Shameless Insult, Malicious Compliance, Junk Fees, Extortion Regime: Industry Reacts To Apple’s Proposed Changes Over Digital Markets Act

In response to new EU regulations, Apple on Thursday outlined plans to allow iOS developers to distribute apps outside the App Store starting in March, though developers must still submit apps for Apple’s review and pay commissions. Now critics say the changes don’t go far enough and Apple retains too much control.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney: They are forcing developers to choose between App Store exclusivity and the store terms, which will be illegal under DMA (Digital Markets Act), or accept a new also-illegal anticompetitive scheme rife with new Junk Fees on downloads and new Apple taxes on payments they don’t process. 37signals’s David Heinemeier Hansson, who is also the creator of Ruby on Rails: Let’s start with the extortion regime that’ll befell any large developer who might be tempted to try hosting their app in one of these new alternative app stores that the EU forced Apple to allow. And let’s take Meta as a good example. Their Instagram app alone is used by over 300 million people in Europe. Let’s just say for easy math there’s 250 million of those in the EU. In order to distribute Instagram on, say, a new Microsoft iOS App Store, Meta would have to pay Apple $11,277,174 PER MONTH(!!!) as a “Core Technology Fee.” That’s $135 MILLION DOLLARS per year. Just for the privilege of putting Instagram into a competing store. No fee if they stay in Apple’s App Store exclusively.

Holy shakedown, batman! That might be the most blatant extortion attempt ever committed to public policy by any technology company ever. And Meta has many successful apps! WhatsApp is even more popular in Europe than Instagram, so that’s another $135M+/year. Then they gotta pay for the Facebook app too. There’s the Messenger app. You add a hundred million here and a hundred million there, and suddenly you’re talking about real money! Even for a big corporation like Meta, it would be an insane expense to offer all their apps in these new alternative app stores.

Which, of course, is the entire point. Apple doesn’t want Meta, or anyone, to actually use these alternative app stores. They want everything to stay exactly as it is, so they can continue with the rake undisturbed. This poison pill is therefore explicitly designed to ensure that no second-party app store ever takes off. Without any of the big apps, there will be no draw, and there’ll be no stores. All of the EU’s efforts to create competition in the digital markets will be for nothing. And Apple gets to send a clear signal: If you interrupt our tool-booth operation, we’ll make you regret it, and we’ll make you pay. Don’t resist, just let it be. Let’s hope the EU doesn’t just let it be.
Coalition of App Fairness, an industry body that represents over 70 firms including Tinder, Spotify, Proton, Tile, and News Media Europe: “Apple clearly has no intention to comply with the DMA. Apple is introducing new fees on direct downloads and payments they do nothing to process, which violates the law. This plan does not achieve the DMA’s goal to increase competition and fairness in the digital market — it is not fair, reasonable, nor non-discriminatory,” said Rick VanMeter, Executive Director of the Coalition for App Fairness.

“Apple’s proposal forces developers to choose between two anticompetitive and illegal options. Either stick with the terrible status quo or opt into a new convoluted set of terms that are bad for developers and consumers alike. This is yet another attempt to circumvent regulation, the likes of which we’ve seen in the United States, the Netherlands and South Korea. Apple’s ‘plan’ is a shameless insult to the European Commission and the millions of European consumers they represent — it must not stand and should be rejected by the Commission.”

Source: Shameless Insult, Malicious Compliance, Junk Fees, Extortion Regime: Industry Reacts To Apple’s Proposed Changes Over Digital Markets Act

Robin Edgar

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