back to article Epic, Spotify, ProtonMail and pals rise up as one against Apple's 30% cut, call for end to Cupertino-style markets

Thirteen software and media companies - including Epic Games, Spotify, and ProtonMail - have founded an advocacy group to push back against tech platform gatekeepers, primarily Apple. The Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit launched on Thursday, intends to lobby for changes in tech platform policies, largely focused on …

  1. RM Myers

    Stairway to Heavenly Profits

    And it's whispered that soon Apple will play the tune,

    Then their piper will lead us to reason

    And a new day will dawn for those who play along

    And the fanbois will echo with laughter

    And it makes me wonder

    Ohh, woah

    1. Beeblebrox

      Re: Stairway to Heavenly Profits

      Maybe Apple couldn't care less:

      You don't need Spotify on your iphone, just use our music app instead.

      We've got some games too.

      Mail? wtf?

  2. JaySeb

    It's time for something different.

    Think differently Apple, it's time for a change. Because of this my business is now online and not in the app store anymore.

  3. karlkarl Silver badge

    I remember two companies in particular doing this kind of stuff.

    1) Apple because of its stupid provisioning profile required on every phone to run your code (Developer DRM)

    2) Microsoft XBox Live Arcade needed to phone home each time you wanted to run your own game. (DRM)

    3) Microsoft Windows 8 Apps. It required a dumb developer license to run your own code (Developer DRM).

    I was starting to feel a little sick that so many people were just accepting this stuff. Glad to see that there is some sanity.

  4. 45RPM Silver badge

    Two out of three ain’t bad…

    As a developer, I’d like to see Apple take a smaller cut. They can afford to, whereas every penny I give to them above what it costs them to run the service really hurts me - and other developers, particularly the smaller ones.

    I’d really like them to promote the apps on the app store fairly, rather than giving special consideration to their own above those of third parties. This doesn’t affect me, but I can see how galling it would be if it did.

    Third party app stores? No. I can see the benefit of only allowing vetted apps onto the platform (although I wish they did a better job of vetting). That said, I don’t think that there’s any call for them to be taking a cut of any subscriptions that might be made in the app, if those subscriptions are a) not key to the app functionaility (and therefore just a crafty way of circumventing a purchase price) and b) cost Apple nothing to service.

  5. gnasher729 Silver badge

    From the article: "after the game maker deliberately defied Apple rules requiring it to use its in-app purchasing system, prompting a lawsuit. "

    That is, as written, highly misleading. Epic had prepared an update that Apple would have rejected due to its review rules. That happens. But Epic didn't submit that update for review: Instead the submitted a version that would play by the rules for a few days, and then changed its behaviour. That's not quite the same as "defying the rules". At the same time, Epic had already prepared a law suit that they started just a few hours after Apple blocking their app. So Epic defying Apple's rules didn't prompt a lawsuit, the same company defied the rules _and_ started a well-prepared lawsuit.

  6. druck Silver badge

    What goes around comes around

    Microsoft president Brad Smith voiced his concern about the monopoly power of Apple and Google.

    Oh how the mighty have fallen, once upon a time no one would have out monopolised Microsoft.

  7. andy 10

    How about...

    Instead of being whiny little bitches why don’t these companies get together and make their own phone, OS, dev tools, and cloud services. They can then charge whatever they want and let whoever they want run app stores...

    1. Pangasinan Philippines

      Re: How about...a Linux Phone?

      Would that be too difficult?

      Or any open source OS.

      1. lybad

        Re: How about...a Linux Phone?

        There have been - there was (is?) a Ubuntu Touch OS that was used on a couple of phones.

        The biggest problem for most of these is the performance and/or interface, along with apps or programmes. Though a lot of that is solved if you get things like HTML5 apps.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: How about...

      That would be Android. Any ordinary app can be an "app store" if it's granted permission. The home screen is even an ordinary app that you may change at will.

    3. martynhare

      Re: How about... F-Droid

      There’s a perfectly fair store out there that only requires reproducible builds and source code availability. If these bitches want the high ground, perhaps they should actually produce ethical software themselves.

  8. Totally not a Cylon

    Ask the users.

    Or is that too much like common sense?

    I suspect that quite a few Iphone users are like me & my mum; we have Iphones because of the 'walled garden' environment.

    Yes, it's a pain when I've written something I want to run on my phone, but why should the whims of Epic (who are disliked for many reasons) get to wreck a nice system? Disruption is not good for the market....

    Also would this mean that my Smart TV can now run any app I want to run?

    Can I run an app from Sony on an LG?

    Or a Ford app on a Mercedes car?

    Or go into Waitrose and buy Asda SmartPrice products?

    1. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: Ask the users.

      it's a pain when I've written something I want to run on my phone

      Not really, it's only a problem when you want to distribute something that you've written that doesn't comply with the guide lines. You can run whatever you like provided that you install it yourself from code that you've built yourself.

  9. Elledan

    Unreal policies

    It's interesting how many of the same arguments used by the Apple Defence Force (costs for providing SDKs, tools, infrastructure, etc.) also apply to Epic's Unreal Engine and related software. Epic's model there is that anyone can freely use it at zero charge and no strings attached, until one's game or software developed using Unreal Engine generates a certain amount of revenue (recently upped to about $1M, I believe).

    This way independent, small-time developers can do whatever with zero risk or costs, and by the time Epic comes around with the first invoice if one's game turns out to be a sleeper hit, one would presumably be raking in enough dough that the whopping 5% royalties Epic asks at that point would barely register.

    In that regard, Apple's 30% fee for even the smallest developer seems somewhat greedy, especially when one realises that it's not a flat 30% fee, but it are often the bigger parties on the App Store (like Amazon) who are paying significantly less.

    Essentially it appears that in the case of Epic, it are the big players who are funding the party for the smaller players, whereas Apple seems to be more into flogging the smaller developers for cash, to entice bigger players to please not avoid publishing for iOS. Which feels rather... shady.

    Personally, I see smartphones as more or less closed & locked-down platforms (even Android), and the Google & Apple stores as pointless treadmills if one's goal is to make money, but that still doesn't give either Google or Apple to act like greedy leeches.

    1. c1ue

      Re: Unreal policies

      Apple's app store rake isn't "somewhat greedy".

      1) If it is payments and fraud protection: the credit card companies do that for 2% to 3%.

      2) If it is costs: I looked at Apple's financials for 2015. The app store revenues were higher than Apple's entire personnel cost structure - which includes Apple store leases, Apple store employees, Apple developers for the entire company, Apple's entire sales and marketing people, etc.

      The 30% is egregiously more than anything to do with costs - it has everything to do with monopoly access to Apple customers.

      The worst thing is: Apple's iPhone business model is identical to the "razors and razor blade" model Gillette uses - except the razor is the apps/OS/email/software while the blades are the phones themselves.

      The apps developers put on the app store are a significant part of the hook by which Apple can sell its immensely profitable hardware. To squeeze them is ridiculous.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Unreal policies

        You say the credit card companies give you fraud protection. The most dangerous fraud for a developer with in-app purchases isn’t purchases with fake cards, it’s hackers modifying your app so that it can make fake purchases without any payment. And that’s where the payment processor can’t protect you, because there never is any payment.

    2. mbdrake

      Re: Unreal policies

      30% seems to be the industry normal. The downside, however, is the developing for the Apple ecosystem is rather pricey - you have to develop on a Mac (not the cheapest machines in the world) and then pay to be part of the developer program - so that needs to be taken into account too.

      The big problem here is that for the past 17 years or so, Epic Games has no issues with being promoted at special Apple events, claimed that they were making a good deal of money from sales via the App Store (the 30% has not changed in all that time) and are only now throwing a temper tantrum which includes breaking the terms of service which they agreed to abide by.

      And as for the 30% - let the customer of your app absorb the cost. If it's a good app, people will buy it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft president Brad Smith voiced his concern about the monopoly power of Apple and Google.

    I tried to say it with straight face, but I keep hearing "Little pig, little pig, let me come IN..."

  11. Steve Graham


    I was trying to think of an anlogy to explain the situation to legislators and others who aren't technologically clued-up.

    How about this:

    To the purchaser --

    Here's your new Audi car. Oh, by the way, you can only put in petrol from an accredited Audi petrol pump.

    To the developer (petrol station owner) --

    We have to take a 30% slice. Think of the infrastructure we need to put in place to test your petrol.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Metaphorical

      Or paying 30% on your mortgage back to the estate agent because they sold you the house.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Metaphorical

      What makes you think it’s illegal, apart from the fact that there is no contract between petrol station and car manufacturer? It doesn’t happen because there are plenty of competitors, so the company trying to do this first would see revenue dropping to zero.

  12. mark l 2 Silver badge

    30% cut of the profit, it does seem an 'industry standard' fee, but that is mainly because Apple were one of the first to set up a paid app store and decided to charge 30% and then the others that came later followed the Apple pricing model.

    Since there is no other option to distribute your apps on iOS other than through the app store, it does smell like a monopoly to me, even if Android devices outnumber iOS. Android does at least for now have the option of installing apps manually and has other app stores such as the Samsung and Huawei ones.

    1. gnasher729 Silver badge

      For anti-trust, the “natural monopoly” on your own products doesn’t count. Never counts. You can come back when Apple has a monopoly on smart phones.

  13. Stratman

    Why don't they

    just pull their existing apps from Apple and exclude them from future apps? Remember, it wasn't technical superiority that enabled VHS to win the war with Betamax (Beta was technically much better), it was the availability of films. The VHS consortium bought the rights to a whole lot of films and released them on VHS only, if you wanted to watch one you had to have a VHS player.

    1. low_resolution_foxxes

      Re: Why don't they

      And this is why Sony has focused on music and video production ever since.

  14. gnasher729 Silver badge

    News from Google: Seems they just realised they are asking for the same 30% as Apple, but they are less strict at enforcing it. So they “promised” that enforcement will be more strict on the Google Play Store in the future. This may become a huge own goal for some companies.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like