In it’s latest anti-competitive move, Apple takes aim at developers of iOS applications.
Steve Jobs once said, “Picasso had a saying — ‘good artists copy; great artists steal’ — and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas.” Anybody that has paid any more than a passing observation of the company’s business practices can see that this is a defining principle at Apple. While Apple has never really been an innovator, Apple fans like to say that “Apple makes things better”. But it seems, more often than not, Apple just makes it hard for those that do innovate, to continue moving forward. And it’s happening again.
When Apple released iOS 12 new features were added that brought screen-time and parental control features. I’m sure it was a welcome addition to parents, but it was far from a new idea. There were already more than a few applications available within the iOS app store which offered these features. Of course, anyone would assume that if Apple wished for users to use their applications instead of those innovators that first brought that functionality to the platform, that Apple would need to introduce competitive features. Sadly, that is not how Apple does business.
Instead of Apple actually competeing with a better product, Apple has instead removed these original applications from their app store. Two of those app developers has gone public with their Apple created hardship, and have filed complaints with the EU’s competition office.
The complaints state that Apple has demanded that developers of this type of app, change their apps in such a way to make them less effective than Apple’s own apps. Demanding that the developers remove features in order to make their apps less capable than Apple’s own app, is not helping consumers in the slightest.
Apple has come forward and stated that the problem lies in MDM (mobile device management) software, stating that they had changed their guidelines in 2017 about the use of MDM software in non-enterprise applications. Apple’s stated reason of course deters from the competitive nature of the issue, and instead focuses on security. It is incredibly risky — and a clear violation of App Store policies — for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer’s device,” Apple said in a statement. “Beyond the control that the app itself can exert over the user’s device, research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes.”
However, how are app makers supposed to give parents control over their children’s phones without using MDM software? Apparently in the Apple ecosystem there is no other way.
“It is the only API available for the Apple platform that enables the remote management of applications and functions on children’s devices,” one of the developers, OurPact stated, “We have also been transparent about our use of this technology since the outset, and have documented its use in our submissions to the App Store.”
OurPact isn’t the only thing that has been transparent throughout this issue. Apple’s true motivations are quite transparent. It seems the mobile giant tends to use “security” as a catch all defense for their anti-competitive practices. This is not the first time we have seen Apple take the ideas of developers on their platform, and then turn around and punish those developers, the true innovators, for bringing their ideas to the platform.