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Could this be the thing that finally turns the tide against Apple’s App Store fees?

Published Sep 24th, 2020 2:52PM EDT
Apple App Store
Image: John Greim/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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  • App makers like Spotify have blasted the Apple App Store fees and various practices of the store for a while now.
  • Now, several of these app developers and longtime critics of Apple’s App Store policies have banded together to form a nonprofit, the Coalition for App Fairness.
  • The app makers involved also include Epic, Match, Tile, Deezer, and many others.

Popular app makers like Spotify and the developer behind Fortnite that have long railed against Apple’s App Store fees have now taken their beef against the iPhone maker’s practices to a new level.

Those longtime Apple critics like Spotify as well as Epic and Match Group have launched a nonprofit — the Coalition for App Fairness — that’s meant to formalize their ongoing fight against Apple App Store practices, like the commission of between 15% and 30% that app makers are hit with for using the store’s in-app payment setup. If you open the coalition’s website, right at the top in big letters, viewers are greeted by the following pronouncement that attempts to spell out why the group was founded: “Every day, Apple taxes consumers & crushes innovation.”

“For most purchases made within the App Store,” the coalition argues, “Apple takes 30% of the purchase price. No other transaction fee — in any industry — comes close.

“If consumers want to use a modern mobile device, Apple levies a tax that no one can avoid. No competition, no options, no recourse. The Apple App Store policies are prisons that consumers are required to pay for and that developers cannot escape.”

Citing CNBC, the coalition goes on to blast Apple for raking in an estimated $15 billion annually solely from its so-called app tax.

In addition to the big-name app makers like Spotify that are part of this new nonprofit, additional members include Basecamp, Deezer, Tile, and the email service Protonmail. As part of the coalition’s mission, it’s laid out a set of 10 guiding principles it’s advocating for, principles that include the following: “No developer should be required to pay unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory fees or revenue shares, nor be required to sell within its app anything it doesn’t wish to sell, as a condition to gain access to the app store.”

Some of the app makers involved in the coalition, such as Spotify, are engaged in actual fights involving Apple on other fronts — such as via the antitrust suit that Spotify filed in the European Union against Apple. Basecamp also got into a tussle with Apple this year after an update for its Hey email app wasn’t approved. Even so, at the end of the day it’s difficult to see where any of this tilts the balance of power away from being in Apple’s favor. Minus any legislation forcing of Apple’s hand here, app makers voluntarily submit their apps to Apple’s store, and thus are subject to the rules it imposes. And Apple, at least for now, has given no indication that it’s changing them anytime soon.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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