A new player in email knocked over a bushel of debate about Apple’s App Store

Hey turned heads with its innovative approach to email, but quickly ran into an Apple problem.


June 18, 2020

The little red bubble with the scary number proves it: Managing your email is a pain in the ass.

This week, a new service arrived on the scene to alleviate your inbox-iety:

  • It’s called Hey, and it’s from the brains behind Basecamp.
  • For $99 a year, Hey comes with bells and whistles that are supposed to make Gmail look like a VCR (hello, email screening… goodbye, pixel-tracking spies).

Hey definitely turned heads — Casey Newton called it a “genuinely original take on messaging.”

Then the star turn took a dark turn

Basecamp execs say Apple is shaking them down — threatening to remove Hey from the App Store unless it begins offering an in-app subscription.

In case you’re wondering why: Apple takes up to a 30% cut of the revenue from in-app purchases and subscriptions.

This ain’t a new gripe

In Europe, new antitrust investigations of Apple bubbled up thanks in part to a complaint from Spotify, and Tinder’s parent company has aired grievances, too.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Basecamp’s cofounder and CTO, had been banging the antitrust drum on Twitter. And at Bloomberg, Tae Kim said Apple’s getting what it deserves.

But the crowd ain’t unanimous

Consider these takes:

  • Investor Zak Kukoff: “Software Companies Come Out Against Giving 30% Of Revenue To Platform. Also, sky is blue. More news at 11”
  • And here’s our Adam Ryan: “Call me nuts, but Apple has the right to own their distribution. Of course, they have to allow competitors to be in their platform, but charging a fee to reach their enormous audience seems right. Don’t want the fee? Build your own audience.”

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