A coalition of major app developers including Spotify, the maker of Fortnite and Match Group, the owner of dating app Tinder, have called on Apple to release them from what they call its “draconian” App Store rules.
The companies, some of the world’s biggest developers of consumer apps, have formed the Coalition for App Fairness to put pressure on Apple amid competition investigations into its iPhone store.
Apple’s App Store, where users can download apps for iPhones and iPads, charges developers a fee of up to 30pc for any income from apps listed on its store. They also must abide by its rules, such as not offering ways to bypass Apple’s fee.
The group of rebel developers have called for an end to “unreasonable or excessive fees” on smartphone stores. The group claims Apple makes $15bn (£11.7bn) annually from what they describe as an “app tax” and argue its App Store rules, some of which were written a decade ago, are increasingly out of date.
Apple has always claim its fee is fair, since it provides an online payments system and critical security updates. It has said the App Store also allows developers to quickly reach billions of smartphones around the world with their products.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment, but pointed to a recent report that said its 30pc fee was in line with other digital stores, such as similar offerings from Samsung, Google and Amazon.
Apple has previously rejected claims it constitutes an “app tax”. The company said in 2019: “Spotify wouldn’t be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they’re leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that’s wrong.”
The developers challenging Apple include Spotify, the Swedish music streaming app that reported Apple to the European Commission over its fees.
They also include Epic Games, which is locked in a bitter legal dispute over Apple’s fees. Epic’s hit video game Fortnite was pulled from the App Store after it offered an alternative payment method designed to bypass Apple’s fee. Apple has rejected Epic’s claims and filed a counter claim for damages.
Other developers include Basecamp, which develops an email app that was booted from Apple’s App Store in a similar dispute over fees. Apple ultimately allowed Basecamp’s email app back on to its App Store.
Tim Sweeney, chief executive of Epic Games, said: “We are an advocate for any company that’s ready to reclaim its rights and challenge the anti-competitive behaviors that exist on app stores today.”