Is Apple’s App Store Anti-Competitive?


In recent years, developers have been raising concerns about Apple’s App Store, claiming that its behaviour is anti-competitive. In fact, in July 2023, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Apple on behalf of UK-based developers. 

The damages claim was initiated because of Apple’s extortionate 30% fee, which is automatically added to in-app sales. 

Other market-leading tech companies, such as Microsoft, Match Group, Meta, and X, have also challenged Apple’s anti-competitive app store policies, stating the tech giant massively hinders competition by favouring its own apps. 

Let’s dive in to discover more about why so many tech giants are challenging Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour, but start by looking at some of the Apple App Store alternatives. 

Fierce competition for visibility

It should come as no surprise that all the different ‘key players’ operating on the various mobile app stores are locked in a non-stop battle for visibility and prominence. Gaining a foothold in Apple’s store is absolutely essential, given the number of iPhone and iPad users out there, but the crux of the issue that the various tech and development companies have with Apple is its (supposedly) unfair approach to anti-steering. 

The gaming industry is a perfect example of this. First, there are the Triple-A developers looking to dominate an entirely new era of mobile-based gaming. With the tech growing increasingly advanced, the scope for attracting players is broader than ever before. 

Next, there are the iGamers – prominent names in online casino and betting that have always stood out as some of the biggest names in the mobile gaming industry. The best casino apps have maintained a steady user base over the years, and represented a powerful counterpart to the brand’s sites and browser-based gameplay. 

Then there are the indie games – another major subset of the gaming sector that depends on growing visibility on platforms like Apple’s App Store in order to attract players. 

If Apple influences those rankings beyond popularity or reviews – in other words, if the App Store algorithm is swayed by Apple’s own sense of competition with these brands – the industry will begin to suffer. 

How bad are Apple’s anti-competitive practices?

Apple’s anti-competitive practices are considered unfair and detrimental to other businesses and have angered many leading tech companies. 

Their bad behaviour was brought to the world’s attention in 2020 when Apple effectively booted Fortnite off the App Store. It was discovered that the Fortnite app began allowing gamers to make in-app purchases using Epic’s in-house payment processing gateway.

Doing so meant that Epic had sidestepped the 30% commission fee. A short time after Apple made the decision to remove (and subsequently removed) Fortnite from the App Store, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple. The class-action lawsuit alleged Apple was effectively engaging in anti-competitive and unfair actions. 

However, Apple won, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, and many saw it as a major victory for Apple. 

The appeals court found that Apple’s closed App Store and security restrictions did not violate any antitrust laws but that Apple could no longer continue anti-steering rules, which prevent users from learning about alternate payment options.

Despite its proposed compliance strategy, companies continued to claim that they still exhibit anti-competitive behaviour. If we fast forward to 2024, Apple’s App Store was fined a whopping €1.8 billion by the European Union for restricting music streaming and breaching competition law. 

An investigation found that Apple had been limiting competition from music streaming giants like Spotify, and the fine was around four times as much as experts had predicted. 

The unprecedented fine was to show that the EU was serious about punishing tech companies who abuse their position in the online services sector. 

What are the most popular app store alternatives to Apple’s App Store in 2024?

If you are looking for an alternative to Apple’s App Stores with the best apps for gaming, music, and other services, don’t forget to check out the following trusted app stores (some of which are compatible with specific devices only):

  • Amazon Appstore
  • Samsung Galaxy Store
  • Aptoide
  • GetJar
  • Google Play Store
  • Huawei
  • SlideME
  • 1Mobile
  • Mobile app

Others include Appland, AppBrain, LG SmartWorld, Cydia, Uptodown, ACMarket, APKMirror, APKPure, and Opera Mobile Store, to name a few. Along with gaming, casino, and music stream apps, these trusted app stores also have apps for many other things. 

Some of the most popular apps available in all these stores are designed for communication, entertainment, audio, video play apps, travel & local apps, and productivity. That’s not forgetting social media apps, personalisation apps, finance apps, and tool/developer apps, to name a few. 

What are the main gaming categories on Apple’s App Store in 2024?

The main gaming categories on the App Store are Action, Casino, Puzzle, Sports, Adventure, Casual, Racing, and Strategy. You also have Word, Trivia, Simulation, Role Playing, Family, Music, Board Games, and Card Games. 

What are the most popular mobile apps on the App Store in 2024?

If you have been wondering what the most popular apps are on the app store, the top 6 FREE apps are Max: Stream HBO, TV, & Movies, NVAA March Madness Live, Threads, an Instagram App, SHEIN – Shopping Online, TikTok, and Instagram. 

The top paid apps are Shadowrocket, HotSchedules, The Wonder Weeks, Procreate Pocket, 75 Hard, and Forest: Focus for Productivity. 

The top FREE games are all Call of Duty Warzone Mobile, MONOPOLY GO, Brawl Stars, Roblox, Township, and Block Blast, and the top paid games are Minecraft, Papa’s Freezeria To Go, Papa’s Paletaria To Go, Heads Up, Geometry Dash, and Bloons TD 6.

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