FlickType app’s developer Kosta Eleftheriou is suing Apple over issues relating to App Store operations; accusing the company of negligence, abuse of monopoly power, and anticompetitive behavior. This is the same developer who shed light on several scam apps on the App Store which are robbing users of millions of dollars.
Earlier in 2021, Eleftheriou accused Apple of abetting scam apps on its platform in a lengthy Twitter thread. The developer also revealed that his Apple Watch Keyboard app FlickType had been targeted by scammers who used his ideas and promoted their fraudulent apps using his screenshots and videos. This lead to potential customers being driven to scam apps under false advertising on Apple’s platform.
FlickType developer sues Apple for protecting scam apps on App Store
The suit, which was filed recently in California Superior Court in Santa Clara County, claims that the Cupertino tech giant lured developers to its platform by telling them it is a safe and trustworthy place but does not protect their work from scammers who illegally profit from their apps.
The suit goes on to suggest that Apple does not crackdown on scammers and fraudulent apps on its platform because they also generate revenue for the App Store via subscriptions. So ultimately, Apple receives its standard 30% cut from scammers as well as the hardworking developers on its platform.
Eleftheriou himself was personally affected by these scam apps. The developers left a lucrative job at Pinterest to work on his FlickType app. Shortly after its launch, the app was targeted by scammers who claimed their apps offer the same features as FlickType. After users would download the fraudulent app, they would be met with a payment screen before the app would open up. This led to Eleftheriou losing potential customers and in turn, potential revenue. The customers were also scammed out of their money. From the suit:
“At the same time, Apple permits other developers that Apple does not view as real competition, including scam competitors, to peddle similar, inferior products because Apple profits from their sales. Scammers oftentimes use screenshots and videos taken from legitimate developer’s applications and manipulate their ratings. Apple does little to police these practices because it profits from them. Apple then lies to its regulators by asserting that it must maintain its monopoly power over the sale of Apple-related applications to protect consumers, when, in fact, Apple lets them get ripped off and exploits the developers trying to deliver innovation to consumers.”
The situation gets a bit murkier with Eleftheriou’s next claim. According to the developer, Apple approached him to acquire FlickType. After negotiations ended, he says that his app was suddenly being denied from the App Store for “no reason.” Eleftheriou says Apple did this to stop him from competing with scam apps that generated revenue for the App Store. The suit alleges that the tech giant’s monopoly position gives it the capacity to manipulate the market and remove any developers it may have an issue with.
Eleftheriou’s claims which suggest Apple has taken part in false advertising, fraud, and anti-competitive behavior can also be corroborated by Fortnite developer Epic Games. Epic Games has made similar claims about the tech giant abused its position of power. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has scheduled the Epic Games vs. Apple trial for May 3.
Recently it was reported that Apple will be cracking down on apps that have “irrationally’ high prices. In an email sent to a developer, the tech giant said, “Charging irrationally high prices for content or services with limited value is a rip-off to customers and is not appropriate for the App Store.” The company also regularly removes clones and spam from the App Store. But this latest lawsuit alleges that Apple is abetting scammers. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds to this suit since it is currently embroiled in several antitrust investigations.
via The Verge