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Photo: Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images

In the wake of Europe's announcement of the Apple antitrust investigation, several iOS developers are publicly criticizing the policies that govern the App Store — in particular the up-to-30% cut Apple takes for the sale of digital goods.

Why it matters: The public criticism could encourage other developers to speak out and form the basis for antitrust investigations beyond Europe.

Driving the news:

  • The developers of Hey, a new email app from the creators of Basecamp, are blasting Apple for insisting on a cut of their subscriptions. "It's clear they feel embolden[ed] to tighten the screws with no fear of regulatory consequences," tweeted Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson.
  • Tinder parent Match Group on Tuesday said Apple "squeezes industries" including e-books, streaming media and cloud storage "for 30% of their revenue, which is all the more alarming when Apple then enters that space." Match has spoken with regulators on the matter, a source told Axios.
  • Fortnite creator Epic Games also criticized Apple’s approach, while Spotify has a website enumerating its issues.

Between the lines: Those criticizing Apple raise several issues about Apple's somewhat arbitrary decision tree for determining who does and doesn't have to pay.

  • Apple allows certain types of services not to offer sign-ups within their iOS apps, including "reader" apps for e-books and subscription video services. There's also a separate exception for services typically used by businesses.
  • But for most other consumer digital services, companies are required to offer the option to subscribe in the app and give Apple its cut, which can be up to 30%.

Apple doesn't take a cut of sales of physical goods and services, but does for digital goods. The distinction can be murky, though.

  • Match Group, for example, clearly wonders why an app used to match people romantically has to give a cut of revenue — but Uber, which matches riders and drivers, doesn't have to.
  • Also, Apple has an expanding range of rival services of its own, making it tough for independent services to compete.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Sep 15, 2020 - Technology

Apple updates Apple Watch and iPad models, adds fitness service

Screenshot: Axios via Apple.com

Apple on Tuesday unveiled new iPad and Apple Watch models, as well as a new fitness service and Apple One, which bundles the company's main services for one monthly price.

Context: Apple has launched new iPhones in September in the past, but production issues have flipped the script this year and the new smartphones are expected to be unveiled at a second event, likely next month.

Updated 9 mins ago - World

German election: Social Democrats narrowly beat Angela Merkel's bloc

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) clinched a narrow victory in Germany's historic federal elections on Sunday, just four years after suffering its worst loss since World War II.

Why it matters: It's a stunning political comeback for the SPD, paving the way for its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz to form a new governing coalition and lead Europe's largest economy into the post-Merkel era.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."