Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Jan 2017 13:39 UTC

iPhone app purchasers may sue Apple Inc over allegations that the company monopolized the market for iPhone apps by not allowing users to purchase them outside the App Store, leading to higher prices, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Thursday.

Apple bloggers obviously kneejerk straight into defence mode in response to this news, but if you actually dive into the decision, the court makes a very compelling argument as to why this case ought to be allowed to continue, that preempts all the usual terrible analogies they tend to come up with and/or parrot from the party line:

Apple argues that it does not sell apps but rather sells "software distribution services to developers." In Apple's view, because it sells distribution services to app developers, it cannot simultaneously be a distributor of apps to apppurchasers. Apple analogizes its role to the role of an owner of a shopping mall that "leases physical space to various stores." Apple's analogy is unconvincing. In the case before us, third-party developers of iPhone apps do not have their own "stores." Indeed, part of the anti-competitive behavior alleged by Plaintiffs is that, far from allowing iPhone app developers to sell through their own "stores," Apple specifically forbids them to do so, instead requiring them to sell iPhone apps only through Apple's App Store.


Instead, we rest our analysis, as compelled by Hanover Shoe, Illinois Brick, UtiliCorp, and Delaware Valley, on the fundamental distinction between a manufacturer or producer, on the one hand, and a distributor, on the other. Apple is a distributor of the iPhone apps, selling them directly to purchasers through its App Store. Because Apple is a distributor, Plaintiffs have standing under Illinois Brick to sue Apple for allegedly monopolizing and attempting to monopolize the sale of iPhone apps.

Over on Twitter, John Gruber asked me "iPhones are their own market? Does BMW have a monopoly on BMWs?" This clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of how the car market actually works (and, quite clearly, indicates Gruber didn't even read the actual decision quoted above). In fact, exactly because car manufacturers have a de facto monopoly on their own products, they are legally obliged to open up their specifications to allow other companies to manufacture competing, off-brand parts and to allow third parties to service and maintain the cars according to the manufacturer's own specifications.

As I've argued before, there's absolutely no reason why the technology world should be treated any differently. Computers have become integral parts of our society, much like cars, and as consumers we should not be forced into relying on just one company for servicing, maintaining, and using them. It's high time we stop treating technology companies like special little flower children, and force them to grow up and become real companies with real responsibilities.

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Tony Swash
Member since:

Wondering why some users actually want to keep their iPhone closed from third party installs, ... ;) !!!???

I can't imagine why.....

Reply Parent Score: -2

crazy-weasel Member since:

No one forces them to install from 3rd party sources, but why limit others in doing so?

Reply Parent Score: 8

Tony Swash Member since:

No one forces them to install from 3rd party sources, but why limit others in doing so?

Apple offers a curated software system. This offers quite a lot of advantages mostly to do with security, system stability and ease of use. Several hundred million people seem to prefer this model. If they don't like it they can jail break their devices or use another platform/product.

What advantages would forcing Apple to end their App store model bring? Cheaper apps? More apps? Hard to believe their could be cheaper apps or more apps, least of all brought about by the existence of third party app suppliers.

Apple is offering a product package in a market place where there are lots of alternative products for consumers to choose from.

This whole thing is just a whipped up fake controversy brought about by a tiny minority of very vocal tech obsessives. Nobody in the real world gives a hoot.

What proportion of Apple’s vast customer base is pining for an alternative to the Apple app store?

What benefit would a third party app store actually bring to Apple’s customers?

This whole whacko issue is just too silly and trivial for words - really guys - start thinking about stuff that actually matters.

Reply Parent Score: -1

WorknMan Member since:

No one forces them to install from 3rd party sources, but why limit others in doing so?

Because then you run into the kind of bullshit like on Android, where you have to download an entire app store just to get certain apps, like Amazon Video.

Mind you, I'm not necessarily saying that's a good enough reason to limit users to only one app store, but I do see advantages in this model.

Reply Parent Score: 2

unclefester Member since:

No one forces them to install from 3rd party sources, but why limit others in doing so?

Because the whole Apple business relies on locking vendors into an ecosystem.

Reply Parent Score: 2

rener Member since:

As if malware comes by downloading official apps even if they come from third party sources.

Malware usually comes from 0day exploits in your web browser, email client and such.

And malware often slipped thru the snake oil review process to start with, because as if malware would not be coded in a way to only get actuate after Apple's review, ...

Reply Parent Score: 3