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Avatar of Erik Romijn posted September 25 2013
on Erik Romijn

Appsterdam lunchtime lecture summary 3: VAT on Google and Apple app sales

This is part of my summary series of the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures, an initiative to allow people in Appsterdam to talk about technology and share knowledge, allowing participants to receive training in public speaking. The lectures cover a wide range of topics related to making apps on any platform, from technical to non-technical including computer languages, modeling, testing, design, marketing, business philosophy, startups, strategizing, and more.

Today’s lecture was by Mr Victor Alting van Geusau and Mr Drs Wilbert Nieuwenhuizen, experienced professionals in management and VAT, talking about VAT for both Google and Apple App Store sales. I wrote about this before, but I never knew whether this was actually correct.

In the meantime, Appsterdam has published the video of this lecture as well.

I am not a tax lawyer. This summary was not checked afterwards by the speakers, and comes without guarantees.

European VAT rules for B2B

Wilbert explains that all app sales are electronic services for VAT. The main rule for is that all electronic services are taxed with 21% VAT in the Netherlands. However, there are three exceptions. For any exception, it is important that the records prove that this is applicable. The three possibilities are:

  • Dutch buyer and Dutch seller: 21% VAT in the Netherlands, added on the invoice.
  • EU buyer and Dutch seller: VAT can be reversed. The invoice must contain the VAT numbers, full name and address of involved parties. This is still included in the Dutch VAT filing of the seller, which also has to file an ICP-listing.
  • Non-EU buyer: no VAT is due, as the place of supply is outside the EU. But, you do have to prove the goods were supplied to a non-EU buyer.

European VAT rules for B2C

Again, when selling to Dutch consumers, you will need to charge 21% VAT in the Netherlands. But also if the consumer is in the EU - the only exception is if they are not in the EU.

Misunderstandings, in general, about VAT

The first misunderstanding is that app store sellers only trade with businesses. However, this is not the case: the portal might only be the intermediary, providing a portal. The portal sells a service to the app maker, the app maker directly supplies to the consumer for VAT purposes. In other words, as you are selling a service to an EU consumer, 21% VAT applies. Of course, if the consumer is outside the EU, no VAT is charged.

The second misconception is understanding what your turnover is. You may only get a certain percentage of the consumer sale price. But, the full price has been supplied to the consumer, so the VAT should be filed based on the 100% price. Separately, the portal would charge you for their cut of the sales price.

However, Apple is different

For Apple, the situation is different, due to the setup of their contracts. For Apple, you are actually trading with iTunes SARL in Luxembourg. That seems to match up completely with my earlier post about Apple and VAT.

Apple does have a list of countries for which they do not take care of taxation, like China or Russia. Dutch VAT does not apply in that case, but Chinese taxes might. It is important that you are able to prove that those sales were made outside the EU.

Google App Store

For Google, the contracts are different. In that case, you are directly selling to consumers, so the problems mentioned earlier all apply. Unfortunately, the information Google supplies you is not sufficient to file taxes correctly. It is unclear which taxes are paid, whether the buyer is a consumer or company, and if they are a company the VAT number is not provided. Google even provides incorrect advice on their website about taxation of sales.

If this is discovered in an audit, this can result in taxes being levied over the past five years for the full revenue. This may result in additional tax over the past five years over all sales achieved, with added penalties. This can be far higher than the plain 21% VAT. Wilbert had a client which had to file for bankruptcy after this happened.

The safe option for the Google App Store is to just file and pay 21% VAT on all sales. Victor thinks the same problem probably also applies to the Amazon app store.

Avatar of Tara Ross posted September 12 2013
on Tara Ross

Open Data Startup Profile: Bike Like a Local

Our third Open for Business profile is Bike Like a Local, an app that helps cycling tourists in Amsterdam discover the city safely and easily.

Even with Amsterdam’s world-class cycling infrastructure, it can be confusing for tourists who aren’t familiar with it. Any newbie who has accidentally stepped into a cycle lane, or heard the ding-ding-ding of a bicycle bell during rush hour, can attest to that. And how do you know where it’s safe to park your bike?

“The best way for tourists to explore Amsterdam is by bike, but there are many things they don’t know, and there’s currently no way for them to know,” said Erik Romijn, founder of SolidLinks and creator of the app. “With 800,000 bicycles and many cars, trams, buses, etc., it can be daunting and even dangerous. I thought this app would help.”

Bike Parking

Especially in central areas like the Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein (where tourists tend to go), there are many places where parking a bike is forbidden. Bike Like a Local shows tourists where they can safely and legally park their bike, using a database of more than 60,000 parking spaces in 17,000 locations in Amsterdam based on open data from the government. The options are shown in a map view format.

The “Find My Bike” feature then helps them remember later where they parked. If their bike happens to get stolen or removed by the city for improper parking, Bike Like a Local will provide information for how to get it back.


Find My Bike Screen

Find My Bike screen in the app

Safety Tips

The app also gives cycling tips for the Amsterdam newbie. Cycling in Amsterdam, and the Netherlands in general, is exceptionally safe, but tourists are more at-risk of injury because they are often inexperienced. If you’re not familiar, you wouldn’t know to watch out for getting your wheel stuck in the tram tracks, or to look out for drivers’ blind spots.

Bike Like a Local Tip Screen

Bike Like a Local Tip Screen

Open Data Challenges

Providing the information in the app requires accurate, up-to-date data from the various government entities on bike parking and strict enforcement zones. Luckily, when Romijn started developing Bike Like a Local, he already had a lot of experience with government open data. He’s developed several apps using open data, such as Openbaar Vervoer, which gives realtime status for Dutch public transport.

In Amsterdam, much of the open data is in the jurisdiction of the local government districts, called stadsdelen. In the end, Romijn had to go to 7 local districts to request the data. As an experiment, he decided to go to each stadsdeel directly without the help of his city contacts.

“I wanted to see what it would be like for someone brand-new to open data to make these requests,” he said.

Romijn detailed his experience on his blog, but in summary, it took 9 months and many inquiries to obtain all of the data he needed from the different districts. There’s a law in the Netherlands that requires the government to respond to open data requests within six weeks. After that, they have to pay the requestor €20 per day. Many of the districts got close to exceeding the deadline and having to pay the fines.

“I was starting to think that collecting these late fees from the districts could be a new business model for Bike Like A Local,” Romijn said.

He eventually got all the data he needed, but the process revealed that there’s still a lot to be improved in the flow of open data from the government to the public.

Bike Parking Locator in the App

Bike Parking Locator in the App

Lifestyle Business

Romijn has bootstrapped the app development so far, and he’s not looking for outside investment at this point. To research his business model, Romijn referenced a city survey that says 22% of all visitors to Amsterdam will cycle sometime during their visit. With 12 million visitors annually, that’s 2.5 million cycling tourists each year. If even 1% of those tourists buy Bike Like a Local, there’s a good potential for revenue there. It may not be the kind of numbers investors are interested in, but it’s not bad as a lifestyle business for an indie developer with a portfolio of other apps.

Future of Bike Like a Local

Romijn will continue marketing the app and adding features, including making use of the iPhone sensors and GPS to provide contextual tips to cyclists. He’s also looking at adding tour capabilities. Bike Like a Local is getting some attention in the press, and is continuing to add new users every month.

Cyclists in Vondel Park

Tourists love to bike in Amsterdam along with the locals

Bike Like a Local a great example of a useful, fun, and potentially profitable app that uses government open data.

Related Links

Erik Romijn’s blog series on his experience with the Open for Business program

Tomorrow’s Cities: Do you want to live in a smart city?

Kickstarting Business with Open Data

Open Data Resources for Europe and the Netherlands

Earlier this year, Appsterdam launched “Apps for Amsterdam: Open For Business“, an initiative with the Waag Society and the Amsterdam Economic Board to help three local startups build their businesses using open data. Many thanks to SoftlayerBig Nerd RanchSolid Ventures,Li Chiao DesignLikefriends, and Glimworm for lending their support and expertise to the Apps For Amsterdam: Open For Business program.

Check out the other Open for Business Startups:

Open for Business Profile: iKringloop

Open for Business Profile: Voradius



Avatar of Erik Romijn posted September 05 2013
on Erik Romijn

WeerAPI: a ridiculously simple weather API

This week I was talking about open data at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, together with several others from the Appsterdam community. In the process, I found myself needing some realtime very basic weather data: what is the current wind direction in the Netherlands, and what is the current wind speed?

This data is collected and published by the KNMI for 36 places in the Netherlands. However, to my surprise, there is no structured format available. All they have is an HTML table. So despite thousands of open datasets having been published in the Netherlands, there is no structured way to find the current temperature on Texel.

I found this so incredibly ridiculous, that I went ahead and built it myself: the WeerAPI. It scrapes the KNMI website and has a single call for now, for the current conditions at 36 measuring stations. I enrich the data with the wind direction in degrees, wind speed in Beaufort and a very rough geographical location of the measurement stations. It’s free to use and open source, but you’ll have to credit the KNMI if you use the data. Updates come in every 10 minutes.

Avatar of Tara Ross posted July 30 2013
on Tara Ross

Open Data Startup Initiative

Partnering with the Amsterdam Economic Board, Waag Society, and Appsterdam, I helped launch an initiative to work with three local start-ups to support them in creating successful app businesses using open data.  I worked closely with the start-ups to understand their specific goals, and from there we created a custom program action plan for each Read more about Open Data Startup Initiative[…]

The post Open Data Startup Initiative appeared first on NOOBTOOLS.

Avatar of Tara Ross posted July 14 2013
on Tara Ross

Open Data Startup Profile: iKringloop

Earlier this year, Appsterdam launched “Apps for Amsterdam: Open For Business“, an initiative with the Waag Society and the Amsterdam Economic Board to help three local startups build their businesses using open data. A series of posts will feature their journeys to establish great companies around open data.  One of our Open for Business startups is iKringloop, an app that helps urban dwellers give away …

The post Open Data Startup Profile: iKringloop appeared first on NOOBTOOLS.

posted July 12 2013
on Appsterdam SF


AppsterdamSF is happy to extend the invitation to our community to this interesting event organized by The Application Developers Alliance:


Friday, August 2nd, 2013 -2:00pm to 6:00pm

Twilio HQ

645 Harrison St., 3rd Floor

San Francisco, CA 94107


Offerings, options, and opportunities to generate revenue.


Mobile app developers and publishers are being forced to understand, adopt, and execute monetization strategies earlier and earlier in the lifecycle of their product. They are being forced by investors, users, and the market itself to consider dozens of tools offering hundreds of options without understanding the challenges and benefits of each opportunity.

The San Francisco Monetization Workshop will educate and prepare developers to make informed decisions about their monetization strategies. This half-day event features a Publishers Panel – focused on content types – a Platform Panel – focused on monetization tools – and a keynote presentation. Each event will be followed by a networking reception.


Publishers Panel – Monetization Strategies: 2:00 – 2:50 pm

Leading publishers share their experience and expertise developing monetization strategies for their apps, the importance of early adoption and the pros and cons of options like in-app purchases, freemium models, referral marketing, and virtual currency.


Platform Panel – Monetizing with Tools: 3:00 – 3:50 pm

Publishers of every size can build a successful business with the right approach. These monetization platforms and tools discuss what developers need to know when adopting a monetization strategy and – more importantly – choosing a partner.


Keynote Presentation: 4:00 – 4:30pm


Networking Reception: 4:45 – 6:00 pm


Refreshments will be provided throughout with beer and pizza available during the reception.




Avatar of Erik Romijn posted July 03 2013
on Erik Romijn

Appsterdam lunchtime lecture summary 3: Code for Europe

This is part of my summary series of the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures, an initiative to allow people in Appsterdam to talk about technology and share knowledge, allowing participants to receive training in public speaking. The lectures cover a wide range of topics related to making apps on any platform, from technical to non-technical including computer languages, modelling, testing, design, marketing, business philosophy, startups, strategizing, and more.

Today’s lecture was about Code for Europe, by Ohyoon Kwon, Giovanni Maggini and Piotr Steininger.

Ohyoon, Giovanni and Piotr have been working the last six months on three different challenges, for stadsdeel Oost, West and Zuid. Code for Europe aims to solve local civic challenges with temporary agile teams, in a way that makes the solutions reusable for other cities.

In Amsterdam, they were hosted by the Waag society and the city of Amsterdam. They worked with three runners from the municipality, that presented the challenges. The aim is to create a collaborative environment, between municipalities, local communities and developers & designers.

Stadsdeel West

In stadsdeel West, they worked on social problems in deprived neighborhoods. One of the problems for the stadsdeel is the lack of a common information system to support practices across the various organisations.

The fellows went outside, into the neighborhood, together with experts from the stadsdeel. This was followed up with brainstorming sessions, looking at all the existing tools, how they worked and how they could be used, and then making a plan for further steps. The concept was first tested using existing software, and they made paper prototypes first to make sure their implementation will fit the needs.

Stadsdeel Oost

In stadsdeel Oost, the Indische buurt has a very high demand for community space, as the community there is very active. The fellows built a web application that allows citizens to manage facilities and reserve rooms.

The Indische buurt has four active community clusters, with about 22.000 citizens involved. The existing booking system for shared spaces consisted of flyers and paper calendars, posted in the shared facilities. Management was done through post-its and phone calls. The system was unreliable and unfriendly.

The fellows identified immediate needs, prototypes the system together with the user, and this resulted in an open source social neighborhood platform, which currently features room booking and room management.

A challenge in projects like this, is to ensure long-lasting maintenance of the project. It’s open source, so other people can already contribute. They’d like to see future fellows to continue the project. Next steps are to complete the booking portion, allow publishing of potential initiatives, and organizing a workshop with the people from the community.

Stadsdeel Zuid

In stadsdeel Zuid, the fellows worked to attract more tourists. They try to help the tourist crowd find the less commonly visited areas, outside the city center, and particularly in stadsdeel Zuid.

They built Take a Hike, which turns it into a fun and engaging game experience. It’s an offline playable scavenger hunt. They started with manned checkpoints and QR codes, but both had practical difficulties. Currently, it’s based on the compass. To validate the concept, they spoke to many people within the city and showed paper prototypes to people in Museumplein. It was a real challenge to finish the app in time for the June 22nd deadline, but they managed to publish it on time. The app is open source as well.

The app runs on a custom CMS backend which makes it easy to maintain the routes for the city. They also collect check-ins, to see how well the app is used and which places are most popular. The backend is built on Ruby on Rails and deployed on Heroku. Both iOS and Android are native apps, which was chosen to create a smooth experience, support proper multithreading and have simple sensor access.

On the launch day of the app, it rained most of the day. Few people were on the street, and in the end they decided to do a self-test. This still brought up several problems, like having markers inside closed buildings and problems with the Dutch version.

Avatar of Olga skp posted June 17 2013
on Olga skp

Mobile App Development Survey: prize winners and results

The Mobile App Development Survey by Appsterdam and Enterprise App Store has closed!

Thank you all for participating and helping us collect data for our very first survey in the mobile development realm!

We are happy to announce the winners of the prizes

The first prize, an iPad mini, goes to

1. Wytze Schouten from Amsterdam

And the Store Vouchers go to:

1. Edward Patel from Stockholm
2. Sergei Cherepanov from Saint Petersburg
3. Jeffrey Berthiaume from Huntington Beach
4. Ivan Vasic from Amsterdam
5. Karlo Kristensen from Copenhagen

Congratulations guys and thank you for participating!

About the survey results

Results are based on an online survey over a period of 5 weeks. The survey was disseminated mainly via the Appsterdam, Appril and Enterprise App Store communication channels and received 140 responses. 

Main profile characteristics of the sample we collected*:

Respondents are between 30-34 years old (25.4%), male (94.2%), with a Bachelor's Degree (41.6%). They develop apps for generating revenue via contract or commissioned development (35.1%). 

Mobile is their primary source of income (64.7%) and the vast majority have already released an App (86.4%).

Although a big part of our sample (41.7 %) is currently employed by a company, they also tend to develop their own Apps (64.4%).

One third of our respondents is located in The Netherlands.

*based on response percentages

Some stats and numbers:

1] Platform usage and preference.

Looking at the survey results, there is no doubt that the iOS platform is used the most and is considered the best platform to develop for by the majority (92.4%) of respondents.

2] Number of App downloads for most successful and average App release.

Developers do not always have access to such data or they do not keep track of contracting client’s downloads. 

According to the survey results, the number of downloads per average App release is relatively low. 

The table below shows that the number of downloads on average release does not exceed the 1000 threshold. It is interesting that over 60% of the respondents say that their App does not go further than 5.000 downloads.

As for the most successful App release, for 45% of the respondents the number goes up to 10.000 downloads.

3] Affiliation with networks and communities in the Mobile App Development scene

There are many tech communities and groups that developers join to get connected, share knowledge, get ideas for future products and ask their peers for reviews and advice. 

One of the most popular networks according to the respondents is Appsterdam (83%).

For more information you may contact the author

Olga Paraskevopoulou is a researcher and operations manager working with public and private organizations on digital technology projects. She is currently based in Amsterdam, designing and producing pilot projects, events and workshops powered by Appsterdam, the Waag society, the University of Amsterdam (UvA-CIRCA) and the Amsterdam Economic Board. She holds a MSc on Political Communication and New Technologies from the University of Athens and a MA on New Media and Digital Culture from the University of Amsterdam. 

t. @olmageddon

posted June 11 2013
on Platty Soft

Speaking at GOTO Amsterdam 2013

GOTO Amsterdam is a conference designed for software developers, IT architects, agilists, product owners and project managers, it includes a total of 8 tracks with over 40 presentations.

As part of the mobile track I will be presenting “The Road to Publishing“ on Wednesday (14:30-15:20).

This talk has received excellent feedback when I presented at DroidConNL, Appsterdam WWLL, AgileCyL and Delft University.

Abstract (as on GOTO website): “The process of building an App is slightly different from just Software Engineering, it is Product Engineering. In this talk I present several topics about Product Engineering that are relevant to anyone that is making or planning to make apps”.

Hope to see you there.

Avatar of Erik Romijn posted May 29 2013
on Erik Romijn

Appsterdam lunchtime lecture summary 2: Appsolute Value

This is part of my summary series of the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures, an initiative to allow people in Appsterdam to talk about technology and share knowledge, allowing participants to receive training in public speaking. The lectures cover a wide range of topics related to making apps on any platform, from technical to non-technical including computer languages, modelling, testing, design, marketing, business philosophy, startups, strategizing, and more.

Today’s lecture was Appsolute Value, by Michael van den Berg.

Appsolute value

Appsolute value is an agency that focuses on multi-platform app development. Michael’s background is in large organisations, so he has seen how these organisations handle the challenges of the rise of mobile. For large organisations, it’s a big disruption of traditional IT - mobile technology is not just another channel.

Michael helps these organisations to develop business apps. In his view, what really changed with the rise of mobile, is the consumer, and what they want. They have more control, know what they want, and how and when they want it. In Michael’s view, the customer is no longer king, he is a dictator. Traditionally, companies have provided information and software in a controlled way, the way which the company thought was best for the customer, but now this is turning around.

Initially, Michael mostly saw companies work on pure mobile websites. This then moved towards native apps, because organisations wanted to be visible on platforms like the App Store. The native apps and mobile websites initially cost business millions - not so much in making the app itself, but in integrating them with their old large IT systems. Michael says it was also very expensive to create a native app for all of iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. Although iOS and Android take most of the market, organisations he encounters often want all platforms.

In enterprise apps, BYOD is increasing the pressure on large organisations to allow employees to do their work with apps. To reduce cost, they move towards multiplatform development and hybrid web-native. Especially in the US, Michael sees multiplatform development being really embraced, like PhoneGap. This also dramatically reduces the post-implementation cost in his experience, for maintenance, experience and security.

Michael shows a graph from Forrester, which says that today, much of the effort in mobile is in building the initial applications. However, in a few years Forrester expects a majority of effort to go into re-inventing the business processes and backend systems.

Main requirements in mobile technology are security, performance, multi-OS and integration. In security, it’s important to be able to secure data against both employees and customers. Performance is always high priority for Michael’s clients, and this is where they still see issues with HTML5, but not everyone in the audience agrees and there is some active discussion.

Business process appification

Customers can typically use a whole range of apps, and will slowly move more from the web to using apps. Michael challenges use to think of how enterprises can use our apps. He uses the example of iKringloop, which sold their app to the city of Amsterdam. If we can make the lifes of employees of enterprises better, the enterprises might be interested in our app. People in organisations often simply don’t know how mobile can help them, until it is shown to them.