Apple Defends Its Walled Garden
Written by Mike James   
Friday, 07 June 2019

Apple is pulling up the drawbridge on its App Store and starting to defend it against all-comers. This would be almost funny if it wasn't so serious.


Apple is making all the wrong sort of news at the moment and there is so much of it that it is difficult to know where to begin. In May we reported that SCOTUS had allowed a lawsuit claiming that the App Store is a monopoly could proceed. The argument that Apple made to stop it was clearly desperate - that it was not the seller to the end user. If it had worked it would have been reprieve by technicality.

Apple clearly recognizes that it is under attack and a new web page attempts to defend what many would consider indefensible. You might even go so far as to say that the document simply highlights all of the problems with a monopolistic App Store.

"For example, we strictly prohibit any app that features pornographic material, discriminatory references, torture and abuse, or anything else in exceptionally poor taste."

You would think they were safe with this assertion, but many would argue that pornography is not in the same class as the rest and anyway the important issue is why Apple's "taste" should be privileged in this way.


There are plenty of other points raised which simply emphasize the problem rather than the solution, but one that particularly deserves mention is:

"We believe competition makes everything better and results in the best apps for our customers."

What does competition mean? In this context it means that apps in the store can compete with one another. Well that is a limited sort of competition, but the document then goes on to say that they can even compete with Apple apps - yes perhaps but not on an even footing.


No third party app can displace an Apple app as the default built-in app. You can install Amazon Music, but Apple Music is still in your face begging you to use it. As if to prove the point, a new lawsuit is underway brought by a small team of developers who are claiming that their screen time apps were delisted as a result of Apple making its own screen time app available. Of course, Apple says that this isn't the reason and that the third party app is using APIs inappropriately, but there are no public APIs that can be use to do the job. The exact argument isn't really important because what is important is that Apple is Judge, Jury and Executioner.

The final shot to the foot is:

"Today, developers have lots of choices for distributing their apps — from other app stores to smart TVs to gaming consoles. Not to mention the open Internet, which Apple supports with Safari, and our customers regularly use with web apps like Instagram and Netflix."

This is freedom as Apple defines it. If you don't like the App Store rules and the implementation of those rules, then you can play outside of the walled garden. You can write an Android app or you can implement a web app and distribute it any way you like. Yes - take it or leave it seems to be Apple's defence and as to completion to the App Store, well it's everywhere go write a desktop app instead. This is the worst sort of word washing I've seen in a while, and I wonldn't be surprised if the web page was revised or even removed. I think you could use the length of time it is up as a measure of how tuned to the state of affairs Apple is.

It is not just that the App Store is a monopoly, it is that Apple is the Dictator in an authoritarian walled garden.

A step in the right direction would be for Apple to let an independent body supervise the store; an even better step would be to allow independent App Stores to exist.

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Last Updated ( Friday, 07 June 2019 )