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Apple’s response to antitrust complaints — just build a web app

App Store
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Apple has suggested that developers seeking to avoid its charges for App Store purchases can do so easily by using web apps instead of developing a native application for iOS. Apple has made the suggestion in response to an antitrust case which was launched in September 2020 by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. 

The ACCC set out to look into the position of Apple and Google as gatekeepers to their respective iOS and Android ecosystems that, between them, make up an enormous percentage of global smartphone sales. It follows similar antitrust enquiries in the U.S., EU, Russia and Korea. 

As reported 9to5Mac, Apple’s point is that the App Store is entirely optional, and companies are able to sell in-game currency or even develop games which run entirely in a browser window. By doing so on their own infrastructure there’s no need for those retailers to give Apple a cut of what consumers spend. 

These Progressive Web Apps can be added to your iOS home screen using Safari. You can try this by going to app.starbucks.com in Safari and using the share button to save the app to your home screen. There’s functionally little difference using this method and an App Store version of an app. In the document filed with the ACCC, Apple points out that Amazon has even launched its Luna gaming service using this method. 

Ultimately, what app developers probably realize is that Apple and Google provide a service that’s convenient and safe for consumers. Purchasing through apps stores allows consumers a way to buy things with confidence and makes for a frictionless sales process. However, both Apple and Google have been accused of taking excessive cuts of 30% for both apps and in-app purchases. 

Apple has recently adjusted its pricing and now offers a reduced cut of 15% for developers making less than $1 million per year. Apple claims that this covers the “vast majority” of iOS app developers. This isn’t enough to satisfy Epic Games though, because estimates suggest that during the time Fortnite was listed on the App Store it generated $1.2 billion, with $360 million of that making its way into Apple’s bank account. 

Epic’s own store operates on commissions of around 12%. It also offers a discount for developers who use Unreal Engine, which drops their cut to 5%. The company is looking to launch its own app store for Android devices, but it won’t have that option on iOS, because Apple prohibits third-party app stores. 

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