In an interview with Axios on HBO, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg criticized Apple’s App Store policies again. When asked if the “Apple App Store a monopoly”, the irked CEO commented that the company’s control over what is admissible on more than a billion devices should be checked for the sake of developers and consumers. He said,
“Some of their behavior certainly raises questions, I think it is something that deserves scrutiny and they are getting scrutiny for it.”
Recently, Apple has given many reasons for Zuckerberg to be upset with the company’s features and policies. Firstly, after several modifications, the Facebook gaming app did not get App Store’s approval because of its distribution mode of games, and the social media giant had to release the iOS version of its gaming app with only game streams and social functions. Secondly, the new iOS 14 privacy features which require developers to ‘ask for permission’ to track users’ activities and store their data, have upset the advertising model of the social media platform. Thirdly, is the rejection of the Facebook events update. Therefore, when Epic Games choose to rebel against the iPhone maker, Facebook extended its support to it.
Zuckerberg Wants Scrutiny of Apple’s App Store
In the interview, Zuckerberg indirectly called Apple anti-competitive and went on to say that “people” should look into the iPhone maker’s policies and “control over” what is allowed on its digital market. He said,
Well I certainly think that they have the unilateral control of what gets on the phones in terms of apps,” he replied. “I think it’s probably about 50% of Americans who have smart phones, and a lot more people around the world. I think there are more than a billion Apple devices. So I do think that there are questions that people should be looking into about that control of the App Store and whether that is enabling as robust of a competitive dynamic.”
Furthermore, he praised the relaxed policies of the Play Store in comparison to the App Store and said,
“As a developer if you’re not in the Google Play Store, at least you still have a way to get your app on people’s devices. And that means that people aren’t completely going to be shut out if they’re doing something that Google doesn’t prefer. I think that that’s really important, that people have a way to create something and get it on devices if people want.”
Although in this interview the social media CEO was mindful to not use any harsh words for Apple, in an internal meeting he was not so composed when criticizing the Cupertino tech giant. Calling the App Store 30% commission rate “Apple tax”, he said that the company has,
“this unique stranglehold as a gatekeeper on what gets on phones. It blocks innovation, blocks competition, and allows Apple to charge monopoly rents.”
Currently, the iPhone maker is facing several anti-trust investigations in the United States, EU, Italy, Russia, and Australia, mostly centered on the 30% cut charges by the company from developers for all in-app purchases. Despite the criticism and official scrutiny, Apple strongly supports and justifies the standard 30% commission rate in return for development tools, marketing, and other services.