Spotify, Epic Games, and others join “Coalition for App Fairness” non-profit to oppose Apple and Google
The mobile software ecosystem is dominated by two big names: Apple and Google, both of whom control their respective app stores. This control has come under scrutiny, largely thanks to the recent attempt by Epic Games to bypass the app store fees with a direct payment option on its popular game, Fortnite. This was promptly followed up with the game getting removed from both the stores and then with Epic suing both Apple and Google. Now, several big-name developers like Spotify and Epic Games have come together to create a non-profit, called Coalition for App Fairness, to oppose the monopolies enjoyed by Apple and Google.
Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) has been established as an independent non-profit organization with Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Match Group (Tinder and Hinge), News Media Europe, Prepear, Protonmail, SkyDemon, Spotify, and Tile as its founding members. The group hopes to advocate for “enforcement and reforms, including legal and regulatory changes, to preserve consumer choice and a level playing field for app and game developers that rely on app stores and the most popular gatekeeper platforms“.
Apple strictly controls the hardware and software ecosystem on its own devices, with an approach that is frequently referred to as a “walled garden”. Google, on the other hand, is the dominant force behind Android. While Android is open source, it is missing a lot of crucial pieces that end-users have come to expect out of an “Android smartphone”. These include the Google Play Store and the Google Play Services framework, with the former being the primary means of app distribution and the latter being one of the most important background services on a phone that is needed for other apps to reliably work.
As CAF puts it forward, app stores (Google Play Store, Apple App Store) are a convenient location to discover apps. But as the Fortnite drama brought to light, the gatekeeper platforms that operate these app stores enjoy a very large amount of control. For years, app developers have been raising their concerns about the onerous and often arbitrary terms and conditions that govern these stores, including but not limited to the excessive 30% app store fees on every single transaction through the stores and their frameworks. CAF is advocating for fairness, not just in the app store fees, but also against anti-competitive policies and the lack of consumer freedom.
The Coalition of App Fairness proposes the following as rights for every app developer, regardless of the size or nature of the developer’s business:
- No developer should be required to use an app store exclusively, or to use ancillary services of the app store owner, including payment systems, or to accept other supplementary obligations in order to have access to the app store.
- No developer should be blocked from the platform or discriminated against based on a developer’s business model, how it delivers content and services, or whether it competes in any way with the app store owner.
- Every developer should have timely access to the same interoperability interfaces and technical information as the app store owner makes available to its own developers.
- Every developer should always have access to app stores as long as its app meets fair, objective and nondiscriminatory standards for security, privacy, quality, content, and digital safety.
- A developer’s data should not be used to compete with the developer.
- Every developer should always have the right to communicate directly with its users through its app for legitimate business purposes.
- No app store owner or its platform should engage in self-preferencing its own apps or services, or interfere with users’ choice of preferences or defaults.
- No developer should be required to pay unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory fees or revenue shares, nor be required to sell within its app anything it doesn’t wish to sell, as a condition to gain access to the app store.
- No app store owner should prohibit third parties from offering competing app stores on the app store owner’s platform, or discourage developers or consumers from using them.
- All app stores will be transparent about their rules and policies and opportunities for promotion and marketing, apply these consistently and objectively, provide notice of changes, and make available a quick, simple and fair process to resolve disputes.
The Coalition for App Fairness has issued an open call to all developers, to join them if they wish to change the monopolist control of app ecosystems.
Story Via: NYTimes