Apple’s app store policy changes “very little,” says developer

The developer fighting the App Store rules told CNBC on Tuesday that the changes announced by Apple amounted to “very little.”

Apple said Monday that it will allow developers to “challenge” its App Store rules. Basecamp chief technology officer David Heinemeier Hansson said the iPhone maker threatened to remove his company’s new email app, Hey, unless he implemented in-app purchases that would give Apple a 30% reduction in income. Ripping Google Play also charges 30% on in-app purchases.

Hansson’s complaints took advantage of longtime developers’ negative sentiment about App Store business practices and inspired many other app makers to voice their complaints ahead of Apple’s annual developer conference.

Hansson told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Tuesday that the changes Apple announced were a good first step toward market reforms, but was skeptical that they would suffice.

“What they have revealed is actually very little so far. Apple has said that you can appeal to Apple if you want Apple to investigate Apple. Okay, maybe there is something there, but it depends on what those verdicts will be,” Hansson said.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple also announced Monday that it will no longer delay minor updates aimed at correcting errors for violations of the App Store guidelines.

“I hope this doesn’t mean you just get a gift, then they send you into purgatory while Apple finds out what to do with you,” said Hansson.

Apple approved a bug fix update in the Hey app over the weekend, Basecamp said previously, but its main update to meet Apple’s rules, including a new free service level, had not been approved.

Hanssen said iPhone users represent a substantial part of his business, with 80% of Hey customers using Apple platforms. He added that his company cannot abandon Apple platforms for Windows and Android.

“We didn’t want to fight Apple,” said Hanssen. “We just need to access the iPhone, it is the dominant platform for this type of services.”

Separately, Apple said Monday during its WWDC conference that it would allow iPhone users to change their default email and browser applications, addressing a charge made by competitors that the iPhone maker is exercising too much control over its platform.