Apple and its stringent App store policies were recently cast back into the spotlight with claims of coercion. This time, the accuser is ProtonMail, the encrypted email provider.
According to Andy Yen, CEO of ProtonMail, Apple had supposedly forced the service provider to add in-app purchases (IAP) inside it, despite the fact that the app itself being free to iOS users for a little more than two years. Apple’s alleged extortionist attitude also didn’t stop there either.
When Yen tried to inform the users of his apps about the sudden changes, Apple blocked the app from posting updates and even threatened to have it removed from its store. In the end, Yen decided to comply with Apple’s demands and with the IAPs in place, Yen has no choice but to raise the cost of its entire service by 26%, given Apple’s 30% sales commission.
Even after Apple changed its rule back in September to exempt email apps – among other stand-alone apps – from implementing the in-app purchases feature. ProtonMail still won’t remove its own IAP function for fear of retaliation by Apple.
Yen says that Apple’s tactics are similar to what it did with Tim Sweeney’s Epic Games. The only difference between the two being that Epic offered an alternative payment plan for Fortnite IAP on iOS – this ultimately led to the app being taken off the App store entirely, which then led to ongoing legal wrangle currently happening between the two giants – while ProtonMail was, once again, free to download.
In response to Yen’s claims, Apple told The Verge that “in no uncertain terms that it doesn’t retaliate against developers” and that its rules are applied fairly across the board. It also says that if a developer is unhappy with the way it has handled things, they could appeal said rules and its decisions.
It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that ProtonMail is a member of the recently founded Coalition for App Fairness, which aims to allow smaller app developers to fight against Apple’s 30% commission.