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Apple's 30% tax: The long view

March 6, 2011: 3:57 PM ET

Another look at the company's in-app subscription rules, this time from 5,000 feet

Source: Apple, Google Earth

One of the things that made John Siracusa's analysis this week of Apple's (AAPL) App Store subscription policy so interesting is what he chose not to write about.

His essay, "The Apple Strategy Tax," which he posted Wednesday on Ars Technica, neatly sidesteps the emotionally charged tar pits in which so many commentators get mired. As he explained Friday at the end of his Hypercritical podcast with Dan Benjamin, he wanted to take the long view:

"I was not interested," he said, "in writing about whether it was mean of Apple to change its rules about in-app purchases. Whether it was right, morally right. Whether they're a big stinker, or even whether they're hurting their developers or helping people or hurting publishers or helping publishers or eliminating middlemen or becoming a middleman or any of those things that make people angry. I felt that that's well covered, and I didn't have anything to add to that topic"

What did interest Siracusa was the big picture -- the effect Apple's policy changes might have on the company in the long run. And from his perspective, Apple is starting to look a lot like Microsoft (MSFT) in the '90s.

But probably not in the way you think.

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