According to a TechCrunch article, developer and App Store skeptic Kosta Eleftheriou has resolved his legal dispute with Apple. The lawsuit, which was filed in March 2021, claimed that once Apple seemed to lose interest in purchasing the technology, it made it impossible for him to sell his program, Flicktype, on the App Store.
The complaint claimed that by charging “exploitative fees and selective application of opaque and unjustifiable limits,” Apple exploited its monopolistic position as the iPhone’s manufacturer and the entity in charge of the App Store to “crush” developers who were in competition with it. Eleftheriou also charged Apple of not doing enough to combat the proliferation of imitative fraud applications that deceived people into downloading his Apple Watch swipe-based keyboard app. By the way, this was about the same time that Apple and Epic were arguing in court over how much control the iPhone manufacturer should have over how software is delivered on iOS.
Earlier this summer, Eleftheriou’s business, Kpaw, asked to have the case dismissed. You can read more about it here. In response to The Verge’s request for comment about the settlement, Apple didn’t react right away.
Eleftheriou said he was unable to comment on the settlement or how he felt about it in an interview with The Verge. He was able to provide some recommendations for future improvements Apple may make to the App Store, however. He said that the majority of the recommendations made by my colleague Sean Hollister in his post “Eight things Apple should do to show it genuinely cares about App Store consumers” from a year ago were still viable and would be a good place to start.
Apple has actually moved on two of those points since Eleftheriou filed his case, including expanding the App Review team, ensuring the most popular applications are legitimate, and immediately refunding con artists. One benefit is that it reinstated the report option, which may be useful for those who discover applications that are plainly fraudulent. It has also made adjustments to the subscriptions’ auto-renewal mechanism, which Sean and Eleftheriou both said should be eliminated and replaced with a reminder to renew every time a payment was due. Apple would now let memberships to renew automatically even if there was a little price increase. (I didn’t suggest that the business was headed in the direction we like.)
Eleftheriou also argued that Apple might be more open and honest about the reasons for the removal of applications. According to him, if you go to the URL for an app that has been taken down from the App Store, it should explain why it was done so, including whether the developer pulled the app down themselves or if it broke a regulation like the prohibition against phony reviews.
According to TechCrunch, Eleftheriou is well known for discovering and calling attention to egregious frauds on the App Store. He claims that this kind of action would assist the public understand how many scams were present on the store and how many were eventually taken down. Although he doubts that Apple would make its own information available, he claims that data from organizations that keep track of the App Store might be extracted from public sites that explain why applications were removed, giving us a general indication of how often particular problems are.
That kind of information would inform me as a user about how cautious I should be while exploring applications. Although it may not appear like there is much value to Apple at first, it might help the business demonstrate that it is becoming more adept at managing the App Store. That might be a very useful thing as the danger of antitrust enforcement grows, particularly in light of Apple’s dual role as platform owner and entity in charge of the store.