Monday, November 29, 2021

Apple has been lobbying against an Arizona bill that could affect App Store sales

Even after North Dakota senators voted down a proposal that would allow developers to offer apps outside the App Store on iOS, other US states are considering similar legislation — including Arizona. It’s now known that Apple has been lobbying against this bill in Arizona before it’s even formally introduced.

As reported by Protocol (via MacRumors), Apple and Google have begun negotiating with Arizona representatives to avoid laws that would let developers bypass the App Store and Google Play in-app purchase systems.

Apple tapped its own lobbyist, Rod Diridon, to begin lobbying in Arizona. It hired Kirk Adams, the former chief of staff to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, to negotiate with Cobb on its behalf. It quickly joined the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, which began lobbying against the bill. And lawyers for both Google and Apple went straight to the Arizona House’s lawyers to argue that the bill is unconstitutional.

The reason why both companies are against such legislation is because it could affect the sales of their online app stores. Apple and Google take a 15% to 30% commission from each app or in-app content sold, which has long been a matter of discussion among developers, companies, and even public organizations in multiple countries.

If Apple is eventually forced to open up the iOS ecosystem so that anyone can publish apps outside of the App Store, the company would definitely lose much of its revenue from online services. Not to mention that if such legislation is passed in one state, other states in the US and even other countries would have precedents for passing similar bills.

HB2005 could pass the House this week and potentially even make it through the Republican-majority Arizona Senate, making Arizona the first state to push through legislation to loosen Apple and Google’s grip over their app ecosystems in the country. There’s similar legislation being considered in Minnesota, Georgia, Hawaii and other states, mostly being pushed by Match Group, Epic Games and the broader Coalition for App Fairness, which only formed last year and includes Spotify, Tile and others.

Apple has been under investigation following several accusations of monopolistic practices, as the company controls which apps are allowed on its devices and requires developers to pay a commission for each sale they make through the App Store. Such accusations became more frequent after Apple removed the popular game Fortnite from the App Store following an update that circumvented iOS’ in-app purchase system.

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Apple compliance chief Kyle Andeer said that the App Store commission helps the company sustain its ecosystem and provide tools for developers to create iOS apps. Ander also reinforced that most developers now pay only 15% commission to Apple.

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