Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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More shots fired in App Store anticompetition war

Epic is taking its battle with Apple to the next level by recruiting a bunch of like-minded companies for a team-up. The Coalition for App Fairness is a non-profit that counts among its members Basecamp, Deezer, Spotify, ProtonMail, and Tile, with the stated aim “to preserve consumer choice and a level playing field for app and game developers that rely on app stores and the most popular gatekeeper platforms.” And if you think that means Apple, well, yeah, pretty much.

Among the chief allegations the Coalition focuses on Apple is anticompetitive behavior, for which it uses examples of Tile (for which Apple is rumored to launch a competing device, though it hasn’t yet done so) and…the Kindle. Which, okay, though perhaps picking the world’s most popular e-reader and book store doesn’t exactly make the most convincing argument. It also argues that the App Store’s 30 percent cut is excessive, and that the App Store limits consumer freedom.

Apple, meanwhile, has posted new pages on the App Store, touting the benefits of its marketplace, including the trust and security that it argues have made it so popular, as well as making the case for developers, though it obviously doesn’t draw a lot of attention to the cut it takes, or how that has bolstered its bottom-line Services revenue.

So, in short, this battle is far from over—in fact, it’s just heating up. Many of the companies in the CAF are direct competitors to Apple, which certainly colors some of their arguments. Long term, any real challenge to Apple’s status is going to likely have to come from one of two sources: first, Apple’s own concessions, and secondly, governmental regulation. Neither of which seem likely to happen any time in the immediate future. But it will be interesting to see if Epic can continue to grow its alliance of developers, and whether it can get to the point where it’s big enough that Apple has to take notice.

—Linked by Dan Moren

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