Some of Apple’s iOS app developers are suing Apple. Yes, Apple gets sued by someone somewhere all the time. Why? Hey, who has deeper pockets than Apple? Who wouldn’t want to settle for a small bucket of cash?
Lawyers. Apple has had a tough time in court recently. The company had to settle to get 5G modems from Qualcomm, the U.S. Supreme Court said Apple can be sued as a monopoly, and various and sundry class action lawsuits show up regularly. Here’s an odd one.
Abuse Of Power
Here’s the deal as I see it. Apple’s App Store is not a monopoly because Apple allows developers to set their own prices (within specific boundaries), and takes a cut of the proceeds to handle expenses of operating the store, promotion, security, etc.
Developers are required to follow Apple’s rules to develop apps that get approved for the App Store, and, well, that’s about it. Somehow or another Apple’s simple App Store policies and processes have worked as there are nearly 2-million apps available, and about 80-percent of those are free (Apple does not charge anything for free apps).
What’s wrong? Lawyers.
Two iOS app developers have teamed up with some lawyers, very much interested in reducing Apple’s cash hoard, for a class-action lawsuit. Somehow or another the words anti-competitive practices and monopoly and abuse of power seem to show up in such lawsuits.
This one is interesting. How so?
- Charges high commissions on subscriptions purchased in-app
- Sets, in addition to the 30-percent cut taken from all app sales and in-app purchases, an artificial minimum pricing mandate of 99-cents for paid apps or in-app products
- Dictates that all App Store paid purchases end in 99-cents;
- Forces developers selling products through the App Store to pay an annual Apple Developer fee of $99 to distribute their apps, “which is especially damaging to smaller and new developers.”
I am not an iPhone and iPad app developer but none of those items on the list sound like abuse. In fact, they seem reasonable. Let’s try them out.
High Commissions – ‘High’ is a relative term, but it seems as if many hundreds of thousands of developers have managed to make a good living on apps in the App Store— where they set their own prices.
Minimum 99-cent Price – That seems exceedingly reasonable, considering a credit card is being charged and the credit card company gets a cut of the price. What is better? 79-cents?
99-cent Prices – This is different than #2 above. Apps in the App Store all end in 99-cents. You know, like a gasoline station in the U.S. How is such an amount an abuse of power?
Developer Fee – iOS app developers are required to pay $99 to become App Store developers, and everyone can see how that price is damaging to, uh, um, nobody.
The app developer’s lawyers want a jury trial and want Apple to reimburse app developers, but this is one that is likely to get tossed out the back door by at least one judge.