Apple drops ballast on the App Store, in the hope of not losing too much control

Apple unveils a list of proposals for the App Store to end a class action lawsuit against it. Beyond the legal case, the American company is trying to calm things down, as pressure increases regarding its practices in the application store.

It is a difficult balancing act that Apple tries to engage in. Under pressure from regulatory authorities, who are increasingly interested in the rules he has enacted for his application store, but also beset by legal actions for two years (whether that of Epic , the most publicized, or a class action launched by more modest developers), the American group is advancing new concessions. He wants to break the accusations of dominant position on the App Store, without losing control of his platform.

In a press release published on August 26, 2021, the American company offers several changes in its application store. The most significant is the clarification that developers have the right to contact their customers outside of the iOS application, for example by email, to inform them of offers. In other words, they can suggest the possibility of subscribing to their service by going to the official website, without going through the Apple box.

To give developers even more flexibility to reach their customers, Apple also clarifies that developers can use means of communication, such as email, to share information about payment methods outside of their iOS app. “, Develops the Cupertino company in its message. In a press briefing, she stresses that it is a question of clarifying the scope of the rules which had been updated in June 2021, but whose wording did not seem to allow specific targeting of customers (just general emails to everyone. world).

Apple is making several concessions regarding the App Store, in the hope of easing the pressure against it. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

Pay outside the app, to avoid commission

This change could have an impact on the finances of the company in the long term. ” As always, developers won’t pay Apple a commission on purchases made outside of their app or the App Store. The company notes. Clearly, if developers manage to persuade their customers to prefer purchases or subscriptions outside the Apple ecosystem rather than in the iOS application, they will be able to escape the commission that the company takes. This, provided that the users have consented to be contacted by email.

Apple had already given way to developers, especially those generating less than $ 1 million in annual revenue. For them, the commission rate has dropped from 15% on purchases through the App Store and the payment system designed by it, instead of 30%. This amount applies from the first year. Previously, this decrease only concerned subscriptions, from the second year. Several other measures, announced on August 26, are also aimed at small developers.

Apple’s cascade of measures remains hypothetical, however, because it must be validated by the court in charge of the case. Their effect on the sling that exists against the rules of the App Store may also be limited: even if they are approved by the courts, which would put an end to the class action brought against the Cupertino company, they should not be enough to quench all ongoing challenges and actions. They are driven by the prospect of opening up the App Store even more and limiting Apple’s grip on it.

Apple is not out of the woods yet

All these tracks should not affect the specific case between Apple and Epic, the studio behind the successful video game. Fortnite, which had sought to break out of the framework set by the App Store with regard to payments, triggering a legal dispute with Apple. This is a separate procedure, the verdict of which is pending. Apple estimated during its August 27 briefing that a judgment could occur by September.

Epic also found itself very quickly at the forefront of the sling against Apple: it denounced the drop in the commission applied to small developers, seeing it as a simple tactical maneuver to coax them, and found itself among the leaders of ‘a coalition, alongside Spotify, Deezer, Tinder, Meetic and ProtonMail. If all these applications are not designed by small developers, they also present themselves as their mouthpiece by estimating, among other things, that the costs are too high, and that there is not enough freedom left to the developers. .

The proposals are part of a context where criticism is coming from all sides against Apple and its practices considered abusive in the App Store. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

On the side of regulators and legislators, the pressure is also growing stronger. The European Commission has launched several investigations targeting the App Store, Apple Pay, Apple Music and Apple Books, suspected of anti-competitive practices. ” Apple sets the rules for distributing apps to iPhone and iPad users. “, Noted Brussels by triggering its investigations. Across the Atlantic, elected officials have led legislative initiatives to regulate stores such as the App Store and Google Play, the platform for Android, in a different way.

All these cases raise the question of the control that Apple has over the App Store, which is the only place where it is possible to download mobile applications – notwithstanding the fact of jailbreaking your iPhone or iPad, to access stores. informal, which requires some technical skills and requires exploiting vulnerabilities in the operating system, which is, in fact, a risk. However, in a world where the mobile telephony market has only two operating systems, Android and iOS, some people suspect Apple and Google of taking advantage of this duopoly to make it rain and shine on smartphones.

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