A battle for control is taking place inside iPhones across Europe. While Apple introduced new rules that ostensibly loosen its control over the App Store, local developers are seething at the new system, which they say entrenches the power Apple already wields over their businesses. They’re now breaking into a rare open revolt, mounting pressure on lawmakers to step in.
So far, they have accused Apple’s new business terms of being “abusive,” “extortion,” and “ludicrously punitive.”
“Apple holds app providers ransom like the Mafia,” claims Matthias Pfau, CEO and cofounder of Tuta, an encrypted email provider. The tech giant treats iPhones as its territory, Pfau complains, tightly controlling developers’ access before taking a chunk of their profits. “Anyone wanting to provide an iOS app must pay a ransom to Apple; there’s no way around it.”
For years, Apple has rejected Tuta app updates if they include links to the company’s website, he says. Like all iOS apps, Tuta has also been unable to take in-app payments directly from its customers. Apple acts as an intermediary and charges a fee. Pfau was hoping the App Store reforms mandated by the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) would make companies like his less tightly bound to Apple. Instead, he is left disappointed by the new terms on offer. “What they came up with is the best proof that they are massively abusing their market dominance,” he says. “Apple is basically behaving like a dictator.”