Apple is being sued by 28 developers in China for allegedly breaching antitrust regulations. According to the complaint, Apple charged excessive fees and removed apps from the App Store without a proper explanation.
In the past, Cupertino said its guidelines for allowable apps are consistent across countries. The lawsuit comes as Apple expands its developer relations team in China.
The complaint has been registered with China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission, which oversees antitrust issues.
No details have been made about which apps Apple pulled. However, U.S. developers have dealt with Apple’s general lack of transparency concerning app approval since the earliest days of the App Store.
Big trouble in bigger China
Not all of Apple’s app-related decisions in the China App Store have been the company’s fault. For example, internet regulators in the country recently called on Apple to “tighten its checks” on live-streaming apps.
On other occasions, Apple made the calls. Recently, the company risked upsetting developers by planning to take a percentage of donations sent to content creators on social media via the “tip” function of apps like WeChat.
While Apple CEO Tim Cook has been outspoken about designing new products with the Chinese audience in mind, the company’s plight in China has not always been plain-sailing. Previously, Apple was ordered to shut down the iBookstore and iTunes Movies in China. Apple also has been forced to accept the Chinese government’s demands that it run network safety evaluations on all Apple products before they can be imported into the country.
In addition, Apple products got booted off the list of approved state purchases, alongside other Western companies such as Cisco and Intel, in favor of thousands of Chinese-made competitors.
Nonetheless, there’s every reason for Apple to try to keep developers happy. Apple now makes more money from apps downloaded in China than it does in the U.S.