Facing a barrage of polls and investigations regarding the App Store and the distribution of applications on its devices, Apple has told Australia’s consumer watchdog that developers have “multiple” ways to reach users. of iOS and states that they are “far from limited” to simply using the App Store.
In a new presentation (via ZDnet) responding to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s concerns that it exploits “alleged market power in its role as an application distributor”, Apple highlights the multiple avenues developers can take to reach customers.
Specifically, Apple notes that “the whole web” exists as an alternative means of distribution, arguing that the web has become a platform unto itself. Apple supports this claim by noting that iOS devices have “unrestricted and uncontrolled” access to the web, allowing users to download web applications.
Even if a user only owns iOS-based devices, distribution is far from limited to Apple’s App Store because developers have multiple alternative channels to reach that user. The entire web is available to them, and iOS devices have unlimited and unrestricted access to it. A common approach is for users to buy and consume digital content or services on a website.
Web browsers are used not only as a distribution portal, but also as platforms themselves, hosting “progressive web applications” (PWAs) that eliminate the need to download a developer application through the aplicaciónApp Store (or other means ). PWAs are increasingly available to and across browsers and mobile devices, including on iOS.
Apple says that alternative distribution methods, such as web applications and developer websites, pose a competitive threat to the App Store. Apple continues to talk about other platforms, such as the Google Play Store, noting that it struggles “vigorously” to entice developers to build apps for its platform rather than others.
As explained below, Apple faces competitive restrictions from distribution alternatives within the iOS ecosystem (including developer websites and other means through which consumers can obtain third-party applications and use them on their iOS devices) and outside of iOS.
In fact, Apple competes vigorously to attract the best developers because a reduction in the quality of the applications or a restricted availability of popular applications in the App Storeían would diminish the user experience. Any action that undermines the popularity of the App Store, including preventing developers from succeeding in the App Store, would be financially irrational as it would destroy the value of the ecosystem to the detriment of consumers, application developers and Apple itself.
Apple’s new comments are unlikely to sit well with some developers, particularly Epic Games, which is waging a massive legal battle against Apple for being a supposed monopoly. Some developers claim that Apple has a dominant position in their devices due to the App Store and exploits its power to limit innovation and competition.
Earlier this week, in a separate presentation to the ACCC, Apple said it was “surprised” to hear that some developers have concerns about the review process and the guidelines that applications should follow before appearing on the App Store. The ACCC launched its investigation into the App Store last year and is expected to release an interim report on March 31.
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