Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: Apple's App Store Blocks Innovation and Competition
In a company-wide meeting, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday referred to Apple's App Store as monopolistic and harmful to customers. Apple "blocks innovation, blocks competition," and uses the App Store to "charge monopoly rents."
Zuckerberg's comments, which were said to 50,000 Facebook employees over a webcast, were shared by BuzzFeed News. Apple, said Zuckerberg, has a "unique stranglehold as a gatekeeper on what gets on phones."
Facebook has been chafing at Apple's App Store rules after Apple blocked Facebook's gaming app, which launched earlier in August. Apple rejected Facebook Gaming multiple times because Apple does not allow apps that offer alternative stores with content that it cannot vet. Facebook launched the app without gameplay functionality, and it can be used to watch streams of other people playing games, which is its primary purpose.
Apple and Facebook also had another disagreement in August after Apple refused to waive fees for Facebook's paid Online Events feature. The Online Events option in the Facebook app is designed to allow small businesses and individuals to organize paid digital events that Facebook users can sign up for.
Facebook asked Apple to waive its 30 percent fee taken from the in-app purchases for Online Events or let Facebook process event payments with Facebook Pay, but Apple refused because that's a violation of its App Store guidelines.
Since Apple wouldn't waive its fees, Facebook intended to add a note in the Online Events feature that said "Apple takes 30% of this purchase." Apple took offense to the wording and did not allow Facebook to include the wording in the Facebook app. Apple said that the update violated an App Store rule that prevents developers from showing irrelevant information to users.
In addition to disagreements over the App Store, Zuckerberg is unhappy with changes that Apple is making in iOS 14. Facebook on Wednesday said that the anti-ad tracking feature Apple implemented that requires customers to agree to be tracked across apps and websites could cut down on 50 percent of the Audience Network Ad revenue companies earn through Facebook.
Zuckerberg also had thoughts on Apple's ongoing dispute with Epic Games, and said Apple's thwarted attempt to block the Unreal Engine was "just an extremely aggressive move" that was "quite problematic."
Both Apple and Facebook, along with Google and Amazon, are facing a U.S. antitrust investigation. The CEOs from the four companies in July testified in an antitrust hearing with the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. The chairman of the subcommittee, David Cicilline, this week said that the four tech companies are "behavior which is deeply disturbing and requires Congress to take action."