by Brandon Butler
Tim Cook Forgets About Shareware, $99 Developer Fees in App Store Revisionist History 7/31/2020

Rob Pegoraro for Forbes, ‘What Tim Cook Left Out Of His Version Of App Store History’:

“When the App Store was created, the prevailing distribution options available to software developers at the time did not work well,” Cook says. “Brick-and-mortar stores charged high fees and had limited reach. Physical media like CDs had to be shipped and were hard to update.” […]

“Tim Cook is misleading: when the App Store was created, developers were selling and distributing apps over the web, and it worked wonderfully,” emailed Brent Simmons, a longtime Mac and iOS developer of such apps as NetNewsWire. “We started selling over the web in the mid ’90s.”

I have fond memories of shareware, which not only allowed me, as a youth on the early Internet, to try new software but also occasionally pay for incredibly affordable applications and games. Ambrosia Software was the recipient of a few of my weekly allowances for games like Apeiron and Escape Velocity. Then there was BBEdit, Graphic Converter, and Fetch, which allowed me to make my first website and upload it to the Internet. 

Even today, downloading from the web is still a huge part of how many Mac users get applications for their computer, from a third-party web browser to games and utilities which can’t work within Apple’s strict sandboxing rules. I know for a fact many Apple employees on Macs use software not from the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store is the last place I search for software, and it seems a little shameful for Apple to pretend like this massive and long-lasting community of developers — many who still pay $99/year to be part of the Apple Developer Program — simply doesn’t exist. When Apple says they’ve never made a cent from 84% of their iOS devs, the big asterisk is “*Not including the annual $99 developer fee, and the cost of buying a Mac to develop on, and if you’re selling iOS software, probably a few iOS devices to test on, too.” Apple knows very well they make money from 100% of their developers, and they are very aware of how software distribution on the Internet worked before the App Store — and lying to Congress is not a good look for Tim Cook and the most valuable company in the world.