If you are wondering why Apple has now approved Valve’s Steam Link app for iOS after rejecting it one year ago, look no further than the uncertain future of the company’s goose of the golden eggs: the App Store.
Valve’s Steam Link app — a utility that allows you to play Steam games directly on your iOS devices over network streaming — was rejected by Apple last May. Back then, Valve explained Apple’s decision in a post: “On Monday, Apple approved the Steam Link app for release. On Weds, May 9th, Valve released news of the app. The following morning, Apple revoked its approval citing business conflicts with app guidelines.”
As we learned today, Apple has overturned that decision, as Steam Link is currently available on iOS (opens in new tab) right now. Pushed by Apple's rules that forbid any developer to make money off their apps with internal purchases or subscriptions, Valve eliminated the ability to purchase Steam games directly from the app — even while the games are not iOS native.
Very interesting timing...
Apple is about to face some heavy legal fire that may put its walled garden in jeopardy.
The first danger comes from Europe: The European Union’s antitrust body has launched an investigation after Spotify accused Apple of using its monopolistic power to benefit its Apple Music service. The Swedish music company says that, by forcing them to pay 30% of every subscription dollar, Apple is cutting its margins and, therefore, putting its competing service at an advantage.
Apple argues that Spotify is benefiting from the App Store’s structure, simplicity and security.
The EU doesn’t fool around — the commission can fine up to 10% of all global revenue as a punishment for abuse of monopolistic power. It slammed Google and Microsoft for similar tactics, imposing $8 and $2 billion dollar fines respectively and deep changes to their business practices. Microsoft had to delete the Windows Media Player from Windows and Google had to allow third-party app stores, among other things.
The other legal front comes from American consumers backed by the Supreme Court. The justices ruled that the Cupertino company could be sued by iOS users accusing Tim Cook and company of inflating app prices through Apple’s 30% store tax. The plaintiffs argue that the app tax pushes developers to artificially inflate their app prices, which consumers get to pay.
Apple claims that the store is a marketplace and developers set the price.
It seems like nobody is having this 30% tax anymore. If Apple has approved the Steam Link app, you can be sure that the Cupertino company must be desperately preparing a fierce defense of their particular goose of the golden eggs, especially as the launch approaches for its own Apple Arcade premium gaming subscription service.