Chinese app developers launch antitrust complaint against Apple

Apple treats is Chinese developers unfairly, or so alleges a case filed with Chinese regulators by 28 of those developers.

The FT reports that Apple is accused of abusing its Chinese developers by removing their apps from the store without good reason and taking too big a slice of in-app purchases. The case was filed by a consortium of 28 developers and represented by law firm Dare & Sure. One of the allegations is that Apple is selective in its treatment of developers depending on other external factors.

“When companies that are important to Apple allege that certain apps infringe their rights and should be taken down, Apple will do so with very little evidence or even no evidence,” said the complaint, inferring preferential treatment for US companies. The report also notes that Apple doesn’t have to compete with the Google Play store in China as it’s blocked by the government.

The gripe around app deletions also focuses on their sudden, unilateral, unexplained nature and the slowness of the appeals process. Meanwhile Apple’s cut of 30% from all in-app purchases is considered excessive, as is its definition of them, which apparently includes tips to developers. China is especially advanced when it comes to mobile commerce so the amount of money involved must be considerable.

We seem to be entering a new phase of litigation in the mobile sector. At the start of the touch-screen smartphone era it was all about patents used in the phones and the software, but now it’s more about straight commercial stuff. Apple is by far the most profitable player in the smartphone space and so is inevitably at the centre of much of this latest wave, especially in the form of its dispute with Qualcomm.

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