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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And giving them the choice is the whole point
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
Also I believe it had a positive effect on Firefox gaining users, no one can claim that was a bad thing.
"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.
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.
Apple sold 47% of the all smartphones shipped in the US in Q4 2018
2. 47% is not a monopoly
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.
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.
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..
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.
Using an Apple devices is accepting a benevolent dictatorship, and it's a trade off tonnes of users are happy to make.
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).
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.
But instead, they are greedy and want 100% of the users of their platform to use their apps.
Microsoft had a monopoly, Apple doesn't. It's as simple as that.
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.
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 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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.