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We didn’t take commission on 90% of App Store sales and billings • The Register

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Comment Apple and Epic Games have delivered their final arguments in their California bench trial, but Cupertino is still ratcheting up the charm offensive, revealing the App Store “facilitated” a 24 per cent hike in billings and sales in 2020 to a record $643bn.

The data comes via a study [PDF] from economic consulting outfit The Analysis Group commissioned by Apple. Some of its findings addressed the points of contention raised during the bruising trial with Epic Games.

For example, Apple was forced to defend its anti-steering provisions, which prohibit software developers from pointing to alternative payment methods beyond the walled garden of the App Store. In practice, this means app-makers cannot mention or reference their own payment gateways, where they can process transactions without providing 30 per cent of their revenue to Apple.

The report noted that 90 per cent of total billings and sales occurred beyond the App Store, where Apple would not have been able to take a cut.

Looking at the data, this seemingly included sales of physical goods and services, where Apple didn’t charge a commission, and companies (like Amazon, Uber, and Lyft) that have developed apps specifically for iOS users are “allowed” to use their preferred payment gateways.

During the trial, Apple Fellow Phil Schiller distinguished physical goods from virtual ones by noting the firm was unable to guarantee delivery of the former.

Physical goods and services accounted for the overwhelming majority ($511bn) all of the total “facilitated” app revenue, up 24 per cent from a year ealier. Some $86bn came from digital goods and services, up 41 per cent, with the remaining chicken feed coming from in-app ad sales, which accounted for $46bn and was 4 per cent higher year-on-year.

Apple has tried to link these figures to the earnings of small software developers, highlighting its decision to drop its commission rates from 30 per cent to 15 per cent on small-volume devs in November last year, and pointing to a chart detailing close to three-times growth in earnings for app-makers who make “under $10m a year” since 2015.

But again, that might be misleading as no base figures were given – in fact the “small developer chart” (fig 1) included no financial values at all – and, as the Apple itself noted, the number of small devs increased by 40 per cent in these years.

The Analyst Group further broke down the $643bn figure by category into general retail, travel, food delivery, and so on. Predictably, general retail sales (like those from Amazon) accounted for the vast majority of physical goods and services revenue, totalling $383bn.

This is no surprise. With most brick-and-mortar stores shuttered around the world, and some regions limiting what supermarkets could sell, the only real option was to head online.

The little guys? Not quite

And it was the big players who benefited here, as demonstrated by Amazon.com’s top line for 2020, where revenues jumped more than 34 per cent to $215.9bn. Other large online retailers, like JD and Walmart, also had bumper years.

It’s fair to say that it’s most likely the intrenched retail players with apps on the App Store who benefited last year.

Similarly, the third-largest category, food delivery, is dominated by a handful of large companies, like Uber and Deliveroo. This is a space where smaller vendors are unable to compete. You need a vast moat of venture capital behind your back, as well as the stomach to withstand consecutive years of losses.

This isn’t the only piece of App Store fluffery Apple has published in recent weeks. In May, at the heart of the bench trial with Epic Games, it published a report claiming it stopped $1.5bn worth of fraudulent or suspicious transactions during 2020.

Apple has been repeatedly pressed to justify the 30 per cent cut on its larger developers, and pointed to the safety and security measures in the App Store, as well as other technologies, like the Metal graphics API.

In 2020, Congress estimated Apple’s costs of running the App Store amounted to just $100m, with annual global revenues of $15bn. ®

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I can’t charge my electric car cheaply because I’m too close to an RAF base | Money

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A few months ago I decided to switch energy supplier and moved to Octopus Energy’s Go tariff, principally because it offers cheap electric car charging overnight at a rate of 5p/kWh.

I applied to have the required smart meter installed. But after being given a date, I was later declined on the basis that smart meters cannot work at my address because they interfere with the missile early warning system at RAF Fylingdales.

Initially, I thought this was a joke. I have been involved with the construction of hundreds of new homes in Teesside, all of which have had smart meters installed.

Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for the rollout, has confirmed that this is very real, and smart meters installed in the area will not have had their smart capacity turned on.

I was told that a new meter is being worked upon and will eventually replace those already installed.

Meanwhile, I am having to charge my car at a premium rate of 16.76p/kWh which is costing me about £26 more a week than it would be on the Go tariff.

AM, Guisborough

Given that your house is more than 20 miles from the RAF base in question, I, too, was amazed that this could be an issue, but it is – and also in other areas close to bases.

Smart Meter GB has confirmed this is the case and says it is working on a solution – a communications hub that will enable people living near sensitive RAF sites to use smart meters.

It says these will be offered to customers “in the coming months”.

It adds those in the affected area, who had already had smart meters installed should be able to have the hubs retrofitted.

Meanwhile, Octopus has come up with a solution for your problem. It has offered to add you to the trial of these new meters, which, in turn, will allow you to go on the Go tariff.

It says it hopes to install your new meter before Christmas. It has also said that if you get the log from your charging firm, showing how much electricity you have used for the car since the switch took place, it will retroactively apply the savings that you would have gained had the smart meter worked from the start – a generous offer.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include a phone number. Letters are subject to our terms: gu.com/letters-terms

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China’s Yutu rover spots ‘mysterious hut’ on far side of the Moon

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Cube-shaped object is probably just a rock. Yutu will check it out anyway

China’s Moon rover, Yutu 2, has sent images of a strangely geometric object.…

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Strikepay struck gold at National Startup Awards 2021

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Strikepay, founded by fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, scooped the top award for its fast-growing cash-free tipping tech.

Irish fintech company Strikepay has scooped the top prize at this year’s National Startup Awards.

The start-up, previously called Strike, was founded in 2020 to enable cash-free tipping without the need for a payment terminal or a new app on a customer’s phone.

Its founders, fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, raised €625,000 in seed funding earlier this year and said they intended to seek a further €6.5m in investment by the end of 2021.

Strikepay has already begun acquiring and collaborating with other companies to bolster its product offering. In June, it acquired UK payments rival Gratsi and in April it appointed former Just Eat exec Edel Kinane as its chief growth officer.

Earlier in the year, it teamed up with Camile Thai Kitchen to enable contactless tipping for food delivery drivers and partnered with mobility company Bolt to bring its cashless tipping technology to taxis in Dublin.

Strikepay was one of several winners at the awards ceremony, which was livestreamed last night (2 December).

Other winners included health-tech start-up Stimul.ai, customer analysis tech business Glimpse, and sheep monitoring start-up Cotter Agritech, which has been participating in a new accelerator programme at University College Dublin.

As well as taking the top award, Strikepay also won Best Fintech Startup.

This year marked the 10th year of the National Startup Awards. The event was sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland, Sage, Cronin Accountants and McCann Fitzgerald.

Last year’s top award was given to drone delivery service Manna. The start-up had been working with companies such as Tesco, Just Eat and Camile Thai to test its drones, and has seen further growth since then.

The full list of winners at the 2021 awards, in order of gold, silver and bronze, are:

Startup of the Year 2021

Strikepay

Early Stage Startup

Imvizar, CyberPie, The Fifth Dimension

Emerge Tech Startup

Xunison, Helgen Technologies, LiveCosts.com

Fintech Startup

Strikepay, ID-Pal, Itus Secure Technologies

Food and Drink Startup

Fiid, SiSú, Thanks Plants

Social or Sustainable Startup

Altra, Peer, Fifty Shades Greener

Product and Manufacturing Startup

Cotter Agritech, Orca Board, Filter

E-commerce and Retail Startup

FinalBend, The Book Resort, Nufields

Tech Startup

Glimpse, LegitFit, Examfly

Medtech Startup

Stumul.ai, SymPhysis Medical, Bonafi

Covid Pivot or Response Startup

Zoom Party/Find A Venue, KSH Group, Streat School

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