All against the App Store: why Russia wants to bring down the Apple platform

All against the App Store: why Russia wants to bring down the Apple platform
Image from Reuters

A new front for Apple. Just a couple of weeks after its CEO, Tim Cook, was held accountable to the United States Congress, in a historic and joint appearance with the top giants of Google, Amazon and Facebook for alleged monopolistic practices in their app store, now they ask for explanations from Russia. The fact is that the FAS, the governing body responsible for ensuring free competition in that country, accuses the Cupertino company of what Washington and Brussels have already done: of allegedly abusing their dominant position in the application market.

This institution has issued a resolution, which will be appealed by the multinational, as explained by Reuters, in which it has been asked to remedy this situation. If in the case of the EU it was Spotify that triggered the commissioner, Margrethe Vestarger, to open two investigations in parallel against Californians, now it has been another classic name in the world of technology, Kaspersky, which has sparked the controversy.

The cybersecurity company denounced that its application had been vetoed after the launch of the ‘Screen Time’ functionality, which allows parents to control the time their children consume with iOS devices, a functionality also included in the Russian company’s platform. From the block, according to the information from the news agency, they allege that it violates their conditions by not complying with security and privacy protocols and that the same measure has been applied to other parental control apps.

The text of the FAS launches a dart against the functioning of the App Store, also questioned, as we say in the US and the EU. Do not forget that it is the only official door to install ‘software’ on an iPhone, an iPod or an iPad, except that one performs a ‘jailbreak’ to your terminal, which basically means ‘hacking’ the operating system to break the rigidity imposed by the company. The agency notes that this gives the company an inordinate right and ability to veto third-party software.

Telegram and 30 ‘per cent’

It is not the only threat coming from Russia against the profitable App Store business. Telegram, the alternative to WhatsApp that emerged in that country, went to the community authorities on July 30 to file a complaint in which it claimed that the company should “allow users to have the opportunity to download the software outside of the App Store”.

Pavel Durov, the creator of the app, issued a statement in this regard, harshly attacking the App Store on his Telegram channel, stating that consumers “should be concerned about the 30% commission charged by the company” to those who sell subscriptions or digital downloads on iOS. Apple’s 30% commission makes all digital products and applications more expensive,” explains Durov.” It is in addition to the price you pay developers for any services and games you buy on your phone. You pay more for each app, although Apple already charged you a few hundred dollars more for its iPhone than its manufacturing cost. In short, you keep paying even after you’ve paid. “

This businessman affirms that many apps would have “been viable” if it were not for this commission, which is sustained, according to his words, also in that power to “censor” the content that is in the App Store. Among other complaints, it ensures that the App Store system is less “private” by forcing to create an account to download ‘software’, which facilitates tracking, and even affects the quality of applications. “Billions of dollars are taken from developers who might otherwise have spent those funds on improving the quality of the applications you use every day,” he concludes. Durov has published other texts in which he harshly accuses the company of “deceiving” users and regulators during the ten years of the platform’s life to prevent action on this platform.

Apple’s defense

The company has maintained the same line of defense for some time. A line of defense that Tim Cook verbalized before the US Congress, where he justified they are a “guardian” and the only option to acquire apps on their devices but they do not fall into monopolistic practices, since that 30% of commission-only falls on a 15% of the developments that are distributed on its platform. He said that the conditions also “are imposed equally”, who are given the possibility of using multiple “programming languages.” Cook came to insinuate that there is no problem where there is, as “99% of customers have been satisfied” in their surveys. He also slipped the idea that this tight control helps to maintain a more secure, private and quality ecosystem of applications.

Of the 1.7 million apps that we host, only 70 have been developed by us,” says Cook, who believes that there is no conflict of interest in the vast majority of cases. They also maintain, he made it public with a report published a few days ago, that the commission is in line with the market and is by no means the highest. As he already advanced in the broadcast speech, Cook highlighted that the mobile phone industry is a highly competitive sector and highlighted alternatives such as those of Huawei, Samsung and LG. He also said that none of his products “does not have a dominant share in any of the markets.”

Something that does not prevent them from being a money-making machine, thanks to the closed ecosystem that constitutes a large part of their catalog. Much has been speculated about the effects that changing the operation of the App Store would have if regulators understand that this cost is excessive. One of them could be the need for the company to have to increase the one hundred dollar license paid annually by anyone who wants to enroll in the apple developer program.