Are 100 App Stores Too Many Or Not Enough?
How will the internet work if every country, state, and municipality makes its own rules about what its residents must be provided? Is it possible to check with over 100 sets of laws, cross-reference them with your app’s user base, while maintaining processes and procedures for 100 localized app stores?
Small developers get a lot from the app stores that link them to the market. Beyond the tools, training, and marketing services, they get to borrow a global brand that users know and maybe even trust. While the model isn’t without friction, and too few still reap outsize rewards, the devs we talk to are generally content with the tradeoffs. The stores take a percentage of revenue to pay for this once apps become successful, so the risk is shared and startups get help early-on (when they need it most). It’s not perfect, but it works, and there are many success stories to prove it. App stores are the gateway to a global market where even the smallest developer house can grow to reach billions – no matter where your desk is.
If you live in the U.S., state legislatures around the country are trying to change this model at the request of billionaires that have already found success. At the end of last week, we sent letters to Arizona and Rhode Island’s state legislatures on just this. They aren’t the first and they certainly won’t be the last.
In the EU, policymakers are using the same tools to tear down global app stores and encourage clones sworn to uphold Europe’s digital sovereignty. In both cases, proponents argue that “saving small developers” justifies the radical change.
While these laws are marketed to sound attractive, they will bring chaos to the developer ecosystem. Destroying the current business models of our ecosystem partners will not make their services free; it will make them disappear. Forced sharing of the digital economy’s assets may bring about a socialist utopia, but it might equally lead to a digital dark age and the death of innovation. In either case, the strong will survive, and the little guys will get crushed.
The Developers Alliance finds legislative efforts to hard-reboot the digital economy highly problematic and short-sighted. We encourage developers everywhere to ask who benefits from these changes, how the ecosystem is likely to reset itself should any of them become law, and what will happen to your business when the dust settles and today’s ecosystem no longer functions. Worst of all, these decisions are justified as being on developers’ behalf. We encourage you to make your voice heard so that these decisions don’t get made without you.
If you’re a developer and these issues concern you, join our volunteer Developer Policy Network so we can share your views with the policymakers driving these issues.