The planned out-of-court settlement in antitrust proceedings against Apple is met with sharp criticism and ridicule from software providers. Apple’s “fraud comparison” does not change the “structural problems” of the app store, which would prevent competition and innovation, said the “Coalition for App Fairness”. Behind the organization are prominent app store critics such as Epic Games, Spotify and Tinder operator Match Group.
Communication allowed soon
Apple no longer wants to forbid developers to inform their users about cheaper prices outside the app, for example by email. A reference to cheaper subscriptions on the web, for example, is prohibited in the apps themselves (or via push message) in order not to undermine Apple’s in-app payment interface: Apple only earns a commission on all purchases and subscriptions processed through it.
The Coalition for App Fairness believes that developers will be able to point out cheaper prices outside the app to their users in the future. The often requested integration of own payment interfaces in apps is also prohibited by Apple.
Bitter mockery among indie developers
With indie developers and smaller developer studios, the settlement was met with shaking of heads and mockery: Who should he contact at Apple to get the “list of e-mail addresses of mutual customers”? the veteran Mac and iOS developer Craig Hockenberry scoffs Alluding to the fact that developers in the App Store have no direct customer contact because only Apple is allowed to process the downloads.
Apple’s portrayal of the agreement as an improvement in the app store in particular met with incomprehension: “You know that it doesn’t change anything, we know that it doesn’t change anything, for whom are you going to perform the act?” asks the Overcast developer Marco Arment. Other developers make fun of the fact that Apple promises as part of the settlement not to change the long disreputable App Store search for at least the next three years.
The developers originally accused Apple of abuse of market power in the lawsuit filed in 2019. Apple has a monopoly on the sale of iPhone apps, since these can only be sold in the App Store, so no competition can arise. With the “excessive commission”, Apple is also reducing the developers’ profits and weakening the market for paid apps. Other almost identically structured lawsuits are pending.
In court documents, Apple announced that it was certain that it would ultimately win the lawsuit – but that it would rather work with the developers than lead a legal dispute against them. As part of the settlement, the plaintiffs then agree that they consider Apple’s commission to be reasonable and that they were not “overcharged” as a result. The approval of the responsible judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who also presides over the major legal dispute between Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple, is still missing for the out-of-court settlement.