Published On: Thu, Jul 30th, 2020

Apple’s App Store elect structure called into doubt in antitrust hearing

Apple CEO Tim Cook shielded a company’s App Store elect structure in his sworn testimony before a House Antitrust Subcommittee on Wednesday. He claimed a infancy of a apps compensate no elect during all, with others profitable possibly 15 or 30 percent, formed on a specifics of their sold situation. He pronounced developers were all treated equally and that Apple wouldn’t lift commissions, given it had to contest for developer seductiveness in a height as well.

But a papers common by a House subcommittee as partial of their review prove that exceptions to Apple’s manners have been done — notably, with Amazon’s Prime Video app. In addition, Apple might have never lifted commissions, though discussions weren’t off a table. It had once even deliberate lifting commissions to 40% in sold situations.

The lawmakers had come to a conference armed with inner Apple emails and interviews from App Store developers who argued that Apple doesn’t regularly make a manners and plays favorites. But their doubt of Cook over App Store fees, total with a format that singular execs’ ability to respond during length, primarily seemed to exhibit tiny in terms of new information about Apple’s practices.

For instance, when asked directly about how a App Store worked, Cook simply restated a store’s published manners — that is, for app developers who have to compensate commissions, they compensate usually 15 or 30 percent. The stream discipline need 30% for apps offered digital products or services, with a dump to 15% in year dual for subscription apps. The manners also request a carve-out for “reader” apps like audiobook apps, streaming services, news publications, and other rival products that have a choice of forgoing in-app purchases.


Cook also squeezed in a plead about how a immeasurable infancy of App Store apps, 84%, compensate zero to Apple in commissions. It’s a remaining 16% that pay, he noted.

And when asked if Apple was a solitary gatekeeper as to what gets published on a App Store, Cook concluded that it was — given that a App Store was a “feature of a iPhone, most like a Camera and a chip is.” He simplified that Apple’s control over apps usually extended to local module applications, not web apps, though denied Apple treated developers unfairly.

“We provide each developer a same. We have open and pure rules,” Cook said, in his testimony. “It’s a severe process, given we caring so deeply about remoteness and confidence and quality. We do demeanour during each app before it goes on,” he added.

But emails in 2016 between Apple SVP Eddy Cue and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, common here on a House Judiciary Committee’s website, prove that Apple, in fact, appears to have negotiated a special understanding with Amazon over a Amazon Prime Video app for iOS and Apple TV.  In an email antiquated Nov. 2016 — before a 2017 launch of a Prime Video tvOS app —  Apple concluded to take usually a 15% income share for business that sealed adult in a app regulating Apple’s remuneration mechanism. (Typically, subscription apps don’t dump from 30% to 15% until year two.)

Apple this Apr reliable  it had a special module for Prime Video and a tiny handful of other apps, that were subscription video party providers. The module authorised those companies to lease or sell cinema and TV shows to business regulating a remuneration methods a companies already had on file, as good as some-more deeply confederate with Siri. But Apple hadn’t pronounced that this special module would embody a reduced elect on subscriptions or any other in-app upsells, as these emails endorse were points of discussion.

This wouldn’t be a initial time Apple saw a elect structure as carrying some room to flex.

When Cook was questioned as to either there was anything that could stop Apple from lifting commissions to, say, 50%, a CEO responded that Apple had never increasing commissions given day one. He also argued, when asked if anything could stop it from doing so, that foe for developer seductiveness would stop it from lifting a cut.

“There is a foe for developers, only like there’s a foe for customers. And so a foe for developers — they write their apps for Android or Windows or Xbox or Playstation,” pronounced Cook. “We have extreme foe on a developer side and a patron side that is radically — it’s so competitive, we would report it as a travel quarrel for marketplace share in a smartphone business,” he added.

But in inner emails from 2011, Apple did plead lifting commissions — all a approach to 40% for a initial year of repeated subscriptions. “I consider we might be withdrawal income on a list if we only asked for about 30% of a initial year of sub,” Cue had created during a time.

Of course, Apple didn’t go so distant as to indeed make that change in a years that passed. But these emails prove there’s some-more to Apple’s meditative — and a discussions around a elect structure — than a even personification margin Cook testified to.

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