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“Apple was against crypto from day one” says an ex-app store director.

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It’s not simple to get an app listed in the Apple App Store, but it’s proven particularly difficult for cryptocurrency businesses and initiatives.

According to Apple’s former App Store director, that is not by chance.

The App Store’s rules, according to Phillip Shoemaker, who initially created them with the late Steve Jobs, have been changed in a way that he believes is purposefully ambiguous. He claims that as a result, Apple can act as a sort of gatekeeper, a position that was recently backed up by a Commerce Department report. Shoemaker claims that this has also given Apple the freedom to maintain its arbitrary animus toward cryptocurrencies in general and NFTs in particular.

In an interview, he claimed that:

Apple had a problem with crypto from day one. They thought it was a Ponzi scheme.

App Store History

Shoemaker, the CEO of and a former executive at Apple from 2009 to 2016, says his initial goal was to make the App Store policies as simple as possible. The objective, according to him, was always to make the rules more clear-cut over time so that developers would know what they could and couldn’t do.

After all, a company’s success depends on whether it is allowed into the Apple or Google app stores. Additionally, a denial can result in serious consequences for app developers.

In relation to his interactions with irate programmers, Shoemaker claimed that “I had hundreds of death threats.” “I had individuals sneaking into Apple and following me out to my car.”

Shoemaker said that his app approvals would even lower the value of Apple’s stock in a 2019 Bloomberg interview. Because no matter what I did, someone despised me, Shoemaker claimed that he had the worst job at Apple.

The Apple App Store Guidelines were updated following Shoemaker’s retirement in 2016 by Apple’s legal department and longstanding Apple Fellow Phil Schiller, who now has control over the App Store. Shoemaker blames Schiller for what he sees as Apple’s hostile attitude toward cryptocurrencies.

They underwent a significant transition, in my opinion, just before I left, Shoemaker said. “The tone significantly shifted.”

Shoemaker contends that the 2016 revision purposefully left the rules vague. “In the end, they made matters much more hazy and murky than before. We don’t need gray; we need black and white, he declared.

The Crypto Puzzle

Over the years, the Apple App Store has taken action against a number of cryptocurrency apps it considers to be breaking its rules.

When Shoemaker was still employed by the business ten years ago, Coinbase’s app had a one-year ban on the Apple App Store.

According to a 2020 article by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, Apple has historically been

very restrictive and hostile to cryptocurrency over the years

He later edited the tweet after explaining that some functionalities of the Coinbase app had been disabled.

NFTs, which are distinctive blockchain tokens that might denote ownership over accompanying metadata like art, metaverse land, or a membership pass to a select club, were addressed in the 2022 update to Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines.

According to the new regulations, “Apps may use in-app purchases to sell and sell services linked to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), such as minting, listing, and transferring.” As long as NFT ownership does not unlock features or functionality within the app, apps may let users view their own NFTs.

This implies that purchasing NFTs through an app will result in a steep 30% cost from Apple, and any NFTs that can be viewed through an app but weren’t bought in-app are prohibited from unlocking any extra material or in-app features. Additionally, developers are not permitted to provide any in-app solutions for users to avoid paying the 30% fee, such as opening an external link in a web browser.

When Apple started implementing its new NFT regulations in December 2022 and barred the Coinbase Wallet app until it deleted its NFT transfer feature, Coinbase found itself in difficulties once more. Because Apple intended to add its 30% fee to any Ethereum gas expenses, which Coinbase claimed was technically impossible, Coinbase’s app was prohibited, according to the company.

This is obviously not conceivable, according to anyone who is familiar with how blockchains and NFTs operate, according to Coinbase. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t comply because Apple’s proprietary In-App Purchase mechanism doesn’t handle cryptocurrency.

Shoemaker thinks that these new NFT regulations were written in a “harsh” manner, just like the rest of Apple’s payment policies.

Regarding Apple’s 30% in-app purchase fee, Shoemaker remarked, “It’s the bully who wants your lunch money.” That is simply the conclusion.


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