Facebook calls Apple ‘elitist’ amid row on App Store commissions

Apple faces unsubtle attacks from Facebook over its policies in the app store and online marketplace; accusing apple of being elitist

App store

Facebook on Friday joined the attack on Apple’s operation of its App Store after the iPhone maker refused to forgo its commission on live online events hosted on the social network that allows people to make money during the pandemic. Facebook said that Apple was misusing its online marketplace monopoly.

The comments from Facebook come in the wake of a blockbuster lawsuit from video game sensation Fortnite maker Epic Games on Thursday which accused Apple of abusing its monopoly position in its online marketplace.

Facebook levies unsubtle attacks on Apple 

Facebook said it would not collect any fees from paid online events that educators, entertainers, or others can host due to a fresh addition to the platform, but that Apple declined to back off from its standard share of transactions which are handled through the App Store.

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“We asked Apple to reduce its 30 percent App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19,” Facebook vice president Fidji Simo said in a blog post.

“Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and (small- and medium-size businesses) will only be paid 70 percent of their hard-earned revenue.”

The new paid events feature was launched by Facebook in response to the global coronavirus pandemic which has forced the cancellation of many in-person gatherings.
The feature lets Facebook Live streaming service be used to create, promote and host paid events from concerts and theatrical performances to yoga classes and cooking lessons.
It is being tested for use with “more personal gatherings” at Messenger group video chat feature Rooms, according to Simo.

“With social distancing mandates still in place, many businesses and creators are bringing their events and services online to connect with existing customers and reach new ones,” Simo said.

Is Apple being elitist, misusing online marketplace monopoly?

Facebook vice president of global affairs has attacked Apple in the ongoing feud between the two tech titans over user data privacy, accusing the iPhone maker of being elitist while defending the social networking site’s advertising-based model as a way to make it available to everyone.

The underlying philosophy behind the business models of Facebook and Apple was raised by Clegg on stage in Germany. In a prepared speech, Clegg took time to speak against some of the criticism Apple offers against advertising-supported services, amid other comments about regulation and government intervention.

“Facebook is free – it’s for everyone,” the former UK deputy prime minister told the audience, reports Business Insider. “Some other big tech companies make their money by selling expensive hardware or subscription services, or in some cases both, to consumers in developed, wealthier economies.”

Clegg continued “They are an exclusive club, available only to aspirant consumers with the means to buy high-value hardware and services.”

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The comments are an unsubtle dig at Apple, which sells the premium-priced iPhone and other hardware generally at a higher cost than competing products. The comparison does break down slightly due to Facebook’s consumer hardware largely consists of the costly Oculus Rift and the not-cheap $199 Oculus Go VR headsets, or the fact that Facebook users need some sort of communications device to access the service in the first place, an item that can be expensive in some parts of the world.

Clegg goes on to frame Facebook as a service available to all users. “There’s no exclusivity at Facebook. No VIP access. No business class.”

“Our services are as accessible to students in Guatemala, cattle farmers in the mid-west United States, office workers in Mumbai, tech startups in Nairobi, or taxi drivers in Berlin.” Clegg then boasted “More than 2 billion people use our platforms – because they can.”

Apple faces scrutiny for its online marketplace

Facebook’s criticism comes amid heightened scrutiny of Apple’s policies for its online marketplace.

Apple has defended the commission to cover the costs of managing the App Store and protecting users security, but critics say the commission is an abuse of its position.
The latest version of Fortnite contains a payment system that lets player transactions bypass Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play, preventing the firms from collecting their typical 30 percent cut.

Fortnite sought to direct users around the App Store and found itself booted off the platform, and Epic immediately filed an antitrust complaint.
The game-maker called on a federal judge to order Apple to stop its “anti-competitive conduct” and invalidate the tech giant’s rules requiring app developers to pay the company 30 percent of transactions.

The suit said Epic is not seeking favorable treatment, but is asking the court to order Apple to change its commission structure for all developers.
Apple said Fortnite was pulled after “Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users.”

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk

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