Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has added his criticism to long-standing accusations targeting Apple’s App Store policies.
Apple has some rigorous rules in place in its store, allowing it to exercise a great deal of control over apps and their developers, and collect a 30% cut from all in-app purchases that must be implemented via the store.
Apple, that is one of the world’s largest companies, is in a position to dictate how and if smaller entities can do business, and another common criticism is that it abuses this near-monopoly status to stifle competition and limit user choice by banning apps that compete with its own.
With this in mind, Facebook’s CEO, who spoke for Axios on HBO, expressed his concern that Apple’s App Store policies amount to “unilateral control” of what apps are available to customers.
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Zuckerberg at the same time qualified himself as “not necessarily the person” to speak about this (he’s right – his own tech juggernaut is often accused of monopolistic behavior, for example with its role and share in the online advertising market).
Nevertheless, he suggested that Apple’s rules should be scrutinized to find out whether or not they contribute to “a robust competitive dynamic.”
“Some of [Apple’s] behavior certainly raises questions. And I do think it’s something that deserves scrutiny,” Zuck said.
Many, including Apple’s competitors, fellow giants like Microsoft, game developer and publisher Epic, governments, independent developers and digital rights activists, say that the answer to this is a resounding “no.”
One of the most publicized recent cases has been the removal from the App Store of Fortnite, published by Epic Games, over the decision to bypass Apple and allow gamers to pay directly. Epic sued when the game was removed from the store, describing Apple as a monopolist with unfair practices, while Apple filed counterclaim demanding its 30% and accusing Epic of breach of contract.
Earlier in the year, Apple threatened it would remove Basecamp’s new email app Hey unless in-app purchases were implemented, forcing users to purchase subscriptions only through the App Store. Basecamp was doing the same as Netflix and Spotify, who also don’t let users sign up in the app.
However, Apple seems to have one set of rules for powerhouses like the two streaming giants, and another for smaller companies.