North Dakota has introduced a bill that would force Apple, as well as Google, to allow alternate app stores on their platforms.
Apple has increasingly come under fire for its insistence that iOS and iPadOS apps can only be distributed via the official App Store. Apple has long-maintained that the App Store is one of the reasons iOS and iPadOS are so secure, since Apple is able to vet apps before they’re released to the public. Those arguments are not without merit, as Android consistently has more malware and malicious apps on the Google Play Store than Apple does.
Nonetheless, the App Store has become the focal point of complaints against Apple, with everyone from Basecamp to Epic targeting it, calling it a monopoly. In particular, many companies have taken issue with Apple forcing in-app purchases and upgrades to be routed through the App Store, giving the company a percentage.
North Dakota appears to be tackling the issue head-on, introducing Senate Bill 2333, which would prohibit Apple and Google from forcing developers to exclusively use their app stores and in-app payment methods. The bill would also ensure all app stores and developers are treated fairly and equally, by prohibiting any kind of retaliation against developers that choose to use an alternate store.
“The purpose of the bill is to level the playing field for app developers in North Dakota and protect customers from devastating, monopolistic fees imposed by big tech companies,” said Sen. Kyle Davison, regarding the 30% commission Apple and Google charge on in-app purchases, according to The Bismarck Tribune. He further said the fees particularly penalize smaller developers “by raising prices and limiting choices for consumers.”
Should the bill pass, it’s unclear how far-reaching the ramifications may be. On the one hand, the bill would only be enforced within the state of North Dakota and would have no legal implication outside the state. On the other hand, Apple may take a similar approach that many companies have taken to California’s privacy laws, and decide it’s simpler to apply the bill to all US customers.