Apple and Google are under fire in Illinois, with state senators filing a bill to restrain the companies’ practice of charging commissions on in-app purchases from the developers. This bill addresses the Google Play Store for Android and the App Store by Apple.
Last year, Google lowered its commissions to 15% for the developers’ first $1 million in annual revenue. However, the 30% limit would still apply to anything beyond this figure.
The bill, known as the “Freedom to Subscribe Directly Act,” also wants to permit developers to “sell their products and services” outside of Apple and Google’s app ecosystems. Additionally, the senators are also seeking the removal of the aforementioned commission policy. Illinois-based tech company Bandcamp strongly favors the senators’ move as it has been directly impacted by the policies.
“Apple demanded we sell our new service through their payment processor, so they could take their 30% cut, or we’d be thrown out of the app store,” Bandcamp co-founder and CTO, David Heinemeier-Hansson said.
“Basecamp might have among the few companies willing to speak up but we are far from the only ones dealing with these oppressive regimes,” he went on to say.
Facebook recently launched a separate site to purchase “Stars”
As WGEM notes (via Phone Arena), similar bills are under process in nine state legislatures across the U.S. These include Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, and North Dakota.
The 30% commission also applies to subscriptions purchased via Android or iOS news apps. Senator Steve Stadelman, a former reporter himself, said that the commissions should go back to the newsrooms. “Local news operations have already lost a lot of advertising money to tech companies, I think this is one way to make that playing field more fair,” the senator said.
While previous attempts at similar bills haven’t gone well, app developers would hope for this new bill to be different. There have been calls for Apple and Google to revise or remove the 30% cut for in-app purchases. However, it’s been a significant hurdle for legislators, given the “monopoly” of the two companies.
Meta recently launched its own website for Facebook users to purchase an in-app currency known as Stars. The platform also offered “bonus” stars for customers who bought it via the website rather than Apple or Google’s app hubs. While this may work for Meta/Facebook, smaller companies cannot afford such maneuvers.