I sent a dozen letters in both English and Korean. No one cared to acknowledge any of them.
By now it should be clear that third-party payment systems are coming to the world’s app stores. I think it’s perfectly fair and very capitalist for the two companies to spar with each other and with global regulators and the courts over changes to a successful business model. At the very least it’s obvious to anyone watching that the two companies share a highly contested market and are pulling no punches. When app stores compete, developers and users both win.
But Korea. The recently passed “Google Law” that some will celebrate for causing the latest softening in-app store policy has a dirty underbelly. It focuses most of its effort on handicapping foreign companies to advantage the locals. The law seeks to both open payment systems (which is nice, but probably something few devs will be attracted to given the in-house options are better) AND to open app stores to competition. While sideloading is something Android already supports, and something that breaks the Apple business model, the wrinkle in Korea is a mandate on developers to place their apps in ALL stores, not just the one or two that they prefer.
Things get real when regulations reach all the way down to the developer community. We all shrug when Apple is scolded for not being more open but is it cool that to play in Korea developers MUST place their app in every alternative Korean store? Pay everyone’s fee? Do everyone’s paperwork? We’ve seen this in China (where some locations demand paperwork *on actual paper*), and it simply raises barriers to digital trade even higher. No one wins here.
On a personal note, it pains me to have billionaire American developers lobby against their smaller peers in a foreign country. I appreciate that competition in the digital economy is cut-throat, but I do hope that what goes around, comes around. For those of you ignoring this ill wind know that you’re about to be collateral damage in a Battle Royale.
One thing is certain; the past year has seen some significant changes in how the big app stores value their developer partners. Fees are down across the board, the focus on the developer community remains strong, and I know they appreciate what goodwill in our community can buy them when the horde descends.