A coalition of 10 companies, including big names like Spotify, Epic Games, and Match group have decided to speak up against the unjust app store rules and policies of Apple and Google. They aim to pressurize Apple and Google into changing their app store policies for ‘fair treatment’ in the way these giants run their app stores.
The tech giants have been accused of favoring their own apps over other developers. The coalition also grudges against their 30% fee for in-app purchases. This group is also known as the Coalition for App Fairness and its mission is to advocate for legal and regulatory changes. These changes would include measures that could block Apple and Google from favoring their apps in iPhones and phones running on Google’s Android operating system.
This move comes when most developers are criticizing the app stores for imposing a fee of 30% for subscriptions and in-app purchases made by customers. A statement by Horacio Gutierrez, head of global affairs and chief legal officer for Spotify said, “ The Coalition for App Fairness also aims to be the ‘voice of app and game developers in the effort to protect consumer choice and create a level playing field for all.”
CEO and founder of Epic Games Tim Sweeney said, “The basic freedoms of developers are under attack.”. He continues, “We are joining the Coalition for App Fairness to defend the fundamental rights of creators to build apps and to do business directly with their customers. We are an advocate for any company that’s ready to reclaim its rights and challenge the anti-competitive behaviors that exist on app stores today.”
Besides Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group, other members of the coalition include Basecamp, Tile, Deezer, ProtonMail, Blockchain.com, Skydemon, Preprar, News Media Europe, Blix, and the European Publishers Council. Policies of the Apple App Store are their main target, but Google Play Store’s rules may be their adversary soon.
In summer 2020, the popular game Fortnight made unavailable from both the app stores after the developers introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms. Both Apple and Google take a 30% commission, that has been enraging developers for a long time now. Epic Games saw this as nothing more than an unhealthy anti-competitive behavior. In response, it sued the companies.
Epic Games, however, had no intentions of getting money from Apple but rather wanted the company to end many of its app store related practices. Apple has said that they would revoke Epic’s developer license. Epic Games would not be able to publish any more applications for iOS or the macOS.
Apple would rather give access to their in-house developer tools as a counterattack measure. Besides their legal feud with Epic Games, Apple has been accused of manipulating rules and policies to favor its Find My App over the competing Tile. A developer, agreeing to the issues brought to light by Coalition for App Fairness has said, “’What doesn’t feel fair is Apple curates the App Store, so if you’re trending and charting you still may not be visible unless they want you to.”
The Big Tech also faces scrutiny from antitrust regulators. It means that irrespective of an application’s popularity, it will only be displayed in the app stores if the companies want them to. As the Trump administration tries to take action against Google, for antitrust issues, it is campaigning to enlist support from state attorney generals across the country.
This anticipated lawsuit against Google would indeed be one of the biggest legal offensive taken in some time. The last case of a similar magnitude took place 20 years ago against Microsoft. Lawmakers and consumer advocates accuse Google of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to get over competition and boost its profits.