May 24, 2024

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Specialists in technology

Apple hires economists to help prove its App Store commissions aren’t anti-competitive


Apple’s been criticized by Spotify and other apps, claiming its high commission rates stifle innovation.

Angela Lang/CNET

Apple is fighting back against the perception that its App Store charges onerous commission rates to developers, hiring economists from the firm Analysis Group, who said the tech giant’s fees were similar to competitors.

The research, published Wednesday, collected commission rates reported on or disclosed by app stores from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others. The company’s economists also studied ticket resale marketplaces, game stores and ride hailing apps. Overall, the economists said the commissions charged were similar, though stores generally offered different features for consumers and developers.

“The commission rates charged by digital marketplaces most similar to the App Store, such as other app stores and video game digital marketplaces, are generally around 30%,” the economists wrote in study. The economists also broadly defended these commission rates, saying this system “lower the barriers to entry for small sellers and developers by minimizing upfront payments, and reinforce the marketplace’s incentive to promote matches that generate high long-term value.”

The economists did not research whether the fees stifle innovation or are fair, which other developers have expressed concern about.

Apple’s published research marks the company’s latest effort to respond to increasing scrutiny from regulators in Europe and the United States, who say they’re concerned the company may be acting in anti-competitive ways. 

In June, the European Commission opened two antitrust probes, looking at Apple Pay and Apple’s App Store. In the case of Apple Pay, regulators are investigating whether Apple unfairly locks out competitors from using the NFC wireless transmission technology that powers Apple Pay on its gadgets. With regards to the App Store, investigators are looking into whether the restrictions Apple places on developers hurts competition. Music service Spotify triggered the investigation when it lodged a complaint with the EU more than a year ago.

Regulators in the US are also scrutinizing Apple’s business practices. The Department of Justice has spoken with several companies who are “unhappy” with how Apple runs its App Store, according to reports in Politico and Reuters this year.

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