Developers Finally In Revolt Against Apple
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 28 October 2020

The Epic v Apple legal wrangle seems to have started a long overdue revolt against the Apple App store. Can the Coalition for App Fairness make a difference?

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Apple fans won't understand why developers who are privileged enough to be given the opportunity of making a lot of money by being allowed into the App store are complaining. In the past, it was generally only developers that had fallen foul of the tight and inflexible App store rules with no right of appeal who complained. The rest were happy to take the money and ignore the fact that their cash flow was 100% dependent on Apple and its decision-making procedures. The App store is a good idea, but it shouldn't be in the hands of a single entity with its own, often competing, interests.

Epic Games decided to challenge Apple's rules and as a result Fortnite got thrown out of the App store and the on-going legal battle ensured, see Epic Games V Apple & Google - Smash The App Stores.

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The legal battle is interesting in its own right, given that Apple is under scrutiny for its monopolistic practices. The recent report from the House Judiciary Committee specifically mentions the App Store.

However what makes the situation even more newsworthy is the emergence of the Coalition for App Fairness. Launched last month, this is Epic's attempt to martial some forces against Apple. At the start only a few big companies joined - Match, Spotify etc. Now we are told that 40 companies have joined and there are 400 outstanding requests to join. Many others would be interested but are deterred from joining for fear that Apple retaliates and makes trouble for their app submissions. There is a clause in the App Store conditions that more or less says that going to the press with complaints is a reason for removal from the store - joining a coalition is probably worse.

The Coalition has ten principles it want to enforce. You can read all 10 in its website, but the first one basically says that Apple should not be the only App Store and this isn't going to be a matter that Apple is likely to give into without being forced to.

The rest of the principles are equally difficult for Apple to swallow, but number 10 is striking:

"All app stores will be transparent about their rules and policies and opportunities for promotion and marketing, apply these consistently and objectively, provide notice of changes, and make available a quick, simple and fair process to resolve disputes."

When you are in a monopolistic situation the requirements of transparency and fairness should be essential and the fact that it has to be requested is evidence of how Apple has organized things for its own benefit. To quote:

"One company has near total control over the mobile ecosystem and what apps consumers get to use. After nearly a decade with no oversight, regulation, or fair competition, it’s time for Apple to be held accountable."

All those who argue that the issue is void, because the 30% Apple tax is reasonable for what Apple is expected to do, should take note that the issue of fees isn't one of the ten principles. It is a given that if the ten principles apply then market forces would result in a fair price.

More Information

https://appfairness.org/

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 October 2020 )