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

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:
2009-08-22

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

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

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


Like who gets to control my hardware, and what kind of software is running on the hardware, I own?

Reply Parent Score: 10

medior Member since:
2016-02-20

I'm split on this one.

We buy into that ecosystem when we purchase an iPhone, so we should quit having a sook after the fact. We could get an Android and be free, particularly since Android is just so much better.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind having the option to bypass the Apple App Store, as long as I understand and accept the risks involved in doing so. Should I be entitled to this by law, is something we'll eventually find out.

In the interim, I really don't find my life is worse off with an iPhone.

And yes, there are far more important things to worry about in life.

Edited 2017-01-15 03:24 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

Treza Member since:
2006-01-11

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


Two examples :
- Cheaper apps without the Apple fee, or with lower margin.
- Apps not allowed by Apple : Alternate browsers, emulators (game consoles, one could even make an android emulator),...

[- Pirated games, obviously.]

Reply Parent Score: 7

daveak Member since:
2008-12-29

Apps not allowed by Apple I'll give you, but cheaper apps? $0.99 is too expensive? You think devs would go below that just because Apple weren't taking 30% ? Apps are too cheap as it is, which is why there are so few high quality ones.

Reply Parent Score: 3

Tony Swash Member since:
2009-08-22

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


Two examples :
- Cheaper apps without the Apple fee, or with lower margin.
- Apps not allowed by Apple : Alternate browsers, emulators (game consoles, one could even make an android emulator),...

[- Pirated games, obviously.]
"

Most apps are free or cost almost nothing. There are plenty of browsers already available on iOS. I still can’t see any tangible benefit for Apple’s customers of breaking the App Store model.

This is a non issue except for a tiny number of obsessives. Apple's customers do not think the current model is broken. The App Store did $20 billion worth of sales in 2016. It appears the current model is very popular with customers.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Auzy Member since:
2008-01-20

I'm sorry, but I don't know any developer who wouldn't support this move.

Especially since there are a lot of developers out there who had good apps delayed or blocked by the app store

Reply Parent Score: 3