Supreme Court asks Trump administration for thoughts on App Store pricing lawsuit

Posted:
in iPhone
The U.S. Supreme Court is asking the Trump administration for opinions on whether it should hear Apple's attempt to dismiss a years-long class-action lawsuit, which claims the company has inflated App Store prices by charging developers a 30 percent commission and blocking sales elsewhere.




The company is hoping to overturn a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that allowed the suit to proceed and rejected Apple's position that only developers -- not consumers -- have the legal standing to file such an action, Reuters said. The Supreme Court's advice will come by way of the Justice Department.

The case dates back to 2011, and was launched in California by several iPhone buyers who said Apple is monopolizing the sales of apps. Whereas people using macOS, Windows, or Android can get apps outside of official stores, Apple has completely blocked third-party options on iOS, which might otherwise spur price competition.

The 9th Circuit sided with the plaintiffs' argument that while developers are being charged the commission, it's the public that's paying for any inflated prices.

A number of developers have admitted to charging higher prices to compensate for Apple's commission. One of the better-known examples is Spotify, which until recently was charging more for in-app subscriptions than those bought elsewhere. The music service ultimately decided to scrap in-app purchases entirely rather than maintain the discrepancy.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 735editor
    Please keep the conversation civil, or you will be banned. Thank you.
    patchythepiratechiajahblade80s_Apple_GuySpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 58
    I thought the US had separation of powers such that Law and Executive were independent of each other.  If so why is the Supreme Court asking the opinion of the President as to whether it should hear a case?   Surely it either should or shouldn't based on a matter of law? 

    Viewed from this side of the pond it looks a little odd.
    gutengelradarthekatchiafarmboywilliamlondonbenji888bshankuraharajony0
  • Reply 3 of 58
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,343member
    So, the supreme court not doing its job and punting it...
    So, I'm guessing this applies to all retail too hmmm, seems like that's the logical extension too.
    What a mess that would turn out to be.

    Government dictating margins, and markups for products that are put in a store; truly "capitalism" at work.

    The "small government" (sic) republicans will undoubtedly put their heavy hand in there, seems like a natural to them.
    Or maybe just blackmail Apple into complying on some other random area that will line his pockets or those of his chums.

    Considering currently government is understaffed by close to a thousand high level employees (that have not been replaced by well, you know who),
    this is recipie for the bad and the arbitrary.
    edited October 2017 jahblademacky the mackyredgeminipajony0
  • Reply 4 of 58
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 1,850member
    Comments closing in 3...2...1...
    SolimacxpressSpamSandwichfastasleep
  • Reply 5 of 58
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,755member
    Apple makes the hardware and licenses the software. They allow developers to write and sell software through the App Store. Why do we need multiple app stores when one is enough. I feel comfortable that the apps I download from the Apple App Store do not contain malware. I've read buying through Android app stores is like buying Windows software, you never know what extra things will be included. Apple needs to charge developers so it can maintain the App Store system. Of course most courts haven't the faintest idea how computers work or what's involved in maintaining computer hardware. As far as I'm concerned, Apple has the right to restrict access to its hardware from developers by providing only one way to get applications onto iOS devices. If someone jailbreaks an iOS device, they are breaking the law, although I'm sure courts don't understand that either. I've also read that Amazon takes a healthy cut from every sale they make as well as forcing ebook authors to accept artificially low prices on their books. As we all know, the courts refuse to go after Amazon and Google for all the semi-legal and illegal practices they're getting away with.
    radarthekatjahbladeviclauyyc
  • Reply 6 of 58
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,818member
    seneca72 said:
    I thought the US had separation of powers such that Law and Executive were independent of each other.  If so why is the Supreme Court asking the opinion of the President as to whether it should hear a case?   Surely it either should or shouldn't based on a matter of law? 

    Viewed from this side of the pond it looks a little odd.
    The Supreme Court isn't asking for the opinion of Trump. The Supreme Court sent the request to U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. The Solicitor General is the third highest ranking official in the Department of Justice. The Supreme Court is asking the Department of Justice, which overseas laws. 
    randominternetpersonradarthekatchiamuthuk_vanalingamspice-boyronn80s_Apple_GuyviclauyycGG1urahara
  • Reply 7 of 58
    zompzomp Posts: 34member
    Wrong wrong wrong
    apple is eating an income. Back in the day when you purchased software from Best Buy- did Best Buy make money? How about a restaurant selling Bacardi or a Chevy selling to a dealership, does the dealership make money? Amazon sells software, they earn an income too. 
    Groceries go through so many channels - the farmer always complains that they receive nothing compared to how much the retailer is selling product. 
    Companies have 3 prices: retail, wholesale, and what they need to make.  Or how about this, what they need to make and retail price. 
    This is all BS! 
    By far Apple apps are the lowest prices of anything out there. 
    SoliradarthekatchiaStrangeDaysviclauyycredgeminipajony0
  • Reply 8 of 58
    nhughes said:
    Please keep the conversation civil, or you will be banned. Thank you.
    I see. Flameing EU is cool, but any word on Trump ends in ban. Really - I dont know what to say, while o my way out.
    #AppleOutsider
    gutengelStrangeDaysronnpaxmangtrredgeminipa
  • Reply 9 of 58
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,279member
    seneca72 said:
    I thought the US had separation of powers such that Law and Executive were independent of each other.  If so why is the Supreme Court asking the opinion of the President as to whether it should hear a case?   Surely it either should or shouldn't based on a matter of law? 

    Viewed from this side of the pond it looks a little odd.
    Almost exactly what i was about to say?   As for who the court is asking i would imagine it is the justice department, not the "trump Administration" per say. As such some long time lawyer in the department will end up collating the relavant laws and legal presidents to advise the courts on its interpretation.  

    As for how this will play out , it will be tough to say.   The net result here is there any justification in the law to force a store to sell a certain product.   I dont see it myself and frankly the retail industry would raise hell if somebody tried to implement such.  

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  
    muthuk_vanalingamfarmboy
  • Reply 10 of 58
    foggyhill said:
    So, the supreme court not doing its job and punting it...
    So, I'm guessing this applies to all retail too hmmm, seems like that's the logical extension too.
    What a mess that would turn out to be.

    Government dictating margins, and markups for products that are put in a store; truly "capitalism" at work.

    The "small government" (sic) republicans will undoubtedly put their heavy hand in there, seems like a natural to them.
    Or maybe just blackmail Apple into complying on some other random area that will line his pockets or those of his chums.

    Considering currently government is understaffed by close to a thousand high level employees (that have not been replaced by well, you know who),
    this is recipie for the bad and the arbitrary.
    Wow. Lot of assumptions there. Pretty bold of you.

    This seems a bit strange to me too, but I'm guessing there's some sort of precedent. I'm not an expert on this matter, but I doubt this is the first time something like this has happened. No need to go off the rails.
    ronn
  • Reply 11 of 58
    foggyhill said:
    So, the supreme court not doing its job and punting it...
    So, I'm guessing this applies to all retail too hmmm, seems like that's the logical extension too.
    What a mess that would turn out to be.

    Government dictating margins, and markups for products that are put in a store; truly "capitalism" at work.

    The "small government" (sic) republicans will undoubtedly put their heavy hand in there, seems like a natural to them.
    Or maybe just blackmail Apple into complying on some other random area that will line his pockets or those of his chums.

    Considering currently government is understaffed by close to a thousand high level employees (that have not been replaced by well, you know who),
    this is recipie for the bad and the arbitrary.


    The Justice Department has broad discretion under Federal antitrust law.  Makes perfect sense for the SCOTUS to seek the opinion of the executive branch before hearing this case.  There's nothing controversial about this move.

    The case itself could turn out to be very controversial with serious implications, but this request by the Court is SOP.

    patchythepiratemuthuk_vanalingam80s_Apple_GuyronnGG1
  • Reply 12 of 58
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 3,954member
    rob53 said:
    Apple makes the hardware and licenses the software. They allow developers to write and sell software through the App Store. Why do we need multiple app stores when one is enough. I feel comfortable that the apps I download from the Apple App Store do not contain malware. I've read buying through Android app stores is like buying Windows software, you never know what extra things will be included. Apple needs to charge developers so it can maintain the App Store system. Of course most courts haven't the faintest idea how computers work or what's involved in maintaining computer hardware. As far as I'm concerned, Apple has the right to restrict access to its hardware from developers by providing only one way to get applications onto iOS devices. If someone jailbreaks an iOS device, they are breaking the law, although I'm sure courts don't understand that either. I've also read that Amazon takes a healthy cut from every sale they make as well as forcing ebook authors to accept artificially low prices on their books. As we all know, the courts refuse to go after Amazon and Google for all the semi-legal and illegal practices they're getting away with.

    It's the end-user raising a stink, not the developers.  I guess some whiny, uneducated users believe that Apple should allow 3rd-party "app stores" to sell that same app at a 30% discount.  

    I for one an happy that Apple only holds the keys to the iOS gate.  While other app stores like GooglePlay are trying to get a better handle of rogue apps, just look at any other store out there and it is just an infectious cesspool of malicious apps, typical of an Android system.

    That 30% fee gives developers almost unlimited access to hundreds of millions of iPhone users that know Apple's App Store is a safe place to go for Apps.  Developers don't have to deal with the headaches of dealing with credit cards, merchants, marketing, etc... post your App, get it approved, and if it's good... just waiting for the checks to come from Apple.  A huge amount of headaches for the developer is erased.  They better be grateful.  That 30% cut is cheap compared to the amount of work involved in attempting to do it themselves.

    But no... users are stupid and unfortunately, there are lawyers willing to file in the hopes of stealing part of Apple's pie.
    randominternetpersonronnmacplusplusredgeminipa
  • Reply 13 of 58
    wizard69 said:
    seneca72 said:
    I thought the US had separation of powers such that Law and Executive were independent of each other.  If so why is the Supreme Court asking the opinion of the President as to whether it should hear a case?   Surely it either should or shouldn't based on a matter of law? 

    Viewed from this side of the pond it looks a little odd.
    Almost exactly what i was about to say?   As for who the court is asking i would imagine it is the justice department, not the "trump Administration" per say. As such some long time lawyer in the department will end up collating the relavant laws and legal presidents to advise the courts on its interpretation.  

    As for how this will play out , it will be tough to say.   The net result here is there any justification in the law to force a store to sell a certain product.   I dont see it myself and frankly the retail industry would raise hell if somebody tried to implement such.  

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  

    You may have that backwards. It's not about forcing a store to sell a product, it's whether (and to what extent) a firm can force consumers to use a particular store for a given product.  Ultimately it will come down to how the courts define the relevant market.  If it's "software for iOS devices" then obviously Apple has a monopoly; if it's "software for mobile devices" (or even "software for computing devices") Apple either has significant (or very little) market power but less than a monopoly.  Hopefully, the Courts will determine that the vast majority of software available in the App Store is also available via other stores (for other devices) for very similar prices, and therefore there's not a big anti-trust issue here.
  • Reply 14 of 58
    Hey, let's sue to make our phones less secure.

    Nobody forced these customers to buy iPhones instead of Android.
  • Reply 15 of 58
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,121moderator
    You own the hardware, whether iPhone or iPad in this case.  So you should be allowed, and are allowed, to do with it what you want.  Want to break it open and figure out how to run Windows or Android or Linux on it?  Go for it.  It’s yours, do as you like.  But don’t expect Apple to assist in that effort.  

    However, you license the OS, which remains the property of Apple, and Apple has a right to control what happens with its property, much the way a movie theater has the right to prohibit patrons bringing in their own food.  If a movie theater wants to sell popcorn at a 1000% markup, then you have the choice of watching the movie without popcorn, or going somewhere else to watch the movie.  If Apple, which spent untold billions of dollars building, testing, marketing and supporting iOS wants to create a store within that property where they are the only seller of goods that can be consumed within that property, then I don’t see this as different from a movie theater deciding who can sell snacks to its patrons and collecting a percentage of the take.  
    muthuk_vanalingambb-15redgeminipa
  • Reply 16 of 58
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 1,818member
    I hope the Supreme Court takes up this case. It has far reaching implications that go beyond Apple. If Apple loses, this will just open Pandora's box for potential lawsuits against companies with third party sellers like Ebay, Stubhub, Amazon, Ticketmaster, etc. 
  • Reply 17 of 58
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,228member
    seneca72 said:
    I thought the US had separation of powers such that Law and Executive were independent of each other.  If so why is the Supreme Court asking the opinion of the President as to whether it should hear a case?   Surely it either should or shouldn't based on a matter of law? 

    Viewed from this side of the pond it looks a little odd.
    Agreed and aside from the issue of exclusivity, I don't know why the courts would be hearing this case at all.    It's like arguing that any retailer is "increasing prices" because they charge consumers more than the wholesale price.   Why is that even an issue?   I realize this is slightly different because Apple is taking a cut rather than marking up, but in practice, it's the same thing, since developers set the prices based upon the fact that they knew Apple was taking a 30% cut.   If it worked traditionally, the developers would set a wholesale price and possibly set a retail price and Apple would mark it up above the wholesale price.  If they marked it up 30%, then it would be exactly the same thing as now.   The only difference would be exclusivity.  


  • Reply 18 of 58
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,564member
    As is typical of these BS lawsuits, let’s look at the plaintiffs - yes, these are people so oppressed and appalled that they have to pay a buck or two for apps. It’s draining their bank accounts. But no, these are nothing more than a-holes recruited by law firms to try to obtain a big pay day for the attorneys, and pennies for the actual consumer. My wife just received a settlement check as part of a class action lawsuit against the company where she worked - the check was for $8.46 and they withheld 2.12 in federal taxes! Barely worth the paper it was printed on, or the hassle of taking it to the bank.

    What is equally absurd is that this lawsuit complains that Apple is making 30%, when they are providing the warehouse, the transportation system, the store front, the advertising venue, the banking services, the security, and most importantly, their hundreds of millions of customers for that small fee when other traditional retailers typically mark prices up 100%. Fk these ambulance chasers!
    stompy
  • Reply 19 of 58
    boltsfan17 said seneca72 said:
    I thought the US had separation of powers such that Law and Executive were independent of each other.  If so why is the Supreme Court asking the opinion of the President as to whether it should hear a case?   Surely it either should or shouldn't based on a matter of law? 

    Viewed from this side of the pond it looks a little odd.
    The Supreme Court isn't asking for the opinion of Trump. The Supreme Court sent the request to U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco. The Solicitor General is the third highest ranking official in the Department of Justice. The Supreme Court is asking the Department of Justice, which overseas laws. 

    My mistake.  I read it as SCOTUS asking the Presidential Office rather than the Solicitor General.  Asking the Solicitor General would make sense, however I would have thought that Supreme Court would make its own decisions rather than ask the chief law officer.  
  • Reply 20 of 58
    Apple's polices towards app developers could be considered anti-competitive especially in demanding exclusivity of those apps. If I develop a mobile phone app and want to sell it on two platforms one customer (Apple) should not prohibit me from selling it elsewhere. Microsoft, Adobe, etc... all sell software on more than one platform. Apples App store is already jam packed with apps and I wonder what percentage of developers actually make a profit there, I am talking about good software not the shoddy stuff. 

    People have become blind of the dangers of monopolies in this hyper capitalist society. How many of you forgot that Microsoft was found guilty or running a monopoly  20 years ago. If our government (at that time) had not stepped in it is unlikely Apple would exist today. 

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