Apple sued by French media over App Store power


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Aug 17, 2014
Apple faces fresh claims its App Store rules violate antitrust laws and stifle competition, now in a lawsuit filed on Monday, led by three French media conglomerates.

Societe du Figaro, L'Équipe, and Le Geste publish news, cover sports, and produce other types of digital content across multiple platforms, including mobile apps. They sued Apple, claiming the tech goliath's official App Store – which iOS users and developers are pretty much forced to use – allows it to act as a monopoly and set draconian policies that iOS developers are forced to accept.

The French publishers also slammed the company for not allowing developers to set whatever price they want to sell their apps: the lowest can only be set to $0.99. The media companies are also unhappy that Apple, being in control of the whole ecosystem, can take an arbitrary cut of in-app purchases and other sales through the App Store. These rules can have a chilling effect on developers, who may doubt whether it's worth launching an app at all, the plaintiffs claimed.

"Developers and would-be developers who are or were able to earn only the default 70 percent on the dollar on each paid app or in-app product, and who must pay Apple USD$99 (or equivalent) annually for their digital products to be sold in or via the App Store (or in or via apps acquired therefrom), must consider whether to spend the effort, time, and energy that is required to design and program an app or related product; bring it to market in the single store available; and endeavor to recoup costs and make a reasonable profit," they argued in their lawsuit [PDF] filed in a federal district court in northern California.

The complaint is seeking class action status. Interestingly, the suit aims to "remedy the harm that Apple has caused to France-resident iOS developers ... by way of its violations of US antitrust and California fair-competition law." So Apple is being sued for allegedly breaking its home country's laws, not French or European law.

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