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Apple makes arbitrary changes and exceptions to its gatekeeper App Store policies

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Under cover of the pandemic, Apple has once again demonstrated how it arbitrarily controls the huge and massively lucrative App Store space.

The latest example comes from the announcement of an extension of a deadline for a class of event apps and group events to start complying with the giant’s controversial in-app purchase policy.

In a blog post, Apple said that the exemption was originally introduced in September 2020 to support developers and their apps hit by lockdowns that required switching their business from in-person to online. At first, the exempt apps were just those involving only two people – like a consultation with a doctor or a tour with a realtor.

Any apps enabling bigger events, such as “one-to-few and one-to-many” – and that included online classes – were left out of this new policy, as Apple was clearly unwilling to part ways with the much higher overall cut it takes from those. But under public pressure and accusations it was profiting from the pandemic, they were included as well a couple of months later.

Unlike everybody else, who must conduct all in-app payments through Apple and cede from 15 to 30% of their revenue to the trillion dollar company, the categories that have been granted exemption could go for alternative payment options and earn more money while using the App Store platform.

Apple’s goal was clearly to show itself as a benevolent giant that cares for the community and is socially aware and responsible, even in the original announcement in 2020 came only after the behemoth was criticized for ignoring the lockdown hardships and continuing to take its huge cut; but what it has also managed to do is highlight its gatekeeper power to arbitrarily change and add exceptions to the App Store rules.

The deadline was first set to expire on December 31, when these apps were meant to come back to Apple’s exclusive in-app purchasing fold, but in view of the latest complications with the ongoing pandemic (and continued interference of pandemic measures with normal life and in-person businesses), that date has now been moved to June 30.

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