Web notifications soon available on Apple devices? – News from the European gaming industry

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Apple is dragging its feet in response to anti-trust pressure; Bob Lawson, Director of Mobile Offering at Optimove, see what it actually means

Carriers and mobile app developers love the Apple App Store. Specifically, those who have a high percentage of their gamers on iPhones. They love the scope that stores give them to acquire new players.

Operators and mobile app developers don’t like Apple’s App Store. They are tired of the hoops they have to jump through to get their app listed. Not to mention Apple’s 13,000-word “guidelines,” which include restrictions for the types of apps they’ll accept, and where, AND the share App Stores take of every dollar spent through the app, this which creates a big hole in the potential revenue that operators can earn from their players.

It’s fair to say that mobile app operators and developers have a love-hate relationship with App Stores and Apple in particular.

Recently, Apple has come under increasing pressure from anti-competitive lobbyists to offer users alternative ways to use their apps on iPhones. But a company with more than 745 million software subscribers, generating more than $70 billion in direct app revenue a year, isn’t going to give that up easily. Add to that their slowing revenue from hardware sales, and some commentators see Apple increasingly as a software company rather than a provider of high-end devices. What to make of these somewhat contradictory messages? Consider the following:

  1. Apple is under pressure from antitrust regulators to show opportunities to companies that don’t or can’t have apps in the App Store. The ruling in their very public lawsuit with Epic Games in the US and the EU ruling in favor of Spotify also means that Apple needs to show hard proof that the Apple ecosystem is not closed to competition.
  2. Apple is doing everything to maintain its dominant position while appearing to listen to the concerns of software publishers. They continue to make only minor changes to the App Store terms in response to class action lawsuits and slowly introduce frequent small changes. These changes make it very difficult for developers to stay on top of what would cause Apple to block their new list of apps.

So how do the recent announcements at the WWDC event on June 22 give us a clue about Apple’s response to the pressures? First, it continues to show Apple’s strategy for the glacial pace of change.

  1. Apple has been hesitant for years, to say the least, to allow apps other than approved apps on its store to access phone and browser features.. Push notifications, for example, have been possible on Apple mobile apps since June 17, 2009. Only 11 months after the App Store was introduced in July 2008. They have always viewed the Apple Push Notifications (APN) service as a essential part of the iPhone experience.

And in the meantime, on the side, Google has allowed much more extensive options for sending notifications on Android devices. For example, since 2013, it is possible to send notifications on an Android phone to users who have not installed the mobile application but have subscribed to notifications from a responsive mobile website or web application progressive (PWA).

But there is one big difference here and that is that neither the websites nor the PWAs are downloaded from the Google Play Store, so they are not governed by the submission rules or earn any revenue cut for the Play Store.

  1. Apple’s resistance to following Google’s lead could easily be seen as an attempt to restrict the popularity of web applications. on the mobile applications published in its stores. After all, in the past, it followed Google’s lead when it first introduced notifications to mobile apps published through the Google Play Store.
  2. Apple says it’s about maximizing users’ customer experience, but this has increasingly been seen as anti-competitive. It is strongly suspected that the recent announcement at WWDC 22 to introduce web push notifications on Apple devices is a way to demonstrate that they have no platform bias. They will soon introduce web notifications in browsers running on mobile devices, bridging the gap between mobile apps and web apps.
  3. The technology has been available as a test version for developers for months. At their developer conferences, Apple often announces features well into the future to get its community excited about what’s to come. They rarely advertise anything that will be available until a year later. So why advertise now, and why so far in advance?
  4. Antitrust pressure may have led to the announcement this year. And maybe, just maybe, kicking the box will dissipate the heat. They built it, but will they come? Only time will tell.

What does this mean for the industry?

Marketing automation tolls will relish the prospect of allowing more freedom around mobile devices. CRM marketing platforms have many customers who don’t and won’t have in-store apps for one reason or another. Being able to offer an experience comparable to that of a Native Mobile application is therefore a convincing idea. The power of push notifications to re-engage inactive players and send reminders to Apple users, as was possible with Android, is undoubtedly a good thing.

Is Apple ready to truly embrace customer experience across mobile and web apps? It’s someone who guesses, well, someone who isn’t called Tim Cook anyway. We will be watching this space closely over the coming months.

Bob Lawson is Director of Mobile Offerings at Optimove. He joined Optimove in early 2022 when it acquired Kumulos, the company he co-founded. Kumulos was a market leading mobile and web messaging platform serving a wide range of industries. Bob has spent over 18 years in technology, specifically Mobile MarTech. He has held commercial positions in start-ups, scale-ups and large enterprises, particularly in mobile technology. Prior to working in technology, he spent 15 years in financial services, most recently as marketing director for one of Europe’s largest fund management companies.


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