IF APPLE’S PR operation has a centrepiece, it is the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The covid-19 pandemic forced this year’s jamboree, which began on June 22nd, online. Instead of the usual cheers and whistles at the keynote speech, viewers were treated to a slick pre-recorded video of Tim Cook, Apple’s boss, listing the usual slew of announcements: a new version of the iPhone’s operating system, new chips for Apple’s desktops and laptops, plans to let iPhones unlock some BMW cars.
Perhaps that is just as well—for this year Mr Cook may have heard a few boos. A week before the WWDC the European Union had announced antitrust probes into Apple’s App Store. That, in turn, came amid an outbreak of restiveness among the developers who provide software to Apple users, and at whom the WWDC is ostensibly aimed.
The EU’s investigation follows complaints from Spotify, a Swedish music-streaming firm, Tile, which makes tracking devices, and Kobo, a maker of e-book readers. They are unhappy about rules that force app-makers that sell digital services on Apple devices to use Apple’s own system for handling purchases made in their apps. Apple takes a cut of up to 30% from each such transaction. At the same time the rules limit firms’ ability to guide users to other payment options (via their websites, for instance). Since the...
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