TinyGrab & Apple’s App Stores
February 21st, 2011
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Posted in News |

TinyGrab 2.0

We love Apple, we really do. Let’s face it, without them TinyGrab just wouldn’t exist and none of us would be reading this right now; for this we’re incredibly indebted to them. The homebrew and independent app development community for OS X is wonderful and vibrant. It’s profitable and turns out amazingly good apps. Until iOS was on the scene I think it’s safe to say that the OS X development community was top dog. OS X users are also the most supportive when it comes to independent apps, unlike their Windows counterparts, they’re actually used to paying for software that doesn’t come in a box.

Right now we’re in a spot of bother. TinyGrab’s the strongest we’ve ever been. We have an incredibly tight and talented team and we’re getting ready to kick ass again, but we’ve just hit a major setback in the form of Apple’s new guidelines for subscriptions in iOS and OS X apps. As many of you know TinyGrab is actually a free app, our revenue model comes from selling premium accounts through our site. TinyGrab was one of the first apps around where you had to have an account in order to use the software. We prefer this method of buying software compared to pesky license keys for a couple of reasons. First of all it reduces piracy, you don’t get many people sharing their login details to an online service. The second reason being that you can take your TinyGrab account with you anywhere. Install the app on as many machines as you want, on as many platforms, all without additional cost. It’s fair on our users and also allows us to introduce a nifty little web based account system.

Apple would now like a slice of our pie, which is fair enough. We’re more than willing to give Apple a cut of the sales that they assist in, but we can’t. They simply won’t let us. Never mind the fact that 30% is a ridiculous amount to ask us to fork over, considering that we already pay $99 a year for the privilege to develop apps for the Mac App Store and a further $99 a year to develop apps for the iOS store. Never mind that Apple also get a cut of any revenue that we generate from selling our apps through their stores, they now want in on our account and subscription service. However by doing this they’ve just prevented and locked us out of ever being able to introduce the TinyGrab app into the Mac App Store, as well as not being able to ship updates to the TinyGrab iPhone app. Here’s why…

Remember that account system we sell via TinyGrab.com? Well if you’re a paying customer it actually unlocks features in the app which are closed off to free users. These are features like FTP uploads. Infringement Number 1:

“Apps that unlock or enable additional features or functionality with mechanisms other than the App Store, except as approved in section 11.13, will be rejected”

We currently sell our accounts from TinyGrab.com through PayPal. We can’t actually use Apple’s In App Purchasing system because they won’t pass on a user’s data to us, they also prevent you from purchasing goods that exist outside of the app and the app store. So, for example, it prevents you from actually buying a TinyGrab account because the account is a real world purchase and doesn’t lay within the jurisdiction of Apple. Infringement Numbers 2 & 3.

“Apps utilizing a system other than the In App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an app will be rejected”

“Apps using IAP to purchase physical goods or goods and services used outside of the application will be rejected”

The move to TinyGrab 2.0 will see accounts that expire after a limited time if you don’t renew your subscription. Infringement Number 4.

“Apps containing “rental” content or services that expire after a limited time will be rejected”

And the final infringements are, of course, about the IAP revenue split.

“Apps that link to external mechanisms for purchasing content to be used in the app, such as a “buy” button that goes to a web site to purchase a digital book, will be rejected”

“Apps offering subscriptions must do so using IAP, Apple will share the same 70/30 revenue split with developers for these purchases, as set forth in the Developer Program License Agreement.”

You might think that these are simple issues to fix, but we can’t actually fix them all. We can’t provide a free TinyGrab version in the app store and then sell a version on our site, because you still require an account to login. Apple wants a slice of that pie and we can’t give it to them; in other words they’ve locked us out.

We really want to be part of the app revolution on OS X and iOS but it looks as though that may no longer be able to happen, until Apple fix these issues and welcome us in again. I’m sad to say that as of today we can no longer provide development support to iOS, officially, through the app store. Until Apple loosen up on their restrictions we’re ceasing all active development on TinyGrab for iPhone. Please don’t see this as a punishment, we hate to have to do this to our users, but we’ve been fenced out. Today I’m also having to announce that TinyGrab also won’t be seen in the Mac App Store. Unfortunately we can’t be a part of this wonderful purchasing platform for the same reasons that we can no longer officially support TinyGrab for iPhone.

Luckily for TinyGrab for Mac users we still have TinyGrab.com and Apple haven’t, yet, prevented anyone from downloading apps from the world wide web and installing them on their Macs without the Mac App Store. So we aren’t going anywhere just yet. In fact we’re even trying to get a stable version of TinyGrab 2.0 for Mac out this week.

Apple’s new stance on subscriptions and accounts in applications is incredibly disappointing. At the moment we’re working incredibly closely with Intel to get TinyGrab for Windows onto their AppUp store. Intel have been incredibly friendly and helpful, they currently don’t have a subscription model in place but still allow us to have our app on their store and sell TinyGrab accounts through our own site. When they introduce a subscription service we’ll more than happily switch our payment system over in order to give Intel their fair share of any sales we make. I’m incredibly happy to be working with a company that is actively encouraging and working closely with developers in order to get it right. Apple’s new greedy model doesn’t just affect the developers of applications, it also has a horrible adverse effect on end users.

We love all of our supporters and all of our users. Thank you for continuing to use TinyGrab and for being the best community we could ever hope for. We promise to keep developing the best simple and social screenshot sharing service for Mac, Windows and whatever new platforms tickle our fancy.

Chris Leydon
TinyGrab Project Manager.

This entry was posted on Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 5:27 pm and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

42 Responses to “TinyGrab & Apple’s App Stores”

  1. Vassilis Mastorostergios Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    We’re 100% behind you on this guys. Good call.

  2. Chris Jones Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    This post includes the word ‘incredibly’ a literally incredible number of times 😉

  3. Rob H Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Yeah I agree, it’s really stupid for Apple as they’re forcing people out.

    If anything then it should be optional, perhaps that it would be easier for some developers to go through Apple rather than to set up their own monetisation scheme.

    Best of luck with what’s to come in TinyGrab!

    -Rob

  4. Steve Jobs Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Hey Guys

    Work your numbers a little bit and then tell me what you think you are actually losing out on. 30% or 70% towards your bottom-line.

  5. Bob Foster Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    @Chris Seven uses is not literally incredible. However, your one use of ‘literally’ is.

  6. Too greedy? A shift in the force on Dion Almaer's Blog Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    […] is changing the tide though. Many of these companies will be looking much more strongly at other platforms, and investing in […]

  7. Jon Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    I fully support this decision so long as you guys restore iOS development when (not if – because we all knew this was a stupid, snowball of an idea) Apple reverses its decision.

  8. TinyGrab Fears Falling Victim To Apple’s Subscription Policies, Developers Post Open Letter. | RazorianFly Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    […] They write: Apple would now like a slice of our pie, which is fair enough. We’re more than willing to give Apple a cut of the sales that they assist in, but we can’t. They simply won’t let us. Never mind the fact that 30% is a ridiculous amount to ask us to fork over, considering that we already pay $99 a year for the privilege to develop apps for the Mac App Store and a further $99 a year to develop apps for the iOS store. Never mind that Apple also get a cut of any revenue that we generate from selling our apps through their stores, they now want in on our account and subscription service. However by doing this they’ve just prevented and locked us out of ever being able to introduce the TinyGrab app into the Mac App Store, as well as not being able to ship updates to the TinyGrab iPhone app. Here’s why… Remember that account system we sell via TinyGrab.com? Well if you’re a paying customer it actually unlocks features in the app which are closed off to free users. These are features like FTP uploads. Infringement Number 1: “Apps that unlock or enable additional features or functionality with mechanisms other than the App Store, except as approved in section 11.13, will be rejected” […]

  9. Mark Suman Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Looks like Readibility is in the same boat as you. My company just launched a SaaS iPad app in the App Store last week and we could easily fall victim to these new restrictions. Apple is about to catch a whole bunch of backlash from developers if they don’t rectify the situation. Netflix, Dropbox, Skype…so many apps are in jeopardy.

  10. TinyGrab Stops Developing On iOS Platform. Will Dropbox Follow? « Keith's World Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    […] to a posting on the company’s blog, they explain their […]

  11. Ant Says:
    February 21st, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    Looks like it’s Android for you then, or better still web apps. As a potholer, I’d prefer the Android solution!

  12. TinyGrab declines to sell subscriptions through the App Store « Mac City Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:35 am

    […] as get rejected and decided not to play the subscription game. Now a service called TinyGrab has posted that it won't be developing for the App Store because of "Apple's new greedy model." The company says that it was looking forward to providing […]

  13. JD Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:49 am

    Hey Fandroids and Apple haters… go troll somewhere else.

    I personally think Apple has every right to ask for a cut. The irony is all these little companies do the exact same thing, yet when someone else wants to get paid for supplying a huge resource and advertising, they whine like its unfair.

    Everyone who thinks this is some personal “win” to stay out of the app store should never try run a business. If you did, you’d be out of business in less than 2 days guaranteed.

    Apple has a right to charge for the huge resources and attention it gives. Many of us will simply avoid apps that stay out… many won’t even know they exist.

  14. Chris Leydon Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:52 am

    Hey JD,

    I’m afraid you’ve missed the point. We really don’t mind Apple taking their 30% cut. In fact, we WANT them to take their 30% cut… they just won’t let us. They’re new model forces us out of the iOS App store not because we object to the subscription cut, but because their new rules and regulations prevent us from even being in the app store in the first place.

    Best wishes,

    Chris Leydon
    TinyGrab Project Manager
    chris@tinygrab.com

  15. Richard Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:10 am

    @JD2: How could they have known something just announced last week before last week?

    Just in general, I hadn’t even considered that you wouldn’t be able to tie to a web account you create purchased through the App Store. That really does suck. I do think 30% is a bit high with some of the tight profit margins, and do agree that their guidelines aren’t right when they’re affecting pricing for systems OUTSIDE Apple, but the fact that you can’t tie an account back is just flat out bad. You’d think they’d offer some sort of OAUTH or something that a developer could use to tie logins back or something.

  16. makemineamac Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:15 am

    I’m afraid JD2 is correct. This all seems a little too opportunistic to me.

    If you wanted to find a way to make it work, you could make it work via different mechanisms than you’re currently using. It’s a choice.

    As for user data, I don’t want my data being shared with every developer that I choose to make a purchase from.

    All Apple is doing is streamlining the OS to provide a more consistent experience for its users, and that is fine by me.

    Really hope you guys will reconsider and look at different ways you could continue to profit from this platform.

  17. Jamie Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:32 am

    @Chris, Are you sure you can’t tie an in-app subscription back to a web account? If not, that seems like a pretty big oversight on Apple’s part, considering the large number of apps that use that type of functionality.

  18. Ryan Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:36 am

    This JD poster is obviously a little batty. You should reject his posts from the blog as is your right.

    Maybe Apple will alter the subscription rules a tiny bit to allow for this sort of thing? Hope so. Good luck.

    – Ryan

  19. Jamie Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Did you raise your issue with Apple before posting this?

  20. Grace Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 6:08 am

    sorry if this was answered in the post somewhere and i missed it, but i’m curious.

    for those of us that already have/use the tinygrab iphone app, will it remain functional?

  21. John Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Dosent RememberTheMilk do just that – you can buy subscription in iOS app and it goes back to your account?

  22. Tim Acheson Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Apple is a designer-lable. Apple users are fashion victims. Every Apple product is an overpriced shiny version of something available much cheaper and better elsewhere. Apple stands for design and marketing over substance.

  23. lhoracek Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Well Android has almost the same model. Otherwise you would publish free app and then use some in-app mechanism other then IAP (AppStore or Market picke any) to unlock paid features of the app withou sharing any profit. Well great for you, but without that share for distributor, there would not be any distribution channel that good as AppStore or Market (Especially Market, as it is the only source of revenue for Google Android part)

  24. TinyGrab & Apple’s App Stores (Chris Leydon/TinyGrab Blog) | Activities for older people Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    […] Leydon / TinyGrab Blog:TinyGrab & Apple’s App Stores  —  We love Apple, we really do.  […]

  25. tobascom Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    J.D. wrote :
    Hey Fandroids and Apple haters… go troll somewhere else….

    Apple has a right to charge for the huge resources and attention it gives …

    I believe that any contributors should stick to arguing their case ; it’s much more impressive than denigrating other contributors.

    I believe you did not read ( or maybe could not understand ) the article, that here there’s no reluctance to pay for services rendered; there is a bar put on by the supplier of the service. The supplier has changed the rule. That’s his right. The point is that the rule-change is effectively barring previous customers.

  26. David Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    You guys should just redevelop your product to fit within the guidelines. This suggestion that “it can’t be done” is just a blatant exaggeration.

  27. Gregg Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Wondering if 37 signals will get hit with this as well? Or because all their accounts exist outside the app prior to it’s use they will be clear without hassle. Does change a business model greatly for those wanting to launch an app based service that has other customer surface such as on the web or on a Mac.

  28. Glenn Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hi Chris,

    just to start off, i’m not an app developer so the really technical details i can’t speak for, but it seems a little strange that you would be the only company with this problem?

    in your article you state that apple should change, but why can’t you figure out a solution that works?

    I mean: Evernote has a free and paying model outside of Apple and the holds the same concept of “cloud content” (whether this is a tinygrab or piece of text doesn’t matter).

    thing is, i understand that your tinygrab-philosophy might not be the same as apple’s but I can’t imagine that this problem can not be overcome?

    Please correct me if i am wrong, or misunderstand the situation.

  29. Clarification Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    […] I wrote on TinyGrab’s awkward position with the Apple iOS and Mac App Stores. It turned out to be a blog post which fell under a lot of scrutiny and attracted a lot of […]

  30. dmilith Says:
    February 22nd, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Your second payment method is hated (read -it’s rejecting all my payments) paypal, so I’m unable to buy Your nice app, even if I really want to..

  31. iPhone dev knocks Apple over vague new sub rules | Macworld Middle East Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 2:18 am

    […] Leydon, who develops TinyGrab , a screenshot- and photo-sharing service, announced that he was stopping work on an update to the iOS app that already exists in the App Store because of Apple's new […]

  32. Top 4 Publisher Objections to Apple Subscriptions « The Joe Lake Blog The Joe Lake Blog Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 2:58 am

    […] technically serve up its own content. And yesterday TinyGrab, an service for sharing screenshots, said it wouldn’t pursue an iOS app in light of the new […]

  33. TinyGrab Stops Developing On iOS Platform. Will Dropbox Follow? :: App Advice Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 3:53 am

    […] to a posting on the company’s blog, they explain their […]

  34. kevin Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 6:19 am

    You keep saying the incredible app system. Well that incredible apple app program just put you out of biz! Apple system sucks!

  35. Top 4 Publisher Objections to Apple Subscriptions Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 1:49 pm

    […] technically serve up its own content. And yesterday TinyGrab, an service for sharing screenshots, said it wouldn’t pursue an iOS app in light of the new […]

  36. TinyGrab declines to sell subscriptions through the App Store — Pit Bulls and My Life :D Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    […] as get rejected and decide not to play the subscription game. Now, a service called TinyGrab has posted that it won’t be developing for the App Store because of “Apple’s new greedy model.” The company says that it was looking […]

  37. Kevin Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    You dont see it? Apple WANTS those products out of the AppStore, so they can offer them themselves. NetFlix => Apple TV, Dropbox => MobileMe, Skype..well, not really FaceTime, but maybe they have something in store.

  38. Banko Says:
    March 10th, 2011 at 1:55 am

    you are an idiot who doesn’t understand business in the least.

  39. mobile app ideas Says:
    March 30th, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I think that most of Apple applications are very interesting.

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    April 18th, 2011 at 6:14 am

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  41. 4d ultrasounds Says:
    May 11th, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I really Love Apple Applications . I Have Never Seen Any Other.

  42. Anonymous Says:
    May 11th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    @ba9422e96112bd5cb4e8e7b5abd92eda:disqus What “substance” am I missing if I use an Apple product, Tim? Can you clarify?