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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.
TinyGrab Project Manager.