trays full of water bottles to give to people who

00:42:01   were waiting for hours. But you'd go to the Apple store and line up in the morning, and you'd meet

00:42:07   fellow Mac nerds who wanted to get the update on day one. And in addition to the nerdiness of just

00:42:14   wanting it right away, there was the camaraderie of meeting people who had the same sort of

00:42:21   obsession that would lead them to line up to pay $130 to upgrade their operating system. But stuff

00:42:28   was expensive. And there was a boom in, you know, there were a lot of indie developers in the '90s,

00:42:36   but that was sort of the era when we often called it shareware. And I know there were a lot of

00:42:41   developers, even if they were, the original idea with shareware was, it really goes back to the

00:42:49   era before the internet, when apps were distributed on floppy disks, and you'd go to like your local

00:42:56   Mac user group, like at Drexel, when I was at Drexel, there was a great Drexel Mac user group.

00:43:01   And it was like a, you know, in the building with all the student organizations, and you could go in

00:43:07   and if you, with empty floppy disks and get all of these apps, we didn't even call them apps then,

00:43:13   really, but get all these applications and games, of course, and just fill up as many floppy disks

00:43:18   as you could put in your backpack with all of these apps from a machine that they had set up,

00:43:24   just to have them all on a hard disk and save them. And the idea with shareware is that was

00:43:28   encouraged. Now you could share, I could, if I had a cool Tetris clone, I could share it to my

00:43:34   friend David, just give you a floppy disk or you give me a blank floppy disk and I'll give it to

00:43:39   you. And then the about box would say, if you enjoy this, you can send me $15 and there'd be

00:43:43   like a mailing address. Really? Right. You'd mail a check. Believe it or not, those developers,

00:43:51   most of them didn't make a lot of money that way. But the idea was, right. But most of those apps

00:43:58   that were truly shareware didn't have a lock screen. It wasn't like, oh, you can use it for

00:44:02   30 days and unless you mail me a check and then I mail you back a code to type in, you could use it.

00:44:09   You could just use it forever and voluntarily pay if you wanted to. But the developers who made a

00:44:15   go of it professionally, you know, and had box software or even when it got to the download,

00:44:19   you know, the download era really opened it up to a lot more developers because the whole box thing

00:44:25   was such a pain in the ass. I mean, I was at bare bones software from 2000 to 2002 where we were

00:44:33   very much transitioning from selling box copies to, and we still did, we sold lots of box copies

00:44:40   to lots of developers or customers, but there were a lot of customers who were just downloading it

00:44:45   directly and paying not through checks sent through the mail, but through credit card

00:44:49   processing over the internet. But doing a box software release was a huge deal. I mean, we had

00:44:55   to print CDs or DVDs at some point. I guess CBB had it fitted on a CD. We printed copies of the user

00:45:04   manual and shipped them in the box. It's a real book. I have a couple of copies because I wrote

00:45:08   so much of it or contributed so much to it for the years that I was there. But that's all-

00:45:15   And then you got to figure out demand and forecast. Do we eat 10,000 copies? It's cheaper,

00:45:20   but are we going to sell 10,000? If we do 100,000 copies, it's even cheaper. But man, now we're

00:45:25   sitting on a giant pile and you got to warehouse them. You got to do it in a different world.

00:45:30   Right. And when your box of BB Edit 6.0.0 came, and then we had a 6.0.1 bug fix, you didn't have

00:45:38   to get a new box. You could download it. It used to be, I think it was Stuffit who made the

00:45:43   technology, but you could make an upgrader and the upgrader would just be effectively doing a binary

00:45:50   diff and just applying to the application and all the other components that were installed.

00:45:56   What's different between 6.0 and 6.0.1 because the download size mattered so much, right? Like

00:46:04   you really had to keep a download to the smallest possible size because people at home had very slow

00:46:11   connections. A lot of them were still on dial-up modems and the bandwidth cost for the company was

00:46:17   humongous. I mean, you used to pay... Even Daring Fireball, originally, I had to watch my bandwidth

00:46:25   just from a site with very few images and mostly text. When my site started getting popular,

00:46:33   I started getting notices from my then web host that I needed to upgrade my account to something

00:46:38   that was enough that I felt the strain, especially before I had Azure.

00:46:43   You just got in the habit of never posting photos and it just became part of your MO, right?

00:46:48   Right. But posting like a 50 megabyte app would have been ruinous for thousands of customers.

00:46:55   But anyway, it was a huge deal. But in that early Mac OS X era where two things I think happened,

00:47:06   first was the ability for independent developers to make download only. No, we don't have to do

00:47:13   any disks ever. We're never going to print a manual. Everything will be over the internet.

00:47:18   And so that made it so much easier for small developers who really just wanted to work on

00:47:23   the software to do it. And you didn't have to deal with the middlemen, the micro, whatever that damn

00:47:28   company was. One of the reasons its app was so expensive back then, such and such app or

00:47:37   word processor was $300. It was like micro somebody, I forget, but they were the middleman

00:47:44   who you give all your box copies to. And they were the ones who distributed to CompUSA and to Best Buy

00:47:52   and to whatever other mom and pop shops carried the box software. They took like 80% of the money.

00:47:58   It was like the opposite of the app store. And one of those reasons why Apple originally,

00:48:04   and they still make the argument, right? Even in recent years, like JAWS has made the argument

00:48:08   that like a 70/30 split where the developer keeps 70% is complete opposite of the box software era

00:48:16   when the developer only got like 20% of the money. So that was great. You could switch to direct

00:48:25   sales, cut out the middle person, no boxes, no printed manuals. And all you'd have to do is pay

00:48:31   for your credit card processing fee and et cetera. And then the second thing was CoCo and that the

00:48:37   CoCo frameworks and Objective-C really were and are a better way to write applications,

00:48:46   to structure them, to take advantage of built-in functionality in the frameworks and let one person

00:48:54   shows or three person teams make apps that in the '90s would have taken a hundred person companies

00:49:02   to make. Gus Mueller at Flying Meat can make Acorn, which is a legit image editor. It doesn't

00:49:11   have as many features as Photoshop, but it does compete with Photoshop. And it's him and his wife,

00:49:17   his wife handling the business and Gus doing all the development. That just wasn't possible before

00:49:22   CoCo. There were image editors, but I don't think that they could... I don't think Brent Simmons

00:49:27   could have made NetNewswire as nice as it was when it came out as a one person developer as he could

00:49:32   have in Mac OS 9 or would have taken him a lot more work. So there was that. And they could sell

00:49:38   the apps for real prices like 50 bucks or $40, $80 for this or 120 for a serious app, productivity

00:49:47   app. And I think everybody sort of had that idea when the App Store opened that it would follow

00:49:52   that Mac model of prices that were, I don't know, $10 and up at least, $10, $15, $20. There was this

00:50:02   sort of a sense like, well, the phone is smaller than the Mac, so they probably shouldn't be like

00:50:06   50, 60, $70. They should be like 10, 15, $20. And then we'd get thousands of more customers because

00:50:15   there'd be more iPhone... Everybody knew there were going to be more iPhones sold than Macs,

00:50:19   and this would be great. And then it turned out that people thought 99 cents was way too

00:50:24   expensive. Yeah. And this is something, it's still a pet peeve of mine, the folks who

00:50:33   don't give Apple enough credit for helping to make that happen. Because early in the App Store,

00:50:41   there were those $10 and $20 apps. And what started happening pretty quickly was that folks

00:50:47   noticed that if you put your app on sale, you would get a bunch of downloads. That would push

00:50:52   you into the top charts because the top charts were based solely on downloads, not revenue.

00:50:58   They didn't introduce the top grossing chart until 2011, I think. And so you started having this race

00:51:06   to the bottom on pricing, incentivized very directly by the structure of the App Store,

00:51:12   not necessarily even by consumer demand or anything else. It was that if I drop my price,

00:51:18   I'm going to get more downloads. Therefore, I'm going to get higher in the charts. And if I get

00:51:23   higher in the charts, I get more attention and get more downloads. And so it was like a marketing

00:51:27   thing to drop your price. And then it really was early in the App Store, just this devolution of

00:51:34   prices from those $10 and $20 price points down to the floor of $0.99 in part because of the

00:51:41   incentives that the App Store created. And that happened so quick. I mean, it happened over months

00:51:47   since the App Store launched July 11, 2008. And by the fall, people were putting their apps on sale.

00:51:56   And there were enough people that for the mass market apps, $0.99 could work. And you had the

00:52:01   iBeers of the world at the end of the news, "Oh, they made a million bucks." But it still didn't

00:52:07   work, right? Like my gas cubby app and other apps, I played the pricing games and I tried $2 and $3

00:52:15   and $5. And you didn't have upgrades, much less subscription. And it was a mess. But to your point,

00:52:23   it was like we went from this era of software being expensive to now all of a sudden software

00:52:28   being super cheap. And I think that benefited Apple tremendously in the kind of accrued value

00:52:35   to their platform that users were paying for their hardware and perceiving their platform as a place

00:52:41   that you can get free and cheap apps versus having this platform where things were more expensive.

00:52:47   Pete: Yeah. Just sort of ballpark mapping it. It's like you could get to with a $50 app, you get 20,000

00:52:58   customers and now you've got a million dollars in revenue. And it depends how many employees you

00:53:03   have, but that's real money. But if you have three or four people working on a thing and not that

00:53:11   much overhead because you're not doing the printed stuff and you're not selling through a middle

00:53:16   person, a million dollars divided by four is pretty good. And you only need 20,000 customers

00:53:22   to get there. And I say you only getting to 20,000 customers for a new app can be really hard, but

00:53:28   it's manageable, right? It's not boiling the ocean. It's like you're boiling a swimming pool.

00:53:34   You could do it. You can heat up a hot tub. But if you're selling it for a dollar and you get 20,000

00:53:41   customers, it's not much money, right? It's really not. It's well, I guess we can go to WWDC. That's

00:53:50   it. You don't have to pay any bills. I saw somebody tweeting earlier this week. It was

00:53:56   something about back in 2008, the app store was so easy. A beer app made millions. And I was like,

00:54:02   "No." Yes, a beer app made it because it went viral. But that was the exception, not the rule.

00:54:09   It wasn't easy in 2008 because you still had all those factors that are today still in place is

00:54:15   that I was making more productivity and utility apps. So how many people need a mileage logging

00:54:21   app? Two to 5% of the population? And then you start doing that, "Well, 2% of a million people

00:54:30   is a lot of people." But then you have to get the attention of that 2%. And so if you get the

00:54:38   attention of 0.01% and then half of those do end up buying your app, the numbers ended up being so

00:54:45   much smaller. And the apps that that really did work for were just the mass market apps. It was

00:54:51   very much centered around, and the stories that made it sound so easy were all centered around

00:54:56   those mass market apps. And all the niche apps really suffered because of it. I mean, I did all

00:55:02   right, and I made it. Until I joined RevenueCat in 2019, I was full-time working on apps as a

00:55:10   non-programmer, probably one of the few people who could say that. So for whatever that was, like

00:55:15   13 years, 100% of the money I made that provided for my family came from selling apps on the app

00:55:23   store. So I did all right, but it was a struggle. And the pricing was a part of that.

00:55:30   What you really want, what we want is effectively like a meritocracy. And

00:55:36   of course there are exceptions, but I think sports often works like that for the most part. If you

00:55:45   are a talented basketball player and you're a teenager, you're going to get noticed. If you're

00:55:52   good, clearly good enough to go on to Division I college. I think there's very few high school

00:56:00   kids, athletes who have that remarkable amount of talent who don't get it. And sometimes you're

00:56:07   overlooked. Like Steph Curry, I forget where he went to college, I watched that recent documentary,

00:56:13   but didn't go to a Tier I school. But he did play Division I college basketball. It was just

00:56:18   at a smaller school because he was like, "I don't know, that kid looks short and scrawny." So he was

00:56:25   overlooked, underrated, but he still eventually got to where he is today, a sure thing, all time great

00:56:32   hall of famer. There's very few people who probably out there in the world who deserve to be in the

00:56:38   NBA or the WNBA who aren't, right? You just sort of get there. And you want that with everything

00:56:44   in the world. You want the people who deserve to succeed to succeed. And I think the web really

00:56:50   worked like that. It's like when I started Daring Fireball, I hoped it would succeed.

00:56:57   And it maybe took a little longer to succeed than I had hoped, but I think I eventually wound up with

00:57:04   the success that I deserve. And then years later, when someone like Federico started Max Stories,

00:57:10   it's with as good as Federico's writing is and as interesting and good as Max Stories is,

00:57:16   I think it was effectively a sure thing that as long as the quality of the work kept up,

00:57:22   it was going to become a top tier Apple news media site. It was going to happen.

00:57:28   And I think that's what the App Store really has always been missing, right? You can make a great

00:57:35   app that in theory ought to be able to find whatever niche there is of users that could

00:57:42   and should make it a financial success, but it doesn't work, right? There's good apps that don't

00:57:48   make it. And I'm not just talking about my own Vesper, but it is, I think it's a self-serving

00:57:55   aspect of it aside. It's a pretty good example, right? And I've told this to, why didn't it work?

00:58:01   I mean, we never got past only having an iPhone version and an iPad version. We should have had

00:58:05   a Mac version, but we missed, we were too early for the subscription era and subscription pricing

00:58:11   might've been the thing that saved us, but selling a four or $5 notes app, it was very clear when I

00:58:18   did the analysis that what was happening, you can't prove it because you can't really prove

00:58:22   what the people are doing in the App Store. But it was very clear that when people were looking

00:58:29   for notes apps in the App Store, they would get a list of results and they would try the free ones

00:58:35   first and eventually found one that was like, well, it's good enough and it's free. And they

00:58:42   never get to the ones that you had to pay even just like four bucks. But if we were paid upfront

00:58:47   and the only way to try it was to spend four bucks and they, it's not that they were, I don't think

00:58:53   it was that people thought I'm never going to spend four bucks on a notes app, but they think

00:58:59   I'm going to try the free ones first, find one that's, ah, it's good enough. And then they never

00:59:03   get to the paid ones. And I think that's what killed. And I think that happened to a lot of apps

00:59:08   and I think it still happens. I think it's very, there's a luck aspect to it that is unfortunate.

00:59:14   And like the beer app that made a million dollars was a perfect example. There were all sorts of,

00:59:19   some of the fart apps made a lot of money and most of the fart apps made no money at all. And

00:59:24   it wasn't because some of them were good, it's really because some of them got lucky, right?

00:59:29   Yeah. Yeah. And the, the, the paid upfront thing really, again, it's like in 2024,

00:59:36   the app store just looks so different that I think for folks who weren't actually running an

00:59:43   app business back then, including a ton of people inside Apple, it's like, there's, there's like

00:59:47   kind of a history of the app store and app store monetization. That's just completely lost on folks

00:59:53   who weren't, who didn't try to make a go of selling three bucks a pop upfront download apps

01:00:01   back, back in the day. And, and for all the stories of success, like you were talking about,

01:00:06   it was, it was challenging because it, in people's mentality around it, because things were kind of

01:00:13   free and cheap of, Oh, I'd never pay for an app. I never spend that kind of money. And so you've

01:00:17   got this great notes app that's four bucks or five bucks or whatever you price it at. And yeah. And

01:00:22   yeah, it just, it, it, the hurdle to overcome, to spend anything was, was huge. And then especially

01:00:29   when there were tons of free apps, like Evernote that eventually started monetizing, but we're

01:00:35   able to just kind of ride that VC money and build a huge audience that they did. But yeah, it's,

01:00:42   it's, it's a, the, the, the way that it, the fact that you couldn't do paid updates, the fact that

01:00:48   for a long time, you couldn't be paid within that purchase. Like there were all sorts of rules,

01:00:54   the, the way the charts work. Like I wrote several posts over the years about how Apple has and

01:01:01   continues to shape the app store. And people often pretend that it's a, it's a free market. Oh,

01:01:09   you didn't succeed, but it's a, it's a free marketplace. But I think you drawing the parallel

01:01:14   to the web, the web really is free and open, and you have the opportunity to surface and build

01:01:22   businesses in whatever way you feel like. On the app store, there are so many different boxes you

01:01:30   have to tick and, and you have to fit yourself into the way the app store works and try to find

01:01:37   success in within the limitations of the structure of the app store as it actually exists. I mean,

01:01:44   I've likened it to economies where the app store is like a government and everything they do or

01:01:51   don't do is a tax policy is law enforcement is all these different things that shape a traditional

01:01:57   economy. And Apple is shaping that through the app review guidelines is shaping it through giving you

01:02:04   a fifth 15% on the second year renewal of subscription. That's an incentive. That's like a

01:02:10   tax break for subscription apps that you get a discount. If people say subscribe not allowing

01:02:16   paid updates like that, there's, there's no way to prove the counterfactual, but had they allowed

01:02:21   paid updates at some point early in the app store, I think the economics would have looked very

01:02:25   different. There's so many different ways, like errors of commission and errors of omission that

01:02:31   the app store would be a completely different place today were it not for, and the opportunities

01:02:36   and the developers who succeeded and didn't succeed. I mean, I definitely won't say that my

01:02:42   own choices didn't limit my success in some ways more than Apple did. I made my own choices about

01:02:48   what I built and didn't build and how I marketed and how I didn't market. And I think any and I've

01:02:54   done really well. So I'm not saying I like failed or anything, but any kind of potential additional

01:02:59   success I could have, should have, would have had, or other things. I think there's, there is some

01:03:05   essence of Apple's shape of the app store creating and defining the opportunities that would work and

01:03:13   wouldn't work. And I think it's easy to underestimate just how much that played into

01:03:18   what apps did succeed and what apps didn't succeed. And then don't even get me started

01:03:24   on App Store search and App Store search is a disaster to this day in 2024. Surfacing apps that

01:03:32   are like buying reviews and manipulating search. I mean, actually I, as part of my day job at

01:03:37   Revenue Cat, I run this podcast called Sub Club. I actually had a guy on Steve Young last year

01:03:43   in the summer talking about App Store black hat tactics. And I had him on as like an education

01:03:51   thing. And we talked about it on the show and I was very upfront. I don't think some of the things

01:03:56   he was suggesting are moral. Some of them are clearly against the rules, but like developers

01:04:01   are still succeeding to this day using those black hat tactics and then search and other ways that

01:04:08   the apps will work actually incentivizes you to play those games. Yeah. In a way when there's

01:04:14   always been SEO with search on the web, but to me, it's, there's something fundamentally different

01:04:23   about like you can make a website that doesn't play SEO trickery and succeed, right? You'll,

01:04:32   like I said, you, it might take longer, but you'll eventually get the success you deserve

01:04:36   on the web because you'll get linked to from other websites. There's other ways to do it, but the

01:04:41   gamification of the app store is sort of central to it. There's no, there is cause it's cause it

01:04:47   is the only game in town. If you could only get two websites through Google, if, if the entire web

01:04:54   had been invented by Google and was a proprietary platform and Chrome is the only browser. And the

01:05:02   only way to get anywhere is with a search box that you can't type direct URLs. You just type a query

01:05:09   and only get to places through the results in one search engine, Google's results. The web would be

01:05:18   a very different thing today and probably more the app store, right? Where

01:05:22   it's not loose boundaries that kind of shape the flow of how the economy works to go to your

01:05:31   economy allergy, but rigid rules and barriers and deliberate design from the owner of the platform

01:05:40   that steers how the economy flows. And then like your analogy with SEO, I mean, Google

01:05:46   spends a ton of time and is constantly updating the search algorithm to punish those techniques

01:05:53   that are trying to manipulate SEO. And I mean, there's whole, I mean, I looked into this for,

01:05:58   for some of the stuff I write for revenue cat there's whole like industries around like

01:06:03   following Apple Google's changes and trying to figure out what they've changed and how they

01:06:08   changed it and how you can like leverage a new system and Apple kind of tweaks on the app store

01:06:14   search algorithm. And we see some shifts here and there, but it's yeah. And, and, and they have made

01:06:22   progress on it over the years. I don't want to act like they haven't done anything, but so many of

01:06:27   those dark patterns still work to this day. For example, one of them is that you can pay people

01:06:34   to search a specific keyword, scroll to your app and download your app after having searched that

01:06:39   specific keyword. And this is a technique. And again, Steve shared this on the podcast.

01:06:44   He actively uses this in or did in 2023. And yeah, it's hard for Apple to like guard against

01:06:52   that kind of thing. And maybe they guard against it in, in mass, but it's like a technique that

01:06:56   still works. So you want to rank for notes app in your example with Vesper over back in the day,

01:07:02   like you pay people to go search notes app and then download your app and it improves your

01:07:08   ranking for that keyword. And like those kinds of dark patterns are still working to this day.

01:07:13   And, and I mean, to be fair, I mean, SEO, like there's all sorts of dark patterns in SEO and

01:07:17   black hat SEO and all that kind of stuff. But, but yeah, the fact that everything does go through the

01:07:23   app store in that way means that Apple's search algorithm is incredibly important to the platform

01:07:30   and who succeeds and who doesn't succeed. And I don't think Apple has effectively managed it

01:07:37   as what it is being so dramatically important to the platform.

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01:11:10   Let me ask you this before we move on to current events. But I think one of the other critical,

01:11:17   fundamental errors at the App Store is that they have user reviews at all. I don't think

01:11:23   they should. I think it was a mistake to have them. And I don't think it's ever helped the store.

01:11:28   Do you think with your much more in-depth study of the App Store that they're,

01:11:34   do you think they're as problematic and gamed as they used to be still?

01:11:37   Yeah. Yeah, unfortunately.

01:11:40   Sometimes it's so obvious. It's been a while since I saw one that was super obvious. But every once

01:11:45   in a while, they'd surface on Twitter, and you'd go read the reviews. And it's so obvious that

01:11:49   somebody just paid one of those services where you can hire, like you said, to hire people to do a

01:11:55   search for a term, hire people to download and review. Because the reviews either A, make no

01:12:02   sense at all. Let's say it's a weather app, right? And it's a great notes app. Love it. And it's like,

01:12:07   it's not a notes app. What are you talking about? It's the best calculator I've ever used. And it's

01:12:14   a traffic app or something like that. It's like, or just nonsensical grammar, or just a bunch of

01:12:19   comments that are just obviously the exact same words. Yeah, I mean, the ratings and reviews are

01:12:26   gamed in a lot of different ways. And still to this day, I mean, Apple, it's like Amazon. I mean,

01:12:33   Amazon struggles with fake reviews. And I don't think I've ever personally

01:12:42   thought that they should completely remove ratings and reviews altogether.

01:12:47   But I have, and I've tweeted this. I had to hold tweet storms on this about how

01:12:52   I don't think Apple and Amazon are taking it seriously enough. I'm sure they have teams. I'm

01:13:00   sure they work really hard. I'm sure they spend a lot of money. I'm sure they have sophisticated

01:13:04   algorithms and everything. But when you can get a third-party tool like FakeSpot, which these days,

01:13:09   I mean, I almost don't like shopping at Amazon anymore because everything is just knockoffs.

01:13:14   And speaking of search not being good, you search there and it's 50 knockoffs before you find the

01:13:20   thing you're actually looking for from a reputable retailer. But pretty much everything I buy of

01:13:25   consequence on Amazon, if it's not a name brand that I know and trust, I'm running it through

01:13:30   FakeSpot. And if FakeSpot can figure that out, Amazon should be doing more to find those quality

01:13:35   signals. And then similarly, I think Apple should be doing more. However much they're doing, they

01:13:40   should be doing more. The App Store is making tens of billions of dollars a year in profit for them.

01:13:45   They can do more to police this rather than just completely getting rid of it. Because I think

01:13:50   it is helpful to get signal from real humans as to the quality. But then that goes back to the

01:13:56   search thing too, though, is that one of the things that impact search ranking significantly,

01:14:02   Ariel from AppFigures is somebody who studies a search algorithm and has built search tools to

01:14:08   help developers figure out how to improve their search rankings. And one of the things he shares

01:14:13   is that the velocity of ratings has a huge impact on your search placement. Well, what do you do?

01:14:21   You game that. And so you asked for a rating earlier. It's explicitly against Apple's rules,

01:14:29   but people filter before showing the review prompts. So you say, are you enjoying this app?

01:14:35   Yes or no? If they say no, you send them to support. If yes, you send them to rate the app.

01:14:40   And I mean, huge apps. I think I saw realtor.com app doing that. Tons of apps do that, even though

01:14:46   it's explicitly against the rules. And that's just, you're clearly getting a bias. And then

01:14:52   the most frustrating thing for me personally is that I've seen all these games be played on the

01:14:57   app store for years. And I know that if I don't do those things, I'm fighting with one hand tied

01:15:03   behind my back. And I do, I don't morally think it's right to fake reviews and do all these kinds

01:15:10   of things. And so I don't do it, but then I'm bringing a knife to a gunfight. Like it's

01:15:16   It's like trying to compete in a sport that's riddled with PEDs without taking the PEDs,

01:15:24   right? Really? I don't know if cycling is still like that. But at least when I followed it in the

01:15:29   Christ, what was his name? Armstrong, right? In that era. And it turned out that he was on PEDs.

01:15:35   And it's, it was, but everyone was and yeah, but if you weren't, you really, you couldn't win,

01:15:41   you probably couldn't even qualify for the Tour de France. And baseball was a little different.

01:15:46   Baseball had a terrible, well, I will say terrible, a bad PED era when all these home runs were getting

01:15:53   set. And you couldn't use there was no chance you weren't going to win the home run. You weren't

01:15:59   going to be the home run leader without taking them when Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez are

01:16:04   hitting 50 6065 to 70 home runs a year that you weren't going to do it. But you could be an all

01:16:11   star, you could be Derek Jeter and never take the PEDs, but you're not going to hit the home runs.

01:16:15   But there was room in baseball for other players who had different skills and could just hit for

01:16:19   average, but like a sport like cycling, or like when the East Germans and the Russians were

01:16:24   cheating at swimming, right? You just, you weren't, you had no way you could beat them.

01:16:29   I mean, it was impossible. And this is what I talk about all the time on the App Store. Like,

01:16:33   I talk to a ton of developers, I do office hours weekly with with Revenue Cat, where any customer

01:16:39   or prospect or just anybody can book time with me. And we chat about how to make your app successful.

01:16:43   And one of the things I say is like, if you're not aware of what's going on, and you think you're

01:16:48   doing competitive analysis, you're looking at all these other apps, you're like, Oh, man, there's

01:16:52   this wallpaper app, it's making $500,000 a month, I should make a wallpaper app. Well, when you

01:16:58   actually like download the app and understand all the dark patterns, and then when you realize that

01:17:03   they're that successful, in part because they got high in search, well, how did they get high in

01:17:07   search, they probably manipulated the search rankings with buying reviews and filtering

01:17:12   reviews. And like, why are they still a 4.8 star app when they have like 1099 a week subscriptions

01:17:21   for wallpapers, that there's still just so much of that going on in the App Store. And and so

01:17:27   if you're going to play by the rules, you just have to at least understand what handicaps you

01:17:34   have in trying to play by the rules versus so many apps are still pulling all sorts of crap.

01:17:41   Right. It's like we talk about dark patterns, but there's different shades of darkness, right?

01:17:46   There's gray patterns, and then there's like black patterns, right? And the black one of the black

01:17:50   patterns is trying to create an app that like you said, like a wallpaper app, which is a legitimate

01:17:56   thing. A lot of people are into our friends at the icon factory have a what's it called wallaby,

01:18:01   I think, which is a really cool wallpaper app for the iPhone. But trying to, you know,

01:18:07   something like that, no matter how good your wallpaper app is, I don't know what the maximum

01:18:11   fare price is. So let's just say ballpark for really good, really custom art, maybe 50 bucks

01:18:20   a year. And you can find a niche of people who love maybe and maybe it's using certain trademark

01:18:26   characters or an intellectual property, you know, 50 bucks a year for a wallpaper app. That sounds

01:18:34   premium, right? And if but tricking somebody into a three day trial that turns into a $10 a week

01:18:41   subscription, well, now you're talking $520 a year, which is ridiculous for a while, but that's a scam.

01:18:48   And the whole idea of those apps, as I understand it is they realize people are going to notice

01:18:54   eventually somebody at some point, you're going to look at your credit card bill or you're using

01:18:58   some kind of app like copilot or something that gives you you know, hey, you know, you're spending

01:19:02   a lot a lot of money on blank. And it's like, that's crazy. I didn't know that I thought the

01:19:06   wallpapers were free. But somehow, the presentation of the subscription screen was good enough to get

01:19:15   past app review, but somehow tricky enough that people who really would never agree in plain

01:19:22   language to a $10 a week recurring automatic subscription, somehow tap that button that gave

01:19:29   them a $10. That's an out that's theft. That's not, ooh, that's a little skeevy. I mean,

01:19:36   that's just stealing people's money. There's patterns, there's designs that get people there,

01:19:41   really. And on the one hand, I appreciate that Apple is not trying to set prices. So

01:19:46   I mean, they're in a tough spot. Like, I do want to give them some credit where credit is due,

01:19:52   because I mean, yeah, we could, you and I could go on for 10 hours on this podcast. I don't know

01:19:58   when you're going to cut me off. But philosophically, I still like the App Store

01:20:02   model in that for all the complaints that we have now and complaining about search and complaining

01:20:08   about these $10 a week subscriptions and things like that, I do still think that the App Store

01:20:15   has been a great thing in the history of software that you have Apple curating. Are they the perfect

01:20:21   curator? No. But they are curating software and getting rid of the worst of the scams when news

01:20:28   pops up. Oh, this app is stealing your credentials. And those are going to pop up. Nobody's going to

01:20:33   be perfect at stopping those kinds of things. But guess what? It's off the App Store in seconds,

01:20:38   versus if that were on the web, people would be falling for that for years. And so I think

01:20:43   there's a ton of value in the App Store. But Apple, I mean, with all the regulation, with

01:20:50   everything going on around the world, and people complaining about this, that and the other,

01:20:55   it's a hard job running a platform like this. It's like balanced on a knife edge. Do you let

01:21:00   developers set their own prices so that if people are willing and able to pay $10 a week for

01:21:06   wallpapers, let them pay it? Right.

01:21:10   And I think that the Apple has had to, to a certain extent, not say that a wallpaper app

01:21:18   can't be worth $520 a year. Now we can sit here and say you're ripping people off. But for Apple

01:21:26   to say, "Okay, developer, you cannot charge $10 a week for your subscription." I think that's,

01:21:31   I appreciate that Apple hasn't drawn some of those lines, because I think that would be

01:21:37   limiting business. But I will say, I do think that there are more ways that Apple could continue to

01:21:44   shape the App Store to make those kinds of things less effective, which then makes it less attractive

01:21:49   as a business model. For example, and again, I want to chase so many different rabbits here,

01:21:56   but Apple's payments, while they do get taken advantage of by apps like those charging $10

01:22:02   a week or whatever, they are incredibly consumer friendly. And they send you the email every time

01:22:08   you're going to get a renewal. They do a lot, but I think there's more that they could do.

01:22:12   There should be a badge on the App Store for apps that you haven't opened in a month and they're

01:22:17   still charging you a subscription. Just check in. Legitimate apps that people are using and getting

01:22:22   value out of, they're not going to cancel those subscriptions. But those $10 a week, there's ways

01:22:27   that Apple could bring more attention to the apps where people use them once, forget that they're

01:22:33   subscribed. And again, full transparency, I work at RevenueCat. We benefit in some ways indirectly

01:22:39   from that, but I think our philosophy and my philosophy personally is that subscriptions

01:22:45   are an incredible win-win for consumers and developers. Is it when you can deliver value

01:22:52   over time and that value is paid over time as a subscription, you can continue to add more and

01:23:00   more value and build great software. And ultimately, like we were saying, compared to the box software

01:23:06   days of paying $130 to update your operating system, we're getting a ton of value for a

01:23:11   relatively inexpensive fee. But for that to be successful over the long haul, all of these dark

01:23:18   patterns and people forgetting that they're subscribed and things like that, it's better for

01:23:24   the subscription and software industry over the long haul for those kinds of things to go away,

01:23:30   even if in the short term subscription app developers and then platforms like ours that make

01:23:35   money from subscription app developers make less money in the short term. The fewer people who get

01:23:40   scammed into those subscriptions, the more people who are comfortable paying over time, the better

01:23:46   it is for everyone in the long haul. And so I do think there's still more Apple can do in so many

01:23:52   fronts to make it a better place for consumers and for developers. Yeah. And I'm looking at my

01:23:58   subscription list right now, and I pay for quite a lot of subscriptions through Apple. And a lot of

01:24:03   them, I last year broke down and subscribed to Bloomberg because I read enough Bloomberg articles

01:24:10   where it's like I should be paying to get past the pain wall. It's a professional thing, but it's a

01:24:16   super expensive publication. I'm looking, it's $35 a month. So, you know, $10 a week wouldn't be that

01:24:23   different really. I have Apple one is $32, 30, no, $38 a month. I keep raising the price on that. I

01:24:32   can't even keep track. For my family account. So, I mean, I subscribe, you know, clearly there are

01:24:36   things that $10 a week, I don't, I'd rather not because whatever was $10 a week, probably I'd save

01:24:43   money on a monthly or annual. And I think I would save money on my Bloomberg if I switched to annual,

01:24:49   but I have enough. I feel I want to be able to cancel that one at a moment's notice.

01:24:58   Well, let's, you mentioned Revenue Cat a couple of times. So, tell me what is Revenue Cat?

01:25:05   We are a subscription app platform. So, we provide SDK that goes in the app that manages every,

01:25:14   that's how I actually came to Revenue Cat was I was switching my apps to the subscription model.

01:25:20   And it's so much code inside the app. And then you really need to have server infrastructure to

01:25:27   manage all this, validate receipts, to track the subscribers over time, to understand that they've

01:25:33   turned on or off auto renew and those kinds of things. And so, we provide that drop-in SDK.

01:25:39   It's in tens of thousands of apps now. So, if there's going to be a bug, we found it and

01:25:44   solve for it immediately. So, you don't have to pay attention to that kind of stuff. And then on

01:25:50   the server, we provide infrastructure where you can pass data to CRM tools to do win back campaigns.

01:25:58   So, it's just end to end. And we have a dashboard where you can look at your subscription revenue

01:26:03   and filter it by cohorts and things like that. So, it's kind of an end to end solution to help

01:26:10   subscription apps monetize. All right. That sounds good. So, in other words, though,

01:26:14   your customers are developers who are making apps that use subscriptions. And the idea is to give

01:26:20   the developers a lot of tools that just aren't there and what you get from Apple, really.

01:26:26   Exactly. And Apple has made it somewhat easier with StoreKit 2. But even with StoreKit 2,

01:26:30   you need a server, you need to write a ton of code to process the payments and validate receipts and

01:26:36   all that kind of stuff. And so, we just make it way easier. And then you have some people who,

01:26:41   and I was this way. I was like, I don't want to put some third-party code between me and making

01:26:45   money. And what I've realized after being at RevenueCat for a while now is I want RevenueCat

01:26:52   code between me and making money. I don't want the one-off implementation that any developer I work

01:26:59   with wrote to manage this. And so, the fact that we manage, I think we've crossed $3 billion a year

01:27:07   in management of transactions across iOS, Android, and the web. And so, whose code do you want in

01:27:15   your app managing those subscriptions and whose server do you want running that? The one that's

01:27:20   processing $3 billion worth of payments every year or the one-off implementation that you're

01:27:25   going to write and have to maintain over time. So yeah, it's a lot of fun working there too. I run

01:27:30   a podcast called Sub Club, where I talk to industry experts about running subscription app businesses,

01:27:37   attend conferences, and do that sort of thing. My official title is Growth Advocate. And I get

01:27:43   a lot of leeway to come on, talk to industry folks, and talk to developers, and run the

01:27:49   podcast and things like that. So it's a lot of fun. All right. And so that leads us to your app

01:27:56   WeatherUp, which just had... What version is it now? 3.0 is what just launched recently.

01:28:05   So it's more of a traditional... A lot of people are screwing around with version numbers lately,

01:28:09   but I'm not a fan of it. I don't like it. It's funny because I was just talking on my podcast,

01:28:16   the Sub Club podcast, I had our CEO and a colleague interview me about WeatherUp on the

01:28:22   podcast. And we just did that a few days ago. And it dawned on me while discussing it that 3.0 is a

01:28:29   very box software era way to do updates. And we talked about how I took a very box software era

01:28:37   approach to doing the update, where we worked on it for a long time. We put all these features into

01:28:44   it and then rolled out this big 3.0. And so I'm actually leaning more these days, especially in

01:28:50   the era of subscriptions where you should just be pushing updates whenever anything's ready.

01:28:56   Instead of holding it all for these big updates, I'm going to contradict what I think you were

01:29:00   about to say, and say that I actually think that this whole 3.0 and 3.1 and big releases,

01:29:08   it's kind of a bygone era. It's our era. So I think you and I both have a fondness for it,

01:29:14   but it is kind of that bygone era. I kind of get the other way. I think Marco

01:29:20   has switched overcast to... I know he switched to something different, but I think he does the sort

01:29:25   of dated releases. And so the one thing you want, no matter what your version numbers are,

01:29:31   no matter how you structure them and where you put the dots, they need to go up over time.

01:29:38   Right. And some people play goofy games. I forget what app it is, but there's some app that just

01:29:44   keeps making it, adding digits to pie. It's like 3.14, 3.141, 3.1415, 3. You know, which is funny

01:29:56   and clever, but it does, no matter what, you're always adding a digit. It keeps going up. And I

01:30:00   get it. And I think it ties into exactly what we were talking about in the first half of the show

01:30:05   with the box software, where one of the advantages, I think it's a huge advantage to subscription

01:30:13   pricing in general versus the big upfront payment, $500. And then for 2.0, that's when you got on

01:30:24   board. And then 3.0 comes out and you pay $250 for the upgrade or stick with 2.0 and not upgrade

01:30:32   and wait for 4.0 and see if they offer upgrade pricing, even if you only bought it at 2.0,

01:30:38   and maybe it's somewhere in between. But then from the developer...

01:30:41   I held on to that student edition of Photoshop, whatever it was, like 5.0 for a decade.

01:30:46   But it leads users to make those decisions, right? It's an added decision for users of,

01:30:55   do I want to stick with what I have or upgrade and get new features? And in that era,

01:31:02   there wasn't so much... So many apps were sort of independent little islands as a user,

01:31:09   where you just get the app and you make your own files in that app's file format, and you'd save

01:31:15   them to your disk, and you could keep using an old version for a long time. And you could even

01:31:20   interchange files with people with a newer version. And maybe you'd have to coordinate

01:31:25   and have somebody who's on 3.0, but you're stuck on 2.0. They need to export in the older file

01:31:32   format, right? If they wanted to send you the file, or maybe the file format, if it's a text

01:31:36   editor, like BB Edit, well, it's a text file, it's a text file. You can always stay on the old

01:31:40   version. But you still had to make that decision as a user. Do I want to upgrade or do I want to

01:31:45   stay? And then I think worse from the development standpoint, it just led to... The only way to make

01:31:52   it work financially was to save up new features to combine all together in a big new 4.0 release

01:32:02   and batch them up. And it meant that in the interim between 3.0 and 4.0, you were really

01:32:09   mostly doing bug fixes and minor feature tweaks and saving all these features for one big dump

01:32:16   in 4.0, which it's better. It's a better thing for users if you just keep dripping new features

01:32:24   every couple months when they're ready. And it also is better as a developer of coordination-wise,

01:32:30   right? Everybody who was around in that era has war stories of a major upgrade that went wrong,

01:32:39   because, "Okay, we got to get to 6.0. Here's the features we're going to put in 6.0." And maybe two

01:32:45   of the features took way longer than it was expected, or one of them just didn't work out,

01:32:52   happened all the time, or didn't ship at all, right? There were a lot of companies that went

01:32:57   under because they planned for a big Datto release and ran out of money before they got it done.

01:33:03   And subscription pricing definitely helps with that a lot. It kind of solves the problem,

01:33:08   but I get it. The big problem with subscription pricing is the number of users out there who just

01:33:14   hate it, right? Either just refuse to buy any subscription software period because they're

01:33:21   that adamant about it, or they're at least going to complain about it, right? And I get it. I get

01:33:29   it. But there's pros and cons. And I think, like any issue, if you're a zealot on the issue,

01:33:36   you refuse to acknowledge the pros of the other side. All you want to do is hammer away at the

01:33:43   cons. I have a theory or an explanation for subscription fatigue. And this is the way I think

01:33:53   about it. Subscription fatigue is actually value fatigue. It's not that people hate the business

01:34:00   model. It's that they don't feel like they're getting the value they deserve from what they're

01:34:05   paying. But I think that's good. I think that's good for the industry, right? If you don't want

01:34:12   to subscribe to my weather app, if you don't want to subscribe to whatever, don't. But if you're

01:34:19   getting value, then you subscribe. I'm currently subscribed to like six different streaming

01:34:23   services. Do I love paying whatever it is, $80 a month? But you know what? I was thinking about

01:34:30   this the other day. I mean, that's so much cheaper than I used to pay in cable. I'm not watching any

01:34:36   ads. I'm getting unlimited, amazing content, like the golden age of TV. It might be over now,

01:34:42   now that ZURP is over and studios are pulling back and things like that. But it's like,

01:34:48   we're in this golden age of content. We're not watching ads. And we're paying,

01:34:52   especially inflation-adjusted, way less than we were paying for cable TV just a decade ago.

01:34:58   And we're complaining about it. And so more broadly though, I do think that there's a

01:35:06   mentality that's kind of a legacy mentality of software should be free. And I like that we've

01:35:14   kind of gone the full span from like shareware to like really expensive software. Then the app store

01:35:20   kind of did reset things that software should be free and cheap. And I should just be able to pay

01:35:24   99 cents upfront and use it forever. But there's a reason why shareware was shareware because it was

01:35:30   like people just doing it for fun, side projects and things like that. And then there's a reason

01:35:35   it got really expensive because it's very expensive to create great software. And then

01:35:39   the reason it got cheap was because it did get easier to build stuff. But now the things that are

01:35:47   more expensive again are often things that are that smaller niche or trauma. It's got

01:35:54   massive team, hundreds and hundreds of people building this app to better track your fitness.

01:36:00   And so I think as people kind of come around, which people are... And people complain about

01:36:08   spending money no matter what, right? So if it weren't subscriptions and it was still five bucks

01:36:12   upfront, people would complain about five bucks upfront. And so I think like people complaining

01:36:16   about spending money is just the nature of things. But the whole subscription fatigue is that...

01:36:22   - It's very true.

01:36:23   - Is that if you weren't getting... If you weren't anticipating getting some value out of it,

01:36:29   you wouldn't be complaining that you have to pay for it. Like, why would somebody even complain

01:36:35   about paying for my weather app? Because they want to use my weather app. Well, if you want to use my

01:36:40   weather app, it's because you see that there's value there. And then how do you fairly compensate

01:36:45   somebody for that value that they've created? And then especially how do you compensate them in a

01:36:50   way that incentivizes them to keep working on it and make it a viable business versus being this

01:36:57   like shareware, we're going to throw it out there in the world for free and just let it be what it

01:37:01   is. Well, you probably don't want me to do that to my weather app because guess what? It costs a lot

01:37:07   of money to provide the weather data in my weather app. If you find value in the app, you want me to

01:37:13   be successful over the long haul. If you're finding value, you want that value to increase over time,

01:37:19   not to just go away and sit on a shelf. See, I'm a bit of a subscription app zealot as a developer

01:37:27   and working at RevenueCat, but I do think more and more people are coming around to it being

01:37:33   a viable way to pay. And then if you're not finding value, cancel your subscription. It's

01:37:36   super easy. Apple makes it so easy. Just go cancel your subscription.

01:37:39   Jay Famiglietti Yeah, I mean, and again, I get it that there are pros and cons to both. And it's

01:37:45   just the way it is. And with the App Store, as you discussed earlier, there is no upgrade pricing

01:37:51   allowed in the App Store. And apps that have tried to figure out ways to effectively get upgrade

01:37:58   pricing, it's such a pain. The Tapbot guys, the Tapbot guys who are just wonderfully user-focused

01:38:07   developers, Mark Jardine and Paul Haddad, with Tweetbot in particular, I forget which version

01:38:14   of what doesn't really matter. But going from like, tweetbot two to tweetbot three was a paid

01:38:19   upgrade, five bucks or something like that. And what they did was make a bundle that included

01:38:27   tweetbot two and tweetbot three, like so one of the things you'd have to do is make an all new,

01:38:33   effectively SKU, right? It's like a new app. And so to have a paid upgrade that would let

01:38:39   people who didn't want to pay to upgrade keep using tweetbot two on their phones. You could

01:38:46   buy a bundle and the bundle included both and effectively gave you tweetbot three at a cheaper

01:38:53   price if you already own tweetbot two, but it makes no sense. It's a it's obvious.

01:38:59   Tons of people still complained. They got so many complaints. I remember when they did that,

01:39:03   like a real so many complaints. The real point of a bundle is so you could, I know Apple doesn't

01:39:09   charge for them anymore. But if you make a suite of a word processor and a spreadsheet and a

01:39:15   presentation app, and you want to sell all three at less than the price of each one individually,

01:39:22   like Microsoft Office or iWork or whatever, then you can make a bundle and include all of them at

01:39:26   a lower price. It wasn't meant for two versions of the same app. But it was what I'm laughing,

01:39:32   but it was all because they were trying to make their users happy. The users who wanted to get

01:39:38   the upgrade but wanted to pay an upgrade price because they'd already paid for tweetbot two.

01:39:42   And it just is so I hope and I know tweetbot is no longer a thing because the Twitter API

01:39:48   isn't a thing. But, you know, ivory, their Mastodon successor to tweetbot is subscription

01:39:54   only. And I think it's just the only way to go with the App Store. So whatever you think about

01:39:59   what developers should do, if it weren't for the App Store, it's just unrealistic not to take the

01:40:05   App Store for what it is. So what's the pricing for WeatherUp? Well, the pricing is currently $40

01:40:15   a year or $4 a month. I actually took advantage of Apple's new, there's a new thing with App Store

01:40:21   Connect that instead of doing $39.99, you can actually just make it $40. Yeah, right, right.

01:40:28   I just wanted to make it simple. So how so four times 1240. So 48 or 40, right? Yeah. If you pay

01:40:37   monthly, you're paying 48 dithering is current, we're going to raise the prices soon. That's a

01:40:42   spoiler. But it's currently five a month or 58 year. So 10 times the monthly price. So you get

01:40:49   two months free if you subscribe annually instead of whatever. Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what

01:40:54   it is with WeatherUp. Two months free. So what do you think I've my whole life, even as a kid,

01:40:59   I remember being annoyed by the dot 99 trick, because it just seems it's I mean, I even people

01:41:06   who don't obsess over things like design and pricing and stuff. Everybody knows it's a trick,

01:41:12   right? And I mean, the most famous trick of all is the way and I don't even know how again, I'm not a

01:41:17   big fan of government regulation in general, but I kind of feel like it should be. Even as a kid,

01:41:23   I thought how is that legal the way that gasoline is sold with nine tenths of a penny at the end,

01:41:29   not even a penny they sell to the 10th of a penny, just to make it look that much cheaper and get

01:41:35   actually make it that much that much closer to the whole price of a gallon. But you're really going to

01:41:40   do that you're going to take off one 10th of a penny, I mean, which you can't even actually

01:41:45   charge. So what do you think having shipped it at the nice even $4 or $40? Do you think it matters?

01:41:52   Or do you think that's one of those things that everybody does it because everybody does it?

01:41:55   Well, I'm actually doing an AB test right now. I haven't had enough traffic to reach statistical

01:42:02   significance. And so my result I just started the test recently. So if you're listening to this and

01:42:07   download the app, you may half of you will see $40 and a half of you will see $39.99. And I will

01:42:13   report back on Twitter at least as to whether it still works. But my hypothesis in launching at

01:42:21   that just simple $40 price point is that it doesn't work anymore. But we'll we'll see in the data. I

01:42:28   mean, that's a nice thing. The App Store does make it super easy. And then using RevenueCat actually

01:42:32   makes it super easy to run these kind of experiments. And so we'll find out I don't

01:42:36   care yet. I'm I am super keenly interested in the results. So I can't wait to find them. But

01:42:42   well, hopefully this drives some more traffic so we can get to statistical significance. And I'll

01:42:47   share the result. But I am biased. I'm definitely rooting for even numbers to be close to close

01:42:53   enough. And I can't help but think that maybe they work better. I don't know. Because I feel

01:42:58   like it. It definitely makes the math easier, because the only way to really do it is to first

01:43:05   go through mentally a rounding up, right? So if the prices are $39.95 and $3.99, what you do in

01:43:14   your head is call it $4 and call it $48 and or $40. And then do four times 12 is 48. Okay, 48

01:43:25   versus four. So in your head, you're already doing it, right? So why not just remove that step from

01:43:30   the mental process of the user's evaluation of value? That's what I think. So can we and we'll

01:43:37   see if that one logical jump does actually make that big of an impact. So and what's what's the

01:43:44   story for free use of weather app? Whether we because it was we talked about this, like, what,

01:43:52   an hour ago, hour and a half ago, I removed ads from the app, because I was just so fed up with

01:43:59   the ad networks. And with a weather app, I've actually been losing money. So I actually removed

01:44:05   the ads before we launched this 3.0. And so I've been losing money for over a year now, because

01:44:11   every time somebody opens the app, it costs me money. And so to support a free user base,

01:44:18   you have to have some kind of monetization of that for user base. Well, if I hate ads and don't want

01:44:23   the the the ad SDKs in my app, the closed source doing who knows what inside my app. So with this

01:44:29   3.0 update, I decided to do a hard paywall. And there was other reasoning behind that as well is

01:44:35   that the big exciting new feature for the for the 3.0, or actually the two big exciting new features

01:44:41   for the 3.0 update, or the Apple Watch app, including complications, and the win widgets,

01:44:48   which are interactive, and we can talk a little bit more about it. But guess what's super expensive

01:44:56   to provide as a weather app, complications and widgets, because every 15 minutes or so in the

01:45:02   background at Apple get Apple is actually pretty smart about this, that if it's on a home screen

01:45:08   that you don't access frequently, it will actually update those every 15 minutes. But the one that's

01:45:13   on your home screen, it tries to anticipate when you're going to open your open up your iPhone and

01:45:18   look at your home screen so that the data is fresh. So every 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day,

01:45:25   and then of course, it's not going to do that overnight when your phone's plugged in and

01:45:29   standby and everything. But it's it's costing me money every time the system updates.

01:45:35   Do you think that you've sort of lucked into the fact that they don't just update all the time?

01:45:42   Or in so far as Apple's thinking is we want to conserve battery life and energy use, because

01:45:49   weather apps are an exception, I think, to most apps in terms of cost. There's much more of a cost

01:45:58   per API call. Whereas, I don't know, I've got sports apps on the mind from Apple Sports, but

01:46:08   other things aren't the developer isn't thinking so much about every single time this thing updates.

01:46:15   And if it's updating on the watch, and it's updating on their widget, there's two different

01:46:21   same user, but those count as different API calls. And you want you made the watch complications for

01:46:27   people to use them, you want people to use them. But do you think that they were thinking in terms

01:46:33   of that or is weather app weather up? I keep saying weather app. And I knew this before we started is

01:46:38   that let me ask you that as an aside, was that part of the naming of the app that it sounds like

01:46:42   weather app? No, it was we were originally called it weather Atlas, because as you've told me in as

01:46:50   you've beta tested the app, you really love how when you launch the app, the maps are prominent,

01:46:55   which again, is actually something very expensive. There's a reason a lot of weather apps hide the

01:46:59   maps, because that's one of the more expensive data calls is for the maps. And so every time

01:47:04   you launch the app, the maps loading costs us a lot of money. Anyway, so that the app was originally

01:47:09   weather Atlas. And then I went through a whole rebranding exercise, it's just tough finding a

01:47:15   name that for ASO, I don't want to name it some random thing that doesn't say weather. And then

01:47:20   just so people understand what it is, it needs to have weather in the title. And so then there's a

01:47:25   million different words you can combine with weather. The one thing I did do, and part of

01:47:31   me regrets up because people do say weather app and weather up. And when you're telling somebody

01:47:38   the name, people hear weather app instead of weather up. So part of me regrets it. But the

01:47:43   other thing too, is that it gives you more characters on the app store for your title.

01:47:48   And it gives me some flexibility. And I don't know, I like it as a brand name, even if it has

01:47:54   some downsides on saying it out loud, but it's like, what's the weather, like, weather up?

01:47:59   Like, what's the weather up to?

01:48:00   No, I like it overall. And I think most of the time you see it rather than say it. And I think

01:48:04   I think that the saying it and having it come out of my mouth, at least weather app,

01:48:10   isn't that bad, actually, because it's sort of, you know,

01:48:12   That I don't want you telling all your friends to go download weather app,

01:48:16   because you go search weather on the app store, you're not going to find weather.

01:48:19   Speaking of that, the search algorithm being really hard.

01:48:23   So if you just search weather, you're not that high?

01:48:26   No, no, no, I mean, it'll probably like hundreds down the weather. Yeah, I don't recommend anybody

01:48:32   build a weather app. It's a fun, it's fun. It's a fun playground.

01:48:37   Let me stop you there, though. I have a lot of developer friends. And I'm not sure that I know

01:48:42   a single one of them who wouldn't say that for their niche that they would say, Oh, no, don't

01:48:49   get into it. I think Rich Segal would tell people don't build a text editor. Don't do it.

01:48:53   Well, that's a good would say, Oh, my God, do not build audio apps, you have no idea

01:48:59   what working with core audio for 20 years will do to your gray hairs, you know.

01:49:05   So I think that any developer who's successful and builds a great app,

01:49:11   and I think weather up is a great app, you become intimately familiar with all the

01:49:15   reasons not to do it. But it is a competitive field, right? It is super competitive, right?

01:49:20   Yeah. You're asking if I lucked into Apple not updating as frequently. And I would actually say

01:49:28   that the opposite in some way. I mean, I, we definitely benefit from Apple being careful

01:49:37   and how frequently it updates the widgets and complications. But Brock, my cousin, who's a

01:49:43   developer working on it, he spent a ton of time, months and months working around Apple's

01:49:52   limitations for widgets and complications to make it as fresh as humanly possible.

01:49:57   And so I challenge anyone to compare our frequency of update compared to other apps. And I think

01:50:04   you'll find it to be, if not the fastest updating close to equivalent to the fastest

01:50:10   updating weather app, because we invested so much time and we put the user experience ahead of our

01:50:15   costs. And that's part of why the app is more expensive than a lot of the weather apps is that

01:50:20   we do a lot of things in the, to create a better experience for users that costs us a lot more

01:50:26   money to deliver it in that way. And for example, one of the features I love about the app is that

01:50:31   you can actually set a widgets data source individually. I have a screen on my home screen.

01:50:39   That's my current location and it's Apple weather at the top,

01:50:43   Aris weather in the middle and Accuweather on the bottom. And so I swipe over to that one screen and

01:50:48   in an instant, I see the three different forecasts, see which one's forecasting rain, which one's not.

01:50:53   They all have the short term dark sky style next hour precipitation forecast. All three of those

01:50:59   come out different every time one says drizzle and in 10 minutes, one says it'll end in 25 minutes.

01:51:05   Right. Right before, right before you released, when I was beta testing,

01:51:08   you sent me a screenshot of your three widgets and they were where you're in Austin, right? Or near

01:51:14   just south of Austin. Yeah. And it was profoundly different. I mean, it was, I think, I think you

01:51:22   probably even thought, cause especially you from your perspective as a developer, you're like,

01:51:25   do we have a bug? Cause I was, how is this possible that it's so different, but so yeah,

01:51:31   you've got three weather sources. I know other weather apps do too, but for people out there,

01:51:35   I don't think they realize this, that whether the weather providers out there, it's very expensive

01:51:42   data overall. And they're very proprietary about it. You know, Accuweather famously,

01:51:46   you know, loves to Sue people and stuff like that. What's even Apple weather though,

01:51:52   does that cost money, right? Apple weather is actually the least expensive of, of the three

01:51:58   primary of the three that we use and of, of there are cheaper weather data providers out there than

01:52:04   Apple, but they're generally ones you don't want to use. And, and you can, and some apps just scrape

01:52:10   the national weather service data which you can get for free, but it's, it's not as good as the

01:52:16   proprietary models. Isn't that the act that's the Accuweather scam is that the Accuweather

01:52:21   Accuweather is such a big company that they sort of lobby to keep the free data source from the

01:52:27   national weather service, from sort of competing with them. At least I've read that, that they've

01:52:31   sort of, maybe that was true historically, but I don't, I don't think that's true anymore because

01:52:37   we've looked into it and we can, it's just not as good. My apologies to Accuweather if I've

01:52:44   besmirched you and I do like your forecast. All right. So the first thing people need to know is

01:52:49   if you're going to make a weather app, you are, you have to pay for the data and even, and I think

01:52:54   one of the nice things about Apple weather is that they've got, it's sort of like the DMA thing with

01:53:01   the, the, the service charge for apps where you get a certain number of calls for free.

01:53:06   Right. And then you start paying. So. It's not very many though.

01:53:09   Right. It's. Not enough to like actually run a weather app and have any level of success,

01:53:14   but it's pretty quick. Right. If you're successful, you'll be in the paying range

01:53:18   quickly, but it's at least you can, if you, if you have an idea to add weather on the side to

01:53:23   something, you can experiment with it without and wait to see if it's, if it's popular. Why do you

01:53:29   think Apple got into weather? I mean, they bought dark sky famously and sort of use that as the

01:53:35   foundation, but why do you think Apple got into providing their own weather source?

01:53:40   I have theories. It's funny you asked me this because I don't, I don't know if I ever

01:53:47   DMed you and told you, you should write something about this, but I definitely DMed other folks in

01:53:51   the press when this was announced ages ago. You might've, I don't remember specifically.

01:53:56   Yeah. So it's funny you bring this up. I, I genuinely think Apple took a hard look

01:54:05   at what was being done with weather data with the data of users who use weather apps

01:54:15   and decided that they wanted to provide a good enough experience that people weren't

01:54:21   essentially forced to use third-party apps because weather apps have notoriously, and there's been

01:54:27   all sorts of news stories, more so back in like the 2018, 2017 timeframe. But there were some

01:54:34   huge stories about weather companies and it's still happening. There's just not stories about

01:54:40   it. And then AT and ATT kind of lessen the impact of it, but most third part, not it's hard to say

01:54:47   most, but a lot of third-party weather apps sell user location data. And then even the weather

01:54:53   channel got bought by IBM and IBM was aggregating data acquired through the weather channel app and

01:55:05   selling to hedge funds and other businesses through their proprietary big data warehouse

01:55:11   kind of stuff. And so what was happening for a long time and ATT has minimized the impact because

01:55:18   it's can't be as directly tied to individual users, but it can still be tied to an IP address,

01:55:24   which your home address doesn't change. When you're out and about, you may maintain the

01:55:29   same IP address for a certain amount of time or whatever. And so there's a lot of shady stuff

01:55:35   still going on to this day, but I think Apple, at least in part, made that decision because of that.

01:55:42   And so one of the things we do in Weather Up, even though I don't think it's as necessary today as it

01:55:48   has been in the past, but there's actually two layers that we implemented to protect user data

01:55:56   even more so. So in the Weather app itself, we don't pass the full significant weather location,

01:56:06   latitude and longitude to the server. We actually lop off quite a few significant digits so that

01:56:12   it's essentially giving you the weather of your block, not giving you the weather of your actual

01:56:18   house. And we do that because that latitude and longitude does need to get passed to a

01:56:25   third-party service. And we don't know what those third-party services do or don't do with data. So

01:56:31   at least we're passing them your immediate block or two area. And realistically, your forecast is

01:56:39   not going to vary. People like to think that weather forecasting is that sophisticated,

01:56:44   that they're going to forecast for your house and not a block away. But we looked at the level

01:56:49   of precision and lop off enough significant digits where you're close enough where you're getting the

01:56:56   data you need and it's accurate enough, but then it's not pinpointing your house.

01:57:00   John Greenewald Right, which is a lot more

01:57:02   fingerprintable to identify somebody.

01:57:05   Ben Lee Right, exactly. Yeah. And that's

01:57:08   where the IP address still matters when a weather app is... If a weather app is selling your data,

01:57:13   even if they're not selling it associated with a tracking ID like the IDFA,

01:57:19   which they would do before app tracking transparency, they can still sell it with

01:57:24   your IP address. And so now all sorts of data brokers have your IP address associated with the

01:57:30   exact like you sitting in your home office or whatever level of precision of your location.

01:57:38   So then the second step we take to kind of anonymize the data is that we actually pass

01:57:45   all of the queries through our own server so that the IP address that is sent, even with that

01:57:52   latitude and longitude that's not identifying your house, we still send that from our server

01:57:58   to the third party servers instead of sending it directly. So yeah, we created... And funny enough,

01:58:04   I mean, we were working on this stuff. We've been doing this in the app for four or five years now.

01:58:09   So even when ATT wasn't in effect and when there was more shady stuff going on, we'd already started

01:58:15   doing this. But I think that's ultimately why Apple did it. I mean, there's probably other reasons.

01:58:21   They are building out. I've been surprised we have not yet seen Apple Weather Plus where they

01:58:27   start charging for additional features. We've seen them coming out with more and more. Apple Fitness

01:58:33   is a subscription, Apple Arcade. They're going more and more in these directions. And so I kind

01:58:38   of expected it to be that, to be something that they put in the Apple One bundle or charge for

01:58:43   independently. So I'm kind of surprised they didn't do that. But when you look at the privacy

01:58:50   angle, I think it makes a lot of sense. Because not only are they able to provide the default

01:58:56   weather app, which is genuinely quite good these days, to enough users who aren't going to go seek

01:59:03   out these third-party weather apps, but they're also now able to provide data to developers like

01:59:09   me so that I'm not sending latitude, longitude, and IP address to these third-party services.

01:59:16   And so from a privacy angle, I think it makes a ton of sense. And I don't know that they ever

01:59:21   wanted to say that out loud or would ever acknowledge that that was at least a part of

01:59:26   the motivation. But I can't help personally think that that was part of the motivation for them

01:59:32   doing it. I think so too, that the privacy angle was a big part of it. Because the one thing,

01:59:38   it's as a user, when you think of a weather app, you're very obviously thinking about weather,

01:59:44   right? And you might have different reasons. That's why there's, I love talking about Twitter

01:59:50   clients and Twitter-like clients like Mastodon threads and everything as a playground for user

01:59:56   interface experimentation. And we're definitely seeing it all over again with the explosion,

02:00:01   with the transfer of nerds from Twitter to Mastodon, and the way that Mastodon is totally

02:00:07   open. There are just a slew of really interesting, really great clients for it that are all different

02:00:15   from each other, right? There's reasons to one for another. And weather apps, I think are even

02:00:20   more of a playground in terms of just how different they look when you first open them.

02:00:27   I mean, you know this better than me even, but it's funny because I'm looking at the top charts

02:00:31   for the weather category and it shows how popular weather is that there's an entire category just

02:00:36   for it. And it's hilarious how many of them for me, instead of a get button, it's the cloud with

02:00:42   a download arrow because I've already tried so many of them. But I do think, I thought so too,

02:00:49   because what is the, you're thinking as a user, I want weather and maybe I want precipitation.

02:00:55   That was Dark Sky's claim to fame originally. I want to get alerts depending on where you live

02:01:00   and how suddenly rain might pop up. It could be literally not life changing, but daily habit

02:01:07   changing to be able to plan it. Or maybe you live somewhere like the desert and you hardly ever get

02:01:12   precipitation. So who cares? Maybe you travel a lot. And so being able to check the weather

02:01:17   in multiple locations is your big thing and you don't want to do a lot of taps, blah, blah, blah.

02:01:22   The one thing all weather haps have in common is they all get location access because it's,

02:01:29   however many people there are who are so privacy sensitive that they don't even let their weather

02:01:36   app know their location. I mean, it's got to be like 1%. I mean, because it's the whole point is

02:01:42   you want the weather where you are, wherever else you might be interested in, you're probably

02:01:46   interested in where it is. Very few apps get location access because most apps it would make

02:01:52   no sense, right? And games try it like games that have scammy monetization on the back end. But if

02:01:59   you download a game and the game says, and it's not like a Pokemon hunt game where you know that

02:02:04   you want it to have your location. If you're just playing a game where you tap things on the screen

02:02:08   and it says this app would like your location, you're like, what the fuck? What? It seems like

02:02:13   a scam. With a weather app, it's the most natural thing in the world. The only thing that's more

02:02:18   likely to get location access is a mapping app. And maps, I think, I mean, although there are lots

02:02:25   and lots of specialty map apps, I know, I think it was ATP was talking about the couple months ago

02:02:32   when Marco had to rent a truck, there's like a specialty app for truck drivers. It takes roots.

02:02:38   - Yeah, no, no, no. A friend of mine has a RV app and he explained to me in detail just how

02:02:45   valuable it is because you plug in how tall your RV app is. You plug in what voltage you need when

02:02:52   you arrive at a place and it guides you to not take the top off of your RV. - Right. Either take

02:02:59   the top off on a low underpass or like in New York state in particular just has a lot of, I think

02:03:06   they're usually the throughways and it's all that weird naming where there's highways and throughways,

02:03:12   but like a lot of throughways in New York are just no trucks allowed, right? You don't want to get a

02:03:16   ticket for driving. Even if it has nothing to do with fitting on an underpass, you want directions

02:03:22   for that. So I know there are specialty map apps, but for the most consumers, they really are just

02:03:28   using like the big name apps, right? Apple maps, Google maps, Waze, and whatever else. But weather,

02:03:33   there's a lot more diversity, but they all have location data and there's a lot of scammy ways to

02:03:39   monetize location data. - Yeah. And then not only is it that they get your location access,

02:03:49   they actually get it frequently. So if you're going to do a weather widget, it's going to update

02:03:56   every 15 minutes. So they're going to get your IP address and your exact location every 15 minutes.

02:04:02   Or if you have it set up for notification, so yeah, you want to get the dark sky rain

02:04:07   notification, so you give it notification access. Well, guess what? In the background,

02:04:11   it is pinging their servers maybe even more than every 15 minutes with your exact location and IP

02:04:18   address. So yeah, it's a perfect playground for privacy violation. - And I think, well,

02:04:25   like you mentioned ATT before, App Tracking Transparency, I think it was definitely played

02:04:30   a big way into the pre-App Tracking Transparency world, which it still happens, still happens today.

02:04:36   But I do think ATT stopped this to some degree, the spookiness of getting an ad in some other app,

02:04:44   I don't know, a game. You're playing a game that shows apps or ads and the ad is for a restaurant

02:04:49   two blocks away for you. That's weird. You're like, what? That's crazy. I never gave this app

02:04:54   my location data. And yet it knows something like to send you to a local Philadelphia area store or

02:05:00   restaurant or whatever it would be for wherever you live. I definitely think that's why Apple

02:05:04   got into it for one reason. And I think the other obvious reason is to control their own destiny

02:05:09   with their own weather app, which they clearly had a, I'm sure, and again, you know it better

02:05:15   than I do, a sort of, hey, let's get serious about the built-in weather app, which went from

02:05:22   almost like a widget originally, right? I think like the very early years of iPhone,

02:05:28   like the skeuomorphic years before iOS 7, the weather app was really more of a widget. It was

02:05:34   sort of a one-page panel of the day's highlights, like a full-screen widget. And now it's much

02:05:41   richer. But that brings up the, it's sort of like Sherlocking, but the Sherlock was there from the

02:05:49   beginning, right? But how, and Notes apps have to face that, right? But weather is, calculator apps

02:05:56   have to face it. But anybody who wants to get in a weather game, and there's obviously, I'm looking

02:06:01   at the top charts here, there are an awful lot of weather apps, but they all have to compete with

02:06:05   what I think is undeniably a pretty good built-in weather app. So how do you see that?

02:06:10   Well, so weather up and then weather outlets before it weren't even my first weather apps.

02:06:17   So my first weather app was Perfect Weather. I think I launched that in 2011. So I've been

02:06:22   building weather apps for 13 years now. And when it keeps coming back, like the reason I keep

02:06:27   working on it is just that as good as the Apple weather app is, everybody makes very specific

02:06:35   choices on how they design their app and what features they expose, what features they don't.

02:06:40   And living here in the Austin, Texas area, radar is super important for most of the year,

02:06:49   like rain showers will just sprout up over out of nowhere. And so from the beginning,

02:06:54   even with Perfect Weather, one of the kind of key design features was that radar and the map

02:07:00   was going to be a primary component of the app. And still to this day, and again, like you and

02:07:06   I've discussed, like when launching the app and immediately seeing the map is more expensive for

02:07:13   us to provide as a weather app. And that's why so many apps, unless it's a radar specific app,

02:07:19   most regular weather apps in Apple's weather app specifically, they're not doing it on a cost

02:07:25   basis. They're from California where the radar doesn't matter. That's a whole nother tangent

02:07:31   about Apple building a weather app when they don't have weather in Cupertino for the most part.

02:07:36   Last couple of months, notwithstanding. But yeah, so I mean, it's just, it's been a playground for

02:07:42   me to build the weather app that I want essentially, and that I think enough people out there

02:07:47   want. And then that's where like the new widgets came in is that when Apple announced the widgets

02:07:53   and they shipped their widget for their weather app, it's fine, but it's not very information

02:08:03   dense. It doesn't tell you a lot of what's going on. You launch the app and you got to dig through

02:08:07   the app to get to the maps. And so we thought we could build something interesting in the space

02:08:15   that aligned more with what I wanted to see of the weather in an instant. And I will credit to

02:08:23   Ben Baharin. I forget the name of his creative strategy, something like that. You've known him

02:08:27   from the Apple press core. He's not press, but he's an analyst and goes to all the events and

02:08:33   stuff. He's been a weather app user for a long time. And when we were starting to explore building

02:08:40   an Apple watch app, I asked him like, what would you want in an Apple watch app? And he said,

02:08:45   I want to, I want a weatherman on my wrist. And after he said that, it struck me as rather

02:08:52   profound. And then we spent months thinking about that. What does a weather man on your wrist

02:08:56   actually mean? And what we kind of came to was this idea that most weather apps display the

02:09:03   weather as, as a table. It's Monday at 10 AM, it's going to be 89 degrees. Monday at 11 AM,

02:09:10   it's going to be 90 degrees. Monday at noon, it's going to be whatever. And to get to what

02:09:15   you're looking for requires a lot of scanning, a lot of like deciphering of the information.

02:09:20   And what does a weatherman do, weather person do on a newscast? They tell you what matters.

02:09:26   And so what we tried to do initially within the bounds of a complication, but then got to really

02:09:33   spread our wings with widgets once iOS, what was that? 15 shipped is to as succinctly as possible,

02:09:44   show as much as possible, but show what's most important. And so it's kind of hard to describe

02:09:50   in a podcast, but the display is a temperature line that goes up and down and you see three to

02:10:00   four days of forecast. And what do you see? Most times you're seeing the high and the low, which

02:10:05   is what you care more about. The temperature line is actually color coded. So if it's green,

02:10:10   it's comfortable. If it's blue, it's cold. If it's red, it's hot. And then all the kind of

02:10:15   gradient in between. So at a glance, you see what the general temperatures are going to be,

02:10:20   what the high and low is going to be. Then if it's going to rain, we have the rain precipitation

02:10:26   forecast behind that line as blue bars. So I turn my wrist up and or open my home screen. And in an

02:10:32   instant I see whether it's going to rain in the next three days or not. There's no like thinking

02:10:37   and looking at percentage numbers and everything else like that. It's just like more blue

02:10:41   means more potential rain, less, no blue means it's not forecasted to rain at all in the next

02:10:46   three days. And you just are able to understand that in an instant by looking at it. And then

02:10:51   if it's currently raining, what do you want to know about? You want to know about the current

02:10:54   rain. And so we don't take up extra space in the widget having this like blank space saying it's

02:11:01   not raining, but when it is raining, we'll do that next hour, short term, like dark sky style

02:11:07   forecast of what the precipitation is going to look like over the next hour. And we kind of push

02:11:12   in time. The first hour kind of expands out to show that that next hour of rain. And so,

02:11:21   yeah, I mean, I'm rather partial to it myself having created it, but I love that I can just

02:11:27   flip my wrist over or look at my home screen and kind of instantly know what's going on,

02:11:31   whether it's raining now or going to rain, what the temperatures are like, what the highs and

02:11:35   lows are going to be over the next few days. Yeah, I'll try to get this in as the album art for this

02:11:40   chapter. But I realized that this discussion, this particular one would work better on YouTube,

02:11:46   or we could show a couple of slides, but hopefully right now, as we're talking, the chapter art is the

02:11:52   widget for weather up. And then the problem with showing it even as a chapter is that with iOS 17,

02:11:59   we were able to do interactive widgets, and that's been a ton of fun to experiment with. And so the

02:12:04   real thing is a YouTube video because it's super interactive now. It's fundamental to the design.

02:12:12   And the one I use is the sort of full width, I forget what you call it, probably medium size.

02:12:18   It's not a square. It's like half height, full width. And it's broken in four. So the

02:12:26   going across left to right. First quarter is the next hour. So it's like-

02:12:33   If it's going to rain because it-

02:12:35   Well, and I've got drizzle. I've got drizzle in Philadelphia. And in fact, it's funny

02:12:39   because when I came down here to my podcast cave, when we started, it was actually a nice,

02:12:43   looked like a nice day outside. And so when I opened weather up as we're talking here,

02:12:47   and I saw that the map had a big green thing over the city, I was like, what the hell? And then so

02:12:52   it turns out I didn't know it was raining. Didn't look like rain earlier. But yeah, because it's

02:12:57   drizzling for the next hour here. It starts with next hour, and it's a quadrant. Then it says

02:13:04   Wednesday the 28th, Thursday the 29th, Friday the 1st. And I get a three-day forecast ahead. And I

02:13:09   can see- Yeah, I might as well take a screenshot because mine's actually a pretty good example of

02:13:14   everything you're talking about. But I've got drizzle for the next hour in Philadelphia. Lots

02:13:19   of rain tomorrow. It's like a 93% chance of rain. And I can see the bars of where it's going to

02:13:25   happen, right? Each bar is an hour. It's going to- Looks like it's going to be a miserable- Well,

02:13:30   62, which is warm for February. And then it's going to get cold but dry on Thursday and Friday.

02:13:36   Well, that's great. But with big swings. And I can see the colors. It's going down to 29 degrees

02:13:41   overnight Thursday, but then it's going to go up to 51 midday on Friday. And I see all of this

02:13:47   in one panel. And it's very information-dense, but also very clear and very easy to parse and scan.

02:13:57   It's really, really a great design. And the interactive part, which is super cool,

02:14:04   is I can tap right here on the widget. I can tap next hour. And it expands the whole widget to show

02:14:12   the next hour in detail. And then just tap again to go back to the overview. And I could tap on

02:14:18   Wednesday. And it just shows me Wednesday. And it just expands the whole widget to show the whole

02:14:24   day's forecast on Wednesday. Right in the widget. I didn't open the app. I didn't leave my lock

02:14:30   screen or the whatever you call the first home screen, the zero home screen where you can stack

02:14:35   your widgets. Really, really. And then just tap to go back. And if I do want to launch the app,

02:14:41   I can just tap at the bottom and it launches the app, which is- And the app is a very- It doesn't

02:14:47   look like it's not the same brand, but it's a totally different presentation. And I get it

02:14:53   because what's the point if the app just shows the same thing as the widget? I would say it's

02:15:00   very fair to describe it as a widget first design overall. Yeah. And we want to make the widget

02:15:08   experience an option in the app. We just decided to prioritize making a great widget first.

02:15:14   So for those who use the app and want that widget experience in the app, we will make

02:15:20   that an option eventually. But like you said, it's like if you already looked at the widget,

02:15:25   you're probably not wanting to just see the same thing. And so in the app, the way the weather is

02:15:31   displayed is that kind of more standard weather app where it's just like a line of numbers,

02:15:36   which has its place. I mean, in some ways I do actually sometimes like seeing it a different way.

02:15:42   So when I'm looking at the widget and then I open the app and I see essentially the same

02:15:46   information, but presented differently, you process it differently. And so in some ways

02:15:52   it is nice to have both, but we'll probably make it an option in the future to make the

02:15:56   app itself look more like the widget. Well, it's good as it is. And then also on the widget,

02:16:01   at the bottom right, there's a right arrow that if I can want more days, I can just get more days.

02:16:06   And it really is. I mean, I get why Apple debuted widgets as display only. I mean,

02:16:15   I forget how many releases it was where there were widgets, but they, all you could do is you

02:16:21   tap the widget, it opens the app and there's no interactivity at all. And it's a battery saving,

02:16:25   right? And they don't want effectively to have these apps running all the time because it would

02:16:32   drain the battery. And so they've, however, however much hair developers have pulled out

02:16:40   with Swift UI. It's the intention of making it so that interactivity would be possible

02:16:49   without an app running constantly in the background is a worthy and obvious goal.

02:16:57   And it's complicated enough that you can understand why it took them a couple of years to get there.

02:17:03   But this, these widgets are so fundamentally different than they would be as static widgets.

02:17:08   It's not that it would be a useless view, but it effectively is like having a widget,

02:17:13   a whole weather app right there in the widget. A simplistic one that fits in a very small area,

02:17:19   but with the information density gives you everything you need to know. And from, to me,

02:17:25   the big ones are precipitation, very obvious presentation, temperatures, which are on a graph

02:17:30   and have numbers marking the highs and lows. And then the little icons to show you the,

02:17:35   is it going to be sunny? Is it going to be cloudy? What's what's the cloud cover going to be like?

02:17:40   Yeah, it was a ton of fun. I mean, in, in some ways it's, it's, it's the same old,

02:17:45   same old story of, I think at this point, it looks very refined and obvious, but we,

02:17:51   we spent years and thousands of iterations of refining, refining, refining to get to this

02:17:58   exact presentation that I think is a really nice refined view that's information dense,

02:18:06   but still visually appealing and not cluttered. And I I'm really proud of the work we did on this.

02:18:12   Yeah. Well, I have good news and bad news.

02:18:15   What's that?

02:18:17   Well, it's both at once is that I think you need to be prepared for your widget to be ripped off.

02:18:24   Yeah. Because the good news of that is that it's clever and original and incredibly useful.

02:18:31   And that's very flattering to your design work and the, like you said, the iterations it takes

02:18:36   to get there. Just the grind of doing thousands of iterations to wind up with this thing that seems

02:18:42   totally obvious. But the bad news is it's, I think that's, it's going to be a copy because it is.

02:18:49   And then whenever people go, it's not, I just good ideas are out there to be shared. Right. And they,

02:18:55   and, and they, they flow, but the, it, you, the best designs in anything end up seeming so obvious

02:19:05   that people think, well, of course that's how it is because how else would it be? Right. Of course,

02:19:11   all phones today are just slabs of glass with a touchscreen because anything else would be stupid.

02:19:16   So they all of course look like iPhones, but the iPhone didn't look like any phone before it.

02:19:21   Yeah. And if you're, if you haven't ever been a, if you haven't ever done that, where you've done

02:19:28   the iteration and iteration and grunt work to, to build something like that, I think the weight of

02:19:38   things getting ripped off hits different than when you've actually experienced that. Cause I've, I've

02:19:44   had that with other apps that we spent months and years of building this thing and then, oh,

02:19:50   it's so obvious. And then people just rip it off and, and it feels like theft, IP theft in, in,

02:19:59   in, in a way that's why copyrights exist. That's why patents exist because you want to have like

02:20:05   some incentive to go through all of that work to refine and build something useful. And you

02:20:12   want to have some level of protection at a societal level to protect that. But some things just aren't

02:20:19   really copyrightable and aren't really patentable and I'm not going to go file a patent on it,

02:20:24   but if somebody does rip it off and then especially if they rip it off and then are

02:20:29   more successful for whatever reason, they're more scammy. They like buy reviews. They,

02:20:35   they really get it. Let's hope. Yeah. I don't want to, I didn't want to turn this into a downer.

02:20:41   It's supposed to be. No, no, no. I mean, it's a fascinating topic though about, yeah, about what,

02:20:46   what is ripping off? And I've actually written about this and, and you know, one of the, one of

02:20:50   the things I, I wrote about was when Steve Jobs said and used the quote about stealing and great

02:20:57   artists and it's actually, I'm totally botching it, but it was, it was actually like a English

02:21:03   poet or something who said great artists steal. And in the essence of that though, in my mind,

02:21:11   good artists copy great artists. There you go. Thank you. And the essence of that in my mind is

02:21:17   that the steal part connotates that you make it your own, not that you like rip something off.

02:21:27   It's that the people who, who borrow and have the good taste to make it something better,

02:21:33   make it something unique to add to it. That's fair. If somebody takes some of the ideas

02:21:39   and some of the design work that I spent hundreds of hours and, and years of my life on, if they

02:21:46   take aspects of that and, and do their own thing, more power to you. If you take 90% of what I did

02:21:54   and just tweak a couple of things and call it your own, that's, that's bullshit. That is, that is,

02:22:00   that's just stealing from me. And that's where I kind of draw the line intellectually was like,

02:22:05   okay, yeah. Borrow from things of the past, Kirby Ferguson, everything's a remix,

02:22:09   but have the good taste to actually remix it. Don't just do the same thing. For example, I mean,

02:22:16   and we backed into it looking somewhat like weather line in that, you know, Ryan Jones,

02:22:22   he's actually a friend. He lives here in Austin. We hang out and I've known him for years.

02:22:26   It was an original concept as far as I can tell when he launched originally to put the

02:22:34   weather icon on a line and that's why he called it weather line. And it was a great app eventually

02:22:39   got bought and closed down. And so you could say we quote unquote borrowed from weather line

02:22:46   in putting those on the line. Now the true story of it all was that we, we were the original mocks

02:22:51   up was had it not on the line. And then because the Apple watch complication was so small and

02:22:57   that's what we were designing for. We put it on the line and it was only after that, that I was

02:23:02   like, Oh crap, we just like replicated weather line. And it is different from weather line.

02:23:07   Cause he had the high temperature on one line and the low temperature on the other line. And

02:23:11   that always kind of broke my brain because it's actually one continuous line. And that's what we

02:23:15   ended up doing is that the high goes up and then the low goes down and the high goes up because it

02:23:21   is actually one line in a chart for the temperature going up and down. But anyways, you can look at

02:23:27   weather line and look at weather up and see some vague similarities in that we put the icon on the

02:23:33   line, but it does not look in any way like weather line. Like we did a lot of. Interesting and

02:23:38   innovative stuff again, whether or not that that could be viewed as borrowing from him or not.

02:23:43   But yeah, I mean, I think it's a, it's an interesting topic, especially for the

02:23:46   developer community where I think sometimes people kind of steal with a little too much

02:23:53   of a blase attitude when like real people put a lot of work into something.

02:23:59   But then on the flip side, like I totally agree. Like the world is a better place

02:24:02   for. Inspiration being taken from one thing and building something completely new.

02:24:09   But I think that's, again, I think that's best done when you take inspiration, but then actually

02:24:15   add a ton of value yourself versus like mostly just ripping somebody else off. And that's what

02:24:20   I would be. If I do get ripped off, that's what I'd be most pissed off about is not if somebody

02:24:25   kind of has a good taste to make it their own is that if, if it just pretty much ripped off

02:24:31   everything I worked so hard on. I think it's a confounding quote on the surface. I think that's

02:24:36   what makes it so interesting that good artists copy great artists steal because steel sounds

02:24:42   like a worse crime than copy. Right? Like steel sounds like that's the real crime, but the meaning

02:24:48   of it. Well, why would that be the great artists? Right. And it's exactly, you expressed it very

02:24:53   well. Like a shallow copy is just shameless. Right. And you're just, and, and the best

02:25:00   examples of that are like an app that literally tries to be a clone. When, and take a name that

02:25:07   sounds similar, spell it weather up with two P's. I don't know, weather down, call it weather down.

02:25:14   And, and it just looks like the app it's at a glance it's side by side, right? It's it famously,

02:25:22   if you squint and it looks like the same app, you've probably just ripped them off. Right.

02:25:26   If you can't tell if you have to squint to see the difference. Yeah, it's probably too much.

02:25:30   So it's, and it's interesting that I can think of a couple of examples. Like I remember

02:25:37   in the nineties, there was a big controversy that erupted that Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs

02:25:44   was supposedly just a blatant copy of a Hong Kong action movie called City on Fire. And it

02:25:52   instantly, I loved Reservoir Dogs. It was like one, it was like a bolt of lightning was like,

02:25:57   I'd never seen a movie like this, or it was so seemed so original in so many ways. And then to

02:26:02   see that there's this controversy that it was just a blatant ripoff of a Hong Kong movie.

02:26:07   Made me and my roommate at the time, we instantly rented it. And I think we had,

02:26:11   we had like a hard time getting the tape at the video store because other people were doing the

02:26:16   same. And then we rented it and it was a great movie. And I'd seen other Hong Kong action movies,

02:26:22   Hong Kong action movies had a fantastic run in the eighties and nineties. And yeah,

02:26:28   there were gangsters who all wore black suits and there were like a couple of things like that,

02:26:33   but they weren't, it wasn't the same. It was a totally different movie. It's a great movie.

02:26:37   Anybody out there who's looking for a subtitled Hong Kong gangster action movie, go rent City on

02:26:43   Fire. It's fricking great, but it's not Reservoir Dogs, right? That's a steal. He stole, oh man,

02:26:51   those guys in the dark suits were so cool. I'll just copy that. And Tarantino was, his reaction

02:26:56   to it too is like telling people like, oh man, I've told everybody in the world to watch City

02:27:00   on Fire. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. Like he wasn't trying to hide it.

02:27:04   It was like the accusation was that because it was a Hong Kong movie with subtitles that Quentin

02:27:09   Tarantino thought no one in America had seen it, but it's exactly the sort of film that Quentin

02:27:13   Tarantino has spent like before he made Reservoir Dogs when he worked in a video store, was telling

02:27:19   people rent this movie. He, you know, that's stealing, not copying, right? And same thing

02:27:25   with Star Wars and the Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress, right? Where it's, I don't know, there's a princess

02:27:32   and a couple of young guys with weapons and they've got to get into a fortress and it's the

02:27:38   Death Star. And it's, but you watch, it's not like Kurosawa is an obscure filmmaker. He's revered as

02:27:45   one of the great filmmakers of all time. George Lucas, again, like Tarantino would tell people,

02:27:50   yeah, you should go, if you should go find every single Kurosawa movie that's ever been made and

02:27:55   watch them every night for the next two weeks, go watch them. That's not a rip off. And then

02:28:00   on conversely, the biggest, to me, perhaps the biggest mistake Apple ever made ever, and it not

02:28:08   so much that the lawsuit and losing it sunk them, but it just exemplified how the company's

02:28:15   leadership went wrong was when under John Sculley, they sued Microsoft in the famous look and feel

02:28:23   lawsuit. I forget what year they filed it, but like the early nineties,

02:28:26   and they spent years litigating, trying to sue Microsoft for copying the Mac with windows.

02:28:33   And effectively they were trying to say that they, Apple should own the concept of the WIMP

02:28:43   interface, windows, icons, a mouse pointer, and that you move a little arrow around the screen

02:28:49   and you have rectangular windows and menus and buttons. And it's like, which way are you going

02:28:56   to have it though? Like the problem with that lawsuit is, was the Mac better designed and way

02:29:01   more, way more elegant than windows or were they the same thing? Right. And Apple on the one hand

02:29:07   was saying the Mac is way better than windows and windows is kind of gross. And especially windows

02:29:14   two and three before windows 95, but even with windows 95, the whole point should have been

02:29:20   we're better, right? We're the whole point of Apple is to make the best computers and to waste

02:29:25   years of the executive's attention on this lawsuit with the goal being to, if they had won somehow

02:29:34   keep Microsoft from shipping a graphical user interface into what stick with DOS forever. And

02:29:41   that's the way it should be. I mean, obviously that was goofy. It just showed that they had the

02:29:45   wrong idea and they were worried that Microsoft had stolen their ideas and gone in their own way.

02:29:51   Right. There was no confusion over whether you were using windows or a Mac, right? If they had

02:29:56   made windows such that you looked at it and it looked just like the Mac and use similar fonts and

02:30:02   put the menu bar at the top where it should be instead of stuck into every window,

02:30:06   you know, it just exemplified that Apple had lost the way we, and the way is to just keep moving

02:30:13   forward and making awesome products that are better than the competition. Right. Yeah. But

02:30:18   as a maker, I empathize with the desire to protect all the work that went into that. And then folks

02:30:26   will, will be shouting into their, into the abyss, listening to this podcast saying, well, Apple

02:30:32   ripped off wimp from Xerox park. And, and, and that's a whole nother thing where, and that actually

02:30:38   is to my point one, Xerox park was not commercialized, but then two is that Apple

02:30:44   stole it in, in that stealing sense that like they had the time and good taste to make it something

02:30:53   way more, way better, way different than what Steve jobs saw at Xerox park. They did not

02:31:00   copy. They stole, they really made it their own elegant, commercially successful way.

02:31:06   They also licensed it on partners. So they actually got like a life that's true. They were

02:31:13   given a tour and told, yeah, take all the, you know, we're here to make ideas, take all the

02:31:17   ideas you want. So even if you do think it was a blatant rip off that they should be ashamed of,

02:31:21   they did license it. But be right. It is always the knee jerk reaction to those accusations about

02:31:27   Apple that Apple ripped off the Mac from park. But if you've ever tried to use that, and I know you

02:31:31   can't actually get, I don't know, a PDP 11 or whatever the hell machine you needed to run their

02:31:36   software, but those, whatever those machines were, you can't get the hardware. But if you've ever

02:31:40   watched, go to YouTube and watch the park system in action, it's inscrutable. It is, it is graphical

02:31:48   and there is a mouse that you move around, but it's got like four buttons and it's not clear at

02:31:53   all, which, you know, it's not like, Oh, main button and then contextual menu button, like two

02:31:58   button mice today. It was like, I don't know, the select button, like you needed to use a select

02:32:04   button to select text and very, very confusing in a way it, anybody familiar with the Mac

02:32:10   would never be able to sit down in front of the park system and use it way different. Not,

02:32:14   not at least with windows, you could say a Mac user could sit down in front of windows

02:32:18   and they might be like, Oh, this is weird. This is weird. That looks ugly. These icons are terrible.

02:32:23   The whole thing is kind of ugly in the windows three era, but you you'd find your way around

02:32:27   the park system. You wouldn't even find your way around. You really needed to read the manual,

02:32:31   but, and one more point on that, this crazy tangent we've gone on is that I think your kind

02:32:37   of comments about windows exemplifies as well, that they did copy. They didn't steal in that it

02:32:45   looks so familiar, but the, but to me, the essence of, of stealing, since we're, we're going really

02:32:52   deep on this, this quote and this analogy, but the essence of stealing is that you,

02:32:58   you spend the time to really understand what's going on because if you're going to make it your

02:33:04   own, if you're going to add value, you have to, if you're just going to copy, you copy.

02:33:09   And then windows three, one, I mean, windows three and then three, one, and like windows for a long

02:33:14   time sucked. So they copied it, but they didn't, they didn't understand. Well, no, I would say they

02:33:18   stole it. I'd say they stole it, but they stole it poorly. No, I mean it because a copy to me is

02:33:28   a clone. A copy is, Oh, it's exactly like the Mac. There's a trash somewhere on the spectrum.

02:33:33   Yeah. There's a bad between copying and stealing. Yeah. It was somewhere on the,

02:33:44   on that spectrum of copying enough that they didn't under really understand like the fact

02:33:50   that Apple pioneered the graphical user interface and the way they did you, and this is where like,

02:33:58   I understand the design choices and all the different iterations that we tried that didn't

02:34:05   work that led us to this current design of weather up in the, the person who just copies that doesn't

02:34:12   have that experience. And they won't have the taste moving forward to, to, to have that depth

02:34:19   of what does work and doesn't work and why it works because they didn't do those thousands

02:34:23   of iterations. And so for however much windows did in some ways steal and make it their own,

02:34:28   I think they fall further toward the copying side of the spectrum because they didn't have that

02:34:36   depth. And it showed, I guess you could say they just didn't have the taste period. I said that

02:34:43   many times, but they didn't have the good taste both in evolving it into the place where it was.

02:34:49   And they didn't have the context of why the Mac was what it was. Right. And then the other,

02:34:53   just while we're on this, I think I put this out there before, but to me, the other damning thing

02:34:58   about the Apple leadership from 90 to 95, and it's, it's tied right in with the look and feel

02:35:03   lawsuit where they decided to use lawyers to try to keep the Mac as the preeminent GUI, as opposed

02:35:10   to using designers and engineers to make the Mac even better. Right. And it sounds a little

02:35:16   superficial, but it mattered at the time. It was a very big deal. If you were into computers that

02:35:22   in the nineties and you know, in the Mac went from black and white to color and color just became

02:35:27   even on PCs, like one of the reasons windows three was so ugly, it was, it was designed to work on

02:35:32   computers that could only show 16 colors at a time. And then as it became 256 was actually kind of

02:35:39   magic, but once you got to like 256 colors on screen at a time, let alone, if you could get to

02:35:45   thousands, you could make things that looked 3d and you could make, you know, use little shading

02:35:50   tricks to make the windows look like they had depth and make the buttons actually look like they

02:35:55   pressed and went in. And that was really, it just seemed cool. And it seemed like the way things

02:36:00   ought to be. And it informed two decades of user interface design of making things look 3d and

02:36:07   textured and depth and cool. And meanwhile, Mac system seven was, even though the screens were

02:36:12   color and it could show color content, the UI was just flat black and white and the buttons were

02:36:17   still flat. And the most damning thing about windows 95 was that they ripped off next, not

02:36:27   Apple, right? No, it's true. Look, look, look at next step from when they started in 1989 and they

02:36:35   were had grid, they had gray scale screens instead of black and white screens. And that doesn't sound

02:36:39   like a huge difference, but it let them have depth from the beginning shading. And then they

02:36:43   got color and look at screenshots from next step in the early nineties. And it looks, it then look

02:36:51   at windows 95 and it's, Oh, windows 95, windows 95 to me is more of a ripoff look and feel wise

02:36:57   of next step than windows three was of the Mac. It was way more of a ripoff the windows 95 windows

02:37:06   style, which admittedly looked a lot cooler than before and kind of look cooler. I don't think

02:37:10   better than the Mac. And it was an organized as well. And they're weird ideas about what the

02:37:17   buttons and the title bars of the windows do. I never was into, but it just overall just kind of

02:37:22   looked cooler because it was 3d and gray scale and not flat black and white, but it really looked

02:37:28   like next. And part of the job of Apple is to be the company that makes the things that all the

02:37:34   other companies rip off, right? That's it is, that's how Apple, the fact that Samsung is now

02:37:40   making phones with titanium on the sides, that's just proof that Apple still has it. And that's

02:37:46   what I meant when I complimented you on the fact that I'm predicting you're about to get ripped

02:37:49   off because it means you're onto something. All right, I'm going to take a break here and thank

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02:40:35   off your first purchase squarespace.com/talk show. All right, that brings us to the DMA

02:40:43   and the App Store. I don't know how much of the previous three hours is going to get cut,

02:40:51   but we're three hours. And we could easily talk three hours on this. So you you and I commiserate

02:40:58   is when I first started thinking I should have you on the show. But we commiserated quite a bit when

02:41:02   Apple announced their DMA compliance plan three weeks ago, four weeks ago, well, sometime last

02:41:07   month. The the date is forever seared into my mind because I launched my 3.0 update. And I had the PR,

02:41:19   I had the press embargo set for the exact moment that Apple set the embargo for the DMA news.

02:41:27   And it kind of ruined my day to be honest. What was the date? This date that will live in infamy?

02:41:32   January 25th at 10am Pacific time. Literally the same time. That was a Thursday, right?

02:41:41   So Thursday, and I thought I had even asked you ahead of time. I was like, Hey, John,

02:41:45   you know of any like press embargoes coming? I'm trying to like pick a nice quiet day. And then

02:41:52   boom, people people tend to pick Mondays and Tuesdays for good news, and happy announcements,

02:41:59   and they tend to, of course, infamously put bad news or unpleasant news and announcements

02:42:07   at the end of the afternoon on Fridays, right? That's a telltale sign that a company whatever

02:42:13   they're announcing was begrudging. And so Thursdays and Wednesdays are sort of in the

02:42:19   no person's land, right? So you don't expect something like that on a Thursday at 10am.

02:42:24   If I had just launched on Wednesday, it would have gone totally different.

02:42:29   Here's why I think Apple chose Thursday. I think Apple chose a Thursday because it gets them closer

02:42:37   to the end of the week, because it is something that they did begrudgingly, right? So it's bad

02:42:42   news. So they didn't do it on a Monday or Tuesday. But they wanted a day or two to talk about it,

02:42:50   right? I was in multiple WebEx briefings that I was invited to by Apple to talk to people,

02:42:57   you know, on Thursday. And then on Friday, there was a follow up because there were so many

02:43:02   questions about it. And I think they I don't know that they anticipated that they do a second day of

02:43:08   media briefings. But I think they at least plan to make room for it. And so announcing it on Friday

02:43:13   would have kind of wrecked that because it would add away till Monday. So backwards, you know,

02:43:18   if you knew what was coming, you could kind of see why they picked Thursday. But that's kind of

02:43:23   amazing. I knew you. I knew you collided with it because we were texting about it. I didn't realize

02:43:28   it actually was the exact same moment. 10am exact same moment. Yeah, we ended up TechCrunch in nine

02:43:34   to five. No, TechCrunch and MacRumors ended up publishing an hour early because they were like,

02:43:39   "Hey, some big news is incoming. You probably want us to post it now." So I was like, "All right,

02:43:44   go ahead." So yeah. And it's not just that you ran into some big news that just happened to

02:43:55   maybe overshadow WeatherUp's launch. But it's also news that is of keen interest to you

02:44:03   anyway, personally. And all the press who would otherwise maybe have considered even writing about

02:44:10   it. Anybody in the kind of spheres I run in, any press that would write about apps was immediately

02:44:19   just heads down digesting the DMA stuff. And then I didn't even get to finish my launch plan. I didn't

02:44:25   even tweet from my company account. I didn't get to have a celebratory dinner. Instead, the moment

02:44:32   the launch is done, the moment it's like out there in the world, I'm reading European regulation and

02:44:39   fine print from Apple and staying up till 2am reading all this stuff to do a webinar

02:44:43   with RevenueCat the next day. So it was not a fun way to launch an app for sure.

02:44:48   Your story trumps mine because you had release. No, it does. So I'm not trying to out bad timing

02:44:57   you. But it did fall during the review period, the six days I had exclusive with the Vision Pro

02:45:04   before the embargo for the Vision Pro. So all of the time I spent figuring it out and then writing

02:45:10   about it the next day was all time taken away from my Vision Pro review. And I joked about this

02:45:19   somewhere else. I think on another podcast, maybe I tweeted or something. But you got to think

02:45:26   that the timing is maybe a little too coincidental. Here's this vision. And I didn't know the exact

02:45:34   because you were under embargo. So nobody told me when exactly they got the review units and then

02:45:39   when in the middle of that the DMA news dropped. But my joke was that Apple scheduled it then

02:45:46   because it was like, here's the DMA news. Oh, and by the way, here's your Vision Pro to go review.

02:45:51   I do think that they looked at the calendar and some aspects of it were outside their control,

02:45:58   like the DMAs, whatever you want to call it. March 1st. Or March 6th, I thought was the come

02:46:02   into effect date. I think. Somewhere, yeah. I don't think it comes in. Yeah, I think it comes in.

02:46:07   And I guess that means iOS 17.4 is coming out in the next few days, I guess. Yeah, it has to.

02:46:15   Well, I don't know. I don't know how much trouble they're in if it comes out a week after the DMA

02:46:20   comes into effect. But I don't know. I don't know. Their rules for how they find companies are rather

02:46:26   inscrutable. But that's the March 6th or 7th, whatever the day is when the DMA comes into effect

02:46:32   was set in stone. So they kind of needed to announce it before that. But I think they did.

02:46:36   They looked at the calendar. And obviously, the date they decided to release the Vision Pro was

02:46:41   entirely in their control. But I think in hindsight, and looking at how ready Vision Pro is,

02:46:48   I mean, 1.0 is a little rough, but I think they were I think they were set even back at WWDC. I

02:46:54   think they were pretty sure they could launch and wanted to launch in January. And I think that they

02:46:59   probably, if not for the holidays, probably could have launched earlier like November or December.

02:47:06   But I think that there's no way that they wanted to launch this distracting niche product that

02:47:14   it was only they knew whether it was what they could produce or how much interest there was.

02:47:19   Some kind of thing that's going to sell in hundreds of merely from Apple's perspective,

02:47:25   merely hundreds of thousands of units, they did not want to distract from the iPhone 15 models,

02:47:32   which, you know, and MacBook M3 models, which they knew were coming out. And the new Apple Watch,

02:47:38   which came out alongside the iPhones, these things that people do buy in the tens of hundreds of

02:47:43   millions as holiday gifts, they didn't want to distract from. So I think that they knew,

02:47:49   or at least hoped to launch just after, quote unquote, just after the holidays,

02:47:54   ever since June. And then I think they kind of looked at the calendar with the DMA and kind of,

02:48:00   yeah, I mean, let's put this, to borrow the term, let's put this shit sandwich

02:48:05   right before the Vision Pro so that however much shit eating of sandwiches there's going to be,

02:48:14   people are going to be talking about this new thing a week later.

02:48:16   Yeah. No question.

02:48:18   You can't help but think that. I mean, I'm sure people in Apple have their reasons and they're

02:48:23   going to think we're just making stuff up, but you can't help but think that from the outside. And

02:48:29   then, then especially it being in the, in the review window, I didn't realize you even already

02:48:33   had the Vision Pro on your person when you got this news. They could have done it a week earlier,

02:48:39   they could have done it two weeks after, like the timing's a little.

02:48:43   It was, I did a lot of typing in a very few days, but there you go. There's proof that

02:48:49   Jon Gruber does not break NDAs. Didn't tell my pal David that I had the headset.

02:48:54   So where, now that it's, the dust has settled on kind of analyzing their compliance plans.

02:49:01   I don't know about dust having settled.

02:49:04   Well, but I think we at least, I think, I think we understand it now, right? I think that, that was

02:49:09   really the hard part, really. It took me like a full day of kind of organizing my thoughts before

02:49:14   I could structure them into, oh, I see that here's the outline of what the options are for developers.

02:49:20   Yeah, it is very complex.

02:49:23   It is. I think it kind of has to be. I don't, did they purposefully make it a little more complex

02:49:28   out of spite than it needed to be? I don't think so. I actually, I don't think so. I think the DMA

02:49:37   itself is so complex and has conflicting, I mean, it's anybody who reads my stuff and listens to the

02:49:44   show knows I'm not a fan of the DMA at all, to say the least. But even just trying to put aside my

02:49:50   feelings about whether it's a good idea or not, I think it's undeniable that some of the edicts in

02:49:57   it are conflicting. And it's not that the people who think it's all about opening, just opening up

02:50:04   the app store and open, open, opening payments and opening this and opening that haven't read the DMA,

02:50:10   because the DMA also includes a lot of stuff that it's like in the law, it's not just, oh,

02:50:15   and you can hopefully make it as secure as possible. It's in the law that things need

02:50:19   to be as secure and private as they possibly could be and were before. And those two things

02:50:26   are sort of sideloading and keeping things private and secure are sort of at odds by definition,

02:50:33   unless you create complex rules and APIs to keep things sandboxed no matter what.

02:50:40   And I kind of think overall that other than the third-party app stores, which Apple,

02:50:50   and Apple to their, in my opinion, to their credit, remains critical of. They're flat out saying in

02:50:56   their documentation for it that we think this is a bad idea and we don't think this is in the user's

02:51:01   interest or in the platform, anybody's interest really. But that's the law and we'll comply with

02:51:07   it. But I think other than the third-party app stores, a lot of it is sort of an honest

02:51:13   rethinking on Apple's part of what would we do differently if we had it to do all over again.

02:51:20   Yeah, it's funny you say that because that was a point I was going to make

02:51:23   in this conversation as it kind of, I made some notes before we started our chat today.

02:51:29   And I agree, but I think the way to look at it though is not Apple blank slate,

02:51:40   what would we do different today had we to start all over again? It was a little bit more,

02:51:49   and this is where it rubbed most people the wrong way and people called it malicious

02:51:53   compliance. And otherwise, I think it was a little bit of a, how do we rethink the app store

02:52:00   for an allow new business model? And to their credit, there are all sorts of new opportunities

02:52:07   created by the way they chose to do the compliance, but they rethought it in a way that still

02:52:18   takes care of Apple, that they're still getting their pound of flesh.

02:52:21   Well, that's what I mean though. I think that that's one of the conclusions that came from,

02:52:26   that if we had it to do all over again, we'd still want our pound of flesh, but how would we do it?

02:52:32   Yeah. And I already regret saying pound of flesh because I think you and I agree,

02:52:39   and I think a lot of people listening to this will have a different perspective. And I can respect

02:52:44   that perspective. Somebody like David Hennemeyer-Hanson, he and Jason Fried built an

02:52:51   incredible web business. They didn't have to ask permission from anybody. They wrote their own

02:52:57   framework, Ruby on Rails, to build the business. They built out their own credit card payment

02:53:03   infrastructure to help settle accounts and all that kind of stuff. They built a great

02:53:08   business that they run and love to talk about what a great business it is and other stuff.

02:53:14   But when you come from that world and your customers want access to your product

02:53:22   on another platform, and now all of a sudden after decades of running the business the way you want

02:53:29   to, not having any form of gatekeeper, not having to pay anybody other than credit card fees or what

02:53:36   you choose to pay to come to a platform like iOS, and all of a sudden you're having to jump through

02:53:42   all these different hoops. You're having to pay a commission. You're having to do all these things.

02:53:45   I can respect his view of the world that he should be allowed to publish apps to this platform

02:53:55   without having to follow any rules or do anything else. I can disagree with it because I do,

02:54:03   but I can respect that as a worldview. But I think you and I and a lot of folks do see

02:54:09   Apple's work on the platform and the intellectual property that they've created, which we had a long

02:54:16   talk about IP just now and whether or not that should be defensible and what you should get paid

02:54:21   for or whatever. But I do think at a fundamental level, it's Apple's platform and they have some

02:54:29   right to charge developers to be on that platform. And so then what it comes down to is how much,

02:54:39   like what's fair, but even the fair statement, it's their platform. So what's fair is what they

02:54:48   determine. And this is where regulation gets really tricky because even the judge in the

02:54:54   epic case, and it appears that the EU is not telling Apple that they can't charge developers.

02:55:00   So then now what do they charge developers? And so I think the DMA though, and the way Apple complied

02:55:08   in a way, especially the core technology fee is designed in a way for Apple to make similar

02:55:18   amounts of money and capitalize on the platform at the levels they've currently been capitalizing on

02:55:25   the platform. But then ultimately for developers, that then creates similar problems as with the

02:55:31   current 30%. Because for a lot of developers, 30% is, and especially 15% for the small developers,

02:55:37   is actually quite reasonable. The increased conversion you get, not having to deal with taxes,

02:55:44   getting the payment processing, especially with subscription apps, getting Dunning,

02:55:48   Apple supports hundreds of different payment methods around the world. If you're in Africa

02:55:53   and you're paying in M-Pesa or whatever different, I forget what country that even is, but there's

02:55:58   all these different payment things that they handle out of the box, that even Stripe, the

02:56:03   stripes of the world don't fully support and don't collect and remit your taxes. And there's so many

02:56:08   things that Apple does that are actually quite valuable to developers. But how valuable?

02:56:16   And then the thing is you fall in a spectrum, right? Where Spotify that is very margin

02:56:22   challenged, that 30% is a huge burden on a business that pays such a significant portion

02:56:30   of their revenue out in royalties compared to me, somewhere in the middle as a weather app that pays

02:56:36   out so much of my potential profit to the weather data providers to Fortnite on the way other end,

02:56:44   that is essentially selling infinitely reproducible skins and has almost no

02:56:48   literally near zero marginal costs on goods. And so the 30%, and then you get different benefits

02:56:56   of the app store, you get different benefits of the APIs. It's a complex equation. And even in

02:57:02   the 30% and 15%, you have winners and losers on a spectrum. And then the problem with the DMA is

02:57:11   that because of the core technology fee, it just distributes that same spectrum, but in a different

02:57:16   way. For some apps, the core technology fee can actually potentially be a very good deal.

02:57:21   For a lot of apps, probably most apps, it's just not a viable option because they use some form of

02:57:29   freemium model where having to pay per user just completely breaks the model. So yeah, I still,

02:57:36   and I've tweeted about this, you and I have talked about this. I still long for a day when Apple

02:57:42   rethinks the app store from a more kind of first principles, like blank slate, where how much

02:57:49   should we make? How much value are we providing to developers in this opportunity of the app store?

02:57:58   And then how do we more equitably distribute that, charging those developers in a way that

02:58:07   maintains business opportunity in a way that still does compensate Apple to a certain amount?

02:58:13   I think that originally that what Steve Jobs said when he announced the app store,

02:58:21   and now I remember that event and I remember the Jobs portion, and it was when he explained the

02:58:26   30-70 split and said, "Free apps, we're not going to charge you anything, and we'll do the

02:58:33   distribution. We'll handle all of that, and we'll cover our costs by taking 30% of the apps that are

02:58:42   paid." And he said, I think he even said like, "Break even." I think he more or less said,

02:58:48   "I think we'll run this at break even." And I think that they meant it at the time. And I think

02:58:53   the reason they meant it is that they were so intimately familiar with the iTunes Music Store,

02:58:58   which famously the app store was built on. And still, maybe even today exhibits a little bit of

02:59:05   that. But for a long time, really, they were sort of selling apps the way they sold songs.

02:59:10   And I think they knew that the music store was not a huge moneymaker for Apple. And they took

02:59:19   every 99-cent song, they got 30 cents. And I think they thought that's how the app store might work

02:59:25   out and that would be fine. And it just turns out that 30% of app sales was way more lucrative than

02:59:33   30% of 99-cent songs and $10 albums. And with the commissions they had to pay to the music labels.

02:59:45   The other thing I think a ton of people forget is that it genuinely was a good deal at the time.

02:59:49   And Apple still talks about, "Oh, before the app store, it wasn't all box software." But even those

02:59:58   companies you were talking about three hours ago, headphones and others, even if you were setting up

03:00:03   downloads, you were paying exorbitant fees on the bandwidth. People today, it's hard to even

03:00:10   comprehend unless you were doing business in that time, that just the bandwidth of having a 200-megabyte

03:00:17   app that people are downloading was very expensive. Doing credit card payments back before the app

03:00:24   store was way more expensive and way more work. You had to pretty much build out your own payment

03:00:30   system. And then you had to collect and remit the taxes yourself and deal with compliance around the

03:00:35   globe if you're selling a different... Or take the risk of not complying and not collecting taxes.

03:00:41   And so it was genuinely... In my business plan in 2008 that I submitted to my dad and uncle and mom

03:00:48   and aunt, I explicitly talked about what an incredible deal it was to pay 30% to get

03:00:55   distribution on the app store, not have to ever worry about credit card fees, not have to worry

03:01:00   about taxes, compliance, and all those other things. It was genuinely a fantastic deal in 2008.

03:01:08   Yeah. And the comparisons to box software, one of the reasons I have to roll my eyes at that

03:01:13   in general is 'cause we're not talking about computers, we're talking about phones. And the

03:01:17   way that software worked on phones at the time was entirely through the carriers. And the way they

03:01:23   solved the things like the credit card processing problem and stuff like that was that they didn't

03:01:30   charge the user by the credit card, they would charge you on your Verizon bill. And if you wanted

03:01:37   to get the new snake game or whatever the hell was available for your whatever phone you got from

03:01:42   Verizon or AT&T that could play games, you paid AT&T and it showed up on your phone bill. And the

03:01:48   way you got the game, you had to go through the carriers. And it wasn't like the app store where

03:01:54   you signed up for a $99 account and downloaded an SDK and just sort of submitted your app and then

03:02:00   it would show up. There weren't, never were thousands of apps, let alone hundreds of thousands,

03:02:06   let alone millions or however many apps there are, there were like dozens. And each one of them had,

03:02:12   you didn't go through developer relations at Verizon, you went through business development,

03:02:17   right? And so there's a reason why nobody remembers getting apps even on their smartphones

03:02:22   of the time, which weren't all that popular, right? But there wasn't like, oh, get it,

03:02:26   you know, lots of people had Blackberries and lots of people loved them, but it wasn't because they

03:02:30   could get apps for that. It was because of the built-in app for the messaging and the email.

03:02:35   And didn't developers pay like 50%?

03:02:38   Oh, more, more. Yeah. I don't know. Who knows? Yeah. But you know, and nobody got the same deal.

03:02:42   It was your custom negotiation, right? And if there, if some of the games were made by

03:02:47   Electronic Arts, surely Electronic Arts was better at negotiating with AT&T than a startup

03:02:54   with 20 people or something like that. But it all went through them and they approved it and

03:02:59   it was limited and it was just nothing like this. And it's just the way that the app store is just

03:03:04   one of numerous ways that Apple broke the control of the carriers, right? And forget about global

03:03:09   distribution because if you went through Verizon, you were in the US, you weren't even, couldn't

03:03:13   even get to Canada because, you know, yet I go through Canadian carriers. So yeah, but, but again,

03:03:18   on the other hand, that's 17 years ago, right? And you, all right, you successfully changed the world.

03:03:26   But I think to go back to my point of thinking that at least the core technology fee to me is

03:03:33   the component of their compliance with the DMA that to me is the, hmm, what would we do all over

03:03:40   again? Because the loophole, and I don't mean it in a bad way, it's some loopholes are good things,

03:03:46   but the loophole that I think Apple never foresaw in 2007, 2008 when they launched the app store

03:03:52   was the rise of freely distributed apps that could be, I was going to say billion,

03:04:01   but like literally trillion dollar ideas, right? Meta, Facebook slash now Meta built a,

03:04:10   what's now a trillion, $2 trillion company entirely based on apps that you never pay for.

03:04:18   There's no pro mode for Instagram. I mean, I know there's some paid things in there for getting,

03:04:23   but you don't, it's not a paid app, right? And the whole idea, like if you told people that they

03:04:29   needed to pay $5 to download the Facebook app, they'd be like, what the hell are you talking

03:04:33   about? It doesn't make any sense to them. But that I think Apple sort of knew there'd be lots

03:04:38   of free apps, but that they'd be sort of hobbyist things or teasers for the paid app. And that I

03:04:43   really do think coming from the fresh 2007, they were still at that time when they launched the app

03:04:49   store, they still were selling upgrade copies of Mac OS X. They were lowering the price by then.

03:04:55   It was no longer $129. It was like, there was one version that was like $70. And then it was $29.

03:05:02   And then it was a big deal in 2013 or 2012 or whenever it was like, Oh, you know what,

03:05:06   we're going to make them free. But yeah, I think you had to pay $5 for an iOS update one time.

03:05:11   I was going to bring that up. It was the iPod touch. They were accounting for the revenue

03:05:17   of touch differently than the iPhone. And so they charged, I think it was more like

03:05:23   10 bucks. Yeah. Like $999. Yeah. Yeah. Because they were, they were accounting for the phone

03:05:29   amortized over quarters. So if you spot a $600 iPhone 3G that they were accounting for it over

03:05:37   the lifetime of your two year mandatory contract with AT&T. And so because they were amortizing

03:05:44   the cost a year and a half in, they were still hadn't fully booked the money you'd already give

03:05:49   them. And therefore under their interpretation of the accounting laws, whether those interpretations

03:05:54   are right, I don't know, I'm not an accountant or a lawyer, but they thought that was okay

03:05:58   to give free updates. But that because they booked the whole revenue from the iPod touch on sale,

03:06:03   like they'd done with all other iPods, which never really got major OS updates. They felt like

03:06:10   legally they had to charge. I mean, and people today, I mean, that's, try telling people when

03:06:15   iOS 18 comes out next year, that they have to pay $10. I mean, it's, but coming from that world,

03:06:21   I think that's what they thought. They thought the money that will be made on this app store will

03:06:25   come from games and apps like the Mac, where people pay one time 10, 20, $40, $5, whatever

03:06:34   the price is, they'll pay and then they'll get the app. And they never foresaw things like Facebook,

03:06:38   or all the zillions of other bigger companies that have followed where that's sort of now

03:06:44   the default model, where it's the App Store is sort of more like the web from their perspective.

03:06:50   And it's not the total freedom of the web in the 37 signals David Heyermeyer Hanson fashion,

03:06:55   where you can do whatever you want. But it's like the web, where to get to facebook.com,

03:07:02   you go to a browser and type facebook.com. And now you're there. And to get Facebook on your phone,

03:07:08   you go to the App Store, or Play Store on your phone, and you type Facebook and then tap the

03:07:14   download button. And now Facebook is on your phone. Right? It's sort of like that. And that

03:07:19   data, they don't pay, there's no platform owner, they pay anything to but I think Apple saw that

03:07:25   there's these companies that have worth many of them worth billions of dollars, a handful that

03:07:31   are worth trillions that they didn't, they don't collect a cent from. And, you know,

03:07:36   a hundred dollars a year. I use this analogy recently that I have personally paid Apple

03:07:42   well over a million dollars in commissions and Uber has paid Apple precisely $1,400.

03:07:49   Actually a little less, right? It'd be like $1,386 or something.

03:07:54   Yeah, because it's $9999.

03:07:58   All right. All right. No, I'm not doing the math right with the pennies, but yeah,

03:08:02   yeah, yeah. Yeah. $1,399.86 or something like that. Yeah, exactly.

03:08:07   And I think this is a kind of new paradigm where apps that choose to use this new, who choose the

03:08:16   new model will pay whether they would, no matter how they monetize. And so that, that part of it is

03:08:22   interesting. Right. I, you know, I think part of it, if, are they going to do that part worldwide?

03:08:30   Maybe. I think maybe they might see how this works out and maybe offer developers a option to get a

03:08:37   lower commission rate on in-app sales or more flexibility on in-app sales in terms of how you

03:08:44   process them on your own or whatever, in exchange for agreeing to a new deal where you send Apple

03:08:51   50 cents for every download over a million. And again, it's like a loophole. And again, I'm not,

03:08:56   I'm not, if you think Apple is greedy with the app store, then what I'm describing isn't absolving

03:09:03   Apple. It's Apple trying to get, how do we get money from the, from Facebook and Google? Right?

03:09:10   Yeah. And, and, and my personal contention, I mean, I know you and I, again, probably fall well

03:09:17   closer to what a lot of people, maybe not your audience specifically, but I think a lot of people

03:09:21   more broadly would think are Apple shills or Apple fanboys and defending Apple and everything else.

03:09:27   I don't think Apple is greedy in the app store in the sense of like, they have created hundreds of

03:09:34   trillions of dollars of value over the last 17 years, not only in the iOS platform, but in

03:09:41   Android being able to copy them and create the, I mean, they, they created the modern smartphone

03:09:47   era. They deserve to be compensated and have been compensated very well for that.

03:09:53   And so I don't as much in my mind, think about them being greedy. And what I personally care

03:10:00   more about is the, is the business opportunity of the app store and how much them not evolving those

03:10:09   business opportunities over time is limiting what developers build, which then ultimately limits

03:10:16   what consumers have access to, which limits their ultimate upside of, I mean, even things like the,

03:10:23   the fee at some price, all the big players like Netflix would come back to the app store and they

03:10:31   they'd make money where they weren't currently making money. And so, and then the problem with

03:10:37   the core technology fee is that it is similarly very limiting on what kind of business models

03:10:46   will work and be able to pay that 50 cent technology fee. So it's fine. Apple make your

03:10:51   money, but the problem with both models and that's why in some ways I do like that we now have a

03:11:00   whole new model. I mean, I was even thinking a few weeks ago, as I was digging into all this stuff,

03:11:04   I should go raise some money and, and build, cause I've always loved pushing the boundaries of iOS.

03:11:09   I've gotten my apps rejected so many times for stupid stuff. That's so frustrating to talk about

03:11:14   now, but things like using notifications to launch apps, Apple rejected my app and said,

03:11:20   you're misappropriating the API. That's not what we designed it for. You can't launch this app.

03:11:25   And, and I didn't, and like, I had to remove that feature completely from the app. And so I've had

03:11:31   so many cases like that, where I try to do something and get rejected for, for innovating.

03:11:38   And then I spent a decade like scared to innovate the, the shortcuts guys workflow, which Apple

03:11:44   bought and turned into shortcuts. They pushed the boundaries a lot more than I did in part because

03:11:52   they hadn't gotten burned. And they were, I had like kids to feed and I was, I was genuinely

03:11:57   scared at times that my whole business was going to go down. And so with this new opportunity in

03:12:03   the EU, there is some like excitement inside of me that we're going to see new apps, new business

03:12:09   models, new opportunities that were, that are just never possible on the app store. And the most

03:12:14   obvious of which unfortunately is porn. I think that's probably, I mean, if somebody's not already

03:12:19   building it, the like OnlyFans store or something like that is, is going to happen. But, but the,

03:12:25   the point being that I do think there's a ton of opportunity. The problem is that, is that, is that

03:12:34   the, the 50% core technology fee will be an incredible deal for apps that monetize

03:12:40   really well and can get, and can do innovative things and kind of get out from under the

03:12:44   commission, but it's going to be a really bad deal for others. And, and I don't think it's

03:12:51   an exact mirror of the current commission. I think there's a lot of overlap of businesses that still

03:12:58   just can't make it work. And I think Spotify is a good example. They, they're kind of the canonical

03:13:04   example of an app that just gets screwed either way because they have a huge freemium base that

03:13:10   they monetize via advertising and don't pay Apple a penny and Apple can argue, well, hey, look at

03:13:15   all the revenue they're making and not paying Apple a penny, but at 50 cents a download and

03:13:20   50 cents an update every year, that that's not, it's very unlikely to be economically viable for

03:13:26   them. And then on the flip side, when they're paying so much of their revenue out in royalties

03:13:31   and have such a low margin business, it's really hard for them to operate under the existing rules

03:13:38   paying Apple 30 or 15%. And so there is still this squeeze in the middle of neither of these

03:13:45   are actually good opportunities. Yeah. I think Spotify though is, I mean, they're obviously

03:13:52   because they're in the EU and they're famously it's on, on the record that they've been a bug

03:13:58   in the European commission's ear for years asking for regulatory help to, to force Apple to help

03:14:07   them. And I would compare it to Apple in the early nineties when Apple was hoping to beat windows

03:14:14   with a look and feel copyright lawsuit in court, rather than out innovating them.

03:14:19   I think Spotify is just bad at business. I mean, and Apple in their last week issued a statement

03:14:26   and the numbers are eyeopening in the EU. Spotify has 56% market share and second place is Amazon

03:14:33   and third place is YouTube music and Apple's in fourth place with 8% market share. And I guess

03:14:39   that's EU overall, not EU iPhone only, but Apple has Apple music on Android, right? They compete

03:14:47   in music across cross-platform. And so Spotify is dominant. I mean, it's a majority market share

03:14:54   by some definitions. Spotify has a monopoly that Apple doesn't have. If anybody's a monopolist

03:15:00   and they're just bad at monetizing, they have so many users and they're really bad at monetizing.

03:15:05   I mean, there's no reason their ad business shouldn't be better. They have so many users,

03:15:09   they're, it's their fault that they're bad at making money, but their solution isn't to get

03:15:14   better at making money. Their solution seemingly is getting the European union to protect them

03:15:20   legally, in my opinion. I mean, cause I think, I think you have a point. And I think that Spotify

03:15:26   is not the perfect example in this, but, but I think like my point, and I probably shouldn't have

03:15:32   brought up Spotify cause they have made a lot of comments and they're like kind of aggrandizing.

03:15:37   They've helped shape the DMA. It's impossible that if we didn't bring up Spotify, even briefly,

03:15:42   we'd be doing just justice to the conversation. It's, it's there. They are front and center in

03:15:47   this. They really are. But it's so aside from like them having the EU's ear, aside from a lot of the

03:15:53   kind of self-serving comments and disingenuous, seemingly disingenuous comments that they've made

03:15:58   about all of this, I bring them up as an example of an, of the spectrum of business opportunity on

03:16:06   the app store is that you have on the far side, I mean, Kindle, let's take as a different example,

03:16:14   Kindle is a low margin business. They pay such a high percentage of revenue on the books to the

03:16:22   publishers that they, they are a margin challenged business. It's hard to build. And there's,

03:16:28   there's not as much economic incentive to build these margin challenged businesses,

03:16:35   especially when your distribution channels then eat up more than you actually make a margin.

03:16:42   And so maybe the Kindle is a better example of this, but my, my point in bringing up Spotify

03:16:46   was just that both deals, the, the, the, the new rule, the new regulations under the,

03:16:53   what do you even call it? The new opportunity, the new paradigm, the new whatever under the DMA

03:16:58   regulation in Europe is a flip side of the same coin in that it's a, it's generally going to be

03:17:06   a bad deal for margin challenged businesses and or freemium businesses. And so there's the,

03:17:12   and I think that's an important way to look at this is that for, and I think Apple maybe to a

03:17:20   fault internally leans too heavily on, we'll look at all the look at it. I mean, they say this in

03:17:26   like the press, well, look at all the developers who are only paying 15%. It's like, yeah, great,

03:17:30   but like, that doesn't absolve you of like all the others who are paying way more than 30%. And then,

03:17:36   well, Hey, you get a million downloads for free. Well, okay. That's great. But most people aspire

03:17:42   to build a bigger business and are going to hit that at some point the regulation or the

03:17:47   compliance, the way it stands in the existing app store in my mind does not account for the disparity

03:17:56   in, and this is why so many companies do custom deals, right? Like if, if, if Apple had the

03:18:02   bandwidth to just custom negotiate and say, Hey, Spotify, like we're competing with you.

03:18:08   We have their default music player. We have, we understand your margins. Like you're going to get

03:18:13   to pay 5% instead of 15% or 30% that would solve it. But then how does Apple negotiate a million

03:18:20   different custom deals for all the different people? And again, maybe Kindle is a better

03:18:24   example and it does seem like Apple's made some back room deals with Amazon and some

03:18:29   to a limited extent. But the point being like the opportunity, the business opportunity discourages

03:18:36   any kind of margin challenge business on either side with the DMA or with the existing commission.

03:18:43   Right. There's certain types of business models that wouldn't work under the old,

03:18:46   the existing app store rules. And then with the new rules, there's a different section of

03:18:51   business models that just won't work. But the one thing, and I've mentioned this on,

03:18:55   I forget if it's only on dithering or on this show too, but the one thing I had to rethink was when

03:18:59   these rules first came out and Ben and I did the math in our heads on dithering and we're like,

03:19:05   well, let's just say Facebook has a billion users of all their apps combined in the EU,

03:19:10   which seems like a fair, you know, across WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, a fair round number.

03:19:16   Well, then they'd have to pay Apple $500 million a year. And well, who do that? Because that's a

03:19:22   huge number. And then you think about, but then rethinking it, thinking about meta's actual

03:19:27   finances, $500 million a year is not that much for them. And the best example is Google who famously,

03:19:36   and now, you know, this came out in lawsuits recently. Everybody's been speculating about

03:19:40   it for years, but the Google pays Apple roughly best estimates $20 billion a year to be the

03:19:47   default search in Safari. Like for some of these companies paying for access to the users of Apple's

03:19:55   products is worth $20 billion a year for Google for search for the iPhone. So 500 million is 40th

03:20:03   of that. It's smaller. I'm not saying, and I know Zuckerberg's come out and said, he doesn't think

03:20:08   this looks good. Doesn't think that Facebook's going to do it and whatever, but it's not

03:20:12   ridiculous to think that they would or that other, some other companies would, even if they do have a

03:20:18   billion users and wind up paying Apple $500 million a year, if your monthly income from the average

03:20:24   user of your app is way more than 50 cents a year, it might be a great deal. And I thought it was

03:20:30   really interesting recently that Epic, that Apple is going to let them have a subsidiary in Europe,

03:20:36   get a developer account back and there's Epic has announced it. They're going to make an Epic game

03:20:41   store. And I think that's super interesting. And you know, and like I wrote on Daring Fireball,

03:20:48   I, Apple can hold a grudge and they definitely play hardball, no doubt about it, no argument,

03:20:53   but I don't think they're a spiteful company. I don't think they're cut off their nose,

03:20:57   despite their face. And while they might dislike Epic because of that whole lawsuit. And,

03:21:03   but I think if they could think strategically that, Hey, if Epic can take advantage of these

03:21:09   rules and build and be happy, that's the sort of thing that would make any regulator at the EU

03:21:14   think, well, we won, right? We forced Apple to open up a store that lets their enemy Epic open

03:21:20   a store and have a game store. And now there's another place where iPhone users can get games in

03:21:27   the EU. And that would be a win. I think Epic said they're doing it. So like the argument,

03:21:32   there was a knee jerk reaction when the rules first came out that quote unquote,

03:21:36   nobody's going to use these rules. And so it's ridiculous. And I thought that at first too,

03:21:42   right? Just doing that back to the envelope math and thinking, well, my God, $500 million is a

03:21:46   lot of money, but it's not a lot of money to meta. So I think, you know, if Epic's doing this,

03:21:52   somebody else will, you mentioned porn and we can laugh because porn is funny in a way, but porn,

03:21:57   porn also is very popular. And if you think like, if you think like, I think that software tends to

03:22:07   comp complex software tends to be better in a native app than in a web app, then like the

03:22:14   argument now for the fact that the Apple did won't allow porn in the app store is that, well, you

03:22:19   know, the good news is safaris out there and there's zillions of porn sites that you can access

03:22:25   all you want on the web. But I think you can get ready or right, right, right. You can,

03:22:31   or HBO Max, right? But if all if all you want is porn, you're you're you're not lacking on the

03:22:36   iPhone. But could you get a better porn experience through a native app, right? And for something

03:22:42   like a two way camera where you see them and they see you might work a lot should, in theory,

03:22:48   work a lot better in an app. And maybe, you know, processing payments through their custom processor

03:22:53   through an app might be better than doing it through the web. So I think you're right. I

03:22:57   think there will be a porn store or store full of porn stars. And I it's also very true. It's an

03:23:05   America society wise has a it's our pure our puritanical roots from the founding of the

03:23:12   country. We have a more puritanical view of porn than other countries in Europe, especially and

03:23:19   Europe and Europeans see that as a source of pride, like in a way that Americans are, in my opinion,

03:23:27   rightfully proud of our freedom of the press and freedom free speech. Europeans are proud of the

03:23:34   fact that porn is more acceptable there and that Amsterdam has had a red light district since

03:23:41   forever and prostitution is not as frowned upon morally or ethically. And so I think the European

03:23:48   Union, if there is a successful or multiple successful porn app stores for the iPhone,

03:23:54   again, we'd see that as a win, right? That Apple was never going to allow it. Apple still doesn't

03:24:00   allow it outside the EU. But thanks to us and our wonderful DMA law, now all the proud citizens of

03:24:06   the EU have a better porn experience on their iPhones than people outside the EU. It is funny.

03:24:13   It's I agree. It is funny. But I also think it's true. I don't think it's the case that no one's

03:24:18   going to use it. I think there's going to be an epic game store. I hope it's successful. I think

03:24:23   that would be interesting and neat. Yeah. Will there be others? I don't know.

03:24:27   I think there will be and I'll give you my list of five opportunities that I do think exist under

03:24:35   the new DMA rules. But let me step back just to further make that one point I was making about

03:24:42   the spectrum of business attractiveness and margin challenge of operating on the app source.

03:24:50   I should know these exact numbers because I've read them 100 times and I'm trying to channel

03:24:55   my best Eric Seufert. But I believe it was in one of his updates or one of Ben Thompson's updates

03:25:00   talking about the revenue per user in Europe is actually significantly lower than the revenue per

03:25:07   user in the US. And then you combine that with the fact that WhatsApp either monetizes very little,

03:25:15   then Instagram monetizes, I think the best of all of them. And then the Facebook blue app monetizes

03:25:21   less than that. So let's say in Europe, I think it's closer to the single digit, low single digit

03:25:29   euros per user per year in the EU compared to the US. And so let's just, I mean, I don't know the

03:25:37   exact numbers I should, but let's say it's $4 for euros a year per user. Paying 50 cents out of $4

03:25:45   is a lot, that's 12.5%. So that's actually on a margin basis, a pretty big hit and actually

03:25:55   fairly close to your 15 and 30% if it were, let's say a subscription and at the second year they

03:26:02   start paying 15%. And so that again, to my point is that even though it is a new opportunity,

03:26:14   the amount apps are actually going to pay as a percentage of the revenue can still be actually

03:26:21   crazy high. But the opportunities I see, so to flip this around is that there's, like you were

03:26:26   saying, kind of hacks and loopholes around this, right? So you could start an app store that was

03:26:32   all paid up front. And these are some of the ideas I was kicking around. Like maybe I should go raise

03:26:37   money and go build my own European app store where I can flaunt the app store rules and do whatever

03:26:42   I want with innovative utility apps and other apps. And so the way to get around some of this

03:26:48   is that you charge. And there's actually a ton of apps starting to do this on the web. It can be a

03:26:54   dark pattern where they charge a dollar to start your free trial, but then they get your credit

03:26:59   card on file and then they can charge you whatever they want and the subscription fee is really high.

03:27:03   I've seen, and that's actually another argument for Apple's payments being very friendly,

03:27:07   comparatively. But if you have a strong value prop and you just say it's a dollar,

03:27:13   enough people will likely do that if your value prop is strong enough. And then you have things

03:27:20   like AAA games or more well-known apps and other stuff where you can get around that with charging

03:27:30   some kind of fee upfront. And then, I mean, you do have tons of high average revenue per user apps.

03:27:37   Yeah. I think Fortnite will qualify for that. There might be a zillion users who never pay anything,

03:27:43   but Epic knows what the average user pays and they know how the whales who love to buy the outfits

03:27:50   and the dances and whatever else there is for sale, they know the average they make per user.

03:27:55   Right. But I mean, Fortnite's actually probably an example where it's actually quite low. Like,

03:28:00   they're the canonical ultra freemium where the whales are paying $10,000, but on average,

03:28:07   it's like 25 cents per user per year monetization because they have this massive freemium.

03:28:11   Oh, you think it's that low? I think it's higher than that. I don't think they'd be making it.

03:28:15   It may be higher than that, but my point is just that it's on the lower side. It's not like,

03:28:20   the apps I'm talking about more of like high average revenue per user, like the pro-sumer apps,

03:28:26   I mean, Microsoft would be a good example. Like they could open a store selling Microsoft Word

03:28:31   and Excel and other apps like that where their average revenue per user is going to be quite high

03:28:37   where the 50 cents is like nothing. It really is just like 2% or 3% or whatever.

03:28:42   So I do think there's opportunities for that. I think to my earlier point about getting rejected

03:28:48   so many times, like there's opportunities to do innovative things that Apple doesn't currently

03:28:52   allow on the app store, even within the current APIs that I think would be attractive enough to

03:28:58   get attention and find a way, again, around the core technology fee. And then B2B and pro-sumer

03:29:06   apps. Yeah, I think there's a ton of opportunity here. There is some risk though. And one of the

03:29:14   things I'm hoping Apple will do at some point, whether forced to or not, is allow for some kind

03:29:22   of cap on the core technology fee that if an app goes viral, because that's one of the big risks.

03:29:30   I talked to a lot of developers about it. Well, yeah, probably 99.999% of developers are never

03:29:37   going to get a million downloads in the EU, but there's going to be that one developer who does.

03:29:42   Well, David Smith and Widget Smith is the perfect example. And I mean, he's been upfront because he

03:29:47   exploded in popularity when Widget Smith went literally viral, like with TikTokers saying,

03:29:53   "Got to get this app, Widget Smith, because look what you can do. A, B, and C." And some other

03:29:57   TikTokers all followed each other and made their own things that they could do with Widget Smith.

03:30:01   And all of a sudden, Widget Smith went from, "Hey, pretty popular by the standards of David Smith's

03:30:06   other apps, which are all great," to millions of users very quickly. So for him, if it had

03:30:13   been a 50 cent per user over a million, I think he tweeted it or I don't think it was only private,

03:30:20   but it's very obvious. It would have bankrupt him if they had tried to collect the money instantly.

03:30:24   And paying more than 100% of revenue to Apple.

03:30:26   Right, because there was no nice scale. Like if you're imagining that, "Oh, you're getting to

03:30:32   800, 900,000 users and now you can prepare to hit that limit and you think you're going to get to a

03:30:38   million and then you get to a million point one and you're only paying $50,000 on the 100,000

03:30:45   over a million and you can adjust the way you're monetized. If you feel like, "Ooh, if we keep

03:30:50   growing, this might be tight, we can make adjustments." But if you suddenly go from

03:30:55   500,000 users to 10 million users because you went viral on TikTok, you've got a $4.5 million bill.

03:31:03   And so that's where taking advantage of these opportunities either needs to be a big company

03:31:11   that knows the risk and has the financial backing and tolerance for that level of risk or Apple

03:31:20   needs to find some way to cap the risk for smaller developers. Because right now I wouldn't recommend

03:31:26   it for small developers. If you run a freemium app, it's not a good idea to accept the new

03:31:31   terms generally because will you likely hit the million downloads? No, but if you do and Apple

03:31:37   doesn't give any provision for getting out of it, you're screwed. Right. And that makes me wonder

03:31:41   back to my point of Apple. I do think genuinely designing this to be used. And again, the fact

03:31:48   that it does not address all the complaints and perhaps none of the complaints of their

03:31:53   most vehement critics, but that the DMA wasn't written to satisfy those critics either. It

03:31:58   doesn't satisfy everyone, but it does. It might be interesting for some, and that doesn't mean

03:32:03   it's uncompliant with the DMA. But I do think that in terms of what would we do if we had to

03:32:09   do this all over again, seeing how that mobile world evolved, I think on the forefront of Apple's

03:32:16   mind or meta and Google and Microsoft and Amazon who've built these apps that get used all the time

03:32:23   and that they don't see any money from. Well, that's not true of Microsoft. Microsoft has

03:32:28   all the office apps in the store. Yeah, they do. They make hundreds of millions and we don't know

03:32:32   what backdoor deal is. Microsoft did. And then same with Amazon. Amazon has some things on the app

03:32:38   store, but you're making a point. There are tons of Uber and Facebook and Uber. Uber is a good

03:32:43   example. Apple almost nothing. Uber's entire business would not exist without the iPhone,

03:32:48   in my opinion. And I've had this argument where I just don't think that if the mobile world had

03:32:53   evolved in the BlackBerry sort of way, that there would have been enough people to make it useful.

03:33:00   Uber's whole premise was that effectively everyone would have a device that could show maps and GPS

03:33:07   and do credit cards and stuff, not just the 5% of people who own smartphones pre-iPhone.

03:33:14   Because I saw a pitch deck recently and the original thing was like, you would just text,

03:33:19   pick me up at work in five minutes. And it's a great pitch deck thing, but it's now looking back,

03:33:26   you can see a million reasons why that doesn't work. Like how do you know they're actually going

03:33:29   to be there in five minutes? And it's so obvious that having that pinpointed location of the driver

03:33:35   and the always on GPS where they can find you and like all the things that made Uber were the

03:33:40   smartphone, but they did start. Didn't they launch right before? Was it the 3G that got a GPS? Because

03:33:49   the original iPhone didn't have full GPS. No, the original iPhone only triangulated between

03:33:55   cell towers. Right. So it was like a 3G, which was released. I guess that was released in 2008

03:34:01   and they didn't launch in 2009. But it was, yeah, it's interesting. But to your point, the Uber has

03:34:08   made a ton of money and built an entire business on these technologies, whether they could have

03:34:12   built very unlikely that they could have built what they have today, whether or not they started

03:34:18   before GPS or whatnot. Yeah. And I remember when Uber came out, even with GPS, it was inaccurate

03:34:24   enough that there were often problems where the car would show up on the wrong side of the block,

03:34:27   like in New York City, like you're on 42nd Street, and they think you're on 43rd Street around the

03:34:33   corner or something like that. But I do I just I don't know, I could be wrong. But I do think that

03:34:38   these rules were designed basically with all these billion dollar companies aren't paying us anything,

03:34:43   how could we get money from them and left over, unthought of are the the long tail of smaller

03:34:51   developers who have hundreds of thousands of dollars or maybe low millions of dollars of

03:34:57   revenue, where and and a much lower revenue per user that this these rules are just unpalable to

03:35:06   that's okay, because for 99% of those small developers, the current situation with the small

03:35:12   developer programs actually pretty good deal generally, like you get all the billing

03:35:17   infrastructure and the access to the platform and everything else from 15%. It's not that bad.

03:35:22   It's really not. All right. I said at the front, I should have had you on the show years ago. And

03:35:27   I think the runtime the runtime we've gotten to is proof that I was right. I was correct. I made

03:35:33   a grievous error by waiting until now to have you on the show, David, but we've got to wrap it up at

03:35:38   some point. I want to thank our sponsors at squarespace.com/talkshow and our good friends one more

03:35:47   time I get to say the word nuts nuts.com/the talk show. David's great, great weather app that you

03:35:55   all should immediately if you didn't pause the podcast halfway through to go download it is

03:36:00   weather up. Just search for weather up in the App Store and you'll get it. Is that the best URL or

03:36:05   is there a better URL than just search search in the app for weather app does actually find it

03:36:11   thankfully. So do you know we're not paying you to search for weather up bird we're just encouraging

03:36:16   you strongly and telling you it is absolutely worth your time. And absolutely do not miss the

03:36:23   widgets in weather up it is if if you look at the app, you're like, I don't know if this is the

03:36:29   weather app for me and the app itself, which I think is great. I love the map first presentation.

03:36:34   Don't skip the widgets before you make your decision. It is that key. David is active on

03:36:40   Twitter at Dr. Barnard, Dr. Barnard. My middle name is Richard. That's where that came from.

03:36:49   But it's your doctor. Yeah, but I've known that I've known that you must have I didn't know your

03:36:54   middle name exactly. But I figured it was your middle name issue. But I've always and I knew

03:36:58   you weren't a medical doctor, or you don't seem like the type with a PhD either just but not in

03:37:05   my mind. In my mind, your Twitter handle has always been Dr. Bernard and in the other guy,

03:37:10   he was on my show a couple years ago. But I don't know if you're familiar with the political

03:37:13   economic columnist Matt Iglesias. He's he's on substack. Now he was a founder of Vox, but he's

03:37:21   his name is Matt. Y-G-L-E-S-I-S. I'm not quite sure what the ethnicity of his surname is, but

03:37:30   it's Matt Iglesias with a Y. But his Twitter name is just all mushed together. And even though I

03:37:36   know his name is Matt and he got more Matthew, but he goes by Matt. I've always read his Twitter

03:37:41   handle is Matty. Even Matty Iglesias. So Dr. Bernard. A decade ago, Rene Ritchie, I think it

03:37:49   was on his podcast or something. I've just always thought of you as a doctor of apps.

03:37:53   Yeah, you're a doctor of apps. Yeah, you should be. You're officially a student of the App Store.

03:37:58   You're an unofficial doctor. So thank you for your time. And I will I will have you back on soon.

03:38:03   We'll have to have to have you back on once the dust settles on on how much of this DMA stuff is

03:38:09   compliant and what gets adjusted and what doesn't. Thanks and good luck with weather up. Everybody

03:38:14   remember that weather up. Thanks.