US appeals court says public has right to sue Apple over App Store exclusivity

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2017
A U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that people do indeed have the right to sue Apple over limiting iOS devices to apps from the App Store, potentially paving the way for an open app marketplace in the future.




In a previous decision, a lower court sided with Apple's claim that people do not have the standing to sue because they are technically buying apps from developers, not the company, Reuters reports. Today, however, Judge William A. Fletcher pointed out that people pay for iOS apps through Apple, which gives them grounds for action.

Apple has refused to comment and has not indicated whether it plans to challenge the ruling.

At the heart of the matter is a 2012 lawsuit by a group of iPhone owners who accused the company of being anti-competitive. The Fletcher ruling does not resolve that case, but simply opens the door for future actions that could see Apple once again land in court.

Traditionally, Apple has defended its restrictions by touting quality, convenience, and security. Apps sold outside the App Store could be more vulnerable to security and compatibility issues, as the company has no way of certifying content marketed on third-party storefronts.

Critics have suggested that prices may be artificially inflated as a result of this walled garden approach, and that Apple is more interested in retaining its 30 percent cut of App Store revenue -- barring longterm subscriptions -- than it is in protecting consumers. The company is also known to occasionally block apps or features that compete with its own, or include what it considers objectionable content, even though that material is readily available on other major platforms.

According to the law firm representing the original complainants, the "obvious solution is to compel Apple to let people shop for applications wherever they want, which would open the market and help lower prices." Alternatively, Apple could pay out damages for "higher than competitive prices" customers were required to pay becuase Apple utilized an alleged monopoly.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    If only people had a choice and could buy a smartphone from someone else?  Since there isn't any other manufacturer, the lawsuits are important. 

    Seriously, will someone represent the many consumers that want a walled garden?
    tmaybaconstangyojimbo007anantksundaramrob53pscooter63caliration albrakkenGeorgeBMac
  • Reply 2 of 71
    California should secede and rid the technology world from backward laws
    longpath
  • Reply 3 of 71
    You can sue all you want, will you win in the court? This ruling sounds like it encourages lawsuits instead of a free market, and Apple could lose. It's ridiculous.  
    baconstangbrakkenlongpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 71
    Just because they are suing doesn't mean they will win against Apple.

    1. Apple's walled garden is created by the security it builds into the iPhone.

    2. Apple won't stop someone from jailbreaking the iPhone to install apps outside the App store.  But Apple won't rewrite its system to accommodate it. Someone else has to do the work.

    3. But Apple can also say doing so VOIDS the warranty on the iPhone. So you are on your own. 

    4. And breaking Apple's security means TouchID won't work - since it is part of Apple's security system in the iPhone.


    radarthekatDreid1baconstangcaliration albrakken2old4funlongpathcharlesgreswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 71
    Good luck in court. All this means is they have a right to sue, not that they'll be successful.

    Considering how cheap Apps are I don't know how anyone will be able to convince the court they're paying too much. "Your honor, my client was harmed by having to pay $0.99 for this App. Clearly they were taken advantage of."
    StrangeDaysradarthekatmacseekerbaconstangcaliration almonstrositybrucemcfotoformat2old4fun
  • Reply 6 of 71
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,544member
    THIs is bogus. Don't like the App Store, get an Android. Remember, boys and girls, Android is "winning". 
    farjamedbaconstanganantksundaramcaliGeorgeBMacwilliamlondonMacProlongpathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 71
    AppleBumAppleBum Posts: 37unconfirmed, member
    The same people suing Apple to put any app on their phone will probably be the first ones to get hacked and then sue Apple for not doing enough to ensure security.
    macseekerbaconstangbrucemcGeorgeBMacwilliamlondonMacProlongpathcharlesgresanton zuykovwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 71
    The people who actually want this change:

    •  Crap developers who want to scrounge up as much data from your device as possible in exchange for a "service".
    •  Nefarious developers who make keyloggers, mic/camera wire-taps and data kidnappers.
    •  Grayware manufacturers/resellers
    •  Botnet providers

    People who don't want this change:
    •  All consumers interested in having a functional device.
    tmayfarjamedbaconstanganantksundarampscooter63caliration almattinozbrucemchlee1169
  • Reply 9 of 71
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,426moderator
    Can we also sue movie theaters for not allowing us to bring our own food?  And restaurants, for that matter.  I really like the atmosphere at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, but their prices are too high for my taste.  Why shouldn't I be able to bring my own steak and eat it there?  And I want to be able to buy competing products from individual vendors while at Macy's, flea market style.  Why aren't those vendors allowed to hang out in Macy's?  Maybe setup a booth there?

    Do people even understand that they don't 'own' iOS?  That they have only a license to use it?  It's not their OS.  They own the hardware they purchase from Apple, and so, as another commenter indicates, they are free to jailbreak and install their own apps on the hardware.  But I can't see that Apple has any obligation to allow outside apps runnng under iOS.  IOS is the analog to the retail space owned by a Macy's or the lobby of a movie theater.  
    edited January 2017 bloggerblogmacseekerbaconstanganantksundarampscooter63muppetrycaliration almonstrositybrucemc
  • Reply 10 of 71
    tjwolftjwolf Posts: 202member
    When a person makes the decision of whether or not to buy an iPhone, they must consider Apple's closed app store policy!  If they don't like it, they should not buy an iPhone!  It's really that simple.

    I really don't see on what basis these iPhone customers can sue Apple.  Sure, if Apple were forced to allow apps to be sold outside the app store, apps might be cheaper - but those apps would also more likely result in more malware making it into the Apple ecosystem and harm Apple's security or at least its security reputation.  And, of course, they'd forego the 30% cut.  Of course Apple wouldn't do that!  And why should they have to?  It's not like Apple suddenly changed to this policy, forcing existing customers into it because they had already made the investment - every iPhone owner knew, upfront, that this is how it is.
    slprescottbaconstangration alGeorgeBMaclongpathjdgaz
  • Reply 11 of 71
    My laugh article of the day. Thank you ever so much AppleInsider.
    calilongpathanton zuykov
  • Reply 12 of 71
    Fine.  As long as I can install an app on my iPhone that will ignore any attempt from a non-AppStore app to communicate with me.  I don't want what you've got.

    If you don't like life in "The Garden", go jailbreak or go buy some Android POS.
    edited January 2017 caliGeorgeBMaclongpathanton zuykovwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 71
    leighrleighr Posts: 165member
    ...in a follow up statement, Judge Fletcher also paved the way for users to sue Apple for allowing them to install apps from an open marketplace that compromised their devices' security, and damaged their hardware.
    wonkothesanelongpathanton zuykovbrakkenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 71
    Well, I understand the argument Apple is making; after all, a business that makes $21,000,000,000 in revenue during one quarter (with Apple's cut being $6,000,000,000) is a case and business any company would logically fight.  

    But if I wanted to invest my own money to create my own App Store, it wouldn't go very far with Apple's walled-garden approach.

    A case like this would be best fought on Copyright Law; specifically First-sale doctrine.  Apple's financial interest in a product should expire once the device is paid for.  Think of it like buying a car.  Once you own a car, you can do whatever you want to it, or increase its performance like a new exhaust.  However, Apple designs software, supplemented with capricious license terms which limits future purchases (and customer choice) to doing business only with Apple.

    Customers can purchase music from Amazon and load it using iTunes.  Similar functionality for app sales doesn't exist yet.  If you want to trade freedom for safe apps, that's should be a customer's choice; not Apple's.
    edited January 2017 gatorguy
  • Reply 15 of 71
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,692member
    total fucking bullshi.
    Guess fucking Wallmart should allow stores to be installed in their god damn parking lot in front of their entrance too.

    Apple needs to fight this shit to the death.
    calilongpathStrangeDaysbrakkenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 71
    thrangthrang Posts: 711member
    Well, I understand the argument Apple is making; after all, a business that makes $21,000,000,000 in revenue during one quarter (with Apple's cut being $6,000,000,000) is a case and business any company would logically fight.  

    But if I wanted to invest my own money to create my own App Store, it wouldn't go very far with Apple's walled-garden approach.

    A case like this would be best fought on Copyright Law; specifically First-sale doctrine.  Apple's financial interest in a product should expire once the device is paid for.  Think of it like buying a car.  Once you own a car, you can do whatever you want to it, or increase its performance like a new exhaust.  However, Apple designs software, supplemented with capricious license terms which limits future purchases (and customer choice) to doing business only with Apple.

    Customers can purchase music from Amazon and load it using iTunes.  Similar functionality for app sales doesn't exist yet.  If you want to trade freedom for safe apps, that's should be a customer's choice; not Apple's.
    You can do whatever you want with your car, but don't expect it to be covered by a warranty.

    Music files aren't executables. HUGE difference.

    I DONT want apple to offer "open" store support. If I wanted that, I'd buy a piece of Android crap.

    Buyers have a choice of phone and ecosystem. Get over it.
    ration almacseekerradarthekatsmiffy31GeorgeBMaclongpathanton zuykovhlee1169watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 71
    Can we also sue movie theaters for not allowing us to bring our own food?  And restaurants, for that matter.  I really like the atmosphere at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, but their prices are too high for my taste. 
    I have a friend who would frequently bring their own food when younger.  Specifically Cottage Cheese.  I thought it was a little weird but, that's his decisions

    He'd ask for a spoon and they'd bring him one.

    For just about any company, exceptions to social norms and company policy exist.  But Apple doesn't have any exceptions to Apple's company policy.  Sure, they may try to polish it up by titling it a "License Agreement Terms" to make it sound more official.  However the description that really fits here is "Company Policy".

    Normal people when they go to Ruth Chris' to make a steak would ask the manager for a job to be a "Chef".   😋  Yum.  That reminds me I have a steak to cook.  Have you ever tried putting Papa John's Garlic sauce on a steak then grilling it..?  Delicious!  I reccomend you try it sometime.
  • Reply 18 of 71
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 495member
    Agree that the suit is bogus. I also like the 'walled garden' arrangement of the iOS app store. And yeah, if you don't like it you can either get an Android phone or Jail Break your phone. I seem to remember something about malware and viruses on the open app store software, though...

    Really, all Apple needs to do is add another line in the next terms and conditions that everyone signs without reading saying you agree to use the closed app store. Perhaps they already have - I didn't read them either. 
    anton zuykovwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 71
    MplsP said:
    Agree that the suit is bogus. I also like the 'walled garden' arrangement of the iOS app store. And yeah, if you don't like it you can either get an Android phone or Jail Break your phone. I seem to remember something about malware and viruses on the open app store software, though...

    Really, all Apple needs to do is add another line in the next terms and conditions that everyone signs without reading saying you agree to use the closed app store. Perhaps they already have - I didn't read them either. 
    How well does the judge he know tech/security?  Either, the answer is "not at all" or "no such @gency" told him how to rule.

    My #1 reason for buying Apple is security and the "walled garden". If I didn't care and wanted insecure crap I'd buy Android.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 71
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 658member
    How do you get cheaper than free?
    99 cents is too expensive, now?
    So. Fucking. Stupid.

    In latest news, some of Apple's many failure-enemies have resorted to the support of viruses and malware as a way to claw back some of their ailing profits, dependant as they are on user ignorance and complacency.

    Naturally, TUSA department of justice is only too happy to oblige, working as it does to reinstate the monopolistic status of neuovo-Microsoft, Alphabet (despite its stupid name) with another Android-esque OS disaster.

    Unsurprisingly, after the totally unchecked, unaccounted unconstitutional efforts then smear campaign conducted by the FBI in 2016, TUSADOJ can only recommend society moves even further toward either anarchy or facism, rather than fair market-driven forces based on the sanctity of either individuals or individual companies to manage their own businesses without interference.

    Not, of course, that post-WWII, TUSA has had any trouble trampling or even destroying sovereignty.

    Not to be out-done by trifling obstacles such as the constitution nor common sense, TUSADOJ and cohorts will allow the 'public' press and the irrational hatred of Apple they've cultivated over he past 20 years to sway any productive outcome of this process.

    All hail, Lord Biff!
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