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Just as Microsoft were stopped from shipping a browser with their OS, vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS.

You cant move to another platform without losing access to all your "purchases" - there is no free market. They have monopolies within ecosystems they created.

They should be FORCED to have an open platform, with users able to access multiple 3rd party storefronts on multiple platforms. They can market themselves as official/curated/whatever they want but the user should have the choice.




>Just as Microsoft were stopped from shipping a browser with their OS, vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS.

There's nothing wrong with providing an app store as long as that store offers fair and non-discriminatory terms to all vendors. Charging app developers for the costs of running a store and maintaining an ecosystem is perfectly reasonable; using those charges to stifle competition isn't.

Engineers tend to want neat, perfect solutions that require no human judgement, but they're very rare in the real world. There are obvious and major disadvantages to a free-for-all versus a walled garden, for both developers and users. Customers have a right to choose a tightly-controlled platform, just as they have a right to shop at a grocery store that refuses to sell poisonous food. Banning app store bundling is a scorched-earth approach that would do more harm than good for the average consumer.


>There's nothing wrong with providing an app store as long as that store offers fair and non-discriminatory terms to all vendors

Setting aside the store issue for a moment, what you suggest is impossible if Apple is also making apps.


>Setting aside the store issue for a moment, what you suggest is impossible if Apple is also making apps.

No, it's very easy to implement and commonplace in all sorts of businesses. Apple need to treat their in-house app development teams in exactly the same way as they would treat a third-party developer - they get the same APIs, they get the same documentation, they go through the same approvals process and they pay the same fees.

Apple can hardly claim that they lack the expertise to compartmentalise information in this manner - prior to the iPhone launch, the software team had never seen the hardware and vice-versa.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_wall


>No, it's very easy to implement and commonplace in all sorts of businesses.

Can you provide a software example?

> Apple need to treat their in-house app development teams in exactly the same way as they would treat a third-party developer - they get the same APIs, they get the same documentation, they go through the same approvals process and they pay the same fees.

Nobody should believe that a company paying fees to itself will change its behavior. The app development team would still act in Apple's overall best interest and not seek to maximize its own profits.

Even if we somehow accept that there is a real divide, it's still not equal footing. Say that Apple Music and Spotify both have $0.75 in expenses for every $1 they charge on app store. After the 30% cut, both would have loses of $0.05 per dollar of revenue. For Apple, that's a fictitious loss and their actual cash flow is a positive $0.25. For Spotify, that $0.05 represents an actual nickle they have to give someone else. Apple can continue on doing that indefinitely while Spotify can't.


>Can you provide a software example?

Amazon are already very, very close to that state of play - developers within Amazon are required to design their infrastructure based on standard APIs, to facilitate the commercialisation of those systems via AWS. Chinese walls are commonplace in any kind of reverse-engineering as a protection against claims of copyright infringement.

>For Apple, that's a fictitious loss and their actual cash flow is a positive $0.25. For Spotify, that $0.05 represents an actual nickle they have to give someone else. Apple can continue on doing that indefinitely while Spotify can't.

That would constitute predatory pricing, which is illegal under EU competition law.


> Customers have a right to choose a tightly-controlled platform, just as they have a right to shop at a grocery store that refuses to sell poisonous food

And giving them the choice is the whole point


i have been thinking more about this and i think you are right. on GOG i am (depending on rightsholdet) able to add games to my library that I own on steam. if this was the norm, enforced through consumer rights, it would allow users the ability to purchase licenses through a store of their choice.


> vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS.

Congratulations, you've just reinvented the desktop adware / malware market. We know that if this is possible users will be manipulated into making bad decisions which are hard to recover from, and in many cases those bad decisions will be made for them by their carrier.

What I would support is that the app store should be more open: no refusing apps for competing with the built-in apps, and removing the ban on purchases which don't go through the platform — let the store owner charge for payment processing but e.g. Amazon should be allowed to sell you a movie on iOS without paying Apple a cut simply by using their payment system instead.


Completely agree. The blindness of users here towards the use case of non-techies is surprising.


It's not really blindness... it's a trade-off I'd be willing to make to still own & have full control over the hardware I buy. Unless we can find a better middle way to achieve this.

Also, is Android as malware infected as GP describes? He singles out desktops, but Android does allow side-loading apps and people still near exclusively download apps though the play store. Adding a few other stores of big&trusted companies to painlessly load apps doesn't seem that risky to me. But would certainly add competition. I really don't understand why I must have a Google account to download Microsoft office.


Android does have malware distributed through side-loading but my objection was really the part I highlighted about “prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS”. If you don't have an app store at all the malware numbers will go way up because 100% of your users are going to be trained that it's normal to add stores or direct install apps and then you're going to see all of the shady download.com-style operations SEOing their way into people's search results, with fun variations like phone carriers pre-installing stuff which is ad-supported or the process of backroom deals.

> I really don't understand why I must have a Google account to download Microsoft office.

This is a related but separate issue: most of the value comes from trusting Google to verify that the app you found searching for “Microsoft Office” is actually published by Microsoft. Having a Google account saves you from having to manage accounts with every software publisher you use — which is huge for most people — but it's not really a prerequisite for user safety the way having a review step makes it a lot harder to spam popular application names.


> Vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS.

So then how would a novice user get apps the first time they boot up their phone? They would have to know where to get apps from. That seems like an easy way for users to end up downloading a bunch of malware because they think it's the official Apple or Google app store when it's just a random website.

Having a built in app store has huge advantages in security and usability for the end user.


Microsoft were pushed to add a screen to the Windows installer asking the user which browser they wanted to be the default. That would work perfectly well for app stores.


In Europe* and no one used it.


Humm, everyone "used" it. It popped up on the first log in and didn't go away until you chose a browser. That was the point.

Also I believe it had a positive effect on Firefox gaining users, no one can claim that was a bad thing.


EU style choice (which cost MS 700M)- Show list of available app stores


I feel like that would solve the problem that GP was referencing but just create a whole bunch of other issues for users and developers.

"Find Spotify on [list of ten app stores here]." One of the advantages for users and developers is that if you want an app on iOS (and for the most part) Android, you know exactly where to find it.

It's by no means a dealbreaker, but something to consider.


>Just as Microsoft were stopped from shipping a browser with their OS, vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS.

That comparison doesn't really work, because MSFT had an effective desktop monopoly. By contrast, Apple is a minority player in the mobile market.

>They should be FORCED to have an open platform,

Just because YOU want this doesn't mean the Apple users want it. I'm utterly content with a single, curated-by-Apple app store for iOS. I like the stability it affords the platform.

I'd never accept it on a general-purpose computing device, but for my phone it's perfect.


> By contrast, Apple is a minority player in the mobile market.

Apple sold 47% of the all smartphones shipped in the US in Q4 2018

https://www.counterpointresearch.com/us-market-smartphone-sh...



1. "in the US"

2. 47% is not a monopoly


it's not a monopoly (which your parent also didn't say), but since it's still the biggest piece of pie in the marketshare it's certainly not a "minority" as your parents parent said


>That comparison doesn't really work, because MSFT had an effective desktop monopoly. By contrast, Apple is a minority player in the mobile market.

Market share is not the only criteria for determining whether a company has a dominant market position under EU competition law. Apple have a substantial share of the mobile phone market and they have a total monopoly on iOS app distribution. If you want to sell apps to ~27% of consumers in the EU, you have no choice but to go through Apple. End users might have a meaningful choice, but developers don't, which is highly relevant in this case.


Why can't developers sell apps in the Android play store?


They can, but that doesn't stop Apple's behaviour from being anti-competitive and illegal under EU law. Apple only control a minority of the smartphone market, but they exert a stranglehold over that share and use that stranglehold to artificially disadvantage competitors.


I am not a lawyer (and it seems the law may differ significantly between the US and Europe) but I think all companies want to disadvantage their competitors, so whether or not this is illegal really hinges on the definition of artificial.


Do you have an example for a case where the EU fined a company for anti-competitive behaviour where the company did NOT control a majority of the relevant market?


I would say that a "substantial share" is not a "dominant market position".


> Just because YOU want this doesn't mean the Apple users want it. I'm utterly content with a single, curated-by-Apple app store for iOS. I like the stability it affords the platform.

And you should be able to choose that. But should you change your mind, you should be able to take your purchases with you and go elsewhere. Although apple is in the spotlight here, all of these vendor-locked app-stores are the problem.


> By contrast, Apple is a minority player in the mobile market.

That's Apple's magic trick. They only own the top 20% of the market (evading monopoly attention) but they extract almost 100% of all profit in the smartphone market. No idea how you'd legislate against that though..


Their magic trick is creating products and services that people want to buy.

No one told Google to skimp on customer service and make 18 chat programs that don’t work. No one told Microsoft to drag their feet on preventing malware from destroying the usability of their system. It was Microsoft’s choice to profit from letting manufacturers sell computers riddled with malware that you had to spend hours to remove after buying. It’s google’s choice to not offer product support such that you can’t use their “flagship” devices for 5 years.

Apple invested in setting up their retail stores, training employees well, making their devices easy to use, and now they are reaping the rewards.


Sure, by why should the profit matter when we want to determine what is a monopoly and what isn't? Consumers have a choice, no matter what Apple makes.


There's no trick - just Apple being better at this than the competition.


Apple invests billions into R&D, design, manufacture, and UX design for its devices. Your logic would then see them dealing with picking up the pieces for bricked devices, hacked passwords, lost data, viruses, etc.

Using an Apple devices is accepting a benevolent dictatorship, and it's a trade off tonnes of users are happy to make.


oh, I didn't know that they were giving away the devices for free.


The devices are currently costed for, presumably, a certain volume of support issues which I can only imagine is enormously minimised by the walled garden of the app store.


> Just as Microsoft were stopped from shipping a browser with their OS

What do you mean? Every time I've installed Windows, it came with Internet Explorer or Edge (which I then used to install another browser).



Are you in the US? This was a European ruling.


>Just as Microsoft were stopped from shipping a browser with their OS

They were never stopped from that.

They were stopped for abusing their monopoly (e.g. threatening OEM PC vendors that unless they bundled this or that, they wont get Windows for a special price, etc).

And that when they had a monopoly (e.g. close to 98% of the desktop AND business market) -- which in itself is not illegal.


More technically, they had to provide a version of Windows that didn't ship with IE, and iirc a version that allowed new users to pick an alternate browser.


Vendors could solve the whole problem by letting users choose which default apps they want to install in the beginning. In order to make it simple, they could offer bundles. >95% of the users would choose the 'Apple Apps' bundle on iOS and the 'Google Apps' bundle on Android and the 'Microsoft Apps' bundle on Windows. And the few people choosing the 'Privacy-First' bundle with Firefox and Ad-Blocker are those people who would install an alternative browser anyway.

But instead, they are greedy and want 100% of the users of their platform to use their apps.


> Just as Microsoft were stopped from shipping a browser with their OS, vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS.

Microsoft had a monopoly, Apple doesn't. It's as simple as that.


Apple has an absolute monopoly on its own platform.

They are certainly complying with the laws in this regard, but the reality is that anti-competition laws need to change to deal with companies of this scale and reach.


> Apple has an absolute monopoly on its own platform.

It doesn't work that way. Otherwise I could also say that any company has a monopoly on "products with the company's name on it".

> the reality is that anti-competition laws need to change to deal with companies of this scale and reach.

Hm ... I really think that Facebook and Google are the bigger problems today. And a lot is happening there already (not so much in the US though).


I am talking about the actual definition of a monopoly, not that defined by antitrust laws, hence my second sentence about how the law (consumer law, anti-trust, or both) needs to change to prevent these walled gardens.

I agree Facebook and google are also problems. Amazon too, likely others. They all have their walled gardens - and whats worse is when they "go to war" with each other, affecting the users tied to their services (financially or otherwise).


> I am talking about the actual definition of a monopoly, not that defined by antitrust laws, hence my second sentence about how the law (consumer law, anti-trust, or both) needs to change to prevent these walled gardens.

I didn't mean that your definition of a monopoly is incorrect, but that you can't just narrow down the market until you find a monopoly. Because if you could, every company has a monopoly (which wouldn't make any sense).


This isn't narrowing down markets until we find a monopoly. This is a trillion dollar company abusing access to their captive market. The only option for users is to leave their ecosystem and lose access to all of their purchases. If that isn't covered by current anti-trust law, then the law is outdated and should be changed.


> The only option for users is to leave their ecosystem and lose access to all of their purchases.

The user signed up for that, so IMHO he gets what he deserves. The only I think I would change is to disallow the use of the word "purchase" when the user only buys the right to access some DRM-ed content.


So you believe that a purchasing decision that someone made a decade ago should haunt them forever. Nice!


Forced? That doesn't sound like freedom. Forced to enable your competitors to compete with you on your own platform? Forced to develop a platform upon which competitors can reduce your payoff on that investment?

Look at Google Play store. Much more "open," and a shitload of malware, scams, and shit software. Without curation of any kind, you end up with shit. It's the Tragedy of the Commons applied to apps. Build it, and they will ruin.


Judging by number of sales, people seem to either like these walled gardens or don't care about them.

For those of us that care about freedom, we can just buy a phone that's compatible with LineageOS (or Replicant if you're willing to go full Stallman) and install it.


That sounds like a great strategy to switch everything everywhere to crappy web apps.


> vendors should be prevented from shipping an App Store with their OS

The problem here isn't the quality of the App Store. The problem is that Spotify has no alternative.

Apple is a hardware developer, a software developer, and a software retailer. The problem is how tightly coupled those three roles are on the iPhone.

You can't run iOS on other hardware. You can't run another OS on the iPhone. You can't install apps on iOS except from the App Store. You can't use the App Store on other OSes.

Those are the underlying problems.

Users can't use part of the ecosystem. They have to invest in the whole thing, giving Apple more control and reducing consumer mobility.




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