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Epic Games is rallying major developers against Apple's App Store

By Zachery Eanes, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) on

Published in Business News

CARY, N.C. - Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, and some of the world's largest app developers have joined together to create the Coalition for App Fairness, a group attempting to pressure Apple into changing its policies on the App Store.

Epic is embroiled in an intense battle of lawsuits with Apple. Epic has labeled the iPhone maker as a monopolist for how it distributes apps to iOS users and its mandatory 30% cut of in-app purchases. In response, Apple accused Epic of "robbery" for circumventing the fee.

In this new coalition, Epic is joined by other companies that also have bones to pick with Apple, including Spotify, the music app that competes directly with Apple Music, and Match Group, which owns the popular dating app Tinder.

The coalition lists 10 principles that it believes app platforms, which would include Google's Play Store as well, should follow.

But the main thrusts of their argument concern the issues that Epic and Spotify currently have with Apple. While Spotify has not directly sued Apple, the European Union has opened an antitrust inquiry into Apple because of Spotify's complaints.

"One company has near total control over the mobile ecosystem and what apps consumers get to use. After nearly a decade with no oversight, regulation, or fair competition, it's time for Apple to be held accountable," the coalition writes on its website. "Our members want every app developer to have an equal opportunity to innovate and engage in commerce, free from draconian policies, unfair taxes, or monopolistic control."

The coalition says no app developer should be limited to distribution through one app store. Apple iPhone users can only download apps through the App Store. Google, on the other hand, allows direct downloads onto mobile phones. Epic has, in the past, wanted to let iPhone users download games from its own Epic Games Store, but that is not allowed currently.

The group also objects to being forced to exclusively use one payment method. In this case, Apple forces app developers to use its payment processing system and takes a 30% cut of all transactions.

 

Piggybacking on Spotify's complaint against Apple Music, the group says platforms shouldn't make policies that favor its own services over competitors.

Throughout its battle with Epic, Apple has maintained that its App Store policies are critical to keep a fair and safe platform. It objects to the idea of letting users directly download apps, as it would then lose the ability to vet them.

"We are joining the Coalition for App Fairness to defend the fundamental rights of creators to build apps and to do business directly with their customers," Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic, said in a statement.

Epic declined to provide further comment.

The News & Observer has not yet received a comment from Apple on the formation of the coalition.

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