ISSUE: What’s Up With Apple and Developers?

By: William Sikkens
Host, User Friendly 2.0 Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

Lately, in the news there have been a number of disputes between Apple and some of the developers of popular apps on the App Store.

Included in this have been big names like Epic Games (developer of Fortnite), WordPress (a popular website development tool), Facebook, and even Microsoft.  This has prompted several lawsuits against Apple along with an antitrust investigation.

What’s at issue is Apple’s restrictions on third party vendors and how they sell their products to the vast users of the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products.  Apple’s setup requires all software to be distributed through the App Store.   Apple takes 30% of all proceeds from third party apps which is referred to as the “Apple Tax”.

This fee is charged not only on the cost of an app but any sales made in that app.

Epic Games changed the way they charge for in-app purchases causing Apple to lock them out of the iOS ecosystem.  This means if you don’t have Fortnight installed, you can’t get it.  And if you do, you can’t get updates.  One can understand how this would cause problems for end users of Fortnight.

Facebook is accusing Apple of censorship after Apple blocked a fundraising app that mentioned the 30% “tax”.  The app prompts funding to small businesses during COVID19 and promises that 100% of the proceeds go to this purpose if you donate through other means  such as  Android or a desktop computer.  It was explained that Apple takes 30% of the donations on their platform.

Both the U.S. Department of Justice and European Union regulators have opened an antitrust investigation into Apple and Google over the restricted access users have concerning they can only find software in these company platforms app stores.  Google is considered to be at less risk since it is possible to install an Android app on your own.  Third party app stores also exist for Android although you have to clear several security warnings to use any of them.


When you buy a mobile device you buy into the company that made it.  Apple’s iOS platform features 2.2 million application programs that will run on your device while Google’s Android offers  a little under 3 million.  Most of these programs are made by third party developers.  That means a company other than Apple or Google created the app.   Apple or Google then charge a fee to the third party developer to be carried on their app store.

This is a huge advantage for both platforms as they get the third party software to more users.   For end users on Apple, it’s mandatory in order to obtain applications for use on Apple devices.

Apple and Google have very different approaches to allowing what apps you get to choose from.  On Google most apps are approved when submitted.  There is a vetting process to ensure that software works and doesn’t contain malware or a virus.  This is about the extent of what is required.  Apple uses a vetting process in which a developer applies for approval.  This process can be somewhat subjective and takes time.   Some have said this process is an examination of the developer more than the software.

Both companies charge 30% of the proceeds from sales of an app or of purchases from the application.  In 2019 alone Apple says the App Store created $519 billion in commerce. (The Verge, Jun 15, 2020).   Google is estimated to be around $14.2 billion.

If you own an Apple device it is locked to the App Store.  You don’t have a choice to go anywhere else.  Google recommends use of their store – Google Play.  You do; however, have the ability to install anything you want to.   You will see some security warnings if you try to do so.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

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Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw