Are indie hackers moving to Apple for payments?

For the past year or so I've quietly been collecting RSS feeds from indie hackers. Now it is time for me to actually make a habit out of using it to help people become more "indiependent". 🎉

If you missed it, Apple recently reduced the App Store fees from 30% to 15% for small businesses. (Was this directly related to DHH's Twitter rants? Quite possibly. 🤷🏻‍♀️)

I think this is actually changing how indie hackers are selling their apps.

I came across this blog post by an indie hacker yesterday, Tyler Young from Unbound. He decided Apple's cut was enough of a pull for him to move away from Paddle.

In other words, he completely stopped selling his app through his website:

With the announcement of the App Store Small Business Program, I’ve stopped selling Unbound directly via the web site. I thought it would be worth explaining how I came to that decision.The original motivation for selling the app directly was simple: Apple took a 30% cut of sales, whereas Paddle, the payment processor & authentication tool I was using to sell directly only took [not-publicly-disclosed-but-substantially-less-than–30]%. With the drop in Mac App Store fees, that gap has shrunk considerably… to the point that it’s no longer worth keeping Paddle around.

He goes on to cite his reasons:

  1. Direct sales are a worse experience for customers
  2. Direct sales increase the overhead of each release
  3. Direct sales are a security and privacy liability

Summarizing it basically as:

It’s just not worth it anymore.

The reality for many indie hackers is that dealing with finances, tax and support are a huge burden not worth stressing about.

I wonder if there are there any other indie hackers here making the move? Or not?

  1. 10

    Ultimately, this is just another loss for the web if this becomes a trend. Apple and Google could easily offer better native support for web apps, but they don't, and so you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to make and charge for desktop software.

    Let's say this was just a web app, and not a Mac App Store app. All of his complaints would disappear:

    1. Direct sales would be a normal experience. We all know how to put our credit card into a Stripe checkout form, or select Paypal, etc.
    2. His overhead wouldn't be increased. He wouldn't have to cut two builds. He wouldn't even have builds, because it's a web app.
    3. I don't quite understand his point about third parties. Apple is just as much of a third party as Paddle or Stripe. Any of them could mess up at any time. But it's so unlikely that it's not worth worrying about imo, unless you're going with some tiny unheard of third party.

    All that said, given the realities, I can't blame him for switching. The 30% --> 15% revenue cut is insanely appealing.

    1. 2

      I think you nailed it when you commented that if if was a web app and not a native it would be different. Selling a native iOS app through a website is pure friction.

      Now folks can use the channel that is most suitable for the product.

      This has actually made me consider re-launching the songbox native app.... although to fair I use Stripe just now and that wins over absolutely everyone in both user experience AND cost.

  2. 2

    I think the trend will definitely shift to Apple
    but as far as I understand apple could easily change the price back to 30% so this is a risky game You can also check https://homework-writer.com/ for some inspiration

  3. 2

    It has been my understanding if you offer IAP for app store products you have to use their payment system or they block you from publishing, meaning you have to accept whatever cut they decide to go with. It is not really a choice. Google still takes 30% btw. It is a tradeoff for being in their marketplace.

    1. 2

      This is true but the definition of IAP is sometimes misleading. If you’re selling access to content, for example - that can be accessed on other platforms such as a website then you can’t use an IAP.

      You only use an IAP for something that is both delivered in the app and consumed in the app, like a power up in a game for example.

      I’ve worked on apps in the past where this really caught me out (selling access to digital content that was available on websites as well as on native apps, and also selling physical products through a native app. Neither of these are IAP use cases).

      Apologies if this is not news to you, but it may be to some people. This is, for example how Amazon can sell on their app without Apple getting a cut.

      It’s also why for a long time Netflix didn’t take payments via their app and you had to sign up on the website.

      1. 2

        Netflix and Amazon don't sell digital content via IAPs because they don't want to give Apple 30%, not because they aren't allowed to. I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to - you can definitely sell digital content via an IAP that is also available outside of the app.

  4. 1

    Insightful. I am currently using paddle I will check Apple.

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