Lead: according to foreign media reports, US and European officials are investigating whether Apple’s tight control over app store app stores constitutes a monopoly. Meanwhile, developers, including tinder and fortress night, have accused apple of its business practices, especially its 30% share of APP sales. Apple will unveil new projects at this year’s world wide Developers Conference (WWDC), and need to convince developers to continue to believe in the appeal of the apple platform.
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European officials announced this week that they would investigate whether Apple’s App Store violates EU antitrust rules, so Apple’s business practices are under new scrutiny. For most people, the app store is the only way they can install apps on their iPhone.
At the same time, top app developers, including match group, the developer of tinder app, and Epic Games, the developer of popular game fortress night, have accused apple of its long-standing app store policy, including 30% of digital content purchases, and apple often develops software that competes with third parties on its own.
David Hansson, chief technology officer of Basecamp, a private software developer, had previously lashed out at Apple. Dozens of smaller developers later complained about Apple’s app store rules on social media. He, an e-mail application developed by Basecamp, was rejected by apple when it released the update, Hansen said on twitter, because Apple required some apps to support users to pay for the subscription through the app. If it does, Apple will draw 15% to 30% of what users pay.
A representative of match group said in the email: “30% of Apple’s draw has squeezed e-books, streaming music and video, cloud storage, games and online dating markets. And when Apple itself goes into these areas, it’s more worrying, as we’ve seen many times. We have noticed Apple’s influence on us. ”
The app store is one of Apple’s most important services and a fast-growing business unit, contributing more than $46 billion in revenue to apple in 2019, accounting for nearly 18% of the company’s total revenue. Investors see the business as an engine of growth for apple, which has set a public target of $50 billion for service sales this year. Apple didn’t say how much of its service revenue would come from the app store.
Matt Ronge, CEO of astropad, said: “in the near future, it has become increasingly clear that apple is pushing people to buy within apps. In my opinion, all this is for the company’s own service business. A large part of the growth comes from the subscription revenue of the app store. ” Astropad develops software and hardware to turn the iPad into a second display or drawing board.
What are developers worried about?
The app store is the only way most users can install software on their iPhones.
If a developer or company wants to update an app in the app store, the app review process must be completed. In this process, Apple employees check the app against a long list of “guidelines.”. They will decide in a few minutes whether to allow an update to be released or whether the application developer needs to make adjustments.
Developers say they have three major problems with the app store:
The audit process is not transparent. Developers say the decision made by Apple’s app review process seems arbitrary. In the view of developers, applications may be completely removed for some unimportant or unfair reasons. In addition, it can be difficult to communicate with Apple’s representatives and get the app back on the shelf.
Basecamp’s Hansen said at a previous congressional hearing that app developers live in fear because Apple doesn’t know when to arbitrarily reject an app.
Share. Apple will take 30% of the revenue from paid apps and in app purchases. The share will drop to 15% in a year. Developers say Apple’s draw is too high, leading to a sharp drop in their own profits.
In its latest annual report, apple said it believes that users buy Apple’s computers based on the availability of third-party software, and pointed out that developers may stop developing software for apple if it becomes cheaper and more profitable to develop software for rival operating systems such as Google Android or Microsoft Windows.
Unfair competition. Software developers are also concerned that Apple may use trend data on the app store as a guide to develop applications or features that compete with third parties. Developers believe that similar functions independently developed by Apple can often take advantage of the core parts of Apple’s operating system that developers do not have access to. Apple’s behavior in developing such functions is also called “Sherlock king” in the circle. Apple launched Sherlock, a search tool for MAC computers as early as 1998, but it has a clear competitive relationship with a third-party product called Watson.
Jung said that although astropad has maintained a good relationship with Apple’s developer relations department for many years, its products were imitated by Apple last year. Apple introduced a similar product, sidecar, as part of Mac OS. Because sidecar is built into the operating system and can call system level functions that astropad cannot access, it is difficult for astropad to compete with apple.
This week, astropad published an official blog titled dear apple, suggesting that Apple allow users to set their own default apps, provide other charging methods instead of 30% of the draw, and allow some apps not to follow the app store’s app approval process.
Apple vs the world
Apple believes that tight control of the app store enables it to ensure that all software running on the iPhone is secure. At the same time, many companies make money through the app store. Part of it comes directly from Apple driven payments, and the other part comes from regular business activities within the app.
“All our actions are in accordance with the law and competition is welcome at every stage because we believe that competition will drive us to better results,” an apple spokesman said in a statement
“It is disappointing that the European Commission is pushing for baseless complaints from a small number of companies. These companies just want to have a free lunch instead of following the rules like everyone else. We don’t think it’s right. We want to maintain a level playing field and help anyone with determination and great ideas succeed. ” The statement also said.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, said: “Apple mentioned a level playing field here. For me, this should mean that all IOS developers are free to process user payments directly, and all users are free to install software from any source. ” At present, Apple will draw 30% of the sales of virtual goods in Fortress night.
In the United States, apple is also facing increasing anti-monopoly pressure. According to politico, the antitrust panel of the House Judiciary Committee is trying to push Apple CEO Tim Cook to join Amazon, Facebook and alphabet CEOs in a hearing on antitrust issues.
Chris Sagers, an antitrust law professor at Cleveland State University, said that unless the US can pass new antitrust legislation, the EU investigation is a bigger issue for apple than the US House investigation. One of the problems with any possible antitrust lawsuit against apple in the US, according to counter point research, is that the iPhone doesn’t seem to dominate the market compared to Google Android. Only about 46% of smartphones sold in the United States in the first quarter of this year were iPhones. The Google play store also draws 30% of digital shopping.
“It’s similar to the past five to seven years, where Apple is at risk of ‘major cases,'” saggs said. This may be an antitrust case, which may cause great trouble to the company. But I think the risk is similar to that of a long time ago, which is not a big risk in the United States. ”
For apple, the timing of this tension is bad. WWDC, Apple’s software developers conference this year, will start next week. Affected by the new crown epidemic, the conference will take the form of video and Cisco WebEx phone.
Jung said he will follow the news about MAC on WWDC, and his company will continue to launch products of Apple platform. However, the priority of Apple’s platform will decline. An important product that astropad plans to launch this year is support for Windows systems. (SAIL)