Developer Sues Apple for Exploiting Its Monopoly Over iOS App Distribution

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 18 Mar 2021

iPhone App Store

Kosta Eleftheriou, who earlier asked Apple to take action against the fake ratings and reviews on iOS App Store, has now filed a lawsuit against the company. The developer is accusing Apple of exploiting its monopoly power over the distribution of iOS apps.

Eleftheriou, the developer of the popular Apple Watch app FlickType, has sued Apple for exploiting its monopoly over iOS apps distribution. The developer says he has sued the company because Apple “makes billions of dollars in profits at the expense of small application developers and consumers.”

Back in February, Eleftheriou asked Apple to take action against the increasing number of fake reviews on the App Store. He said that many apps had copied his app but were allegedly paying reviewers to leave a good rating on the App Store. Good ratings left his app rank lower in the search, and the ‘copycats’ were making money out of it, he said. He says that Apple didn’t do enough to combat the scam, even though some of the apps were removed after his complaint.

The lawsuit has been filed in the name of his company, KPAW LLC, at the Santa Clara County court. In the lawsuit, the developer claims that Apple has allegedly tried to acquire his app, FlickType, after he faced “roadblock after roadblock” to sell his app on the App Store. The developer says that Apple intentionally chose not to take action against the scam, in an effort to force him to sell his app to Apple.

“Apple systematically flexes its monopoly muscle against potential competition through the ‌App Store‌ and profits from rampant fraudulent practices. If Apple cannot buy a desired application from a developer on the cheap, Apple attempts to crush that developer through exploitive fees and selective application of opaque and unreasonable constraints against the developer.”

Along with the accusation of Apple trying to buy apps for ‘cheap’, he says that the company pushes these scams so it can earn profits from their sales. He says that he was approached by Marsden, who expressed interest in having Apple acquiring his software. After the negotiations fell off, he claims, no future version of the app was approved by Apple. Yet, he says, copycat apps which were using his technology were approved.

“Apple permits other developers that Apple does not view as real competition to peddle similar, inferior products because Apple profits from their sales.”

At last, he accuses Apple of holding its device users and developers hostage. He says that the company justifies its monopoly by claiming that it is necessary to protect its users from “unscrupulous conduct.” “In truth, Apple turns a blind eye to rampant fraud and exploitation to make an easy profit,” Eleftheriou says.

Eleftheriou isn’t the only one who’s not happy with Apple’s malpractices. Fortnite developer Epic Games is in an ongoing battle with the company. The hearing of Epic Games vs Apple is slated to start on May 3.

[Via The Verge]