Developers get day in court over 'tyrannical greed' of Apple's App Store

Posted:
in iOS edited November 2021
App developers arguing that Apple hundreds of thousands of hours work are being discarded by Apple "exploiting its market power" with the App Store.

App Store
App Store


In July 2021, two developers of free apps sought $200 billion in damages from Apple, claiming that the App Store process restrains trade. Now the case has expanded to include a further developer, and representatives of the three have met Apple in a court session.

According to Courthouse News, US District Judge Edward Chen has held a hearing session over Zoom, with the developers of "Coronavirus Reporter," "Caller-ID," and "WebCaller," as well as the company Calid. The group continues to press for $200 billion damages, an injunction to prevent Apple barring apps, and an end to the annual $99 developer fee.

"Apple's conduct exploiting its market power substantially forecloses competition , amongst emergency COVID pandemic response apps," the developers said in their court documents. "[H]undreds of thousands of person-years of our best developers are being discarded by Apple's tyrannical greed."

"The United States government spent decades building what is now known as the Internet," continue the developers. "Subsequently, we as a nation collectively invested in putting a smartphone, an amalgamation of sensors, software, and communication devices, in the hands of nearly every citizen, forming a network with capabilities amounting to fantasy of science-fiction of prior generations.

According to the developers, this means that everyone should have access to the App Store. Judge Chen sought to clarify whether the dispute was about the App Store, or people's ability to run these apps.

"What is the access issue here," he asked, "the smartphones themselves, or the store?"

The developers decided to focus on the phones and how Apple controls them. Apple attorney Rachel Brass said that this does not form an argument for an antitrust complaint.

"If the complaint is about access to the store then smartphones are not the relevant market," said Brass. "You have to be a competitor in the relevant market, and none of the plaintiffs here are smartphone manufacturers."

Judge Chen also pressed on the details of the complaint, and whether Apple's rules could legitimately be described as antitrust.

"It's not like Apple is trying to sell a competing app and icing people out," he said, "it is unhappiness with getting access to the store."

"How is that an injury to general competition?" asked the judge. "There's individual grievances but how is that anticompetitive injury?"

Dr. Jeffrey Isaacs, developer of "Caller-ID" and "WebCaller," said that Apple wielded "authoritarian control" over the App Store.

"We'd like to be distributors of apps, but we're being disallowed from competing with Apple there," he said. "The only way to distribute an iPhone app is the App Store and it should be open."

Apple's attorney said that the developers' arguments did not demonstrate Apple that was unfair as it pertains to competition. She said that the same arguments proved the opposite.

"For example, for the Covid-19 app," she said, "the plaintiff alleges there are thousands of apps for Covid-19 that have been allowed onto App Store. So that's not an injury to competition, that's an injury to Coronavirus Reporter."

Judge Chen is considering the arguments. No date has been set for his decision.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,360member
    App developers arguing that Apple hundreds of thousands of hours work are being discarded by Apple "exploiting its market power" with the App Store.
    Say what?
    hcrefugeebaconstangkillroyjony0
  • Reply 2 of 40
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,057member
    Exactly which of the 200 requirements in the App Store Guidelines do they want revoked? All of them? Here's one I picked at random:
    2.5.9 Apps that alter or disable the functions of standard switches, such as the Volume Up/Down and Ring/Silent switches, or other native user interface elements or behaviors will be rejected. For example, apps should not block links out to other apps or other features that users would expect to work a certain way.

    How evil it is of Apple to make any requirements, like this one. It inhibits competition! It makes Apple a monopoly!

    Beatsdarelrexmagman1979jony0hcrefugeebaconstangmattinozkillroykurai_kage
  • Reply 3 of 40
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    WTF? They wanna remove the $99/year fee too?!!


    ”Store owners are greedy!!!”
    magman1979williamlondonjony0baconstangmaximaraDogpersonkillroydarelrex
  • Reply 4 of 40
    I think some people are just enamored of the idea that iPhone and iPad should function the same as personal computers in the '80s and '90s: a free-for-all where anyone can install anything — piracy, malware, funky system mods, you name it. And they're hoping that the courts will force that to happen.
    Also, are these plaintiffs even suggesting why their requested ruling should apply only to Apple, and not also to all other companies' locked-down platforms, stores, etc? Why should any other company get to have tyrannical, greedy, anticompetitive control of its own thing?
    williamlondonjony0hcrefugeebaconstangscstrrfmaximaraGeorgeBMackillroy
  • Reply 5 of 40
    I don't like their chances. Their arguments are weak. Their demands are ridiculous.
    If you want to go after Apple's monopoly, you have to use the customer's right to chose what apps they can use on their iPhones. That is where Apple is the weakest.
    For example, why can't I mine cryptocurrency on my iPhone if I want to?
    Why can't I use BitTorrent if I want to?
    Why can't I display a list of the WiFi networks around me?
    Why can't I run a Windows or game emulator?
    Why can't I choose any kind of Apple Watch face?
    edited November 2021 elijahg
  • Reply 6 of 40
    I don't like their chances. Their arguments are weak. Their demands are ridiculous.
    If you want to go after Apple's monopoly, you have to use the customer's right to chose what apps they can use on their iPhones. That is where Apple is the weakest.
    For example, why can't I mine cryptocurrency on my iPhone if I want to?
    Why can't I use BitTorrent if I want to?
    Why can't I display a list of the WiFi networks around me?
    Why can't I run a Windows or game emulator?
    Why can't I choose any kind of Apple Watch face?
    Does the consumer have the right to have these activities supported by every company's computer-based product? How about the consumer can buy a device that allows it, like an Android phone or a Raspberry Pi?
    williamlondonronnroundaboutnowmaximaraDogpersonkillroyStrangeDays
  • Reply 7 of 40
    It is entirely reasonable for Apple to set a standard by which app developers comply. Why should Apple provide the App Store free? It has cost Apple a huge amount to create it. Plainly many developers are happy enough to pay a fee. When you go shopping, you pay a sum which covers the store’s overheads. Where does £200 billion come from? That is obviously completely fanciful.  If the apps are free, the amount of compensation is obviously nil: any percentage of nothing is nothing. To me such a claim is vexatious litigation and the court should throw it out. 
    jony0hcrefugeemaximarakillroy
  • Reply 8 of 40
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,895member
    I don't like their chances. Their arguments are weak. Their demands are ridiculous.
    If you want to go after Apple's monopoly, you have to use the customer's right to chose what apps they can use on their iPhones. That is where Apple is the weakest.
    For example, why can't I mine cryptocurrency on my iPhone if I want to?
    Why can't I use BitTorrent if I want to?
    Why can't I display a list of the WiFi networks around me?
    Why can't I run a Windows or game emulator?
    Why can't I choose any kind of Apple Watch face?
    1. Because that's what Apple allows/disallows.  
    2. You chose to use the product knowing the limitations
    3. You don't have a "right" to choose features and capabilities Apple doesn't offer.  
    4.  You DO have the right to petition Apple to change its policies.  
    williamlondonhcrefugeeronnbaconstangmaximarakillroyrobabakurai_kageStrangeDays
  • Reply 9 of 40
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,919member
    Who doesn’t want to stay in a hotel, not pay & not have to observe hotel rules?
    williamlondonaderutterkillroy
  • Reply 10 of 40
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,895member
    rob53 said:
    Whiney fucking retards, that's what these asshats are
    I wouldn't have used those words but the complaining developers should take a step back and realize who is giving them the opportunity to make a dime on their apps. Apple could just as easily shut down THEIR app store to third party developers and simply deliver only Apple apps. No court would be able to stop Apple from doing this. People today just don't get it, they continue to feel like their apps are the most important thing ever made. Well, they aren't. 

    As for Apple being a monopoly, that's garbage. Apple sells a variety of devices. These same types of devices are sold by other companies. The court's ideas about the App Store are self-centered, brought about by developer's who want a free ride. Without Apple, these developers would not be getting the income they are and in many cases would be out of business. 
    I couldn't agree more.  Apple developed the iPhone and later, the App Store.  The App Store was not a marketplace for all smartphones.  It was a marketplace exclusively for the iPhone.  Not only did the store become enormously successful, but it allowed tens of thousands of developers to make money and get their apps out.  Apple is absolutely entitled to have rules for what apps they will allow.  

    The arguments that Apple is harming competition are laughably absurd.  The consumer now has choices of hundreds of thousands of apps that are often free or low cost.  Many small developers have sprung up.  Heck, the guy that invented flappy bird had to walk about because he was making too much money.  There is more choice, lower cost and better quality.  Those are signs of a healthy marketplace.   In fact, one could argue that were it not for Apple's store, Google Play and others wouldn't even exist.  

    I do think that Apple's blanket prohibition on third party payment systems and anti-steering is something they'll be forced to change eventually.  Not that it will matter, because Apple can still get their cut through other means.  

    baconstang
  • Reply 11 of 40
    sdw2001 said:
    I don't like their chances. Their arguments are weak. Their demands are ridiculous.
    If you want to go after Apple's monopoly, you have to use the customer's right to chose what apps they can use on their iPhones. That is where Apple is the weakest.
    For example, why can't I mine cryptocurrency on my iPhone if I want to?
    Why can't I use BitTorrent if I want to?
    Why can't I display a list of the WiFi networks around me?
    Why can't I run a Windows or game emulator?
    Why can't I choose any kind of Apple Watch face?
    1. Because that's what Apple allows/disallows.  
    2. You chose to use the product knowing the limitations
    3. You don't have a "right" to choose features and capabilities Apple doesn't offer.  
    4.  You DO have the right to petition Apple to change its policies.  
    Yep.

    Steve Jobs commenting on applications that are rejected in the Appstore because they provide pornographic content (2017):
    "Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone."
    scstrrfmaximaraDogpersonkillroy
  • Reply 12 of 40
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,026member
    Whiney fucking retards, that's what these asshats are
    Not just them, there's a very vocal entitled contingent in these forums who believe the same exact thing.
    And we can name names if you like, but we already know who they are don’t we. 
    williamlondonDogpersonkillroy
  • Reply 13 of 40
    ronnronn Posts: 515member
    Such shXtty arguments. Are these whiners just looking for publicity? I'll be surprised if Apple doesn't get this tossed very soon.
    williamlondonbaconstangscstrrfkillroy
  • Reply 14 of 40
    Surprising no-one has commented on what sounds like a bunch of do-nothing craptastic apps these people have developed....."Coronavirus Reporter," "Caller-ID," and "WebCaller". Hardly representative of the wider developer community !
    edited November 2021 williamlondon
  • Reply 15 of 40
    It is entirely reasonable for Apple to set a standard by which app developers comply. Why should Apple provide the App Store free? It has cost Apple a huge amount to create it. Plainly many developers are happy enough to pay a fee. When you go shopping, you pay a sum which covers the store’s overheads. Where does £200 billion come from? That is obviously completely fanciful.  If the apps are free, the amount of compensation is obviously nil: any percentage of nothing is nothing. To me such a claim is vexatious litigation and the court should throw it out. 
    Why is the court wasting its time with these two?  The points they are raising have already been addressed in the Epic vs Apple case ( Case 4:20-cv-05640-YGR Document 812 Filed 09/10/21) and other than the anti-steering provision Epic lost on every point.  It should be noted Apple has asked for a dismissal of the the lawsuit (something the OP doesn't mention). The court should rule for Apple and hit them for Apple's legal feed and send a clear message to those looking for a big court payout.


    edited November 2021 Dogpersonkillroykurai_kage
  • Reply 16 of 40
    ronnronn Posts: 515member
    loopless said:
    Surprising no-one has commented on what sounds like a bunch of do-nothing craptastic apps these people have developed....."Coronavirus Reporter," "Caller-ID," and "WebCaller". Hardly representative of the wider developer community !
    So true, especially with Florian Mueller being a principle of "Coronavirus Reporter" -- he's been a long-time critic of Apple and calls The App Coalition a "front" for Apple.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,628member
    darelrex said:
    I think some people are just enamored of the idea that iPhone and iPad should function the same as personal computers in the '80s and '90s: a free-for-all where anyone can install anything — piracy, malware, funky system mods, you name it. And they're hoping that the courts will force that to happen.
    Also, are these plaintiffs even suggesting why their requested ruling should apply only to Apple, and not also to all other companies' locked-down platforms, stores, etc? Why should any other company get to have tyrannical, greedy, anticompetitive control of its own thing?
    These developers should be careful what they wish for.  I presume that they’re young and have no idea how “open sales” work.  

    When software apps for computers were mainly sold in physical retail, most retailers bought the products from distributors, like Ingram Micro-D. You had to sell to Ingram at a 52% discount. Apple’s 30% take from large developers and 15% from small developers (has that started yet?) begins to look pretty good, especially since Apple absorbs credit card fees and fraud. 

    A small company can pay as much as 6% for credit card processing, so Apple’s fee is closer to 24%.  

    Also, why do they say they want access to the App Store?  They have that.  Seems to me they really want to sell outside of the App Store. 

    Do they really think they’re going to be taken seriously by the court by asking for elimination of the $99 developer program fee?  What company can’t afford that?  

    And $400 billion?   I’m surprised they haven’t been thrown out of court yet.  They can’t rationalize that.  They couldn’t even rationalize $400m or $40m.   

    Having said that I think that some future court will force Apple to permit sales outside of the store.  At that point, Apple would probably have to implement some sort of certification for apps sold in the store so people realize that apps sold outside the store are not so certified and might be a security risk or could violate Apple’s programming guidelines.  
    Dogpersonkillroy
  • Reply 18 of 40
    I am getting tired of these tiresome developers who want a free ride on a highway built by others. Next they will be expecting that every iPhone owner has to buy their app. They would not have anything without Apple, the iPhone and the AppStore; they would be nobodies.
    williamlondonmaximarakillroy
  • Reply 19 of 40
    This case needs to go before Judge Judy. 

  • Reply 20 of 40
    zoetmb said:

    Also, why do they say they want access to the App Store?  They have that.  

    Apple rejected their Covid app because they weren’t working with any government agency or recognized medical organization. Apple didn’t think it was a good idea to encourage people to report their Covid data to some flaky startup that had no plan for what they were going to do with it. Because Apple is an evil monopolist. So, sue! 
    edited November 2021 Dogpersondewmeronnwilliamlondonhcrefugeekillroymaximara
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