Coalition for App Fairness

Spearheaded by Epic Games, Spotify, and Tinder parent Match Group, the Coalition for App Fairness is an advocacy group pushing for legal and regulatory changes to “app stores” — but quite specifically Apple’s in particular. Some of their aims are unobjectionable, but the main ones would effectively do away with the App Store as we know it:

1. No developer should be required to use an app store exclusively, or to use ancillary services of the app store owner, including payment systems, or to accept other supplementary obligations in order to have access to the app store. […]

9. No app store owner should prohibit third parties from offering competing app stores on the app store owner’s platform, or discourage developers or consumers from using them.

Basically they’re demanding that platforms like iOS and Android be run like PC platforms like MacOS and Windows. But as I’ve been emphasizing all summer long, such a view would require game consoles to surrender the same control. iOS is an app console — a platform where the platform maker controls all software for the platform.

3. Every developer should have timely access to the same interoperability interfaces and technical information as the app store owner makes available to its own developers.

Good luck with that one.

4. Every developer should always have access to app stores as long as its app meets fair, objective and nondiscriminatory standards for security, privacy, quality, content, and digital safety.

Who gets to make these determinations if not the platform owner? To name just one high profile developer and just one of those categories, Facebook has very different standards for privacy than Apple. What the Coalition for App Fairness is arguing is that Apple shouldn’t get to decide the standards for privacy (or security, quality, content, and whatever “digital safety” is) for its own platform — some other unnamed arbiter (perhaps the Coalition for App Fairness itself) would make such determinations.

Monday, 28 September 2020