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Apple’s biggest critics are big mad about the new 27 percent App Store tax

Apple’s biggest critics are big mad about the new 27 percent App Store tax


Spotify says the policy shows that Apple will ‘stop at nothing’ to profit off of developers and users.

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Illustration of the App Store logo on a dark black and blue background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple’s most outspoken critics aren’t thrilled with the company’s recent App Store changes. In a statement to The Verge, Spotify spokesperson Jeanne Moran says that the new 27 percent tax on alternative payment methods shows that Apple “will stop at nothing to protect the profits they exact on the backs of developers and consumers under their app store monopoly.”

The company updated its App Store policies to comply with a court order handed down as part of the Epic v. Apple ruling. The change lets developers in the US link to alternative payment methods, but only if they shell out a 27 percent commission for each purchase made outside the App Store.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was one of the first to call out Apple’s changes as “anticompetitive,” adding the App Store policy “totally undermines” the court order. He also says it “kills price competition” by preventing developers from offering in-app purchases for a lower price. Not only do developers have to pay commissions to third-party payment processors but they also have to pay Apple.

It wasn’t long before other Apple critics responded. Spotify’s Moran says Apple’s latest move “is outrageous and flies in the face of the court’s efforts to enable greater competition and user choice.” Moran also states that the new 27 percent tax is “essentially a recreation of Apple’s fees” and calls on the European Commission to prevent similar policy changes in the EU.

The Coalition for App Fairness (CAF), a group founded by Spotify, Epic Games, Tile, and other companies seeking to loosen the grip of Apple and Google on the mobile app industry, also commented on the change. “Apple’s approach to ‘compliance’ with the District Court’s decision will not benefit developers and consumers,” Rick VanMeter, the executive director of the CAF, said in a statement. “These changes do nothing to enhance consumer choice” or to “lower prices for in-app purchases or inject competition into Apple’s walled garden.”

Apple has implemented similar policies elsewhere — but regulators aren’t too happy with the move, either. In 2022, Apple started letting dating app developers in the Netherlands use alternative payment options with the same 27 percent tax. However, Dutch regulators fined Apple $55 million for failing to comply. Apple also implemented a similar policy for all app developers in South Korea, where a new law prevents Apple and Google from forcing developers to use first-party payment processors. South Korea warned both Apple and Google over the possibility of fines for breaking the new payment rules.