Like a strange tale of a hero gathering companions for a fight with a giant, the Fortnite creator, Epic Games, has been gathering odd allies for its legal battle with the tech giant, Apple. These three companies have banded together to form the Coalition for App Fairness.
The strange connection between Fortnite and Tinder
While almost everyone knows Epic as the developers behind Fortnite, and Spotify’s app and company name are identical, some may not know that Match Group is the parent company of over 20 dating apps and websites, including Tinder, OkCupid, and Match.com. On the surface, these apps seem to have very little in common.
However, they have a shared interest in avoiding the fees associated with operating on the Apple App Store. Apple, with its tight fisted control over its own digital space, refuses to allow anyone to do business within their territory without agreeing to fork over an incredibly high 30% of their revenue to the gatekeeper, so to speak.
These “walled gardens” allow Apple to extract revenue while doing little on their end, something which seems to be an unequal agreement which makes doing business on the App Store more difficult than it would otherwise be. Of course, from Apple’s perspective, they believe they are owed this tax by virtue of their possession of the territory.
How Fortnite, Tinder, and Spotify work for Apple
Notably, the companies which have banded together to protest Apple’s high fees are all wildly successful companies in their own right. Fortnite is the most successful game for two years running, and will almost certainly be one of the most successful games of this year as well. Tinder is the most popular dating app, and Spotify has been the top platform for listening to music for quite some time.
The fact that these companies are each the top of their fields suggests that fighting with Apple involves a high risk, one which smaller companies may not be able to bear. Fortnite, for instance, was pulled from iOS stores by a unilateral action from Apple, and there’s no reason to believe that Spotify or any of Match Group’s apps couldn’t be pulled just as easily.
So while these companies are best able to afford the risk, with the name recognition of Fortnite, Tinder and Spotify helping considerably, they are also the companies which have the most to gain, as reducing or removing the Apple Tax would benefit them immensely.
Criticisms of the crusade against Apple
Of course, one criticism to note is that these companies engage in business practices that are not dissimilar to Apple’s. Their success and high profitability is the product of their unequal business practices, not simply a coincidence.
Fortnite has long incorporated intellectual properties into its game which it had only a tenuous right to. Spotify pays its artists less than pennies for each time a track is listened to. Match Group runs multiple “competing” dating apps which have their own problems.
One claim against Fortnite and the others is that they are not fighting to overthrow Apple’s hegemony, but simply to become the new hegemon. Fortnite doesn’t want Apple’s position to disappear, they want to occupy it.
Whether or not these critiques are true, however, we won’t know until the dust has settled.Published 24 Sep 2020, 21:39 IST