The dominance of Apple and Google in the mobile software ecosystem has come under serious fire recently. Their control of the respective app stores has been challenged, largely because of Epic Games’ issue with its own direct payment system on Fortnite.
This action prompted the game to be removed from both stores, with Epic Games suing both Apple and Google afterward. In other to check the monopoly of Apple and Google, big-name developers such as Spotify teamed up with other developers to form a non-profit organization known as Coalition for App Fairness (CAF}.
The founding members are Blockchain.com, Blix, Basecamp, Epic Games, the European Publishers Council, Deezer, Match Group, Spotify, SkyDemon, News Media Europe, amongst others. The main objective is to push for reforms and enforcement, which include legal and change of regulations to preserve consumers’ choice. In addition, it is also to create a level playing field for both app stores and developers.
The hardware and software ecosystem of Apple devices has been strictly controlled by the company, a walled garden approach as it is frequently called. While Google, on the other hand, dominates Android. The Android operating system is still open-source, but some important pieces are missing and these are what end users are looking for in Android phones. They consist of the Google Play Store app distribution and the Google Play Service Framework background, which is a vital service on phones that ensures other apps work properly.
According to CAF, Apple App Store and Google Play Store are supposed to be a good space for app discovery, but too much control of the app stores makes it difficult, as the drama with Fortnite showed.
The terms and conditions that govern the stores have prompted app developers to voice out their complaints, which include the excessive app store fees of 30% for every transaction done through the app stores.
CAF’s demands are for fair dealings in terms of fees, competitive policies, and consumer independence. They have also called on all other developers to join them in the fight to end the app ecosystem monopoly.
Some of the rights proposed by the Coalition of App Fairness for all app developers irrespective of their nature or size are that, developers should not be scrutinized because of their choice of content and services, whether it competes with the app store owners or not. In addition, there should also be transparency in all app stores in terms of their policies.