Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group have allied to take on Apple in the raging App Store war

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Karl Mondon/Digital First Media/The Mercury News via Getty Images
  • App developers including Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group have banded together to create a non-profit called the Coalition for App Fairness.
  • The coalition is aimed at taking on Apple over its App Store policies, which member developers claim are anti-competitive.
  • Apple has been in a mounting war with various developers over the commission it takes on in-app purchases.
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Apple’s war with developers just escalated, with the powers behind Spotify, “Fortnite,” and Tinder banding together to take on the iPhone maker.

The non-profit Coalition for App Fairness was announced Thursday, and counts among its ranks developers such as Spotify, Epic Games, and Match Group.

On its website, the coalition accuses Apple of crushing competition and stifling innovation with its App Store policies — in particular its policy of taking a 15%-30% commission on in-app payments and digital subscriptions.

“This app tax cuts deeply into consumer purchasing power and stifles developer revenue. This is especially unfair when this tax is imposed on apps competing directly with similar apps sold by Apple. This puts businesses at a distinct competitive disadvantage and thus drives up the prices for consumers,” the coalition says on its website.

The coalition also alleges Apple restricts competition more broadly and “steals ideas from competitors” while limiting consumer freedom by exerting tight controls on the App Store ecosystem.

Each of these developers has tangled with Apple individually over its in-app payment policy. Combining their powers may pressure Apple to make concessions, given the firm relies on popular third-party apps being available on the App Store.

Spotify filed an official complaint with the EU in 2019, alleging that as Apple had launched its own music-streaming service Apple Music this allowed it to artificially inflate prices while entering the market. This complaint resulted in the European Commission opening an antitrust investigation into the practice in June.

Match Group also released a statement in June criticising the tax.

Epic Games has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Apple over the past month after it scrapped Apple’s payment system inside the wildly popular “Fortnite” and subsequently got booted off the App Store.

Smaller developers including Protonmail’s owner Proton Technologies and Basecamp — which got in a high-profile fight with Apple over its Hey subscription email app in June — have also joined the coalition.

A spokeswoman for the new coalition told The Wall Street Journal that the group was first convened last month, although she asserted this wasn’t in response to the Epic Games lawsuit.

“The gatekeeper platforms that operate these app stores must not abuse the control they enjoy and must adhere to oversight to ensure their behaviours promote a competitive market and provide consumers with equitable choice,” the coalition told The Journal.

An Apple spokesman did not immediately respond to request for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

In the past it has rebutted complaints from Spotify and Epic Games by saying they want to reap the benefits of the App Store’s ecosystem without contributing financially.