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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.

Group of 20 bipartisan senators back $1.2T infrastructure framework

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) arrives for a meeting with Senate Budget Committee Democrats in the Mansfield Room at the U.S. Capitol building on June 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. The Majority Leader and Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee are meeting to discuss how to move forward with the Biden Administrations budget proposal. Photo: Samuel Corum / Getty Images

A group of 10 Democratic and 10 Republican senators (the "G20") tasked with negotiating an infrastructure deal with the White House has released a statement in support of a $1.2 trillion framework.

Why it matters: Details regarding the plan have not yet been released, but getting 10 Republicans on board means the bill could get the necessary 60 votes to pass.

DOJ drops criminal probe, civil lawsuit against John Bolton over Trump book

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The Justice Department has closed its criminal investigation into whether President Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton disclosed classified information with his tell-all memoir, “The Room Where it Happened," according to a source with direct knowledge.

Why it matters: The move comes a year after the Trump administration tried to silence Bolton by suing him in federal court, claiming he breached his contract by failing to complete a pre-publication review for classified information. Prosecutors indicated they had reached a settlement with Bolton to drop the lawsuit in a filing on Wednesday.