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Developer at center of App Store controversy says Apple's changes are 'very little'

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In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Alley on Tuesday, the developer at the center of a controversy about Apple’s App Store rules said that changes announced by Apple on Monday — seemingly in response to his company’s complaints — amounted to “very little.”

Apple said on Monday that it would allow developers to “challenge” its App Store rules after David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO of Basecamp, said that Apple threatened to remove his company’s new email app, Hey, unless it implemented in-app purchases that would gave Apple a 30% cut of revenue. Hansson argues that Apple’s rule is unfair. 

Hansson’s complaints tapped into long-running negative developer sentiment about App Store business practices and inspired scores of other Apple app makers to voice their complaints ahead of Apple’s annual developer conference.

Hansson said on CNBC on Tuesday that he feels that the changes Apple made in response were a good first step towards marketplace reforms, but that he was also skeptical that the changes would be enough. 

“What they’ve given out is actually so far very little. Apple has said that you can appeal to Apple if you want Apple to investigate Apple. OK, maybe there’s something there, but it hinges on what those verdicts are going to be,” Hansson said. 

An Apple spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Apple also announced on Monday that it would no longer hold up minor updates geared towards fixing bugs over App Store guideline violations. 

“I hope this doesn’t mean you just get one freebie then you get sent to purgatory while Apple figures out what to do with you,” Hansson said. 

Apple approved a bug-fix update to the Hey app over the weekend, Basecamp previously said, but its major update to comply with Apple’s rules, including a new free tier of service, had not been approved.

Hanssen said that iPhone users make up a substantial portion of his business, with 80% of Hey customers using Apple platforms. He added that his company can’t abandon the Apple platforms for Windows and Android.

“We did not want a fight with Apple whatsoever,” Hanssen said. “We just need to get on the iPhone, it’s the dominant platform for these kinds of services.”

Separately, Apple said on Monday during its WWDC conference that it would enable iPhone users to change their default mail and browser apps, addressing an allegation made by competitors that the iPhone maker wields too much control over its platform. 

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