Epic Games, Spotify Take Aim at Apple’s App Store Policies with New Coalition

Several critics of Apple’s app store policies have formed a nonprofit group called “The Coalition for App Fairness” to challenge the platform holder by advocating for “legal and regulatory action” against the company. Based in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, the group’s members include Fortnite maker and Rocket League owner Epic Games, music streaming service Spotify, Match, Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, Tile, European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, and Protonmail.

The coalition laid out 10 principles that apply not only to Apple’s platform but other digital stores, with the main thrust of its message being that developers should not be required to use app stores designed by the platform, be forced to use ancillary services, or be required to use payment systems. The one principle most relevant to Epic is this: “No developer should be required to pay unfair, unreasonable or discriminatory fees or revenue shares, nor be required to sell within its app anything it doesn’t wish to sell, as a condition to gain access to the app store.”

In fact, the Coalition has dedicated an entire section of its newly-launched website called the “30% App Tax,” referring to the royalty that Apple charges for products sold through the Apple App Store for iOS devices. Google charges a similar fee on Google Play for Android devices, but does allow for other stores to exist within the ecosystem.

“This app tax cuts deeply into consumer purchasing power and stifles developer revenue,” the website reads. “This is especially unfair when this tax is imposed on apps competing directly with similar apps sold by Apple.”

Epic has been battling Apple in court for more than a month after the iOS owner pulled the popular royale game Fortnite from its digital store. Epic released an update in August that allowed the developer to sell directly to iOS users, circumventing Apple’s built-in payment system. Apple claims that Epic violated its agreement by doing this and removed the game. Epic filed a lawsuit and has been fighting both in the media and in court ever since, trying to bring Fortnite back.

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