Apple said it has reached an agreement with representatives in a class action lawsuit against its Appstore rules. Several developers of small applications had accused the company of exploiting its monopoly and exploiting the developers. For example, they demanded that software makers contact their own customers directly and advise them to pay for their purchases directly from the company. Because if people buy a subscription from the App Store instead, Apple gets a 30% commission. As a result, less flow to development companies. But so far Apple has banned developers from communicating about payment options. Anyone who breaks this rule can be kicked from the App Store.
Now Apple is easing that stance – if only a little. In the future, software makers should be allowed to refer to alternative payment options in emails, for example. For this to work, customers must have previously entered their email into an app and consent to the manufacturer being contacted. Such notices should continue to be banned in the apps themselves. So in practice not much has changed.
Other points in the announcement are also less accommodating on closer inspection. For example, the rule that development studios with Appstore sales of less than $ 1 million per year should only pay Apple a 15% commission instead of 30%. Because Apple announced it a few months ago, only the minimum duration has been specified: the halving of the commission should now apply for at least three years.
For developers, this theoretically creates planning security. Swiss developer Oliver Reichenstein makes a living with a popular writing app. What Apple now sells as a success does not change anything for it in practice. In fact, it makes him nauseous when he wonders if the commission will rise again in three years, he says.
There is another point that makes observers shake their heads. According to the company’s own statements, the search function in the App Store should also be based on “objective criteria” such as number of downloads and ratings for at least three years. This too reads ominously on closer inspection: is there a threat of Amazonization of the App Store in 2024, where the best search results are paid ads?
It gets even crazier when Apple announces that the company wants to allow developers to oppose a rejection of their apps that is seen as unfair – because they can already do it.
What is really new, however, is a fund that Apple wants to set up. Small developers who haven’t made more than $ 1 million a year since 2015 can apply to Apple for some sort of social assistance of $ 250,000 to $ 30,000. However, this offer is only valid for US developers. The US court has yet to approve the settlement between Apple and the developers of the class action lawsuit.
The Coalition for App Fairness, an association of development studios, called the deal a facade. Apple’s offer does nothing “to remedy the structural problems of the application ecosystem from which small and large developers are suffering.” Epic Games is also found among the members of the coalition. The maker of the game “Fortnite” sued Apple in separate proceedings because of the unfair conditions of the Appstore. A verdict is also expected shortly in this process.