Apple Inc. has been named in another proposed class action lawsuit that claims the tech giant holds an unlawful monopoly over the platform on which app developers can make their apps available to iOS users. According to the case, Apple charges developers supra-competitive prices to list and sell their apps on the App Store platform, the only place where users are able to download and purchase iOS apps.
The plaintiff in the case, who says he’s developed several apps available through the App Store, claims Apple engages in anticompetitive practices that harm developers. According to the lawsuit, Apple shuts out competition from other app platforms, which the company claims protects iOS users from “bad apps and malware.” The plaintiff, however, argues this reasoning is no more than an “overblown pretense.”
“There is no reason to believe that other reputable vendors, including Amazon.com, for example, could not host an app store and provide a trustworthy app-distribution system if Apple were to open its system to other providers,” the complaint reads.
Instead, Apple has enjoyed “staggering growth and revenue” by designing its operating system to be incompatible with applications sold on other platforms, the case says. To list an application in the App Store, developers must reportedly pay the company a 30-percent commission on the sale of paid apps and in-app purchases, as well as a $99 annual fee for each app. Apple further limits developers’ options, the suit says, by setting a mandatory $0.99 minimum price point for all paid apps and greater price points that end in $.99.
All told, the case claims Apple has successfully prevented any viable competitors from stepping onto its app store territory with regard to iOS applications, harming developers in the process while offering little by way of substantive good-business reasoning.
“There are no legitimate business justifications for Apple’s exclusionary and anticompetitive conduct,” the complaint states. “To the extent Apple has sought to achieve any legitimate business purposes through its conduct, it has not used the least restrictive means for doing so. Any claimed pro-competitive benefit is outweighed by the anti-competitive harm. Any purported legitimate business justifications are mere pretexts. Apple’s refusal to permit others to distribute apps on Apple iOS devices and its mandated pricing requirements are unlawful restraints of trade.”
The lawsuit seeks to cover a proposed class of iOS app or in-app product developers who sold their products for a non-zero price via Apple’s App Store.