A DUO OF BALLSY iOS developers are suing Apple over its "monopolistic" App Store, which they claim has allowed the firm to corner the market and demand "profit-killing" fees.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, alleges that Apple's much-maligned 30 per cent commission rate is anticompetitive and "sets the stage for Apple to abuse its market power."
The plaintiffs - the developers of a baby naming app and a basketball workout app - argue that Apple also "stifles innovation" with its requirement that $99 annual fee and mandate that prices end in .99, slamming these policies as "especially damaging to smaller and new developers."
"We think app developers should be rewarded fairly for their creations, not over-taxed by a corporate giant," said Steve Berman of the law firm Hagens Berman, which is representing the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs' biggest issue, however, is with the fact that the App Store is the only place to distribute iOS apps. This means that if Apple rejects an app they have nowhere else to go, the complaint argues, adding that consumers never see most apps.
If Apple didn't enforce this limitation, the lawsuit says, "this would boost output in and sale distribution transactions".
"Apple admits that it shuts out all competition from app-distribution to iOS device consumers, ostensibly to protect its device customers from bad apps and malware," the suit says.
"But this is overblown pretence. There is no reason to believe that other reputable vendors, including Amazon, for example, could not host an app store and provide a trustworthy app-distribution system if Apple were to open up its system to other providers."
Hagens Berman, which boasts that it won an e-book price-fixing suit against Apple back in 2016, is encouraging any app developers who sold an app or in-app digital product through the App Store to sign up for the suit, which is seeking class-action status.
Apple hasn't responded to the complaint, which comes just weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled that the long-running Apple v Pepper case, which alleges Apple violated antitrust laws with its "monopolistic" App Store, can proceed.
However, the firm last week put out a website on which it argues that it encourages competition by, er, allowing third-party apps in the store that compete with its own.
"Even though other stores have more users and more app downloads, the App Store earns more money for developers," it said. "Our users trust Apple — and that trust is critical to how we operate a fair, competitive store for developer app distribution." µ
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