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Apple: Arizona bill government mandate to give away the App Store

Tim Cook
Tim Cook (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple is desperately trying to stop a new Arizona App Store bill.
  • That's because it could let developers use third-party payment systems, circumventing Apple's commission.
  • Apple described the move as a "government mandate that Apple give away the App Store."

Apple and Google are desperately trying to stop a bill in Arizona, which Apple says is a government mandate to give away the App Store.

As reported by Protocol:

Arizona State Rep. Regina Cobb hadn't even formally introduced her app store legislation last month when Apple and Google started storming into the state to lobby against it.Apple tapped its own lobbyist, Rod Diridon, to begin lobbying in Arizona. It hired Kirk Adams, the former chief of staff to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, to negotiate with Cobb on its behalf. It quickly joined the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, which began lobbying against the bill. And lawyers for both Google and Apple went straight to the Arizona House's lawyers to argue that the bill is unconstitutional.

According to Cobb, there was a weekend where Apple and Google "hired probably almost every lobbyist in town." As the report notes, both Apple and Google are staunchly opposed to developers using third-party payment systems on its App Store. As the report notes, Apple's chief compliance officer Kyle Andeer told a hearing last week that the bill was basically a "government mandate that Apple give away the App Store". From the report:

"This bill tells Apple it cannot use its own checkout lane and collect a commission in the store we built," Andeer said. The app developers supporting the bill say it would prevent Apple and Google from taking a 30% cut from sales facilitated through their app stores, a fee that they have called "highway robbery." Apple has responded that most software developers don't pay a commission and those that do often pay around 15%, claiming the main beneficiaries of the Arizona legislation would be Epic Games, Spotify and, each multibillion-dollar companies.

The bill is supported by the usual band of parties trying to reshape Apple's online marketplace for iOS software, including the Coalition for App Fairness, as well as Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson, who said the bill was "easier" compared to a broader piece of legislation in North Dakota. Hansson marveled at how quickly the bill was moving in Arizona and said it would be "mind-blowing" if it was passed. The report notes "serious" opposition from some politicians who think supporting the bill could be seen as getting involved in Apple's lawsuit against Epic Games, where the matter is currently being litigated.

That case is due to call in court on May 3, and may even be held as an in-person trial, following months of Zoom hearings.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

  • OK, I decided to be in the Apple Co-Op. I bought my Apple cookware, and I shop at the Apple grocery store. I cook my food, bought at the Apple store, in my Apple cookware. I am not allowed to buy food at the Farmer's market and cook it in my Apple cookware. Farmers bring the food to Apple, who inspects it, keeps it fresh , throws it out if it goes bad, checks it for bugs and disease. For that Apple keeps a percentage. The farmer can set the price. If the farmer feels he needs a $1 he can set the price at $1.30. Should the Farmer be able to set up a booth in the Apple grocery store and collect the money himself? He could just charge a $1, which is good for the consumer, but he is using Apple's heat, space, parking lot, and maybe some of Apple's consumer protection actions surrounding bugs, disease, etc. So Apple is providing service to the Farmer for nothing. That doesn't seem right. The issue is, the Farmer cannot just set up a Framer's market elsewhere, if you want to use your Apple cookware. Google is a bit different. They have a grocery store too, and Google cookware. They also allow farmers to sell through them, provide services, and charge a fee. Again the farmer can set that fee. Google has similar restrictions to setting up a booth in their grocery store, and bypassing Google's fee. The difference is that Google will let you cook food bought at a Farmer's market in their cookware. BUT, you agree that they are not liable for any bugs, disease, freshness claims, or anything else about food you buy that way. They don't even guarantee the food is what it says it is. Your problem. I can't get my head around making Google and Apple host developers in their stores and getting nothing for it. The amount they get is a different debate. The ability to side load apps bought outside the store seems to be an ecosystem choice. Apple has chosen to 'protect' their customers, and brand, by not allowing it, maintaining their ability to ensure a standard of experience. Jailbreaking an iPhone of course a way around this, but that isn't a main stream option. Google has provided a sanctioned option to side load apps, but the switch that lets that happen is clear about the ramifications for the user making that choice. Seems to me, as a consumer, I already have a choice.
  • It's time for app store neutrality.
  • What does that mean?