How to Think Different

This week we published two long posts on Monopolies, the Apple Tax, and Subscriptions. Both articles come to the conclusion that lowering the 30% fee Apple charges developers would benefit everyone. The tax is at the core of their Antitrust case, at the core of the developer’s business model. And in the end, it is in our common customer’s interest to lower it, because profitable development produces better software.

The reaction to our take on the Apple Tax and subscriptions has warmed our hearts. Our inbox fills with happy nods, job applications, and thoughtful suggestions on how to improve our posts. Check Twitter search to get a glimpse into our inbox and DMs. Without any “call to action”, those articles even moved the notoriously Stoic sales needle in the App Store.

The counter position to lowering the 30% simply demands submission. It tells us to shut up, accept things as they are, and follow the orders. It’s cynical. Apple itself is a shining example to not accept things as they are, to not giving into fear and submission, and how to put a “little dent in the universe.”

Think about it. Today, developers are scared to speak. That can not be good. Are scared people the ones they want to work with? Fear is not good for Apple, and, ultimately, our fear to do and say what we think can not be good for their customers either. We don’t blame those who stay silent. You have to be hungry and foolish to bite the hand that feeds you.

Here is how we see it: Dealing with executives for 20 years through the agency, we have learned one thing: Decision-makers are surrounded by scared careerists who say what the executive wants to hear. The more power you have the more precious are people that tell you what they think. Courage is precious. Respect is not earned by doing what you are told to do. It’s mutual. Think about this if you are scared of speaking up. People in power do not respect you if you speak after their mouths. You are not independent if you are scared to say what you experience and think.

The courage to think for yourself comes from the intuition, that you cannot succeed if you don’t dare to think for yourself. The big secret is that those who succeed know and respect those who think differently, and that being scared of speaking your mind when it’s risky—when it matters most—, is why you fail. Kafka described beautifully how you fail if you don’t have the courage to move forward on what you think matters:

‘…how is that in these many years no one except me has requested entry?’ The gatekeeper sees that the man is already dying and, in order to reach his diminishing sense of hearing, he shouts at him, ‘Here no one else can gain entry, since this entrance was assigned only to you. I’m going now to close it.'”

No matter how cynical this world will make you… When it comes to design, privacy, consistency, and forward-thinking, Apple is thinking different. At the same time, there is a risk we take by speaking up. We bet that, in spite of being a two Trillion dollar company, the executive branch of Apple respects others who think different. Times change, App Stores change, and Apple, like you and me, is far from perfect. But how can you improve if everyone around you is too scared to talk to you?