How To Get Listed on Apple’s App Store
Exploring Different Strategies to Get a Web3 App on the App Store
GM DOers! 🚀
For any web3 app, Apple’s App Store can feel like that one puzzle that's missing a crucial piece. 🧩
Why? Because Apple makes it extra hard for web3 companies to list their apps on their mighty App Store. 🍎
Here's 2 reasons why:
⚖️ Regulation around crypto is as clear as fog at midnight, forcing Apple to be extra strict with web3 companies.
💸 Apple wants a piece of the pie, a sizable 30% off all in-app transactions. This in particular makes it extra difficult for apps like NFT marketplaces (like OpenSea) or DEXs (like PancakeSwap) to build & launch an app on Apple.
Nobody wants to:
Pay for an NFT
Pay for gas to pay for the NFT
Pay 30% taxes to Apple for buying an NFT, after you’ve also paid gas.
That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
But don't lose hope just yet! We've got 4 trailblazers that successfully listed their apps:
Uniswap in mid-April 🦄
Axie Infinity mid-May 🧸
Sound XYZ mid-May 🎶
StepN late-May 👟
Give a big round of applause to the 4 companies above, and buckle up because we’re taking a deep dive into the strategies that helped them list their apps on Apple ⏬
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For the longest time, Uniswap was like a forbidden fruit in Apple's App Store garden…
…until mid-April, when Uniswap managed to release their app, enabling users to import/create a wallet, send and receive crypto, choose between different blockchains like Ethereum, Polygon or Arbitrum and admire their NFT collection.
Furthermore, users can swap between cryptocurrencies. Want to swap your ETH for USDT? You can!
According to Apple, an in-app purchase is when you transfer FIAT from your card to an app to buy X items or crypto. Therefore, it turns out that swapping crypto inside the app isn’t falling under this category.
But… How about buying crypto straight on Uniswap? You know… To avoid the need of transferring funds from a centralized exchange like Binance.
Well, here's the plot twist: You technically can't. Not directly through the app, anyway.
If you were to transfer money from your card (or Apple Pay) straight into Uniswap, they’d be forced to pay a 30% fee.
To swerve around Apple's hefty cut, Uniswap had a lightbulb moment. 💡
When users tap 'buy crypto', the app escorts them to the MoonPay website to complete the transaction.
This way, Uniswap users can trade freely without technically trading within the app, cleverly keeping it within the App Store guidelines.
Not a bad strategy… Keep your eyes peeled for the next section, where we'll uncover how Axie Infinity maneuvered its way onto the App Store. 🎉
Axie Infinity 🧸
Second up… Axie Infinity, a crypto gaming project that quickly gained popularity simultaneously with the rise of NFTs in 2021.
The NFT-based game reached ATHs on its in-game token (AXS) in the fall of 2021, when price levels hit a whopping $165/token ($10 Billion in market cap).
1 and a half years later, Axie’s token is valued under $7, at a $800 Million market cap. But it’s not all gloomy, as Axie managed to release their Origins game on the App Store just a couple of weeks ago…
Origins, a card-based strategy game was launched across Asia and Latin America 🌏.
Powered by Sky Mavis, this game is using a very different approach to avoid Apple’s restrictions.
Meet: externally-purchased NFTs! 🤝
Axie’s game(s) are all NFT-based, meaning you need an NFT to play. Since buying an NFT in a mobile app requires a 30% tax to Apple, Axie’s Orgins game works around the requirement by allowing you to buy the NFT outside the app.
When you connect your wallet in-app, the NFT will appear and the game will unlock for you! 🔓
There are a few trade-offs with this method. For instance, you need to claim tokens for gameplay and some game features can only be accessed on a desktop, to avoid violating Apple’s rules.
Nevertheless, the milestone here is that Axie Infinity managed to roll out their game on the App Store, opening the gateway for everyone (in operational countries) to engage with a blockchain-based game.
But here's the game-changer: Unlike before, now you can utilize the functionality of the NFTs inside the app!
You can actually play the game and earn tokens (though you can’t claim them in-app), a massive leap forward from the earlier restriction of non-utility for NFTs unless purchased via in-app purchases. 🚀
But how about Sound.xyz? The music app that recently launched, with an unexpected web2-like design? Keep scrolling 👇
Sound XYZ 🎶
Switching gears, let's revisit Sound.xyz, an innovative music streaming app we previously featured in our newsletter.
Craving a refresher or more details on its unique features? Find the scoop in our previous coverage here! 📰
If you’re feeling lazy, here’s the TLDR:
Sound.xyz is an app that perfectly resembles your average music streaming platform like Spotify or Apple Music.
The only difference? It allows for collecting. A feature that we believe will revolutionize the way we engage on the internet. We talk more about that in our newsletter here.
Now… Collecting is an action that Sound gets charged 30% for. How do they duck that?
By having users mint on… You guessed it: Desktop! Once you connect your wallet in the app (which you’re not required to do), your collected songs will appear and you’ll be able to share with everyone.
Besides collecting, the main takeaway from this app launch is: curating rewards.
Curators are the ones who help us discover new songs and genres by putting together playlists and sharing that with the world.
And frankly… our go-to method for discovering music are playlists. And that won’t change any time soon.
However, the way we reward the people who craft these playlists will change, thanks to web3. 💃
Sound XYZ aims to make this change a reality by incentivizing sharing: users can earn a 5% reward from primary mints generated through unique referral links, monetizing their music taste.
This new model drives music discovery through artists and listeners rather than algorithms. It offers a more personalized listening experience, and curators get to earn from their work.
Though still in its infancy, the future of this curator economy seems promising, where if you create a popular playlist, you'll be compensated accordingly.
How this will play out with Apple’s rules is still unclear… But Sound has made a promise to make “minting directly from the app” their priority.
Lastly, let's talk about StepN, a fascinating move-to-earn concept. It works like this:
Download the app
Buy a StepN NFT
By owning an NFT, you’re able to track your runs and walks
By being active, you earn $GMT tokens (StepN’s crypto token)
So what makes StepN unique? They've recently enabled in-app purchases of NFTs through Apple Pay, a feat other brands circumvent by directing users off-platform.
How does StepN pull this off?
Enter SPARK credits.
Reminiscent of in-game tokens, such as Fortnite’s VeeBucks, users can purchase SPARK (10 tokens cost $1) with Apple Pay, to buy their coveted NFTs and start the ‘game’.
Keep in mind, StepN isn't dodging Apple's 30% tax. They're cleverly circumventing the prohibition of crypto use in-app.
To cover Apple's fees, they've hiked in-app NFT prices. Want convenience? Pay a premium.
It’s the same way it works for all other apps too. For example, if you want Twitter Blue, you’ll pay more if you subscribe using your phone.
To avoid these taxes, simply buy these subscriptions on your web browser.
Okay… Now what happens if you want to sell your NFT? Will you receive SPARK tokens in return? Nope…
First of all, you don’t need a wallet to buy your NFT. You can buy it in-app using SPARK and the app custodies the NFT (you can self-custody too if you connect your wallet).
When you want to get rid of your NFT, you’ll need to connect a wallet. Why? Because you’ll receive GMT tokens for it and you cannot receive them unless it’s to your web3 wallet.
StepN’s approach is the most unique we’ve seen out of the 4 brands mentioned above. But what’s the blueprint for any web3 brand that wants to launch an app on the App Store?
Keep scrolling to find out. 👇
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Wrapping Up: The Blueprint 🗺️
Alright folks, it's wrap-up time! 🔖 Here are the keys to the kingdom, actionable steps to get your web3 app onto the Apple App Store.
P.S- The following section is only available to PRO members. If you’re not a PRO, you know what to do… Let’s go 👇