Largest conflicts Apple with developers
For several months, technological complaints
Spotify vs Apple
Music streaming app conflictand the tech giant has been going on for a long time. In 2016, Spotify accused Apple of pressuring the company by banning a new version of the app from the App Store.
We can't stand aside as Apple is using the App Store approval process as a weapon.
Spotify said Apple is discouragingrivalry from a streaming music company, blocking a new version of its iPhone app. In a letter sent this week to a top Apple attorney, Spotify says Apple is "seriously harming Spotify and its customers" by rejecting an update to the Spotify iOS app.
The letter says that Apple has abandoned the newversion of the app, citing "business model rules" and demanded that Spotify use Apple's billing system if "Spotify wants to use the app to acquire new customers and sell subscriptions."
In a letter sent by the General CounselSpotify by Horatio Gutierrez to Apple's General Counsel Bruce Sewell suggests that Spotify intends to use the standoff as a weapon against Apple's rules governing subscription services that use its app store.
“This last episode is causing seriousconcerns about competition law in both the US and the EU, "Gutierrez wrote. “This continues Apple’s alarming behavior to exclude and reduce the competitiveness of Spotify on iOS. We cannot stand aside as Apple uses the App Store approval process as a means of harming competitors. "
Spotify sent copies of the email to someto Congressional staff in Washington, DC. Senator Elizabeth Warren then criticized Apple, Amazon and Google for what she called anti-competitive practices. Then she stated that "Apple has long used its control over iOS to stifle competition in the music app space."
Over the past year, Spotify has been publiclystated to various regulators in the US and Europe that Apple's subscription policy effectively punishes third-party music services using the Apple platform while promoting Apple Music, its own service, which launched in June 2015.
Apple does not require subscription servicesused their iTunes billing service, but it doesn't allow them to use an in-app alternative billing system like Google does. Apple charges a monthly fee of up to 30 percent to those who use its billing system. And, of course, app developers like Spotify cannot distribute their apps to iPhones outside of the Apple Store.
This policy sparked much outrage whenApple introduced it in 2011, but most publishers eventually agreed to use the billing feature inside the Apple Store and paid the company its royalties.
The final straw was the presentation of the Apple One single subscription.
Spotify publicly criticized Apple for creatingsubscriptions, according to Apple Insider. The popular music service Spotify then accused Apple of anti-competitive behavior and exploiting its dominant market position to profit. Spotify believes that Apple is being dishonest by encouraging users to prioritize their products.
Once again, Apple is using its dominantposition and unfair practices to disadvantage competitors and deprive consumers of their own services. We urge antitrust authorities to take urgent action to curb Apple's anticompetitive behavior that, if left unchecked, will irreparably harm the developer community and jeopardize our collective freedom to listen, learn, create, and communicate.
Spotify Public Statement
With Apple One, users can getaccess to all Apple services at once, including music. Obviously, this was what Spotify considered anti-competitive behavior. However, Apple denied the accusations, saying that users can still "discover and enjoy alternatives."
Basecamp vs. Apple
The founder of the software company Basecamp criticized Apple's extortion in applications, comparing it to "highway robbery."
Cook now again admits that only 16% of all apps are made to pay Apple's highway-robbery rates. How is that the same for everyone ?!
- DHH (@dhh) July 29, 2020
In June 2020, Apple threatened to remove Hey.com from the App Store, unless the ambitious new email service starts offering in-app subscriptions and sharing some of its revenue. This was stated by the head of Basecamp, who created Hey.
David Heinemeier Hansson, Technical DirectorBasecamp, said Apple executives are acting like "gangsters" by rejecting the bug-fix update and by phone asking the company to commit to adding an in-app subscription to prevent deletion. “I was amazed at how insolent this threat was,” Heinemeier Hansson told The Verge. “I thought the threats should be more subtle. But that was pretty clear. "
There is no chance in bloody hell that we’regoing to pay Apple's ransom. I will burn this house down myself, before I let gangsters like that spin it for spoils. This is profoundly, perversely abusive and unfair.
- DHH (@dhh) June 16, 2020
In an email to The Verge, Apple stated thatrequires all developers to adhere strictly to business models. The company declined to comment specifically on the Hey situation, but suggested that the call in question was not unusual, stating that the company is always ready to partner with developers. Apple also told Protocol that the app shouldn't have been approved at all. The denial came on the same day that the European Union launched an investigation into Apple App Store and Apple Pay practices.
Hey.com launched on June 15th. The new email service offers an alternative to Gmail for $ 99 a year. To continue using the app on iOS, users need to register on the company's website. According to Heinemeier Hansson, Apple initially approved the app on Friday June 12, but after reviewing the bug fix update on Monday, Hey was rejected for not including the ability to register in the app itself. The second version was rejected on Tuesday the 16th.
"Apple has been capricious, inconsistent, and in some cases brutal in its App Store policy for YEARS," Heinemeier Hansson tweeted.
Epic Games vs. Apple and Google
Last month, Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite, filed a lawsuit against Apple and Google, claiming they violated antitrust rules.
The apogee of the dispute between Apple and Google with developersapp drawdowns erupted into a clash on Thursday, August 13, as tech giants kicked the wildly popular Fortnite game from their app stores and game developer Epic Games responded with legal action.
The conflict began on Thursday morning. Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, has begun encouraging Fortnite mobile app users to pay directly rather than through Apple or Google. Companies are demanding that they process all such payments through apps so that they can collect a 30 percent commission - a policy that is already the cause of antitrust complaints against tech giants.
Hours later, Apple responded to Epic Games' actions by removing the Fortnite app from its App Store.
“Epic has included a feature in its app thathas not been tested or approved by Apple, and they did so with the clear intention of breaking App Store policies, ”Apple explained. "We will work hard to partner with Epic to address these violations so that Fortnite can return to the App Store."
Within an hour, Epic launched a multi-front war against Apple that seemed to take months to build.
First, the company is suing Apple at the federal level, accusing the company of violating antitrust laws by forcing developers to use its payment systems.
“The removal of Apple Fortnite is another example ofhow Apple is using its tremendous power to impose unreasonable restrictions and illegally maintain its 100% monopoly on the iPhone in-game payments market, ”says Epic's 62-page lawsuit.
Epic then launched a PR campaign againsttech giant, mocking Apple's iconic 1984 ad when the company itself battled IBM 36 years ago. This time around, Fortnite characters challenged Apple's totalitarian regime. Within a few hours, #FreeFortnite had become the main trend on Twitter.
Epic Games has challenged the App Store monopoly. In response, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices.
Join the fight to make sure 2020 doesn't become 1984.
Google also removed the app later Thursday.Fortnite from its official Android app store, the Google Play Store, claiming it violates Google's policy. Epic responded with a similar lawsuit.
"Coalition of Justice"
As a result, all these outraged developersteam up in an unusual demonstration against Apple and Google and their hold over their app stores. On Thursday, several also small companies said they have formed the App Fairness Coalition, a non-profit group that plans to promote change in app stores and "protect the app economy." The 13 early members include Spotify, Basecamp, Epic, and the Match Group, which has apps like Tinder and Hinge.
They collectively decided, “We are not alone in this, and perhaps we should protect the interests of all.” The new nonprofit organization will be a voice for many.
Sarah Maxwell, group spokesman
Study of the work of the largest technologicalcompanies entered a new round. The US Department of Justice is expected to file an antitrust case against Google as early as next week, which will focus on the company's dominance on the search network. In July, Congress questioned executives at Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook about their practices in a high-profile antitrust hearing. And in Europe, regulators have launched a formal antitrust investigation into Apple's App Store tactics and are preparing to bring antitrust charges against Amazon for abusing their dominance in online commerce.
For years, smaller competitors were reluctant to oppose giant companies for fear of retaliation. But the growing backlash prompted them to take action.
Spotify and others have spoken out muchlouder. And on Monday, Epic and Apple are set to meet in a virtual courtroom in the Northern District of California to present their cases on whether Fortnite should remain on the App Store before an antitrust court case next year.
What are the developers opposed to?
At the heart of the new alliance's efforts liesopposing the tight control of the App Store and Google Play of their applications in them and commissions. Both companies control virtually every smartphone in the world through their software and distribution of applications through their stores. Both also charge 30 percent fees for in-app payments on their systems.
App developers increasingly object topayment rules, arguing that the 30 percent commission is a tax that limits their competitiveness. In some cases, they say, they compete with Apple and Google's own apps and their unfair advantages.
Apple has previously stated that its commission is standard for marketplaces.
On Thursday, the coalition released a list of 10principles set out on her website, which she says are fairer for applications. These include a more transparent application approval process and the right to communicate directly with their users. The main principle is that developers should not be forced to exclusively use the payment systems of app store publishers.
Each member of the alliance agreed to pay an undisclosed membership fee.
“Apple is using its platform to provideits services have an unfair advantage over competitors, ”said Kirsten Daru, vice president and general counsel for Tile, a Bluetooth tracker startup and part of the new App Fairness nonprofit. "It's bad for consumers, competition and innovation."
This year Daru witnessedto legislators that Apple began making it harder for users to access Tile apps after it developed a competing feature. According to Sarah Maxwell, a spokesman for the group, the coalition has formed in recent months after discussions between executives at Tile, Epic, Spotify and Match Group, four companies that have been most vocal against big tech companies.
A new round of discussions began afterLast month, Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their app stores for violating payment rules. As Epic's struggles with Apple and Google escalate, Spotify and Match Group have spoken out in support of the video game company.
According to App Fairness participants, the new coalitionmay encourage more companies to publicly report long-standing complaints. Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain.com, said his cryptocurrency finance company has joined the group in part because it is providing strength.
Can they ban all of us? I doubt. These app stores have grown so large that they actually decide what customers will have access to.
Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain.com
According to Smith, Apple has blocked severalBlockchain applications. Some customers were so frustrated with the blocking that they posted videos of them destroying an iPhone with a machete.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic, said thathis company received "extensive information" from application developers who backed it up after it sued. But many are afraid to speak out publicly, he stressed.
“Apple and Google have endless waysrevenge invisible to the outside world ", such as slowing down applications, rethinking rules in a negative light, or ditching new features," Sweeney said this week.
He said that Epic has long advocated thatconsiders it correct. “But of course,” he added, “it's very difficult to survive, you know, a fight with two companies that are more than 200 times ours.”
What's the bottom line?
How Apple controls the App Store, from the pastyear attracts close public attention. App developers have complained that Apple is unfairly cutting their business, and in many cases also competes with its apps with in-house development.
European regulators, representativesThe US Department of Justice and Attorneys General are investigating Apple's control of the App Store, and House lawmakers questioned Apple CEO Tim Cook at a hearing last month. Google has faced more scrutiny for other issues, in large part due to its more liberal Android app policies.
For Apple, the world's most valuable company, there isa few simple options. Apple has relied heavily on its services business, which has become its second largest source of revenue after iPhone sales, which totaled $ 51.7 billion over the past year. But this business is mainly built on reducing sales of other apps, so securing a 30 percent commission is critical to keeping the business growing.
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