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Developer sues Apple over its use of its 'monopoly power' in the App Store

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App Store (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • iOS developer Kosta Eleftheriou is suing Apple over the way it runs the App Store.
  • The developer says that Apple benefits from scam apps while using its power to inhibit legitimate apps.

Developer Kosta Eleftheriou is suing Apple over what he calls its use of "monopoly power." This comes after the same developer took Apple to task over the way it deals with scam apps during a lengthy Twitter thread.

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Now, Eleftheriou's company KPAW LLC has filed a complaint in Santa Clara County relating to the release of the Apple Watch app FlickType.

There are a few interesting tidbits throughout the suit, with The Verge highlighting the fact that Apple reportedly tried to by FlickType, only to make life difficult for the developer once that didn't happen.

At the heart of the dispute appears to be conversations Eleftheriou had with an Apple executive Randy Marsden, who led mobile keyboard technology at the company and later held the position of Text Input Special Projects Manager.[...]Eleftheriou says he was approached by Marsden, who expressed interest in having Apple acquire his software to improve typing on the Apple Watch. Yet, the negotiations went quiet, and afterward, Eleftheriou claims Apple removed his FlickType keyboard app and refused to approve future versions as well as a note-taking variant, on what he thinks are suspicious grounds.

Both apps did eventually get into the App Store, earning the developer $130,000 in the first month. But that led to copycat apps and the way Apple dealt with the influx is another issue for the plaintiff. He claims that Apple "fails to police these fraudsters" while continuing to "amass huge profits for itself."

Eleftheriou's complaint continues.

Apple entices software application developers like Plaintiff to develop innovative applications with the promise of a fair and secure App Store in which to sell them. In truth, Apple systematically flexes its monopoly muscle against potential competition through the App Store and profits from rampant fraudulent practices. If Apple cannot buy a desired application from a developer on the cheap, Apple attempts to crush that developer through exploitive fees and selective application of opaque and unreasonable constraints against the developer.At the same time, Apple permits other developers that Apple does not view as real competition, including scam competitors, to peddle similar, inferior products because Apple profits from their sales. Scammers oftentimes use screenshots and videos taken from legitimate developer's applications and manipulate their ratings. Apple does little to police these practices because it profits from them. Apple then lies to its regulators by asserting that it must maintain its monopoly power over the sale of Apple-related applications to protect consumers, when, in fact, Apple lets them get ripped off and exploits the developers trying to deliver innovation to consumers.

Apple hasn't yet commented on this latest App Store complaint. The company is still embroiled in a legal farce involving Epic Games. Fortnite remains unavailable to iPhone and iPad users as a result of that situation, too.

Eleftheriou says Apple is guilty of false advertising, fraud, and many other things that don't make for good reading for the App Store and the company running it. All eyes will be on this one to see what happens from here.

FlickType is a great app and it's unfortunate that it's wound up at the center of this mess. If you're yet to pick up an Apple Watch I'd suggest FlickType be one of the first apps you install once you do. Here's our list of the best Apple Watches to help with your buying decision!

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.