Apple loosens its grip on the App Store, but still makes the decisions
With no fewer than three major changes to App Store policy announced last week, Apple is reshaping its immensely profitable service business to be more resistant to discontent and regulation, even as it draws developers and content companies to its ecosystem.
The iPhone maker has been battered from left to right with controversies and lawsuits surrounding its App Store over the past few years, and most of it relies on the idea that it is anti-competitive by design; The developers say they are forced to use Apple’s payment mechanisms at a high commission and face strict rules on how they can make money.
Since being on Apple devices is more or less necessary to reach a wide audience, everyone from Spotify, Microsoft, and FortniteManufacturer Epic Games, even small independent developers, have argued that Apple gets away with policies that would never be tolerated in a free market.
But with decisions on Epic’s major lawsuits still pending, and the App Store regulation being considered in many jurisdictions around the world, including Australia, and the actual laws being introduced in South Korea to force big technologies to open up, Apple has made a number of behind-the-scenes changes that could put some of its critics vocal.
First is offered a deal last week in a long-standing lawsuit, which has since grown into a class-action lawsuit with 67,000 whistleblowers, that started with small developers who said Apple had too much control over their businesses. The case has been bitterly discussed since June 2019 and led to Apple lowering the commission It took 30-15% from small developers last year, but now Apple has agreed to create a $ 100 million ($ 135 million) fund to pay affected US developers.
Additionally, as part of the settlement, which was readily accepted by the plaintiffs and is pending a judge’s consideration, Apple will keep its commission rates lower for at least three years, publish transparency data on apps that were blocked, and do some. small but important concessions. Developers around the world will have a greater degree of flexibility in what they charge, and while they still have to use Apple’s payment mechanism on Apple devices, there will no longer be a ban on contacting users to inform them of payment methods. alternatives on other platforms. .
Most recently, Apple said Thursday that it was making a change to the way in which so-called “reader applications” were allowed to work, which could make things much easier for some companies.
Currently, all applications that offer access to content that users have previously purchased or subscribed to have to offer purchases through Apple’s payment mechanism, attracting up to 30 percent commission. But the change means that reading applications (defined in a significant way by Apple as digital magazines, newspapers, books, audio, music and video, not games) will instead be able to link users to an external website for subscriptions. The change specifically addresses a years-old investigation into the App Store by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, which Apple says will now be closed.