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Google, Apple loosen monetary hold on apps, but developers want more

October 24 2021: In recent days both Google and Apple have eased some of the  terms of service for those who upload app on their respective online stores, PlayStore and AppStore. But the developer community, like Oliver Twist is asking for "more".
On October 21, Google said in a blogpost: “To help support the specific needs of developers offering subscriptions, starting on January 1, 2022, we're decreasing the service fee for all subscriptions on Google Play from 30 percent to 15 percent, starting from day one."
For developers who offered a paid app or sold in-app digital goods, the flat service fee  is currently  30 per cent
Google explained that a vast majority of developers could distribute their apps on Google Play for free (currently 97 percent do so at no charge).
But start-ups and app developers have also questioned the arbitrary selection of app categories that will have to pay a lesser service fee.
The real issue is Lagaan practices – the highhanded, unilateral and arbitrary enforcement of rules in the name of PlayStore policies. While Google has attempted to address one aspect of the unfairness – high prices (albeit in a half-hearted manner) – the more important aspects related to anti-competitive practices of restricting other payment providers to operate in their app economy and allowing a choice of payment provider to developers remain unaddressed and unresolved still,” Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, ADIF told BusinessLine.
Both Apple and Google have drawn severe criticism in the past from developers over app commissions.
ADIF adds: "It is encouraging to see that Apple has taken the first credible step away from its desire to earn commission on every dollar made by app developers on their store. It has deleted the contentious clause (3.1.3) which was being used by Apple to maintain a stronghold on the developers in order to make them cough up hefty commissions. The changes announced to the AppStore guidelines have put an end to the company’s restrictive and anti-competitive practice of blocking developers from communicating with their own customers and directing them to other payment options of their choice."
"The fact that Apple has relented, is the result of the concerted and collective actions of various stakeholders of the app ecosystem, right from developers to industry bodies to regulators around the globe."
"This comes as a major victory for the developer and startup community who have been vocal against the restrictive and anti-competitive practices of the two big tech majors through their AppStore/PlayStore policies.Having said that, practices that restrict app developers with their product and user experience choices still persist. For instance, Apple has still not relented on allowing alternative payment systems to be embedded directly in their apps."
"It is crucial now to ensure that the efforts towards making the app economy a fair marketplace are sustained. It is only when all such restrictive practices are also done away with that the app marketplace can be deemed a true level playing field that allows for innovation to thrive."