Apple in trouble as unhappy app owners join hands to protest

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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A number of Apple’s critics including ‘Fortnite’ creator Epic Games, Spotify Technology and ‘Tinder’ owner Match Group have joined a non-profit group that plans to fight for legal and regulatory measures to challenge the App Store practices of the iPhone makers.

For apps that use their in-app payment system, Apple charges a commission of between 15 and 30 percent and sets complex app regulations in its App Store, which is the only way that Apple allows users to download native apps to smartphones such as the iPhone. Such policies have attracted criticism and formal legal complaints from developers.

Structured as a non-profit based in the US, the Coalition for App Fairness plans to support legal changes that would require Apple to reform. In addition to Epic, Match and Spotify, other smaller companies based in the US and Europe have also joined the coalition as it has been set up as an autonomous non-profit group and is open to all developers to participate – regardless of size.

In recent months, Epic Games has been involved in a very public spat with Apple-and, to a lesser degree, Google – after purposely breaking their laws and beginning a legal fight over them. Meanwhile, Spotify has lodged a complaint against Apple’s policies with the European Union. 

Match Group, which owns Tinder and other dating apps, said it entered because the in-app purchasing scheme of Apple “forces customers to pay higher rates by inserting Apple between app developers and their users, leading to uncertainty and frustration among customers that has a far reaching impact on our businesses.”

Though Apple declined to comment on the coalition, it announced a new section of its website outlining the benefits of its policy, claiming it had blocked 150,000 apps due to privacy violations last year. It says App Store fees foster the improvement of developer tools such as 160,000 technical documents and sample code that helps developers create apps.

Mike Sax, founder of The App Association, an Apple-sponsored organization, said in a statement that the “major brands” of the new group “do not speak for the thousands of app makers that are the backbone of the app economy.”