Apple's iOS developer fees and charges again targeted by class action suit

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 28
An iOS developer on Friday lodged a class action complaint against Apple over alleged antitrust violations, claiming the company abuses its monopoly power of the iOS market to set price minimums, charge app makers a $99 annual developer fee and levy an effective 30% tax on sales.




Filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the suit alleges Apple's anticompetitive practices involve the acquisition of a monopoly in the iOS app market, refusal to allow third-parties to distribute digital content and foisting pricing requirements and "taxes" on developers.

Plaintiff Barry Sermons, who seeks class status on behalf of app developers, claims Apple's conduct has "caused developers to incur inflated fees, costs, and pricing for each app and in-app product" developed for iOS and "harmed competition by reducing competitors' ability to compete and incentive to innovate."

Sermons developed and markets seven for-pay apps including Morigo, Unity North Atlanta, Mielle Organics, dmvfta, Bovanti, sportsandspine and The Film Black Friday. He also created reVOLVER Podcast, which is no longer available on the App Store but carries on as an Android app and a popular podcasting network under the reVolver Podcasts banner.

According to the complaint, Apple is flouting antitrust laws with an ostensible 100% monopoly over iOS app distribution, a share won by not allowing iPhone and iPad users to download software through third-parties. Leveraging this alleged monopoly, Apple charges developers a "profit-reducing" 30% commission on each paid sale, including in-app purchases.

"There is no good, pro-competitive, otherwise justified reason. Rather, this unnatural price stability is a sure sign of Apple's unlawful acquisition of monopoly power and the abuse of that market power," the complaint reads.

Further, Apple charges developers a $99 annual fee for the right to sell products on the App Store. The company in 2017 updated its App Store Guidelines to reflect a change regarding code bases and templates that effectively requires developers to create a new $99-per-year account for each client app.

Finally, the suit targets Apple's pricing constraints, which dictate app makers sell their wares at no less than 99 cents and at higher price points ending in $.99.

The suit seeks to restrict Apple from further participating in the alleged anticompetitive behavior and award damages and court fees to the class.

Today's lawsuit is nearly identical to another class action filed earlier this month that takes issue with Apple's 30% cut of sales, annual fee and pricing mandates. Both actions site violation of the Sherman Act and California's Unfair Competition Law.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,498unconfirmed, member
    Spotify:


  • Reply 2 of 19
    seankillseankill Posts: 484member
    I’m quick to rip on Apple where they deserve it but these cases are stupid. Don’t like it? Don’t develop for the iPhone. 
    jbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 19
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 392member
    Any developers that complain about Apple’s fees need to seriously watch this video:

    https://youtu.be/kAOm3APJopM
    macseeker
  • Reply 4 of 19
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 978member
    These are by far the stupidest cases. If they want to develop for Sony Play Station they can pay $70,000 and 70%. They have options 
    uraharajbdragon
  • Reply 5 of 19
    And if you look at his Apps on the App Store, they were all developed in 2016 for clients with almost no updates and with no cost to download. I don’t see how he has much of a case for taking issue with the 99 cent pricing or the 30% cut for Apple if all of his apps are free. How can he be a plaintiff and complain that Apple, by virtue of a monopoly on app stores, is profit reducing (except for the $99 per year developer fee) if almost none of what is stated applies to his apps?
  • Reply 6 of 19
    Stupid is as stupid does. SMH.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    Apple hosts the apps. And content. And notifies of updates and handles updates. And provides search. And occasionally markets the apps (if they’re good and promote the platforms). And handle security. The management complexity for small developers alone is worth the percentage for many of us.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 8 of 19
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,690member
    Moronic lawsuit.

    I'm not a developer, but Apple's App Store seems pretty straightforward to me. You pay your developer fee and you get to release your app and you get to set your own price point for the app. So what's the issue again? To be honest, I'm glad that there is at least a $99 yearly fee. If any developer has a problem with that, then their apps are probably not worth having there in the first place. It probably keeps some of the riff raff out of the store too, where you'd end up with a wild west, lunatic Android situation.

    If any developer doesn't like Apple's policies, then go develop for something else. Too many people have this disgusting sense of entitlement these days. Their demands should all be smacked down.


    macseekermacplusplusjbdragon
  • Reply 9 of 19
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,589member
    Would someone with the necessary resources please counter-sue these asshats!!!

    BREAKING NEWS
    The same developer is suing Safeway for charging manufacturers a “stocking fee” just to carry their products and gain access to the store’s customers. They then are marking the products up 30% to the consumer. Film at 11:00.
    edited June 29 dewmejbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 19
    $0.99 the lowest price?

    What about the thousands of apps that cost $0.00 (as in free) eh?

    Apple provides developers a service. For that they should get paid a fee. The questions around if the 30% is worth it is another matter entirely.

    I'm not a developer of IOS or Mac apps so I have no vested interest in this but I hope he gets stuffed for costs with this lawsuit.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    rolsrols Posts: 63member

     The company in 2017 updated its App Store Guidelines to reflect a change regarding code bases and templates that effectively requires developers to create a new $99-per-year account for each client app.

    That stretches the truth somewhat. You can release as many apps on one developer account as you like. If you have 20 clients and write each an app, one account. What Apple clamped down on were template apps where the developer writes an app for Joe's pizza and then sells it to Jane's pizza as well by changing the artwork and the address and then goes on to Bob's pizza, Frank's pizza etc etc putting out the same app re-skinned for dozens of clients. Why did Apple do this? Because they don't want lowest common denominator apps which are really mostly just adverts for businesses clogging up the store, they want imaginative apps that are distinctive. It's also true that most of those apps were free, so one developer for $99 a year was able to put multiple (cr)apps in the store which Apple had to host and for which they would receive nothing. 

    They did actually roll back part of those rules and say you can have a template app but the client themselves must submit it so yes in that case, each client needs an account. $99 a year is Apple's charge to host your advertising app .. and Apple also offered free developer accounts for non-profits, churches etc to ensure they had an avenue to have an appstore presence. 

    I'm pretty sure this one gets tossed. 
    williamlondonjbdragon
  • Reply 12 of 19
    If you're unwilling to pay the $99 fee (like I do), I don't want your app. It's a business expense. Oh, I get it. You're running your business out of your parents' basement and your app is the "best ever"
    jbdragon
  • Reply 13 of 19
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,151member
    freerange said:
    Would someone with the necessary resources please counter-sue these asshats!!!

    BREAKING NEWS
    The same developer is suing Safeway for charging manufacturers a “stocking fee” just to carry their products and gain access to the store’s customers. They then are marking the products up 30% to the consumer. Film at 11:00.
    I completely agree with your assessment and analogy. Apple created the ecosystem, created the massive underlying infrastructure, made it all available for anyone to join at a fee, laid out all the rules, created a vetting service, and provided a suite of services in return for the fee, such as storefront with access to billions of customers, distribution, maintenance, billing, accounting, and advertising. Now some of those who "signed-up" to the terms and conditions stipulated in advance want to renegotiate their deal using the courts as their negotiating agent. Why not go after Amazon for AWS and Microsoft for Azure? The $99 per year developer subscription that Apple charges is ridiculously cheap. Have they never looked at what Microsoft charges for MSDN and versions of Visual Studio that are required to sell commercial apps? The free Community Editions of Visual Studio are not licensed for building and selling commercial apps, it's for hobbyists.

    Not sure if the plaintiffs are truly a-holes, but they are certainly guilty of severe narrow-mindedness and infected with a severe cause of self-entitlement. If they are smart enough to write a damn app maybe they should be smart enough to realize that someone else is carrying their sorry ass over a lot of big hurdles for a pittance compared to what they'd otherwise have to pay if they had to build it all themselves.

    The bottom line is that if you are a professional software developer and you cannot afford the tools, license fees, and operational costs required to run your business and still make a profit, you are in the wrong business. Heck, you don't even have a legitimate business, you're playing with a hobby and need to find a real day job. 


  • Reply 14 of 19
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,138member
    Hey even as hobby its super cheap. $99 for all the tools same again in third party tutorials. Assuming you have the computer and target device for day job. 

    Bonus is is access to store. Then again company structures to do it properly are far more expensive than anything Apple charges. 
  • Reply 15 of 19
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,999member
    And in other news... I’m suing Disney for their monopoly control over Disneyland and charging people to get in.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    I as a student in college did my senior project on making an app to order food from the different buildings food places on campus based on proximity to the closest one and paid the $99 to do my project and thought it was a good deal. It also was the cheapest thing for my project since I also needed a Mac and then other miscellaneous cost that popped up throughout the process. 
  • Reply 17 of 19
    xbitxbit Posts: 244member
    I do think that the $99 developer fee creates an unnecessary barrier to entry for bedroom coders and those in the developing world. 

    Lowering the fee might result in some lower quality apps being submitted for review but I bet it would also lead to some genuinely innovative efforts too. Bedroom coders should be encouraged, not discouraged.
  • Reply 18 of 19
    An iOS developer on Friday lodged a class action complaint against Apple over alleged antitrust violations, claiming the company abuses its monopoly power of the iOS market to set price minimums, charge app makers a $99 annual developer fee and levy an effective 30% tax on sales.
    That's like saying that Walmart abuses its "monopoly power" of the Walmart store building.
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