“There are many things that they could do to make the app work within the rules that we have. We would love for them to do that.
“You download the app and it doesn’t work, that’s not what we want on the store.”
“The issue exemplified by Hey is that there are cross-platform apps/services that don’t want to use Apple’s system, period, full stop. [...]
“They’re not trying to collect money from users within their apps by circumventing Apple’s IAP APIs with their own payment processing — they’re simply willing to forgo in-app commerce completely and sign up all their users on their own, outside their app.”
“Apple didn’t change their rules. What happened is Apple changed their interpretation of the rule [...]
“It’s corrosive. It’s bad for the platform. It’s bad for the culture [...] It’s quite blatantly Apple taking money because they can. Apple didn’t build that. They didn’t build an email service. Apple can be a gatekeeper and they can extract it.”
“By making these rules, and thinking if we make these rules, we will have enough power to force this to happen. History has shown it just doesn't happen. No one is going to give you that money. And so all it does is make apps worse in the app store, apps that are inexplicably worse [...]
“This is not a situation where interests and incentives are correctly aligned to make better and better apps. Everything is aligned to be oppositional and to result in us getting worse apps. Us getting worse apps, in the end, reflects poorly back on Apple [...]
“Stop trying to make fetch happen.”
“Apple has made exceptions for some services that fall into what it calls a 'reader' category and has given other services a pass for a variety of reasons; it has even struck individual deals to bypass grabbing a cut. Still, Apple has decided thus far that Hey.com does not merit special treatment, even though there are also some subscription email apps that don’t offer in-app purchase technology and are allowed to operate on Apple’s platform (for now).”
On June 15, Apple rejected an update to a previously-approved iOS app called Hey. The app is for a new email service created by a company called Basecamp.
The rationale for said rejection was that Hey offered a subscription via-website without also offering a parallel subscription via Apple's in-app purchase (IAP). Apple takes a 30% cut of IAP revenues during an app's first year, and 15% thereafter.
In defending Apple's policy to TechCrunch, Phil Schiller stated (as quoted above), "You download the app and it doesn’t work, that’s not what we want on the store."
If this site is doing its job, it's pointing out the uneven nature by which Apple chooses to enforce this standard, as well as the types of businesses it has decided to extract economic rent from.
I'm an independent developer myself, and I don't have the ability to spend years on my own product only to have Apple change the rules on me mid-stream. I have a vested interest in Apple changing its practices here.
Yes, the App Store has been gerrymandered to carve out exceptions for many different types of companies, such as Netflix, for a long time. Reasonable people can disagree about whether Apple is uniquely entitled to email revenue but not digital movie revenue.
However, according to Ben Thompson of Stratechery, the rules applying to IAP and Hey are recent, unwritten reinterpretations of policy for software-as-a-service companies like Hey.
You can see this in the above case of Fastmail. They provide a very similar-in-scope service / app combination as Hey, and have now been required by Apple to newly provide subscriptions via IAP.
Here's the first Twitter thread I saw on the issue by Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson.
Here's the original TechCrunch article quoted above by Matthew Panzarino.
Here's coverage from NBC News by David Ingram.
Here's an article at The Verge by Nick Slatt.
Here's a long-form company response by Basecamp CEO Jason Fried.