Apple’s app store is an illegal monopoly, rival Cydia claims in suit

Apple argues the iPhone and its app store are part of the same product.

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The company behind Cydia, an iPhone app store that launched before Apple’s own App Store, has sued Apple arguing that Apple has monopolized the market for iOS app stores, violating antitrust law in the process.

When the iPhone was introduced in 2007, it didn’t have any mechanism for natively running third-party software. Instead, Steve Jobs encouraged developers to create Web apps that would run in the iPhone’s Safari browser.

But people soon figured out how to jailbreak the iPhone and began making iPhone apps without Apple’s help. Seeing an opportunity, software developer Jay Freeman created a program called Cydia that made it easy for users to download and install native iPhone apps—an app store before the App Store.

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A few months later, Apple introduced its own official App Store. Ever since Apple has tried to drive Cydia and other unauthorized app stores out of the market using both technological and contractual restrictions. For example, anyone who wants to sell software through the official App Store must agree not to offer the software in competing app stores like Cydia.

In a Thursday lawsuit filed in California federal court, the company behind Cydia argues that this was a flagrant violation of antitrust law. “Apple has wrongfully acquired and maintained monopoly power in the market for iOS app distribution, and in the market for iOS app payment processing,” the lawsuit argues.

The lawsuit points to a number of ways this has harmed consumers and the app industry. Most obviously, Apple charges a 30 percent commission on most app purchases—recently reduced to 15 percent for apps that earn less than $1 million. Cydia argues that Apple couldn’t get away with such high fees in a competitive market.

Arstecnica / Balkantimes.press

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