Coalition for App Fairness wants iOS app distribution to work like Windows

Posted:
in iOS
The Coalition for App Fairness wants a more open iOS platform with a better review process, outside payments, and app distribution similar to Windows.

The Coalition for App Fairness wants to take on App Store policies
The Coalition for App Fairness wants to take on App Store policies


Apple has been under heavy scrutiny by app developers for its App Store policies. The Coalition's main concerns are seemingly random or unreasonable app submission denials, scam apps earning millions of dollars, and a marketplace built to help only top earners.

The Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) is made up of over 50 members consisting of app developers and companies that have petitioned Apple to improve conditions for app development and distribution. Four members of the Coalition spoke out during a short press conference on Monday to reaffirm their goals before a Wednesday hearing.

The press conference consisted of:
  • Meghan DiMuzio, Executive Director of CAF
  • David Heinemeier Hansson, Founder and CTO of Basecamp
  • Derrick Morton, Founder and CEO of FlowPlay
  • Kosta Eleftheriou, Founder of FlickType
Apple's rejection of the Hey email app in 2020 sparked the creation of the CAF
Apple's rejection of the Hey email app in 2020 sparked the creation of the CAF


Hansson's company Basecamp was in a lengthy battle with Apple in early 2020 over a new app called "Hey." Apple allowed the app onto the App Store at first, then later rejected it based on its business model. Basecamp did not want to share 30% of its revenue with Apple and fought back, ultimately finding a compromise with the company.

Hey is now available on the App Store due to adding a trial email client within the app so that users wouldn't have a unusable app at download. Basecamp is unable to advertise its subscription from within the app, and users must discover the service on their own.

The Basecamp issue was a prelude to the battle Apple had with Epic Games over Fortnite. Hansson uses Epic's lawsuit as a talking point when discussing issues with the App Store and the need for alternate distribution methods.

Kosta Eleftheriou is an iOS developer and creator of the app FlickType for Apple Watch. He is entwined in his own lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company uses its monopoly position to control what apps a user can download -- sometimes to Apple's competitive advantage.

This children's app is actually a casino game grossing millions of dollars
This children's app is actually a casino game grossing millions of dollars


Eleftheriou says that the App Store review process is broken and allows scam apps through while making it hard for legitimate developers. He has been surfacing multiple scam apps that bring in millions in revenue to prove his point.

Derrick Morton is the third developer to speak out on the call. He is a game developer with years of experience and a number of apps on the App Store. He states that the App Store makes competition impossible for many developers due to how apps are shared.

Morton claims that the App Store places top earners at the forefront and leaves smaller developers to fend for themselves. The ability to find games that are not in the top 100 is minuscule at best, he says.

These claims have been heard in some form or another over the past year. Apple has taken steps to make the App Store better for developers, but the CAF says its efforts are nowhere near enough.

The question and answer portion was short and sweet, with little to no new information about the CAF's position. The first question asked if the issues presented were also a problem for Google developers, and the simple answer was yes.

The CAF hopes that they can use Apple as an example of what's happening in these closed ecosystems to have legislation passed. Sweeping laws affecting software distribution, monetization, and user control would affect many companies beyond Apple.

Epic Games wants to offer in-game currency without paying Apple a cut
Epic Games wants to offer in-game currency without paying Apple a cut


Another question addressed payment processing and Apple's requirements surrounding it. It inquired whether the CAF would be satisfied with a rule change allowing apps to use alternate payment methods outside of Apple's.

Hansson simply answered no. To expand, Morton said that the change would be welcome, but added that the damage is well beyond just alternate payment methods at this point. Without alternate app stores, Apple could deny a developer their business at any time.

The members pointed out the existence of platforms like macOS and Windows. Users can access apps via the web and download them without going through a dedicated store.

Eleftheriou pointed out that App Notarization could be used on iOS, similar to how it is used on macOS to enable web distribution of apps. Alternative app stores wouldn't even need to exist for this to work.

Hansson says that Windows is the best example of a free and open marketplace for digital consumers. There, platforms like Steam, Epic, and the Windows Store all compete on equal ground for consumer attention. On top of that competitiveness, developers have the choice to distribute software on any or all of these stores. When considering Windows, developers need not fear their app idea being denied by a monopoly power. Their app can exist in a multitude of ways.

On Wednesday, the CAF will have its first hearing with the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. There they will make their case against Apple and begin the long process of pushing for new competition laws that will affect Apple, Google, Amazon, and others in the tech space.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get the latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    longpathlongpath Posts: 338member
    In short, because they can’t persuade to voluntarily accept their ideas, they prove the lack of values of their ideas by using the legislative approach. Good ideas don’t require force.
    dewmevirgilisleading42jeffharrisbeowulfschmidtwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 2 of 27
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,083member
    The Coalition for App Fairness wants a more open iOS platform with a better review process, outside payments, and app distribution similar to Windows.

    The Coalition for App Fairness wants to take on App Store policies
    The Coalition for App Fairness wants to take on App Store policies


    Apple has been under heavy scrutiny by app developers for its App Store policies. The Coalition's main concerns are seemingly random or unreasonable app submission denials, scam apps earning millions of dollars, and a marketplace built to help only top earners.

    The Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) is made up of over 50 members consisting of app developers and companies that have petitioned Apple to improve conditions for app development and distribution. Four members of the Coalition spoke out during a short press conference on Monday to reaffirm their goals before a Wednesday hearing.

    The press conference consisted of:
    • Meghan DiMuzio, Executive Director of CAF
    • David Heinemeier Hansson, Founder and CTO of Basecamp
    • Derrick Morton, Founder and CEO of FlowPlay
    • Kosta Eleftheriou, Founder of FlickType
    Apples rejection of the Hey email app in 2020 sparked the creation of the CAF
    Apple's rejection of the Hey email app in 2020 sparked the creation of the CAF


    Hansson's company Basecamp was in a lengthy battle with Apple in early 2020 over a new app called "Hey." Apple allowed the app onto the App Store at first, then later rejected it based on its business model. Basecamp did not want to share 30% of its revenue with Apple and fought back, ultimately finding a compromise with the company.

    Hey is now available on the App Store due to adding a trial email client within the app so that users wouldn't have a unusable app at download. Basecamp is unable to advertise its subscription from within the app, and users must discover the service on their own.

    The Basecamp issue was a prelude to the battle Apple had with Epic Games over Fortnite. Hansson uses Epic's lawsuit as a talking point when discussing issues with the App Store and the need for alternate distribution methods.

    Kosta Eleftheriou is an iOS developer and creator of the app FlickType for Apple Watch. He is entwined in his own lawsuit against Apple, claiming the company uses its monopoly position to control what apps a user can download -- sometimes to Apple's competitive advantage.

    This childrens app is actually a casino game grossing millions of dollars
    This children's app is actually a casino game grossing millions of dollars


    Eleftheriou says that the App Store review process is broken and allows scam apps through while making it hard for legitimate developers. He has been surfacing multiple scam apps that bring in millions in revenue to prove his point.

    Derrick Morton is the third developer to speak out on the call. He is a game developer with years of experience and a number of apps on the App Store. He states that the App Store makes competition impossible for many developers due to how apps are shared.

    Morton claims that the App Store places top earners at the forefront and leaves smaller developers to fend for themselves. The ability to find games that are not in the top 100 is minuscule at best, he says.

    These claims have been heard in some form or another over the past year. Apple has taken steps to make the App Store better for developers, but the CAF says its efforts are nowhere near enough.

    The question and answer portion was short and sweet, with little to no new information about the CAF's position. The first question asked if the issues presented were also a problem for Google developers, and the simple answer was yes.

    The CAF hopes that they can use Apple as an example of what's happening in these closed ecosystems to have legislation passed. Sweeping laws affecting software distribution, monetization, and user control would affect many companies beyond Apple.

    Epic Games wants to offer in-game currency without paying Apple a cut
    Epic Games wants to offer in-game currency without paying Apple a cut


    Another question addressed payment processing and Apple's requirements surrounding it. It inquired whether the CAF would be satisfied with a rule change allowing apps to use alternate payment methods outside of Apple's.

    Hansson simply answered no. To expand, Morton said that the change would be welcome, but added that the damage is well beyond just alternate payment methods at this point. Without alternate app stores, Apple could deny a developer their business at any time.

    The members pointed out the existence of platforms like macOS and Windows. Users can access apps via the web and download them without going through a dedicated store.

    Eleftheriou pointed out that App Notarization could be used on iOS, similar to how it is used on macOS to enable web distribution of apps. Alternative app stores wouldn't even need to exist for this to work.

    Hansson says that Windows is the best example of a free and open marketplace for digital consumers. There, platforms like Steam, Epic, and the Windows Store all compete on equal ground for consumer attention. On top of that competitiveness, developers have the choice to distribute software on any or all of these stores. When considering Windows, developers need not fear their app idea being denied by a monopoly power. Their app can exist in a multitude of ways.

    On Wednesday, the CAF will have its first hearing with the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. There they will make their case against Apple and begin the long process of pushing for new competition laws that will affect Apple, Google, Amazon, and others in the tech space.

    Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get the latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.
    Hansson says that Windows is the best example of a free and open marketplace for digital consumers.
    Windows hasn't had an analog to iOS for like half a decade, having failed in the mobile space, so not a great example to build a solution on.

    Really just Google Play, side loading Android Apps, and iOS; choose wisely.
    cornchipmwhitelongpathjeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 27
    Why can’t they leave Apple alone. They are the most responsible company on the planet and there clowns are trying to undermine their operation to bring them into line with companies who are a lot less responsible. Absolutely ridiculous. 
    EsquireCatsmwhiterezwitsleavingthebiggioniclelkruppjeffharrisradarthekatwilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 27
    They simply do not understand what the iOS App Store does and why it can't work 'like macOS' or 'like Widows'.

    If they get their way either Apple's competitive advantage due to vertical integration is destroyed or you get a lot of unhappy 3rd party party stores when Apple break their stores and their binaries on a yearly basis due to continuing to move the iOS hardware and software platform forwards at the same rate.
    EsquireCatswatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 5 of 27
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,151member
    Literally these people: Can we have all the benefits of the App Store while simultaneously contributing nothing to the App Store.
    rezwitslongpathtrackerozwilliamlondonmattinozwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 6 of 27
    j2fusionj2fusion Posts: 102member
    How about we look at it from the user’s perspective instead of the developers. After all, the users pay for the device. I for one, as a user, am very satisfied with the way app distribution is currently done. 
    mwhiteleavingthebiggioniclejeffharristrackerozRayz2016Scot1williamlondonmike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 27
    Rest aside technicalities, CAF is neither independent nor nonprofit, quite the opposite. It is all about money, and got nothing to do with concern for the consumers.

    Appstores in the Apple ecosystem are needed wrt security and privacy, and Epic, Spotify and Schibsted are anyhing but vulnerable victims.

    Apple certainly knows how to extract juicy profit. So does Epic, Spotify and Schibsted. Schibsted have vast information about their news and flee market customers, and Spotify was one of the early friends of Facebook. They have collaborated for many many years.

    I have opted out of solutions like Setapp. The reason is that I believe that my privacy is under less threat by sticking to Appstore and that privacy will improve inside Appstore. Outside: Not very likely.   

    CAF may very well criticise crooks and crapps in Appstore, but that would be far worse outside. 



  • Reply 8 of 27
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 503member
    longpath said:
    In short, because they can’t persuade to voluntarily accept their ideas, they prove the lack of values of their ideas by using the legislative approach. Good ideas don’t require force.
    This is fallacious at best. Plenty of good (even necessary) ideas are unprofitable, therefore a low-regulation, profit-focused market will never provide them. For example, there's a reason the US federal government had to step in and make the interstate freeway system. Private roads can only be profitable enough to justify the investment at small scale or with very few vehicles (e.g., train routes).

    Government exists to use force to compel people to do things which they otherwise would not, such as paying taxes. Democratic government exists to use this power in furtherance of the public interest, such as by providing public schooling. Arguing about what is in the public's interest is important.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 27
    This bunch needs to be careful what they wish for. If they think that Microsoft would not like to control every app that people load on Windows then they need their heads examining. They are already testing the waters with a restricted version of W10. Who's not to say that this is the normal one in a couple of years eh?
    radarthekatwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 10 of 27
    jknashjknash Posts: 11member
    Go sell on windows then... and leave iOS I like my apps being policed by apple.. 
    neutrino23williamlondonwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 11 of 27
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 454member
    In other words, they don’t want Apple “to think differently.”
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 27
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,603member
    Then they should write their own OS. Sick of these parasites trying to unsolve technology issues and throw us back into the digital dark ages.
    ioniclejeffharrisneutrino23williamlondonwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 13 of 27
    looplessloopless Posts: 194member
    I ,for one, can't wait to have my app for sale on the shelves of a Fry's superstore :)
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 27
    Ignoring the politics from a user design perspective I like the simplicity of a single App Store integrated directly into the device. In fact I like the idea of a single unified App Store across all of Apple's devices. It means I only have one place to go for my apps and makes getting and installing updates easy. I especially appreciate this level of simplicity when it comes to my parents and tech illiterate friends.

    I do agree with:

    • Better search and discovery so not the same top apps are brought up every time.
    • Better submission and review process.
    • Cracking down on scam and clone apps.
    • Allow other payment methods but Apple should get a small fee.
    • Simplify the fee structure so everyone pays the same rate.

    I think a lot of the other points are just self serving to the developers at the expense of adding complexity to consumers. I don't like the idea that they are trying to change Apple's ecosystem into an open one, it was never conceived as one. Apple should be allowed to create a "game console" like experience for phones and tablets where only blessed apps run on it and on Apple's terms. If developers don't like it they can freely develop for Android. If consumers don't like it, they can freely buy Android phones. Let the market decide.

    It's clear a lot of these developers either ignore or underplay that Apple spends billions each year to create new hardware, software and services to maintain the attractiveness of the ecosystem to consumers who then buy and use their apps. To say Apple does nothing for their 15% is ridiculous and beyond belief. Most of CAF is self serving, made up of well known, mainly big developers. It's not a true consumer group and the amount of government intervention they are asking for is worrying and could have unintended consequences. It's also uncomfortable that they single out the App Store when half their issues also apply to Google Play Store. If they were being "fair" they should be addressing both stores but instead they focus on the one where they make the most money.
    tmaydewmecitpekswatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 15 of 27
    They are working on it, but frankly: The Windows marketplace in combo with separate downloads is a mess, and the Android App Store needs a serious cleanup to get rid of millions of crapps.

    Apple app stores could certainly need a spring clean too, but they are not as bad as the others. Would have appreciated that the app proposals were better aligned to my preferences. It should be pretty obvious to "iOS/appstore" that I never will purchase any of the games they are showing off.  

    I DO appreciate not having to look outside the App Store very often. Great advantage. 


  • Reply 16 of 27
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,501member
    zimmie said:
    longpath said:
    In short, because they can’t persuade to voluntarily accept their ideas, they prove the lack of values of their ideas by using the legislative approach. Good ideas don’t require force.
    This is fallacious at best. Plenty of good (even necessary) ideas are unprofitable, therefore a low-regulation, profit-focused market will never provide them. For example, there's a reason the US federal government had to step in and make the interstate freeway system. Private roads can only be profitable enough to justify the investment at small scale or with very few vehicles (e.g., train routes).

    Government exists to use force to compel people to do things which they otherwise would not, such as paying taxes. Democratic government exists to use this power in furtherance of the public interest, such as by providing public schooling. Arguing about what is in the public's interest is important.
    You are correct in one respect. There are places where it is better for everyone if the government steps in and mandates certain things. To continue your highway system analogy, car standards are another area. If we didn’t have national standards we would have cars that were 16 feet wide taking up two lanes on the road. Safety features would never have been included. The list goes on and on.

    This is not the same thing however. This is equivalent of some company demanding federal legislation to force Target and Walmart to sell particular brands. Even further it’s them demanding that the government step in and mandate how apple’s business run, not because apple is doing anything wrong, but because these companies don’t want to play by the rules. Look at what MS did today with their gaming platform. XBox Cloud will now run on iOS devices. They faced the same limitation, and solved the problem. The group that is taking things to Congress though doesn’t want to solve the problem. They want to use the government to use its big stick to beat Apple into submission. 

    What they are doing is deceptive, disingenuous, against free enterprise, and wrong. wrong on so many levels there isn’t space to cover them all here. 
    radarthekatwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 17 of 27
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,533member
    Ignoring the politics from a user design perspective I like the simplicity of a single App Store integrated directly into the device. In fact I like the idea of a single unified App Store across all of Apple's devices. It means I only have one place to go for my apps and makes getting and installing updates easy. I especially appreciate this level of simplicity when it comes to my parents and tech illiterate friends.

    I do agree with:

    • Better search and discovery so not the same top apps are brought up every time.
    • Better submission and review process.
    • Cracking down on scam and clone apps.
    • Allow other payment methods but Apple should get a small fee.
    • Simplify the fee structure so everyone pays the same rate.

    I think a lot of the other points are just self serving to the developers at the expense of adding complexity to consumers. I don't like the idea that they are trying to change Apple's ecosystem into an open one, it was never conceived as one. Apple should be allowed to create a "game console" like experience for phones and tablets where only blessed apps run on it and on Apple's terms. If developers don't like it they can freely develop for Android. If consumers don't like it, they can freely buy Android phones. Let the market decide.

    It's clear a lot of these developers either ignore or underplay that Apple spends billions each year to create new hardware, software and services to maintain the attractiveness of the ecosystem to consumers who then buy and use their apps. To say Apple does nothing for their 15% is ridiculous and beyond belief. Most of CAF is self serving, made up of well known, mainly big developers. It's not a true consumer group and the amount of government intervention they are asking for is worrying and could have unintended consequences. It's also uncomfortable that they single out the App Store when half their issues also apply to Google Play Store. If they were being "fair" they should be addressing both stores but instead they focus on the one where they make the most money.

    Perfect.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 27
    Why can’t they leave Apple alone. They are the most responsible company on the planet and there clowns are trying to undermine their operation to bring them into line with companies who are a lot less responsible. Absolutely ridiculous. 


    If you thought you were entitled to Apple's money and services you might not think it was so absolutely ridiculous.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 27
    citpekscitpeks Posts: 123member
    DAalseth said:
    This is not the same thing however. This is equivalent of some company demanding federal legislation to force Target and Walmart to sell particular brands. Even further it’s them demanding that the government step in and mandate how apple’s business run, not because apple is doing anything wrong, but because these companies don’t want to play by the rules. Look at what MS did today with their gaming platform. XBox Cloud will now run on iOS devices. They faced the same limitation, and solved the problem. The group that is taking things to Congress though doesn’t want to solve the problem. They want to use the government to use its big stick to beat Apple into submission. 

    What they are doing is deceptive, disingenuous, against free enterprise, and wrong. wrong on so many levels there isn’t space to cover them all here. 

    There is no shortage of examples outside of the App Store, like stores and shopping malls, entertainment venues (movies, concerts, sporting events), restaurants, and even government facilities like airports, that are restricted markets, have percentage-based agreements with vendors, elect not to take all forms of payment, or use internal data to compete against their vendors with house brands that share the same shelf space.  Consumers are free to patronize, or not, any or all of these places.  Well, perhaps with the exception of being past security in an airport, where you're gonna have to cough up for that $4 drink if you're thirsty, and a train from NY to London isn't quite a feasible alternative; in that case, you're stuck.

    One would have to be incredibly naive, or just plain ignorant, to think that a Target, Walmart, or your supermarket, doesn't dole out shelf space according to its own desires, give better promotion, or more desirable placement to the best selling brands, or negotiate with vendors for such things.  Those stores have the power to decide what to carry, how to carry it, and whether or not they'll take AMEX, and its higher fees, as payment for those goods or services.  Where is the outrage?

    It is disingenuous to frame the arguments being presented as a matter of fairness, while ignoring all of the other examples entrenched in the course of daily life, and the normal course of business.

    Any developer, or member of these companies that patronize any of the above are hypocrites in doing so, under the same terns and practices that they're so vehemently arguing against.
    radarthekatwatto_cobraDetnator
  • Reply 20 of 27
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,183member
    I am in agreement with CAF in that iOS should be as open as Windows ........ just as soon as iOS has as much of a marketshare in the mobile device OS market as Windows has in the desktop OS market. Microsoft do not need to make money by charging a commission for each software loaded into Windows. Microsoft makes tons of money selling copies of Windows and licenses to Window developers, by the shear fact that Windows is on over 90% of the World's computers.

    iOS on the other hand is on 23% of the World's mobile devices and given away for free to anyone using an iDevice.


    And I have a question for those CAF members saying that iOS users would benefit from the added competition of having more than one app store or ways to install apps. If this is true, then why do the apps on Android cost the same as the similar apps on iOS? Why haven't more competition brought down the cost of apps on Android? Oh, yeah .... it has. The pirated apps on the internet are dirt cheap. 

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Android_app_stores

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/28/technology/google-play-store-30-percent.html

    >Google has argued that it allows other companies to operate app stores within its Android software. On Monday, the company said it would make changes in next year’s version of Android to make it easier to use other app stores on its devices without compromising safety.

    In the post, Google used Epic as an example of an app developer benefiting from Android’s third-party app stores — noting the availability of Fortnite on Epic and Samsung’s app stores. But Epic, in its complaint, said Google held a monopoly over app distribution, because more than 90 percent of app downloads on Android devices come through the Google Play Store.<


    The bottom line seems to be that these members of CAF just don't want to pay the 30% to be in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, but they still want to be in those app stores. They would probably lose money if they were listed in a third party app store. Specially if Google or Apple were to make it so that apps in their app stores can not be listed in another third party app store or available over the internet. 


    These CAF members don't care about lowering the price of their apps for the consumers, due to more competition. That would entail them losing money. They want more competition to force Apple and Google to lowering their commission, so they could make even more money. 

    watto_cobraDetnator
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