Meta, Microsoft, X and Match Group challenge Apple over app store terms

Meta, Microsoft, X and Match Group challenge Apple over app store terms - Business and Finance - News

Rival Tech Giants Accuse Apple of Flouting Court Order Designed to Promote App Store Competition

Apple’s non-compliance with a court order aimed at transforming the iPhone maker’s app store practices in the United States has been brought to light by a recent filing from Meta, Microsoft, X, and Match Group. The companies assert that Apple is deliberately circumventing the spirit of the original order, which was designed to foster competition by enabling app makers to communicate with their users about deals and promotions in specific ways.

Apple’s Alleged Non-compliance: A Sham or a Willful Disregard of the Court’s Order?

While the Supreme Court upheld the order earlier this year by declining to hear a case involving Apple and Epic Games, Epic and now the four other tech companies claim that Apple’s proposed compliance with the order is a mere facade. The filing accuses Apple of maintaining rules that the court explicitly found to be anti-competitive and imposing new restrictions on app developers, ensuring that price competition remains elusive.

Real-world Impacts: How Apple’s App Store Changes Affect All Developers and Users

The tech companies argue that Apple’s proposed changes to its app store rules would have far-reaching consequences for all developers and their users, not only gaming apps. The filing was made to support Epic Games, which sued Microsoft in 2021 after Fortnite, its flagship game, was banned from Apple’s app store during a dispute over billing methods.

Apple’s Response: Compliance or Frustration?

Asked for comment, Apple referred News Finder to a document it filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of California in January, which attests to its compliance with the court order. The filing’s submission by prominent tech companies underscores how the long-running fight concerning Apple’s app store is far from over, despite recent regulations affecting Apple in Europe.

Meta’s Concerns: Allowing Users to Pay for Boosted Posts through Alternative Methods

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, argued in the filing that it should be permitted to inform users about alternative payment methods for “boosted posts” on its platform rather than using Apple’s in-app purchase system. The filing also claimed that Meta would be passing along the costs of Apple’s fees, hiking the price of boosted posts by 30%.

Microsoft’s Viewpoint: Preventing Users from Steering Towards Alternative Payment Platforms

Microsoft contended that Apple’s plan prevented it from directing users to Microsoft-owned payment platforms, where it could offer better promotions, discounts, or ways to manage subscriptions.

Impact on Independent Content Creators and Small Developers

X argued that Apple’s new proposed commission structure would negatively impact independent content creators, while Match Group stated that Apple’s proposal “will impact many thousands of other developers and their millions of users, frustrating the injunction’s purpose.”

Apple’s Response: Complying with the Court’s Order While Protecting User Security and Privacy

In January, Apple announced that it would change its app store terms to allow apps to include buttons or links with calls to action that direct customers to alternative payment methods outside of those controlled by Apple. However, according to the tech companies, the details of Apple’s plan do not substantially deviate from the existing rules, as it still imposes restrictions on how apps can communicate with their users and requires developers to apply for permission to link out to alternative payment systems.

Under the proposed terms, app makers would still be prevented from sending customers to third-party websites like PayPal to complete transactions, according to the filing. Apple has suggested that there is nothing in the court’s order that prohibits it from designing the proposal as such, as long as user security and privacy are safeguarded.