Florian Muller: The end of Apple’s App Store ‘tyranny’ is in sight

From FOSS Patents’ “Apple may already have lost the strategic battle over antitrust market definition in multiple European jurisdictions” posted Sunday:

Never before has there been so much hope that the mobile app store tyranny may come to an end. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There’ll be appeals, and the freedom fighters of the Digital Era may experience setbacks. But the first week of March  2021 may very well be judged by history as the end of the beginning.

I’ve previously commented on the app store bill adopted by the Arizona House of Representatives. This is just the first legislative hurdle of three, and there may be court challenges even if the state senate voted in favor and the governor signed. But it shows that the app store liberation movement is able to build political majorities and overcome Apple and Google’s counterlobbying. Initiatives are underway in multiple states, and it varies by state whether Democrats or (as in Arizona) Republicans take the lead.

On the other side of the Big Pond, Apple’s purely pretextual defenses of its app store monopoly are falling apart. There were not one, not two, but three news cycles this week, two of which are bad news for Apple and the third is more likely than not to portend another decision against Apple.

My take: Mueller, whose spirited defense of free and open-source software (FOSS) standards I covered extensively during the Apple-Android and Apple-Samsung patent wars, has certainly has dialed up his rhetoric!

See also: What’s eating Florian Mueller? 


  1. “The Company believes the availability of third-party software applications and services for its products depends in part on the developers’ perception and analysis of the relative benefits of developing, maintaining and upgrading such software and services for the Company’s products compared to competitors’ platforms, such as Android for smartphones and tablets and Windows for personal computers. This analysis may be based on factors such as the market position of the Company and its products, the anticipated revenue that may be generated, expected future growth of product sales, and the costs of developing such applications and services.” – Apple’s Form 10-K

    March 8, 2021
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    Florian is a very smart patent attorney (I’m guessing, I really don’t know). But that doesn’t make him a smart anti-trust attorney. Wishing something so doesn’t mean it will pass Constitutionality muster.

    We’ve had other laws that were thought good and later taken off th4e books. Prohibition comes to mind

    March 8, 2021
  3. They outline their defense in no uncertain terms thoughout the latest Form 10-K, not just under Risk Factors. “The Company is subject to complex and changing laws and regulations worldwide, which exposes the Company to potential liabilities, increased costs and other adverse effects on the Company’s business.”
    These statements, available to everyone, identify all the susceptibilities and even outline Apple’s defense in any court. The App Store will stand up to legal scrutiny, but Apple will also continue to make meaningful adjustments. In their words,
    “The Company’s minority market share in the global smartphone, personal computer and tablet markets could make developers less inclined to develop or upgrade software for the Company’s products…” yea, right.

    March 8, 2021
  4. Robert LoCascio said:
    As we have come to learn in the last year (or so) “dialed-up rhetoric” can have dangerous consequences.

    March 8, 2021
  5. bas flik said:
    a lot of manufacturing USA is already lost to China. Will they do the same with app market? By destroying Apple they will empower Alibaba & co.

    March 8, 2021
  6. Thomas Larkin said:
    Is Apple likely rethinking Apple’s App Store structure entirely, as part of the larger discussions around the App Store? Perhaps an overhaul from the consignment store model to a reseller model – Apple negotiates a price with the developer of an App it thinks its customers want, and then resells it, properly curated (value clearly added), with a mark-up? Consignment v. resale was an aspect of the Amazon/Apple Bookstore fight. It might also bring some considered analysis and rethinking to the debate, rather than populist rhetoric aimed at obfuscating the facts by throwing as much $hit as possible at the wall ( a common legal, lobbying, and journalistic tactic on full display). The whole “battle” mentality is getting tiresome.

    I would gladly pay twice as much for an Apple curated App, and wouldn’t pay any price, no matter how much lower, for one that isn’t properly curated. The value added by Apple’s curation and protection of its users’ privacy and security is real. I don’t need a million Apps, just a few good, properly curated ones that aren’t siphoning off data, and am perfectly happy with Apple just dealing with App developers as a reseller.

    I do fear that the end result of this fight might be that a lot of worthy developers fail because of a larger, greedier, few – IMHO.

    March 8, 2021
  7. David Emery said:
    Since so much of antitrust regulation is focused on -consumer benefit-, it’s not clear to me the compelling argument from a consumer’s perspective.

    March 8, 2021
  8. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Size apparently matters.

    So when does size then morph into “tyrannical” control? When it gets accused and labeled as such — even though there are other choices for the consumer.

    I guess you know when your at the top of the heap when your usefulness reaches an all-encompassing “need” in people’s lives where most “depend” upon you and you essentially get mob-dragged into being a controlled “utility” like water and power.

    Bravo Apple. You put the juice into that ol’ saw, “No good deed goes unpunished”.

    March 8, 2021
  9. Greg Lippert said:
    There is no consumer benefit. App Store prices are already a race to the bottom.

    All this will do is enhance the pockets of a few while making the app store – and thus our phones – insecure.

    Look at all the high-profile security breaches we’ve seen already this year. Solar Winds, Exchange.

    This is shaping up to be a future disaster.

    March 8, 2021
    • Kirk DeBernardi said:
      App developer.

      Disgruntled app developer?

      March 8, 2021

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