Apple is the target of yet another lawsuit pertaining to its App Store policies. The company has reportedly been sued by over 1,500 app developers based in the UK in a class-action lawsuit that seeks up to £785 million ($1 billion) in damages over App Store commission fees, Reuters reported.
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The lawsuit accuses Apple of predatory App Store commission fees, which range between 15% and 30%. The fees have been highly criticized by smaller independent developers and larger ones alike, in addition to antitrust regulators around the world. The lawsuit described the 30% fee as “anti-competitive,” also claiming that UK developers are unable to innovate more in their apps as the fee Apple collects could be used for R&D purposes instead.
According to TechCrunch, the suit is being brought forward by Sean Ennis, a Professor of Competition Policy at the University of East Anglia. Ennis is being aided by British litigation funder Harbour and Geradin Partners law firm.
Apple’s charges to app developers are excessive, and only possible due to its monopoly on the distribution of apps onto iPhones and iPads.
The charges are unfair in their own right, and constitute abusive pricing. They harm app developers and also app buyers.Sean Ennis
TechCrunch notes that the class-action suit is opt-out, so almost all UK-based App Store developers in included in the lawsuit by default and won’t have to preemptively register to receive any compensation should they win their case. Depending on the size of their app business, certain developers could be looking at compensations worth millions.
App Store under global fire
Apple has been the focus of many antitrust regulators around the world for its monopolistic App Store practices. The company will likely be designated as a “gatekeeper” by the European Union under its Digital Markets Act (DMA) law, meaning it will be forced to open up its platforms for third-party app marketplaces and more. Japan is also said to be exploring similar laws to the EU, although their implementation is likely to be further out than Europe’s.
In all cases, a revenue hit to Apple is unlikely to be catastrophic. According to a survey by Setapp, most developers seem reluctant to abandon the App Store in favor of a third-party marketplace. Out of 701 surveyed developers, only 14% stated they would completely abandon the App Store, whereas 46% of surveyees said they would deploy their apps on a third-party platform besides Apple’s.