ProtonMail developer says Apple is a ‘monopoly’ that crushes competition

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ProtonMail app
ProtonMail is the latest company to take issues with Apple's App Store policies.
Photo: ProtonMail

The makers of secure email service ProtonMail are the latest developers to speak out about Apple’s control of the App Store.

In a blog post published Monday, founder and CEO Andy Yen wrote that Apple has become a “monopoly, crushing potential competitors with exploitative fees and conducting censorship on behalf of dictators.”

Yen argues that Apple is behaving in a “virtually indistinguishable” way from a “protection racket” by the mob. “[Apple’s 30% cut] is a fee that developers must pay if they want to stay in business. And it is a fee which ultimately harms consumers because these fees are indirectly passed on to users, either through higher prices or through fewer competing products in the marketplace.”

Yen notes that Apple’s cut makes it tough for firms to compete with Apple’s own first party apps. He writes that Apple, “leveraging [its] power to suppress digital freedom is simply unethical, and it is long overdue that somebody called out [the company] for this behavior.”

Other developers take issue with Apple

ProtonMail is hardly the first time developers have taken issue with Apple. Spotify has also complained about the cut Apple takes via the App Store. Recently, fellow email appmakers Hey also invoked gangster behavior in their criticism of Apple. “Like any good mafioso, [Apple] paid us a visit by phone,” developer David Heinemeier Hansson wrote in a long Twitter thread. “…[W]ithout even as much of a curtesy euphemism, [Apple said] they’d burn down our store (remove our app!), lest we paid up.”

Recently, secure messaging app Telegram filed a formal antitrust complaint with the European Union over Apple’s App Store practices. Telegram’s creators say that Apple makes it difficult for customers to access its services outside the App Store. Airbnb and ClassPass have also spoken out about Apple’s 30% fee.

Defending App Store policies

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently defended Apple’s App Store practices (among other things) at an antirust hearing with the U.S. government. Cook said that it’s in Apple’s best interest to treat devs fairly. Apple has always insisted that it does right by developers, blasting those who want to benefit from Apple’s infrastructure without paying their way. Apple also points out that the vast majority of developers don’t pay anything to the company.