Although most of the founding members have battled separately or are battling over their App Store policies with Apple, the App Fairness Coalition reflects a more concerted movement for developers to formally challenge the rules of Apple. The objective is also to provide developers with a central organization to join, particularly those who may not have the clout or the resources to take on Apple alone
The Coalition says it welcomes “companies of any scale that are dedicated to protecting customer preference, encouraging competitiveness, and ensuring a level playing field for all global app and game developers in any industry.”
In a statement announcing the news, Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder of Epic Games, said, “We are joining the Alliance for App Justice to protect the fundamental rights of developers to create apps and to do business directly with their clients.”
Three key points of contention are cited by the Alliance for App Fairness: Apple’s 30 percent reduction in any purchases sold through the store, the absence of any other open app delivery options on iOS, and a suggestion that Apple uses its power over iOS to benefit its services.
None of these allegations are fresh. For instance, Spotify has formally filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in the European Union over several of those issues. Earlier this year, Basecamp clashed with Apple, saying Apple declined to accept potential changes to its Hey email app unless it sold subscriptions via the Apple store. Apple stole its ideas for anonymous email sign-in and then booted it from the App Store, Blix said. Tile testified in Congress that Apple used its platform to undercut the usability of its device on iOS. (The company has previously attempted to mobilize other developers to enter its battle.)
And, of course, Epic has started a full-fledged battle over Apple’s 30 percent cut that has contributed to the entire withdrawal of the world’s biggest game from the App Store.
The Alliance for App Justice has a draught code of conduct that Apple and other platform owners are being asked to follow. The aims are ambitious and include demands for developers not to be forced to use an exclusive app store, for all developers to have equal access to the same technical details as the owner of the site, and for developers not to be forced to pay “unfair, excessive or unequal fees or revenue shares” to be included on the app store.
The Alliance for App Justice, through a united developer front, aims to gain control over Apple. But even though other developers flock to join, all the cards are still owned by Apple; while Spotify, Match, Basecamp, and the rest protest Apple’s rules, they still place their apps in the App Store at the end of the day and pay Apple’s fees.