Rising up against Apple

From “‘Fortnite’ Maker, Spotify Form Advocacy Group to Push for App Store Changes” published in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal:

Companies including “Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc., Spotify Technology and Tinder owner Match Group have forged an alliance to pressure Apple Inc. and other app-store operators to make changes to their marketplace rules.

The Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit registered in Washington, D.C., made its public debut Thursday, saying most app stores collect excessive commissions from software developers on users’ digital purchases and stifle competition by giving unfair advantages to their own products and services…

The increased importance of the app stores has also generated more scrutiny over how they operate. Apple has recently faced public criticism from a number of large companies, such as Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. A group representing news publishers including the New York Times, the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal last month sent a letter to Apple saying it wanted to know what it would take for them to get better App Store deal terms. Apple is also being investigated by Congress, the Justice Department, the European Union and the Federal Trade Commission on antitrust grounds.

My take: The charge of “unfair advantages to [Apple’s] own products and services” is the one that has legs.

See also the Apple 3.0 Antitrust archives. 


  1. David Emery said:
    The companies that produce apps have a case. Those that provide contracted services that happen to have apps associated with them, like Spotify and Epic, are in a significantly different situation, particularly with respect to any claims of “monopoly”. And it seems to me (IANAL) the ‘monopoly’ claims are the only ones that really matter. “Unfair competition” is going to be really tough to do, I suspect.

    And the Epic lawsuit is quite likely to produce precedents that one side will regret. That’s particularly true if Epic goes down in flames, having that case fully litigated will set significant precedent, no matter what this ‘consortium’ asserts. Even if they are granted ‘intervenor’ status, the core facts will be the contractual dispute between Apple and Epic.

    September 24, 2020
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    Even if this group of nearly 10 grows 100 fold, it will amount to an insignificantly small portion of the total number of developers that are OK with their App Store contracts. NONE would be enjoying the discovery rate and revenues that they are today, if distribution of their respective products were the same as they were before iPhone and the App Store.

    September 24, 2020
  3. Fred Stein said:
    Strange bedfellows.

    Newspapers can all reach their subscribers on all mobile devices via web browsing. Apple’s aggregation is just convenience.

    Fortnight’s biz relies heavily on Apple’s chips; And software including tools and developer support programs; And Apple being trusted by parent to protect their kids and their financial data. That has a lot of value.

    Microsoft? haha.

    Spotify? Don’t know or care.

    September 24, 2020
  4. Gregg Thurman said:
    If Epic were to port Fortnite to any of the game consoles they’d pay 30%, and wouldn’t reach as many players as they do on the App Store.

    This is such a crap issue. I don’t understand the logic of anyone siding with Epic.

    If Epic has such a compelling game why did it just discount the console version by 20%? Seems to me that discount hurt Epic’s gross margins more than Apple’s 30% fee.

    September 24, 2020
  5. Gregg Thurman said:
    As an aside, my bank just released an iPhone/iPad App for monitoring your credit card activity.

    You can sign in with screen name and password, OR with FINGERPRINT ID.

    Now that’s a major improvement in security. I’d like to see ALL online sign ins use fingerprint ID.

    September 24, 2020
  6. Jerry Doyle said:
    Apple provides its users more security than any other provider of which I am aware. I now am using my iMac. In the sub bar just below the tool bar is a little box. Click on that little box and ped30.com pops up. The box tells me: “4 trackers prevented from profiling you.” If you click the (i) for information you see: “google-analytics.com was prevented from profiling you on 1 website.” I say: GEAUX 

    September 24, 2020
    • John Butt said:
      Jerry, that took me a while to catch up with your comment LOL – but thanks for the tip. In my settings I have the little box (with a Black and white shield in the middle) in my main top bar, this is an optional setting and will be different for everyone. I expect it is possible some may have removed it from their bar altogether.

      September 24, 2020
  7. Ralph McDarmont said:
    App developers are confused. Why do they think they have a god given right to access Apple’s enormous customer base without paying? Let them build their own list of a billion people. And the infrastructure to reach them. And don’t forget to develop the privacy and security features that make Apple unique, attracting more and more users every day. I understand why developers want to latch on to Apple, kinda like fleas.

    September 24, 2020
  8. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Oh, does this subject “get my goat“.

    One day Apple created an App Store for it’s wonderful iPhone so developers could distribute their apps on it, rejoice to a better compensation structure than previously established for software distribution and people around the world could easily utilize and feed this curated and protected, virtually hiccup-less ecosystem for the mutual benefit of all.

    Everyone was rather content and harmonious with it all.

    Then Apple introduced a 50% fee reduction for ongoing subscriptions after a proof-year of substantiation. A fair offer due to systematic recurring revenue.

    All the while things move along as the day it was when it all began.

    Then one day, some developers started to gripe, moan and complain about all of this.

    I ask, why?

    September 25, 2020
  9. Joe Murphy said:
    @Kirk: Why?
    The old adage comes to mind: “Peanut butter is great until you have steak.”
    In this case, once Apple, wanting to improve the relationship, introduced the discount … the rest is history

    In line with “No good deed goes unpunished.”

    September 25, 2020
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      @ Joe Murphy —

      All so sadly true.

      The REAL bottom-feeder intent of all of that whining and moaning from ultimately a small group of developers (ironically the bigger ones) is to crack into Apple’s control of the App Store to where it merely becomes the uncompensated “pipe” to the customer.

      Another old adage applies here…“bite the hand that feeds you” justified only through the cries and finger-pointing of the size and popularity — ergo:influence — of Apple’s success.

      September 25, 2020

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