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The App Store Limits Consumer Freedom

At the dawn of the personal computer revolution, software was something you bought in a store, and as long as the operating system matched, it would work on any computer.

That’s why today personal computer software is widely available across the web for every operating system. The idea that a consumer could only use software sold through the same manufacturer as their laptop seems ludicrous. Except that’s exactly the rule Apple has imposed on the personal devices in billions of pockets.

iPhone apps (aka software) are only available via the Apple App Store. If consumers want an app to work on their mobile device, the app developer needs to follow the rules, taxes and requirements of Apple. Yet, if consumers want to run that same app from their computer, the rules, taxes and requirements don’t apply. It’s a crazy house of cards.

Here’s an example of how this problem manifests itself: Epic produces once of the most popular video games of all time, Fortnite. If a Fortnite player were to buy an upgrade in the App Store, that individual might be charged $9.99. However, that same upgrade costs only $7.99 when purchased directly through Epic.

So why is it more expensive for gamers to purchase a Fortnite upgrade through the App Store? One reason: the app tax. When a consumer pays for a Fortnite upgrade through their mobile device, Apple collects its arbitrary app tax. When the service is paid for through Epic directly, however, Epic is able to pass the savings back to customers – but here’s the rub: Apple specifically tells developers that they are not allowed to inform their customers about less expensive options, or they risk being banned from the App Store.

Think about this a little differently: A box of Cheerios costs about $3.00 at Kroger, but sometimes Cheerios offers a coupon which lowers the price to $2.50 at any store that offers Cheerios. What Apple is doing is basically like Kroger telling Cheerios that they’re not allowed to offer coupons, and if they do, Cheerios is at risk of being kicked out of the cereal aisle. Consumers wouldn’t stand for this type of monopolistic behavior over their cereal, so why should they allow it for the apps used on their mobile devices?

Whether it’s their personal computer or mobile device, consumers deserve and should expect unlimited choice when it comes to where, when, and how they purchase apps or software.

Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on smartphones, but it’s hard to say that they don’t have a monopoly over iOS users … If you want to exist on mobile, you have to go through Apple as a gatekeeper.

David Barnard, independent developer WSJ
Cost of Apps – Website vs. App Store:

Tidal (Music Streaming)

Premium Membership

App Stores

$ 0
per month

Website

$ 0
per month

Fortnite (Gaming)

Player Upgrades

App Stores

$ 0
per month

Website

$ 0
per month

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The App Store is Ruled by Anti-Competitive Policies

Apple uses its control of the iOS operating system to favor themselves by controlling the products and features that are available to consumers. The company requires equipment manufacturers to limit options, forces developers to sell through its App Store, and even steals ideas from competitors.

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