Newly published “App Store Principles” provide a roadmap of acceptable practices for operators of the most popular platforms
BRUSSELS and WASHINGTON D.C. – Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, News Media Europe, Prepear, Protonmail, SkyDemon, Spotify, and Tile have established the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF), an independent nonprofit organization. CAF will 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.
You can learn more about the Coalition and its App Store Principles on the Coalition for App Fairness website here.
“As enforcers, regulators, and legislators around the world investigate Apple for its anti-competitive behavior, The Coalition for App Fairness will be the voice of app and game developers in the effort to protect consumer choice and create a level playing field for all,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Head of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer at Spotify.
The “app economy” benefits consumers and businesses
Every day, billions of people worldwide enjoy and use millions of apps from businesses, governments, and other organizations making app stores and the platforms upon which they run a critical gateway between consumers of digital products and services. Those daily interactions are broadly defined as the app economy which is often estimated to be worth more than a trillion dollars. Given the widespread use and importance of apps, it’s essential that all apps can compete fairly in order to drive innovation and ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are enjoyed by everyone.
“The basic freedoms of developers are under attack. 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. 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,” said Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Epic Games.
The time to act is now.
App stores create a convenient location to discover apps. However, the gatekeeper platforms that operate these app stores must not abuse the control they enjoy and must adhere to oversight to ensure their behaviors promote a competitive market and provide consumers with equitable choice. For years, app developers have been publicly and privately raising concerns about the onerous, and arbitrary terms and conditions that govern the Apple App Store in particular, as well as last-minute iOS updates, which equally disadvantage developers. Yet little has changed. And, as a result, frustrations over the excessive fees charged and over the rules that give Apple’s own apps an unfair advantage and block innovative competitors have boiled over with formal complaints to regulators and lawsuits. Developers and consumers are demanding that Apple do better.
“Apple’s IAP forces consumers to pay higher prices by inserting Apple between app developers and their users, leading to customer confusion and dissatisfaction that has far-reaching implications for our businesses. Match Group joins the Coalition in its efforts to ensure everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of a fair app ecosystem,” said Mark Buse, SVP and Head of Global Government Relations & Policy at Match Group.
There is a clear path forward.
The CAF has been created to help address these concerns, protect the app economy, and ensure that the benefits of digital technologies are shared by everyone. There is a path forward that respects the role that platforms and app stores play while ensuring fairness and promoting innovation and consumer choice. The CAF has developed and published a set of 10 “App Store Principles” that address these issues. We believe the most popular platforms should adopt and follow them as they operate their platforms and app stores.
We are hopeful that the most popular platforms will voluntarily choose to adopt and follow similar principles. But we know from experience that self-regulation is not enough and that new laws and regulations are required in this case. The principles serve as a blueprint for modern laws and regulations and the Coalition will advocate for them with governments around the world.
“If Apple chooses to compete with developers on its platform, it should do so according to the same rules,” said Kirsten Daru, VP & General Counsel at Tile. “Instead, Apple leverages its platform to give its own services an unfair advantage over competitors. That’s bad for consumers, competition, and innovation. Tile joins the Coalition for App Fairness to level the playing field so developers can innovate in a fair marketplace and so consumers can benefit from true competition.”
About the Coalition for App Fairness
The Coalition for App Fairness was created by Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, News Media Europe, Prepear, Protonmail, SkyDemon, Spotify, and Tile, and is supported by contributions from all members. CAF offers membership to companies of any size, in any industry who are committed to protecting consumer choice, fostering competition, and creating a level playing field for all app and game developers globally. Join today at appfairness.org.
“We have come to believe Apple has created a dangerous new normal, allowing it to abuse its monopoly power through punitive fees and censorship that stifles technological progress, creative freedom, and human rights. Even worse, it has created a precedent that encourages other tech monopolies to engage in the same abuses. With the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF), we hope to shed light on these issues and encourage regulatory change for the benefit of consumers worldwide.” – Andy Yen, Founder and CEO of ProtonMail.
“As a small company working in aviation safety, we owe much of our success to the close relationship we hold with our customers who purchase from us directly. When a platform imposes its own payment system on services like ours, and actively prevents us from informing potential customers that they can transact with us directly, nobody wins except the platform. We stand united with the coalition as they seek to achieve fairness.” – Tim Dawson, Founder and Managing Director of SkyDemon.
“Apple has consistently pursued a centralization and monopolization of its services, resulting in paralyzing control over app developers’ businesses that exclude, restrain and block them from Apple’s platforms. Today, app developers are dependent on Apple’s power over app distribution to operate on the essential platforms it has created and controls as the ultimate gatekeeper. It’s time for Apple to act fairly towards the ecosystem which has made it what it is today.” – Ben Volach, Founder, Blix Inc.
“Apple’s App Store policies harm small developers like us by making it difficult to manage our relationships with our customers, charging exorbitant fees for their services, and creating unclear rules in the app store review process. This can only happen because they operate in an environment where other app stores aren’t allowed to compete with them. We stand with the Coalition for App Fairness in calling for regulation that ensures the fair treatment of developers of all sizes by app stores, fosters competition, and ensures a level playing field where innovators can thrive.” – Russ Monson, Founder, Prepear Inc.