Apple’s App Store changes won’t satisfy regulators, Spotify, or Fortnite’s Epic Games

Apple, out of fire from developers and regulators over how to run its powerful App Store, is changing some of its laws, through a proposed settlement of the case.

Is it a big deal or a no -brainer?

Depends on who you are asking. Apple says it gives companies like Spotify and Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, something they’ve always demanded. Those companies and other technology critics say it’s not good enough.

And some of the early news sharing is all over the place. “Apple will allow developers to accept payments outside of the App Store, a major concession amid antitrust pressure,” the Wrongly reported by the Washington Post last night. New headline today: “Apple releases rules for developers on primary concession amid antitrust pressure.”

And the real answer is … it’s somewhere between a great deal and a nothingburger.

But the truth is story is to examine the way Apple runs its store, and if it prevents companies from offering real competition on both App Store and Apple-owned services like Apple Music, it won’t go away. If you’re an Apple user who only cares how much you’ll pay for something like Spotify, it might interest you.

And if you’re someone who cares about the power of Big Tech companies to set rules that affect millions of people around the world, you should also take a look at this.

Here’s a quick version of the news: After Thursday night, Apple has announced an agreement with lawyers on a class action lawsuit filed by software developers, promising to “make the App Store a better business opportunity for developers, while maintaining safe and reliable use by market users.”

There are many elements of the proposed deal – which have yet to be approved by a federal judge – but more importantly Apple gives developers the ability to email customers who will use their apps on Apple iOS devices, and tell them they can save money by paying for things elsewhere besides Apple apps.

The reason that makes sense is that to date Apple, which reduces by up to 30 percent of any money makers generated when they sell something through an Apple app, has not allowed developers to tell customers the part of the cheaper alternatives. They can now.

Spotify, for example, can sell a monthly subscription to its streaming service for $ 13 through an Apple app – but can then email someone who signed up for the service to tell them they can get it. the same thing for $ 10 a month if they sign on to

Now Spotify, which has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union, and Epic, which has accused Apple of antitrust violations in the U.S., have got some of what they want: the ability to tell their own customers that they can go anywhere else

But this settlement does not slow down or companies They continue their legal campaigns, for a number of reasons: Both of them, for example, want to be more direct about how they tell customers they can go elsewhere, by telling them in the app .

Now, for example, if you’re an iPhone user who wants to upgrade your free Spotify service for a fee, Spotify will just tell you that you can’t do that with your app, with no other instruction on how you can actually accomplish this “We know. It’s not ideal, ”the service declined.

But Spotify’s meat with Apple will go beyond how it might advertise. A major complaint of the music service is that it has to compete with a significant disadvantage with Apple’s own streaming music service because Apple doesn’t have to pay App Store tax on its own services.

Epic, meanwhile, wants more than just the ability to guide customers to its own site. It is said that it wants to run its own app store within the Apple App Store. And Apple doesn’t want to be part of that.

Meanwhile, some critics argue that even Apple’s email permission may be less meaningful because it requires developers and users to take many more steps. Just getting someone to open a promotional email takes a lot of effort now; think about your inbox and how much clutter you always ignore.

If you’re an Apple promoter, meanwhile, you could argue that developers should be happy with any permissions Apple offers because it’s Apple stores and Apple devices and Apple should be able to do what it wants. on own property. If you go to a Walmart, for example, you won’t find signs saying you can buy Tide shorter at Target or Amazon.

Or, more interestingly: You could argue that Apple’s App Store provides makers with a vast market for iPhone and iPad users – “an economic miracle,” as Apple executive put it Phil Schiller at Apple’s press release – and allowed Apple to set up rules around its own store as a fair sale.

All of this debate underscores how much pressure Apple is currently under from both developers and regulators, which is new. Apple’s App Store is a literal concept – it didn’t show up until a year after the iPhone’s debut in 2007 – but has evolved over the years to become a major delivery funnel for developers, and a real profit center for Apple, most likely generated $ 15 billion in revenue last year. and the developers complained about App store rules for at least a decade.

But Apple hasn’t felt any pressure to pursue any of this so far. Yet, though, while regulators and politicians talk about growing Big Tech in general, they spend some of their time focusing on Apple and its store, and whether the company’s rules too strict and uncompetitive.

EU regulators have already said what they think Apple is violating antitrust rules, even if they have not made a final judgment. Made by Sen. Amy Klobuchar has Apple as a prime target in his antitrust arguments – he co -promoting a bill which will limit the way Apple and Google operate their app stores. Through his press office, he said the changes last night were not enough:

“As mobile technologies become essential to daily life, it is clear that Apple, along with a few other guards, has a lot of control over the app market. Its power raises serious concerns competition and affect consumers as well as app developers.This new action by Apple is a small first step toward addressing some aspects of the competition, but more needs to be done to ensure an open, competitive mobile app marketplace, including research legislation to set the rules of the road for dominant app stores. “

Meanwhile, state lawmakers, are fixing themselves Challenge Apple’s laws, and the Biden White House seems very interested in maintaining the power of Big Tech as a whole.

Which means it may not be the last App Store concession that Apple has to make. Whether it continues to make more changes or makes a lot of coming will tell us a lot about how enthusiastic and effective the Big Tech critics are.

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