Speaking at the Global Conference for Mobile Application Ecosystem Fairness in South Korea, Sweeney renewed his attacks on the duopoly of Apple and Google because of which Epic’s Fortnite is no longer available on iOS and Android. Both Apple and Google have strict policies in place for apps that are available to users through their app storefronts and those require developers to pay a 30 per cent or 15 per cent commission on every app purchase. Epic tried to circumvent the policies last year, only to find its smash game, Fortnite, booted from both app marketplaces. That led to a high-voltage courtroom drama between Epic and Apple, but while the ruling in the US court was not exactly in Epic’s favour, South Korea stunned Apple (and Google) with its new law.
Epic CEO, Tim Sweeney, has called Google “crazy” and urged that “Apple must be stopped.”
Now Sweeney wants a single store accessible across all device platforms. “What the world really needs now is a single store that works with all platforms,” Sweeney was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report. “Right now software ownership is fragmented between the iOS App Store, the Android Google Play marketplace, different stores on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, and then Microsoft Store and the Mac App Store.” The CEO said the company is working with developers and service providers to build a system that would allow users “to buy software in one place, knowing that they’d have it on all devices and all platforms.”
Besides Sweeney, regulators from around the world have time and again criticised – and sometimes penalised – both Apple and Google for dominating the smartphone and mobile app markets.
That technically makes sense. Right now, if you want to own an app on different devices, you have to buy them individually from respective app marketplaces. For Android, there is the Google Play Store, while, for iOS, there is the App Store. Moving beyond smartphones, you have gaming consoles and operating systems for computers, and they all have their own versions of app storefronts. Buying each version means more overheads.
South Korea has introduced the world’s first law that requires Apple and Google to give a choice of payment service to customers of their app marketplaces. That would mean that the billing systems of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store will no longer be mandatory for customers. While that would not mean much to consumers, it will bring what is being termed the biggest relief to developers who will finally not have to pay Apple and Google their controversial commission.
Other markets, such as the US, have, too, vouched for an app distribution system like the one South Korea has proposed, but there is not a law there that binds Apple and Google yet. While Google has bowed to comply with the South Korean law, Apple is still contesting it. “Apple locks a billion users into one store and payment processor,” Sweeney said. “Now Apple complies with oppressive foreign laws, which surveil users and deprive them of political rights. But Apple is ignoring laws passed by Korea’s democracy. Apple must be stopped.”
Epic CEO also labelled Google “crazy” for taking a cut from payments that it does not process. While doing that, he praised South Korea’s new law for mobile app marketplaces.