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Apple App Store Icon

Developing an app for the Apple App Store comes with its unique set of financial obligations. A stark comparison is drawn between the one-time $25 fee to register as a developer on Android’s Google Play Store and the recurring $99 annual fee required by Apple. This fee is mandatory for all developers wishing to distribute apps through the App Store, regardless of whether their apps are free or paid.

Apple’s Charges For Apps in the App Store

Fee TypeDescriptionRateNotes
One-time feeIndividual Developer Program Membership$99/yearRequired to distribute apps on the App Store
App sales commissionPaid apps & in-app purchases30% of the transaction priceReduced to 15% for subscriptions after the first year
App sales commission (App Store Small Business Program)Paid apps & in-app purchases for developers earning less than $1 million per year15% of the transaction priceApplies automatically if eligible
Other potential feesApp review fees, distribution fees, etc.NoneCurrently, Apple doesn’t charge additional fees beyond those listed above

Additional Notes:

  • The 30% commission applies to the entire transaction price, including any applicable taxes.
  • Developers can offer promotional pricing and discounts, but Apple still takes their commission on the original price.
  • The App Store Small Business Program is a recent addition and may be subject to change in the future.
  • There are no additional hosting fees or charges for free apps.
Apple App Store
Apple App Store

Why Does Apple Charge Developers Annually?

The annual fee serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it helps maintain a secure and robust ecosystem for developers and users alike. It covers the costs associated with running the App Store, including the review process that ensures apps are safe and comply with Apple’s guidelines. However, this fee can be a significant barrier for small developers or those creating apps without any intention of monetization, such as charity or freeware apps.

The Impact on Charity and Free Apps

The Reddit thread from the r/applesucks community highlights a significant issue: the scarcity of totally free, ad-free, and in-app purchase-free charity apps on the App Store. The yearly fee is a hurdle for developers who wish to offer something genuinely free to the community. While Apple does offer fee waivers for non-profit organizations, accredited educational institutions, and government entities, individual developers who want to donate their apps for free face challenges.

Developer’s Equipment Cost

Beyond the annual fee, developers must also consider the cost of equipment. Developing for iOS requires a Mac, which represents a significant investment. Users in the Reddit thread pointed out the need for a MacBook Pro, potentially costing around $1,000 per developer seat each year when considering the need for upgrades and replacements over time.

Google’s Payments to Apple: A Contrast in Revenue Models

The Verge reports that Google pays Apple around $18 billion annually to remain the default search engine on Apple devices, a deal that benefits both giants. This agreement illustrates a different aspect of Apple’s revenue model, focusing on lucrative contracts with major corporations. This contrasts sharply with the financial burdens placed on individual app developers, particularly those focused on offering free or charitable services.

Apple App Store
Apple App Store

Summary of Facts

  • Apple charges a $99 annual fee to all developers wishing to distribute apps through its App Store.
  • The fee is a significant barrier for developers of charity apps and those wishing to offer free apps without monetization.
  • Developers also face substantial equipment costs, with the need for a Mac to develop iOS apps.
  • In contrast to the fees charged to individual developers, Apple benefits from lucrative agreements with corporations, such as the reported $18 billion paid annually by Google.


What is the annual fee for Apple developers?

An annual fee of $99 is required for all developers who wish to distribute their apps on the Apple App Store.

Can charity apps get a waiver for the Apple developer fee?

Yes, charity apps from non-profit organizations, accredited educational institutions, and government entities can apply for a membership fee waiver.

Do developers need to use Apple hardware for app development?

Yes, developing iOS apps requires a Mac, as the necessary software, Xcode, only runs on macOS.

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