Apple and Google are under fire in Illinois, with state senators tabling a bill to restrict the companies’ practice of charging developers commissions on in-app purchases. This bill is for the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple App Store.
Last year, Google lowered its commissions to 15% for developers’ first $1 million in annual revenue. However, the 30% limit would still apply to anything above that figure.
The bill, known as the “Freedom to Subscribe Act,” also wants to allow developers to “sell their products and services” outside of Apple and Google’s app ecosystems. Additionally, the senators are also calling for the removal of the aforementioned commission policy. Illinois-based tech company Bandcamp strongly supports the senators’ decision because it was directly affected by the policies.
“Apple demanded that we sell our new service through their payment processor, so they could take their 30% cut, or we would be kicked out of the App Store,” said Bandcamp co-founder and CTO, David Heinemeier-Hansson.
“Basecamp may be one of the few companies willing to speak up, but we are far from the only ones dealing with these oppressive regimes,” he continued.
Facebook recently launched a separate site to buy “Stars”
As WGEM (via Phone Arena) notes, similar bills are pending in nine state legislatures across the United States. These include Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina and North Dakota.
The 30% commission also applies to subscriptions purchased through the Android or iOS news apps. Senator Steve Stadelman, himself a former journalist, said the commissions should return to newsrooms. “Local news operations have already lost a lot of ad money to tech companies, I think that’s one way to make that playing field fairer,” the senator said.
While previous attempts at similar bills have not gone well, app developers hope this new bill will be different. Calls have been made for Apple and Google to revise or remove the 30% discount for in-app purchases. However, this has been a significant obstacle for lawmakers, given the “monopoly” of the two companies.
Meta recently launched its own website allowing Facebook users to purchase an in-app currency called Stars. The platform also offered “bonus” stars to customers who purchased it through the website rather than Apple’s or Google’s app hubs. While this may work for Meta/Facebook, small businesses cannot afford such maneuvers.