This year Apple reached a valuation of $2 Trillion which is both an achievement and a curse at the same time. Now scrutiny from government organisations is likely as to where the extraordinary revenue is coming from.
Already Spotify has issued a complaint in Europe alleging the 30% cut Apple takes from all sales via the App Store is uncompetitive as the Apple Music service is not subject to the same 30% tariff, this complaint has legs, as it was the European commission that ended Internet Explorer’s monopoly of the web browser market on Windows PC’s by forcing Microsoft to include a browser choice screen and applying fines totalling over $1billion USD!
Then we have the high-profile Battle Royale between Apple and Fortnite’s developer Epic Games, In August of 2020 Apple banned Epic games from the App store as Epic were encouraging players of Fortnite to make purchases outside of the App store which goes against Apple’s T&C’s for publishers in the App store.
Epic wasted no time in filing an anti-competitive lawsuit against Apple, claiming Apple was curtailing the freedom of smartphone owners. Apple tried to make Epic’s life harder by issuing further sanctions relating to the use of Apple’s developer tools; this was however blocked by the Judge overseeing Epic’s lawsuit against Apple, this did not affect the App store ban Apple issued against Epic.
Epic itself has been accused of anti-competitive practices in its own Epic games store making developers agree to less than favourable terms in order to add their content to the Epic games store.
Throughout all of this Apple claims it is trying to create a level playing field for developers as they all agree to the same rules, However Epic and others claim this is not the case with services such as Amazon Prime Video taking payments directly via the Amazon Prime Video App.
Epic is currently trying to pull together a coalition of Apple critics to fight against the App store policies.
What could this mean for our favourite tech company?
It is possible that the European commission and US judicial authorities proceed with the anti-trust claims against Apple.
The easiest way around this for Apple would be to allow a 3^rd^ party App Store on iOS and MacOS devices. I would think something akin to the Browser choice splash screen Microsoft introduced allowing people to choose whether to install an additional 3^rd^ party App store alongside the Apple App store.
The arguments against this all boil down to user safety, the current Apple App store is very strict about what Apps are allowed to do in regards to collecting user data and what information & devices (such as the microphone & camera) Apps are allowed to access.
My suggestion would be a splash screen informing users about their right to use a 3^rd^ party App store which would allow for example content 18+ and from developers that are not prepared to pay the 30% commission to Apple while making it crystal clear these 3^rd^ party App stores do not provide the same level of protection.
Personally I am skilled enough to know how to Jailbreak an iPhone giving me complete control of the device, however for my day to day iPhone/iPad & Mac I use the stock App store provided by Apple, I don’t interfere with the core services of the device as I just want it to work… That’s why I use Apple devices.
And so, I do not think a 3^rd^ party App store choice would hurt Apple’s revenue that much so long as it was made very clear the 3^rd^ party App store may make your device behave in unexpected ways and or compromise the security of your data.
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