Proposed law in North Dakota may force Apple and Google to allow alternative app stores on mobile phones
It seems that Apple and Google are constantly scrutinized for the dominance their respective app stores hold on their respective mobile operating systems. It’s not hard to see why; the Google Play Store is the largest app marketplace for Android, and Apple’s App Store is quite literally the only place to officially get iOS apps. However, a new bill proposed in the North Dakota State Senate may loosen the mobile giants’ grips on app distribution.
North Dakota Senate Bill 2333 essentially aims to prevent Google and Apple from forcing developers into their respective app stores. Perhaps more keenly, the bill also targets the companies’ draconian payment systems, allowing app developers to use alternative methods for receiving payments.
If this sounds familiar, think back to Epic’s lawsuit against Apple (and the reason why Fortnite is no longer available for iOS). Apple banned the game because Epic sold in-app purchases through its own payment system, cutting Apple out of the process. Apple deemed that this practice violated the App Store’s Terms of Service, leading to Fortnite’s removal from iOS. Epic sued Apple, claiming the compulsion of developers to receive payments through Apple’s systems (and thus giving Apple a cut of the sale) was monopolistic in nature. That litigation is still ongoing.
The North Dakota law may end these kinds of disputes and stipulations. The bill prohibits any app distribution service with US$10 million or more in annual revenue from:
- Being the exclusive (meaning only) method of app distribution on the operating system.
- Forcing developers to accept in-app payments exclusively through the distribution platform’s payment processing services.
- Punishing or otherwise retaliating against a developer that uses alternative methods for app distribution or payments.
Since this bill was proposed in the North Dakota Senate, its scope would only pertain to business conducted in North Dakota. However, it could spur other states (or even the U.S. Federal Government) to create similar laws. If passed, this law could also force Apple and Google to make fundamental changes to their operating systems that could then be rolled out (or made available) to people in other states, countries, or regions.
What do you think of North Dakota’s proposed state bill? Let us know in the comments below.
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