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Apple Blocks iOS Apps Using Dropbox SDK 356

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the protection-racket dept.
Barence writes with an excerpt from PC Pro: "Dropbox's latest SDK has incurred the wrath of Apple, because users who don't have the Dropbox app installed on their iPhone/iPad are instead pushed to Dropbox's website via the Safari browser. Here, they can click a link to the desktop version of the service, which allows them to buy extra Dropbox storage without Apple taking its usual 30% cut." Reportedly, Dropbox is attempting to strike a deal to resolve the problem.
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Apple Blocks iOS Apps Using Dropbox SDK

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  • by 6031769 (829845) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:24AM (#39868399) Homepage Journal

    What's to stop an iP* user going directly to the dropbox website anyway?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nothing, it's just that Apple's position has always been that if you want to sell anything through an app on their platform they get a 30% cut.

      • Nothing, it's just that Apple's position has always been that if you want to sell anything through an app on their platform they get a 30% cut.

        They do this because Apple claims that it is Apple bringing the clients to the app_developer/service_provider. People seem to accept this distorted view. In reality: a big reason that iPlatforms are successful are because of the apps, where would these gadgets be without Angry Birds, Drop box, etc ? By buying through apple I would accept the same sort of transaction fee that the credit card companies charge merchants, but 30% is just taking the piss.

        But: Apple get away with it because: (a) the cost is on th

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <<richardprice> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:32AM (#39868477)

      Nothing, but Apple have had a rule blocking this sort of action for a long while already - the issue is that Dropbox accounts allow then to up sell a user to a Pro account, outside of the Apple in-app purchasing ecosystem. This is an issue that has long been discussed before, and has previously resulted in apps like Kindle Reader removing their store functionality for the same reason.

      If you are asking why a user needs an app, its because it does more than a website - its available off line for example (yes, a website can provide an off line mode, but the storage limit is very small compared to that of an actual app).

      In this case, they are talking about third party apps integrating with Dropbox using the Dropbox SDK - so the primary reason to install the app is not to replace the Dropbox website, but for whatever the app does.

    • by PhilHibbs (4537)

      Why would they? If Dropbox were to charge more for in-App purchases than on their web site then there would be an incentive to, but just because 30% of your payment goes to Apple instead of Dropbox, how many people actually care? A few. Not enough to make Apple's share price plunge.

      • by 6031769 (829845)

        Right, but that's rather the point, isn't it? I mean if Apple block the use of the app, but not the access to the web site then only they are losing out, and if users who would normally use the app decide to use the web site instead then they might not go back to using the app when/if Apple permits it again. ISTM that there's 2 ways a user can do the same thing, one way might get Apple some cash and the other way certainly won't. They've blocked the former. Have I misunderstood?

        • by PhilHibbs (4537)

          I'm not sure what the "one way might get Apple some cash" is. The problem is that people would be able to sign up and pay for Dropbox directly through an app, with nothing going to Apple. That's not a way for Apple to get some cash. So they block it, with the desired outcome that Dropbox feel the hurt enough that they rebuidl their API to go through Apple's cash filter. Win for Apple. Sure, there's a risk that Dropbox don't do that and those kinds of app simply become impossible on iOS, or that users just h

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:24AM (#39868401)

    No, Apple did not use the Dropbox SDK to block apps,
    Apple blocked iOS Apps that use Dropbox SDK.

  • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:25AM (#39868409)
    1. Do not talk about iOS club.
    2. Do not compete with services offered by Apple.
    3. Do NOT TALK ABOUT iOS CLUB!
    • by beschra (1424727)

      4. Profit?

    • by vlm (69642)

      2. Do not compete with services offered by Apple.

      Its spun as a "30% cut" story but an apple i-competitor to dropbox was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline. Then I realized apple had i.mac or idrive or some such subscription thing just like dropbox except it costs money, that I never subscribed to, years and years ago. Does apple still have that? Perhaps they're planning a relaunch or rebranding and that's the real story of suddenly coming down on dropbox like a box of bricks.

      (disclaimer, I like dropbox because of its flawless linux cl

      • It's not even competing with an Apple service... not after June 30 anyway.

        Apple is canning idisk. I just had to deal with a user flying off the handle about that yesterday.

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          It's not competing with apple that's the issue – it's that there's a "buy pro" button that doesn't use apple's in app purchase API, and hence doesn't give apple 30% of the cash.

      • Is box.com is already offering 5 gig drives for free? O r am I confused on the services.

      • by PhilHibbs (4537)

        Enough "online backup" services have gone south to make me not want to trust a single supplier - I have Dropbox and Google Drive, and anything that I care about goes into both. I tried SpiderOak but it's a lot less intuitive. Probably a lot more powerful and configurable if I were to spend the time learning it though.

        • At least with Dropbox, it makes little strategic difference (other than being a jump ahead if Dropbox drops out suddenly). All your data is on one or more hard drives. If Dropbox goes titsup, you just sign up with whoever is left standing and resync.

          The only other bit of aggrevation would be dealing with the other services that use Dropbox as a portable storage medium - like 1password - and using another service to duplicate it's functionality.

          That's why I think this model is just the best thing that's ha

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        2. Do not compete with services offered by Apple.

        Its spun as a "30% cut" story but an apple i-competitor to dropbox was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline. Then I realized apple had i.mac or idrive or some such subscription thing just like dropbox except it costs money, that I never subscribed to, years and years ago. Does apple still have that? Perhaps they're planning a relaunch or rebranding and that's the real story of suddenly coming down on dropbox like a box of bricks.

        (disclaimer, I like dropbox because of its flawless linux client. I like it alot, at least until GOOG releases a linux goog-drive client thats as good. Then its bye bye 2 gig dropbox hello 5 gig GOOG-drive. I also have stopped buying idevices and started buying android devices.)

        iCloud is basically their competition to Dropbox except "applefied" meaning it does a few specific things (and probably very well) but is not a generic utility like Dropbox is. Nevertheless, they would prefer users to see things their way and subscribe to iCloud instead of Dropbox, unless they are going to get their cut. I agree, Dropbox and other generic/multi-platform services are far superior to iCloud but that's just my opinion from outside the reality distortion field.

        Also, if you didn't get in on the

    • App stores in one line:
      "A nice app you got here, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it."

      Web2.0 suffers from the second album syndrome.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:31AM (#39868463)

    This is why I don't publish an app for my web services. Safari's rich enough for an appropriately formatted and scripted web interface, and it avoids the 30% haircut.

    • This is why I don't publish an app for my web services.

      What problems have you run into while making sure that there is enough HTML5 application cache and HTML5 local storage to fit all the resources that your application needs when the web services are used offline? Or are people who commonly use applications offline (e.g. iPod touch or iPad while on a bus) not part of your target demographic?

    • Good for you. Apple was hoping everyone will think iOS apps are the real Web 2.0. "There's an app for that?" I'd rather write a website that anyone on any platform can use.
    • I'm sick of having to download hundreds of needless apps whose functionality could have been performed in Safari.

      It's getting ridiculous: "Honey, how many pages of apps do I have to scroll through until I get to the one that displays the tensile strength of Reebok shoelaces?"

  • What's wrong with that? The users don't have the app on their iPhone, so they are taken to the company's website. Is that so horrible? That's how every other browser in the world works. Are Apple phone/padd users now verboten from visiting company websites?

    • by Vokkyt (739289)

      Apple's position seems to be the upsell for premium storage, not so much the fact that you're taken to the website. A few users on the Dropbox forum discussing the matter even mentioned that they weren't keen on how a lot of services did this. I have to agree with an earlier post that it looks like Dropbox and Apple are already figuring things out. The dev in question is more perturbed than Dropbox seems to be over it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:49AM (#39868743)

    This article is completely wrong.

    The word SDK is used improperly, and what Apple is complaining about is not at all what the article states. It sickens me that articles like this reinstill false ideas of what and why Apple does things.

    Simply put, Apple's policy is that for any app in the appstore, if you desire someone to purchase additional features for your app, and you tell them about it, they must be done through in-app purchases. DropBox is not doing this. It's completely okay according to Apple for the DropBox app to not say anything about buying additional storage, and then selling this additional storage on their website, but it is NOT okay according to Apple to tell the user inside the app about this additional storage, and then bypassing Apple's in-app purchase system and giving the user a link to the website.

    • by Mabhatter (126906) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @01:36PM (#39870389)

      BUT....
      Apple has a policy that "real world" items should not be purchased off the App Store account. For instance Postcards on the Go isn't allowed to use your Apple ID for Mailed Postcards.

      So which is Dropbox? It's a "real world" service that exists seperate from the iPhone app. if I have a problem with my SERVICE on another non-apple device, will APPLE refund my money? It is definately not "black and white" even by Apple's own rules.

  • by milbournosphere (1273186) on Wednesday May 02, 2012 @11:49AM (#39868763)
    I know that a shopper could always choose to go another platform (Android, RIM, Microsoft, etc.), but at what point will there be sufficient incentive to allow for this behavior to be investigated as anti-competitive? Apple controls the only marketplace on their very popular platform, and is using that control to dictate how other companies do business and reach out to customers who are on that platform. Microsoft tried to do something vaguely similar in the late 90s and got called out for it. At what point do our current antitrust legislation come into effect? Is it a matter of platform market-share? Perhaps somebody with a greater understanding than I could enlighten me.
    • but at what point will there be sufficient incentive to allow for this behavior to be investigated as anti-competitive?

      You answered your own question -

      I know that a shopper could always choose to go another platform ...

      Anti trust laws are not intended to punish companies for being dickwads. That's perfectly legal. It's not some magic shiny sword to have the government swoop in on business practices that you don't like. As you point out, you can drop Apple from your life in complete assurance that you can back up your data, sync your contacts and play Angry Birds without a hitch.

    • by Karlt1 (231423)

      "Apple controls the only marketplace on their very popular platform"

      And Microsoft controls the only marketplace for the XBox.
      And Sony controls the only marketplace for the Playstation
      And Nintendo controls the only marketplace for the Wii.

  • This seems a bit like the mafia - Dropbox tried to circumvent the rules of protection, or make money off the books, and hence will have to be taxed...

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