KEY POINTS

  • Apple and Google have a 30% fees for app developers
  • Facebook, Microsoft targetted Apple over its unfair App Store practices
  • Big tech under scrutiny of the U.S. government for anti-trust practices

A fledging alliance of app developers demanding fairer terms and fees from Google and Apple has added to the voices against the tech giants facing scrutiny for thier iron grip over the industry.  

The Coalition for App Fairness (CFAP), which started last month as a group of 13 apps including Fortnite maker Epic Games and Spotify, has already doubled the number of members. More than 400 unhappy apps are waiting to join the coalition.

“The outpouring of interest we have received has exceeded our expectations. As we bring on new members and hear their stories, it is evident that too many developers have been unable to make their voices heard,” Sarah Maxwell, spokesperson for the coalition, told The Washington Post.

Big technology companies including Apple and Google are under the U.S. government’s radar for allegedly stifling competition and innovation in the market for their profit.

The overwhelming support received by the CFAP shows that app makers are willing to go against behemoths like Apple and call for fairer policies, fees and reasonable control over how the apps operate. Small apps and companies dependent on Apple for visibility and business are usually wary of speaking up.

Apple’s App Store Review Guidelinesonce held a warning for developers, saying, “If your app is rejected, we have a Review Board that you can appeal to. If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps.”

The coalition aims to get Apple to loosen its software rules on its operating software. For example, users of iPhones, iPads and Apple Watches can only download apps through the App Store. Software developers can get paid for apps only through Apple’s payment service where there is a commission on all transactions. The CFAP is asking for new legislation or seeking legal action to get its way.

App developers have to pay a 30% fee to make software for the iOS operating system. While Apple denies its involvement in any anti-trust practices, Congressional investigators said Apple could be making $17.4 billion in FY2020 only through net revenues from the App Store fees, while the cost of running the App Store is less than $100 million. These fees may also be passed on to the consumers soon.

When Google announced a similar 30% fees for developers on its platform, it drew flak around the world.

Other big tech companies have sided with the apps and consumers. Facebook has criticized Apple’s recent changes that make several hurdles for advertising on iPhones and iPad apps. Microsoft has implemented the coalition’s guidelines to its own Microsoft Store, extending its support to developers.

People queue up to enter a new Apple flagship store that opened in Beijing in July 2020 People queue up to enter a new Apple flagship store that opened in Beijing in July 2020 Photo: AFP / WANG Zhao Apple has defended its App Store commissions, saying it has helped many developers and allows the company to keep the ecosystem secure, even as critics argue the tech giant is abusing its power Apple has defended its App Store commissions, saying it has helped many developers and allows the company to keep the ecosystem secure, even as critics argue the tech giant is abusing its power Photo: AFP / NOAH BERGER