Faced with a recent Supreme Court ruling that has opened the door to antitrust lawsuits over its App Store commissions and policies, Apple today launched a defense in the form of a web page spotlighting its principles and practices. The page offers justifications for its 30% share of developers’ App Store revenues, which it notes are offset by its own significant operating expenses and the presence of numerous free apps with no profit-sharing opportunity.
The company explains that its “rigorous app review process” uses a combination of human experts and automated systems and has removed over 1.4 million apps due to compatibility issues alone. Thanks to a pool of over 20 million developers, Apple now reviews 100,000 apps per week and approves 60% of them, rejecting 40% for minor bugs, privacy concerns, or other factors, while giving developers the opportunity to re-submit for rapid approval.
Though the company says developers have earned over $120 billion from the App Store, it claims 84% of apps in the store are free and that “developers pay nothing to Apple.” While that percentage seems high, many apps begin with “free” downloads but later charge for in-app purchases, advertising, subscriptions, or other systems that under some circumstances might give Apple a cut.
Apple is using this as an opportunity to tout its commitment to competition, saying it “believe[s] competition makes everything better and results in the best apps for our customers” and that it goes so far as to point out competing apps in the store. However, the company has on multiple occasions shut down rival developers’ apps specifically because they compete with “core functions” of iOS. Developers allege that Apple has done so to protect its own presence on users’ devices and to prevent rivals from making significant inroads.
The full Principles and Practices page is available here. Apple may address the topic further, if obliquely, at WWDC next week.