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Apple launches App Store Small Business Programme

Apple has launched a new developer programme in a bid to accelerate innovation and help small businesses and independent developers propel their businesses forward with the next generation of apps on the App Store. 

The new App Store Small Business Programme will benefit the vast majority of developers who sell digital goods and services on the store, providing them with a reduced commission on paid apps and in-app purchases. 

Developers can qualify for the programme and a reduced 15% commission if they earned up to US$1 million in proceeds during the previous calendar year.

"The App Store Small Business Programme, which will launch on 1 January, 2021 comes at an important time as small and independent developers continue working to innovate and thrive during a period of unprecedented global economic challenge," Apple says.

"Apps have taken on new importance as businesses adapt to a virtual world during the pandemic, and many small businesses have launched or dramatically grown their digital presence in order to continue to reach their customers and communities. 

"The programme's reduced commission means small developers and aspiring entrepreneurs will have more resources to invest in and grow their businesses in the App Store ecosystem."

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, says small businesses are the "backbone of our global economy and the beating heart of innovation and opportunity in communities around the world".

"We're launching this programme to help small business owners write the next chapter of creativity and prosperity on the App Store, and to build the kind of quality apps our customers love," he says.

"The App Store has been an engine of economic growth like none other, creating millions of new jobs and a pathway to entrepreneurship accessible to anyone with a great idea. 

"Our new programme carries that progress forward helping developers fund their small businesses, take risks on new ideas, expand their teams, and continue to make apps that enrich peoples lives."

While the comprehensive details will be released in early December, the essentials of the programme's participation criteria are easy and streamlined:

Existing developers who made up to US$1 million in 2020 for all of their apps, as well as developers new to the App Store, can qualify for the program and the reduced commission. If a participating developer surpasses the US$1 million threshold, the standard commission rate will apply for the remainder of the year. If a developers business falls below the US$1 million threshold in a future calendar year, they can requalify for the 15 per cent commission the year after.
The App Stores standard commission rate of 30 per cent remains in place for apps selling digital goods and services and making more than US$1 million in proceeds, defined as a developers post-commission earnings. Earlier this year, an independent study by the Analysis Group found that Apples commission structure is in the mainstream for app distribution and gaming platforms.

Small business owners will continue to benefit from Apple's suite of developer tools including development applications, programming languages, a secure payment interface, and more than 250,000 essential software building blocks called APIs. 

"Apple is committed to giving developers the tools to turn their brightest ideas into apps that change the world. Tools like HealthKit give engineers secure access to user health data, ARKit empowers developers to explore new frontiers of augmented reality, and Core ML harnesses the speed and intelligence of machine learning to help developers build powerful features with just a few lines of code," the company says.

"Earning the trust of users and developers has been an important goal of the App Store from the beginning. It's why every one of the 1.8 million apps on the App Store undergoes a review process that developers and their customers can rely on one that helps make sure every app is reliable, performs as expected, is free of objectionable content, and upholds the highest standards to protect users privacy and security."

Developers of all sizes have built successful businesses while benefitting from the App Stores global reach encompassing users of the more than 1.5 billion Apple devices around the world in 175 countries and over 40 languages, with more than 180 local payment methods and 45 accepted currencies.

In 2019 alone, the App Store ecosystem facilitated US$519 billion in commerce worldwide with over 85 per cent of that total accruing solely to third-party developers and businesses of all sizes. "The new App Store Small Business Programme will build on that progress to generate even more digital commerce and app innovations, support new jobs, and help small and independent developers continue to bring great software to Apple users," Apple says.

The App Store, which launched in 2008, currently offers 1.8 million apps and visited by half a billion people each week.