Apple says the entire web serves as alternative for iOS app distribution
What you need to know
- Apple has hit back at claims from Australian antitrust authorities.
- It claims it does not have a substantial degree of market power.
- It also said that "the whole web" is available to developers in distributing iOS apps.
Apple has hit back at claims from Australian antitrust authorities over the distribution of apps on iOS and the App Store regarding what is a key issue of the raging global antitrust debate.
A filing from Apple dated February 10, 2021 was made public Wednesday and spotted by ZDNet, in which Apple reponds to claims from the ACCC regarding the distribution of apps on iOS and other issues.
The 15-page document covers a multitude of issues, including Apple's own rebuttal to the claim that iOS developers are bound to the App Store if they want to distribute apps. Apple begins by refuting the notion it dominates the market and says the relevant market is not iOS itself, but iOS and all of the other platforms it competes with:
Apple says the "sound market definition" should include native and internet (including web app) distribution to iOS users, App stores like Google Play, personal computers, and specialist platforms like the Xbox Games Store, Steam, the Epic Games store, smart TVs and streaming devices like Amazon Fire or Chromecast, and event wearables like Fitbit and Samsung Watch, as well as social media platforms.
Apple says that it faces "competitive constraints" because of distribution alternatives within the iOS ecosystem:
Apple further states it would be "economically irrational" to undermine the popularity of the App Store by not attracting the best developers or restricting the availability of popular apps, as this would destroy the value of the ecosystem "to the detriment of consumers, developers, and Apple itself".
Apple has been criticized for restricting developers to the iOS App Store if they want to put their apps on devices like the iPhone 12, but Apple says even this isn't true:
Apple says web browsers are used as distribution portals and hosting web applications like Amazon's Luna mobile gaming service. Apple says developers can also give iOS users access to digital content within an iOS app even if it was bought outside of the iOS app, such as on a website, citing examples like Spotify and Netflix.
Apple says it competes with a multitude of platforms because consumers "generally own multiple types of devices" such as desktop PCs and gaming consoles, and often want the same apps on multiple devices.
Regarding App Store pricing, another key criticism often leveled at Apple, the company says:
The company also has a strong rebuttal for the claim that in-app-purchases is a payment processing system:
Apple concludes by stating it would be happy to discuss issues further with the staff of the ACCC. Other topics covered include Apple's desire to have people switch from Android to the iPhone, as well as Spotify. You can read the full report here.
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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. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
Apple is right, ya know...
From their viewpoint it certainly is. I do think everything they say is true, but certainly skewed in their favor. Accessing a service/game via the web is certainly a different experience than via a dedicated app. Only thing I wonder about is the 30%. This was a number generated before anyone had any idea what running such a store would cost. Apple did it first and Google, Microsoft just tagged along. Is it still the right number? For Epic, clearly anything but 0% is wrong. Both Apple and Google have adjusted to 15% for some transactions or some developers, so they acknowledge some leeway. Maybe that's right(er) across the board. It's sort of scary to leave this sort of thing up to 'governments' to adjudicate. You could extend it to any industry. Should the gov be able to say, you are only allowed to have revenue of operating cost + 10%, 5%?. That's what it comes down to. Dictating what allowable profit is. If I were a jeweler, I'd be shaking in my boots.