Former App Store exec testifies Apple's rules are "a weapon against competitors"

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,576   +591
Staff member
A hot potato: A former Apple executive says the Cupertino tech giant uses its "arbitrary" App Store policies "as a weapon" to restrict competition. He points to Apple Arcade as just one example of how the company allows its own subscription services while denying similar models like Xbox Game Pass.

Apple has maintained that its restrictive rules denying Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia entry to the App Store are meant to protect its users. However, testimony from former App Store director Phil Shoemaker begs to differ.

According to a 449-page report from the House antitrust subcommittee, Showmaker said that apps similar to Apple Arcade are "consistently disallowed from the store" for violation of App Store guidelines even though Arcade violates those same guidelines.

Apple Arcade is a subscription service that gives users instant access to hundreds of games for one monthly fee. It is the almost the same business model as Game Pass and Stadia, albeit without the streaming aspect. Yet those platforms are not allowed. According to Apple, they are permitted, but the hoops these services have to jump through to get approved are cumbersome to the point that it makes getting them on the store impractical at best and impossible at worst.

Apple says that it would allow Stadia and Game Pass as long as each game offered is submitted for approval separately and that all of them use Apple's in-app payment system for purchases. Having to submit games individually is not only a hugely inefficient process, it defeats the purpose of the game streaming model. It is easy to see the mountains red tape created by these rules, which is why Shoemaker testified that the guidelines are used "as a weapon against competitors."

Apple issued a statement to Business Insider disagreeing with the House's findings and says it has done nothing but help third-party developers make money.

"We have always said that scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate, but we vehemently disagree with the conclusions reached in this staff report with respect to Apple," a spokesperson said. "Our company does not have a dominant market share in any category where we do business … The App Store has enabled new markets, new services, and new products that were unimaginable a dozen years ago, and developers have been [the] primary beneficiaries of this ecosystem. Last year in the United States alone, the App Store facilitated $138 billion in commerce with over 85% of that amount accruing solely to third-party developers."

Detractors to Apple's policies, such as Epic Games, which is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Apple over the matter, sometimes cite the company's seemingly hypocritical allowance of similar services like Spotify and Netflix. Apple contends that the comparison is apples and oranges.

"The difference boils down to the medium," Apple told BI. "Games are interactive, unlike music and film, and there are consumer expectations baked into the App Store related to gaming."

Payment through Apple's built-in in-app system and App Store ratings are just a couple of many services that Apple says its customers expect.

Microsoft believes these are just excuses. It criticized Apple's rules last month saying they create "a bad experience for customers." In what seemed to be another jab at its rival, Microsoft laid out 10 new guidelines (principles) for its store that allow just about everything that Apple does not.

"[Our principles], building on the ideas and work of the Coalition for App Fairness, promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation," the company said.

Apple says it plans to fight back against the House's conclusions.

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Posts: 107   +145
One thing that oligarchs are very afraid of is opposition. So they designed systems to prevent any opposition from even being born. But eh, nobody cares.
Do you know many non-charity or government based organisations that go out of their away to design systems with the deliberate intention of aiding their competition to take away their market share for no benefit? I doubt it, because as a general rule that would be business suicide.

This is business as usual. Apple are just very (too?) good at it.

They're also not stupid. They know that the trade off of not upsetting Netflix and Spotify is ultimately worth while due to the massive number of users they possess. Users who will be more likely to be driven to Apple if their products easily support those services.
Epic isn't even close to being in the same league. They don't have the same kind of "buying power" so to speak.

You can certainly argue whether it should be considered legal or ethical, and discuss the pro's/con's to opening up the platform. But it's really funny that people seem surprised and offended that Apple aren't bending over backwards to lose money to their competitors on their own platform.

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,483   +5,990
Here's hoping our gutless Congress & Senate actually do the right thing for a change and hold the big boys accountable for their actions and no more "oh, we'll try to do better" ..... just put the hot iron to them!


Posts: 935   +508
Well the Democrats would like to break up all the big Tech companies and let's hope they start with Apple.
What are you talking about!? No one wants to break Apple up they just want them to stop being greedy a-holes!
There are countless examples of how Apple say one thing and then act the exact opposite way.
Look at how they are fighting the right to repair, they refuse to sell parts to independent stores. They firmware lock every component they possibly can to make it unusable for anything else.
They force everyone to use their payment system to get their 30% cut of someone elses pie.

They deny apps for ambiguous BS reasons, look at linus media group's floatplane struggles. They literally copied Netflix's text for things and Apple refused the app based on that text. How the F?!

Then their ultimate move "its for security reasons" Utter horse poop excuse!
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Posts: 65   +33
Apple's rules are "a weapon against competitors"

What else did anyone think their rules where for other than that?


Posts: 157   +97
Apple's rules have always been that way. They were that way about apps in the Apple store that were in direct competition with their baked in OS apps. Things like the web browser or the keyboard.


Posts: 234   +126
Too bad no-one will actually be punished for this. Tim Cook and Apple's entire board of executives should be in prison.