App StoreSource: Joe Keller / iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple's App Store guidelines are "arbitrary", "arguable", and "a weapon against competitors".
  • That's according to the former head of... erm... Apple's App Store.
  • Phil Shoemaker blasted the marketplace and further claimed Apple Arcade violated Apple's own guidelines.

Apple's former App Store head, Phil Shoemaker, has lambasted the company over its "arbitrary" and "arguable" App Store guidelines, describing them as "a weapon against competitors."

The revelation was made in a massive report submitted by the House antitrust subcommittee regarding anticompetitive behavior from Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. From Business Insider:

Rather than doing this to protect users, as Apple claimed, Shoemaker said the company implements "arbitrary" and "arguable" App Store approval guidelines, and uses its control of the App Store "as a weapon against competitors."

The former App Store director told a House subcommittee that Apple, "has struggled with using the App Store as a weapon against competitors," and in the case of services like Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia, it was doing exactly that.

Shoemaker told the committee that Apple Arcade, Apple's own gaming subscription service, was the type of app "consistently disallowed from the store", but that Apple had allowed its own app on the App Store despite the fact it violated Apple's own existing guidelines.

In a statement to the outlet, Apple snapped back stating:

"We have always said that scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate but we vehemently disagree with the conclusions reached in this staff report with respect to Apple. Our company does not have a dominant market share in any category where we do business. From its beginnings 12 years ago with just 500 apps, we've built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for users to discover and download apps and a supportive way for developers to create and sell apps globally. Hosting close to two million apps today, the App Store has delivered on that promise and met the highest standards for privacy, security, and quality. The App Store has enabled new markets, new services, and new products that were unimaginable a dozen years ago, and developers have been primary beneficiaries of this ecosystem. Last year in the United States alone, the App Store facilitated $138 billion in commerce with over 85% of that amount accruing solely to third-party developers. Apple's commission rates are firmly in the mainstream of those charged by other app stores and gaming marketplaces. Competition drives innovation, and innovation has always defined us at Apple. We work tirelessly to deliver the best products to our customers, with safety and privacy at their core, and we will continue to do so. "

Apple Arcade has been a talking point in antitrust news given Apple's treatment of other gaming platforms such as Microsoft's xCloud service for Xbox and Facebook Gaming.

The subcommittee is expected to make recommendations for lawmakers as to how they can curb the influence and power of companies like Apple in the future.