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Apple says a new North Dakota bill could destroy the iPhone as we know it

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App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new Senate Bill in North Dakota could destroy the iPhone as we know it, according to Apple.
  • Apple has said the bill undermines the privacy, security, safety, and performance that is built into the iPhone by design.
  • Staunch App Store critics like Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney have vocalized support for the move.

A new Senate Bill introduced in North Dakota could destroy the iPhone as we know, according to Apple.

From The Bismarck Tribune:

Proponents of a North Dakota Senate bill say the legislation would clamp down on app stores seen as monopolistic, but opponents see it as interference and potentially harmful.Sen. Kyle Davison, R-Fargo, on Tuesday introduced Senate Bill 2333 to the Senate Industry, Business and Labor Committee. The bill would ban app stores such as Apple and Google Play from requiring app developers to exclusively use their app store and payment system, and prohibit retaliating. Violations would be considered an unlawful practice under state law, opening a door to lawsuits.

Davison said the purpose of the bill "is to level the playing field for app developers" in the state and protect customers from "devastating, monopolistic fees imposed by big tech companies", referring to the 30% fee charged by Apple and Google on App Store purchases.

Speaking to a committee, Apple's Chief Privacy Engineer Erik Neuenschwander said the bill "threatens to destroy the iPhone as you know it", by forcing measures that would "undermine the privacy, security, safety, and performance that's built into iPhone by design." He further stated that Apple "works hard to keep the bad apps out of the App Store" and that the bill could require them to let them in.

Whilst the bill is still being considered, it does have some staunch proponents including Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson.

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'DHH' described the measure as "an incredible bill" that would bring immediate relief. Testifying to the committee, Hansson said he "spent some time refuting the nonsense and scare tactics propelled by Google's and Apple's paid spokespeople", such as statements that the App Store developers fee is essential and that without it the App Store would run at a loss.

In a separate written statement Hansson stated:

We need a fair digital marketplace free of monopoly abuse as much in Chicago as in Bismarck. And when it comes to the app store duopoly, no single change will have a greater impact than giving small software makers like us a choice when it comes to in-app payment systems, and protection from retaliation, if we refuse the onerous deal the monopolists are offering.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

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.

10 Comments
  • Apple should then just stop selling iPhones in SD, not that it's huge market anyway.
  • Why punish SD? It's the ND senate with the bill. ;)
  • App developers decry OS-level privacy and security features because THEY want to be the ones setting those standards. Just stop selling apps and iOS devices in North Dakota.
  • 1) **** off Tim, private emails actually showed that Apple (yeah, Apple) actually tried to cut you a deal.
    2) You just want the Epic store to be on iOS and are playing Robbin Hood style victim to make YOUR own ******* wish come true. That means you’re a ******* hypocrite and I hope your company burn in **** for that alone. You’re no better than Google and Apple on that front, but the fact that you’re taking the “little *****” route actually makes you a lot worse. 3) Okay, so stop selling Apple devices in that state and for those in that state that still want Apple products can either A) buy on eBay or B) cross state lines to do so, plain and simple. What’s the issue there. Exactly how many iPhone sales are sold in that state anyways?
  • Well, Apple will also need to prevent anyone in ND from buying, upgrading or installing any apps on their phones as well. But I am OK with that as well.
  • I don't agree with the notion that Apple and only Apple can be trusted to protect me while I use my phone. This is subjective. I'm talking about ME. Surely there are consumers who greatly benefit from having Apple protect them from themselves. But is it the ignorance of others that should less the my experience? In a world where developers aren't strong armed into paying a 30% commission to Apple (because lets be honest...they don't have any other option if they want their product offered on the 2nd most popular global operating system with such huge market share), our app costs could be significantly lower. Why not pay the devs directly, rather than having to pay an upcharge to compensate for the 30% cut Apple is taking. Why do you think it costs more to subscribe for certain services when purchasing through Apple rather than subscribing to the service directly and then logging in on your Apple device. Yet Apple refused to even allow devs to market that information. Let's be honest...there is some shadiness occurring. Yes, it is Apple's device and Apple's OS so they can do what they please. Sure, I'll even agree with the staunch Apple supporters who say, "If you don't like it go elsewhere". But what I won't do is pretend like it isn't extremely anti-consumer like. Let's not drink the Apple juice THAT hard.
  • This. I have the ability to decide what companies I trust and apps to pay for/I want on my phone. Not just apple
  • While you acknowledge all the facts and I do agree with most of them, I dont understand why devs should get free access to this huge platform. Isn't one of the primary benefits for any company that builds a platform to make money off the products sold on it? If you as a Dev built an App, would you allow other Devs to offer IAPs in your app without cutting you in? I do agree however, that in an ideal world apps should have freedom to advertise that it costs less to buy from elsewhere and let the users decide. But again will Wallmart let a product advertise while *IN THEIR STORE* that it is cheaper at Costco or Target.
  • Apple built the iPhone/iPad/Mac and the App Store, they can charge whatever they want as long as it is their store and their product! They provide the platform (store) and devs provide the apps (merchandise). Would they ask Wallmart next to not make money from things sold in their store.
    The devs who want access to the market need to pay for that market. If they want platform access for free, then they can build it from ground up (devices and the store). I guess the same goes for iOS users, if they want different app stores, there is Android that allows third party stores. Nobody is forcing anybody to use anything, then what's the problem!
    I would however like to see some middle ground for services where Apple is directly competing with some of the apps such as Spotify, YT music and so on. Those apps making less money than Apple does for a competing service even after charging the same price does seem unfair.
  • North Dakota does not have the power to destroy ANY international company. Lighten Up, Francis.