Coalition Takes on Apple App Store Policies

Posted on September 24, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Apple, Google, iOS, Mobile with 30 Comments

Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and several other companies have banded together to take on Apple and its unfair App Store policies.

“As enforcers, regulators, and legislators around the world investigate Apple for its anti-competitive behavior, The Coalition for App Fairness will be the voice of app and game developers in the effort to protect consumer choice and create a level playing field for all,” Spotify Head of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez says in a prepared statement.

“The basic freedoms of developers are under attack,” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney adds. “We are joining the Coalition for App Fairness to defend the fundamental rights of creators to build apps and to do business directly with their customers. We are an advocate for any company that’s ready to reclaim its rights and challenge the anti-competitive behaviors that exist on app stores today.”

As the Coalition notes, app stores are convenient places for users to discover, download, and buy apps, but the two major gatekeepers—Apple and Google—have abused their control of this app distribution on their respective platforms. Developers have been complaining about their unfair business practices for years, but quietly out of fear of retribution. Over the past year, however, several major app makers—notably Spotify and Epic Games—have finally spoken up and complained to antitrust regulators. And now both Apple and Google face regulatory and legal battles around the world. And the dam has burst.

In addition to its long-standing abuses, Apple has conspicuously moved to make its App Store policies even less accommodating to app developers in the past several months. It has aggressively pushed to force app makers that do offer subscription services to offer them in their apps, and not just on the web, so that it can get its 30 percent vig. And it has likewise aggressively moved against game streaming services from companies like Microsoft despite the fact that they don’t have similar onerous requirements for video streaming services.

“If Apple chooses to compete with developers on its platform, it should do so according to the same rules,” Tile vice president Kirsten Daru says. “Instead, Apple leverages its platform to give its own services an unfair advantage over competitors. That’s bad for consumers, competition, and innovation.”

“Apple’s [in-app purchases system] forces consumers to pay higher prices by inserting Apple between app developers and their users, leading to customer confusion and dissatisfaction that has far-reaching implications for our businesses,” Match Group senior vice president Mark Buse notes.

The Coalition for App Fairness was created by Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, News Media Europe, Prepear, Protonmail, SkyDemon, Spotify, and Tile, and is supported by contributions from all members, the organization says. Other app makers that are interested in joining can do so at appfairness.org.

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