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20 September
Sunday

Russia

Russia could force Apple to reduce App Store commission to 20%

Apple currently collects a 30% commission on sales in its App Store

Photo: Epic Games

/NOVOSTIVL/ Russia found Apple guilty of anti-competitive practices based on how it has handled third-party parental control apps. In a separate, but somewhat related development, a new bill has been submitted to the lower Russian Parliament to cap Apple’s App Store commission at 20% as well as require it to allow third-party App Stores.

Reported by Reuters, the Russian Parliament will soon vote on whether or not to limit the commission companies like Apple and Google take from app sales.

The bill, submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament by lawmaker Fedot Tumusov, stipulates that commissions on the sale of applications be capped at 20%. Apple currently collects a 30% commission on sales in its App Store.

But beyond just lowering the maximum commission in Russia, the bill, if passed, would make companies like Apple “pay a third of their commissions to a special training fund for IT specialists on a quarterly basis.”

While Apple’s 30% App Store commission is often cited regarding antitrust discussions, another major part is concerns about the control Apple has over developers and how apps are approved through its App Store review process.

Tumusov shared on social media that the bill would also force Apple and Google to allow third-party app stores, which is what Epic Games is trying to do with its lawsuit against Apple. He even notes that the Epic Games and Facebook inspired his proposed legislation. Via Google Translate:

In recent weeks, the conflict between developers and owners of the so-called “marketplaces”, that is, application stores, has only grown. Apple’s conflict with Epic Games, Facebook’s attempt to inform users about Apple’s imputed tax – all of this led me to believe that the problem could be resolved through legislation.

And it’s quite simple: to oblige the current monopolists to allow the installation of third-party app stores on mobile devices, and along the way to reduce the size of the commission to at least 20% (and introduce contributions to the fund to support developers)

This would be a very notable bill if approved, as many countries around the world are scrutinizing Apple over antitrust concerns, mostly around its App Store practices. While the 30% App Store commission has been questioned as recently as Congress’ big tech antitrust hearing that Tim Cook testified at, there haven’t been any laws passed yet clamping down on big tech’s app commissions. Apple’s response usually includes that 30% is a market norm. And of course, having to open up its devices to third-party stores in Russia would likely give Apple pause about continuing to do business there. No doubt Apple would appeal such legislation in Russia if it is approved.

As my colleague Ben Lovejoy detailed as Facebook just complained about Apple’s 30% App Store commission, here’s a summary of Apple’s antitrust pressure:

Apple is facing a slew of antitrust investigations and lawsuits around the world, mostly related to App Store policies and commissions. There are multiple EU investigations, Congress, the Department of Justice, a number of US states, France, Japan, South Korea, and Russia. It has faced criticism, lawsuits, and complaints from a number of high-profile developers, including Tile, Spotify, Hey, and Epic Games. Most recently, the US House antitrust inquiry found ‘deeply disturbing’ anti-competitive behavior by Apple and other tech giants.

As for the Russian ruling that Apple acted anticompetitively regarding third-party parental control apps, Apple has appealed the verdict, so the final outcome has yet to be determined.


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