- The European DIGITAL SME Alliance (DIGITAL SME) is partnering with the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF) to advocate for freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem.
- DIGITAL SME President Dr Oliver Grün remarked, “App stores act as gatekeepers and create barriers between small app developers and their customers. It is important that they play by fair rules.”
- CAF Executive Director Meghan DiMuzio said, “We are delighted to join forces with the European DIGITAL SME Alliance and to fight for better conditions for all developers together.”
- This partnership will see DIGITAL SME and CAF collaborate to further the interests of small and medium developers by developing joint advocacy positions, co-organising events and sharing information among members.
BRUSSELS AND WASHINGTON, D.C. – The European DIGITAL SME Alliance and the Coalition for App Fairness today announced their partnership to advocate for freedom of choice and fair competition across the app ecosystem.
“We are partnering up with a group of other industry players to bring attention to the unbalanced relationship between smaller app developers and the gatekeeper app stores” said Dr Oliver Grün, President of the European DIGITAL SME Alliance. “Like CAF, we believe every app developer, regardless of its size, is entitled to compete in a fair marketplace.”
“We are delighted to join forces with the European DIGITAL SME Alliance and to fight for better conditions for developers large and small together,” said Meghan DiMuzio, Executive Director of the Coalition for App Fairness. “This partnership will give greater voice to developers and consumers who are harmed by the anti-competitive policies of Apple and digital gatekeepers and strengthen our efforts to promote a fair marketplace for apps.”
The importance of fairness in the App/Gatekeeper relationship
In 2016, DIGITAL SME was recognized as an independent intervener in the Google Android antitrust case, representing small and medium IT enterprises, including app developers. In July 2018, Google was fined a record amount of €4.3 billion for having abused its dominant market position by requiring phone makers to pre-install the Google Search and the browser app Chrome as a condition for licensing Google’s Play store. Google also made payments to manufacturers and mobile network operators on the condition that they exclusively pre-install the Google Search app on their devices and prevented manufacturers wishing to pre-install Google apps from selling mobile devices running on alternative versions of Android.
In a similar vein, DIGITAL SME has been speaking out against the alleged unfair business practices in the Apple-Spotify case. Filed in March 2019, the antitrust complaint by Spotify alleged arbitrary restrictions and “taxes” imposed by Apple on competing third-party apps that are distributed via its App Store. The European Commission issued a Statement of Objections against Apple after a formal investigation in April this year. The Alliance welcomes the Commission’s investigation, which is a sign of growing awareness that Europe needs more fairness and balance in the digital environment.
SMEs are the backbone of the European economy and need a fair and competitive market to thrive. As the voice of over 45,000 digital SMEs across Europe, DIGITAL SME strongly supports efforts to reinstate integrity and fairness to the Digital Single Market. To learn more about DIGITAL SME and its work, visit digitalsme.eu.
By partnering with the Coalition for App Fairness, DIGITAL SME is broadening its efforts to fight anticompetitive app store practices on both major mobile platforms. DIGITAL SME is also preparing the launch of its SME Focus Group on Fairness, Ethical Tech, and Interoperability. For more information on this topic or to join the group, please contact Annika Linck at [email protected].
About the Coalition for App Fairness
The Coalition for App Fairness is an independent non-profit organization formed to protect consumer choice, foster competition, and create a level playing field for all app and game developers globally. Originally formed by Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Match Group, News Media Europe, Prepear, Protonmail, Skydemon, Spotify, and Tile, CAF has rapidly grown from 13 to over 60 members since launching in September 2020. CAF offers membership to companies of any size — join today at appfairness.org.
The world’s most popular online platforms and the app stores that govern access to them have become a critical gateway to the consumers of digital products and services worldwide. While they can be beneficial when fairly operated, they can also be used by platform owners to hurt developers and consumers. As enforcers, regulators and legislators around the world seek to address these important issues, we urge them to recognize that every app developer, regardless of size or the nature of the developer’s business, is entitled to fair treatment by these app stores and the platform owners who operate them.