Facebook accused Apple of its long-standing 30 percent in-app commission fee of hurting small businesses. The charge comes one day after Apple’s sued for anticompetitive behavior by Epic Games, the video game maker Fortnite.
Facebook‘s dig comes as it rolled out a new range of services for small businesses. “Paid Online Events” encourages companies worldwide to charge Facebook users to attend promotional activities like fitness lessons or wine-tasting courses. For now, Facebook does not charge a fee for using this app. The social media platform cited the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on small businesses,
Apple: No separate payments allowed!
As part of the launch, Facebook said Apple would not allow Facebook to accept payments for Apple iOS apps separately. The tech giant suggested that any in-app transactions would also be subject to the 30 percent charge.
Google said it would encourage Facebook to accept payments on its own network to prevent charging a similar fee.
In a blog post, Facebook said they asked Apple to reduce its 30 percent App Store tax. The social media platform also offered a Facebook Pay option to absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. “Unfortunately, they [Apple] dismissed both our requests and SMBs [small and medium-sized businesses] will only be paid 70 percent of their hard-earned revenue,” Facebook said.
Apple vs. small companies: Extra charges
The extra costs that Apple charges through its app store have been a source of criticism for years. Still, ongoing antitrust investigations in the US and Europe have made it a particularly sensitive topic for the iPhone maker.
But until Thursday, most of those fights were between Apple and even fewer firms, with the Spotify music sharing service the only company to fight back on the agreement.
Apple unexpectedly faces one of the world’s biggest video game developers and Facebook, one of the few tech companies that can compete with Apple in terms of scale and capital.
Developers have blamed both Apple and Google for the transaction rates they receive on some in-app sales, which are frequently as high as 30 percent.
The developers’ biggest argument is that the dominance of Apple and Google in the app industry allows them to impose an unfair fee on users.
Epic Games gave the first jab over these policies against Apple and Google this week. Epic launched its own in-app payment scheme for Fortnite on Thursday. Apple and Google responded by deleting the Fortnite app entirely from their systems.
Epic replied by suing Apple, saying in its case that it was suing “to bring an end to the unjust and anticompetitive behavior taken by Apple.” Epic did not lodge a similar complaint against Google.
Apple vs. Facebook: Personal levels?
Friday’s dig on Apple has a personal meaning for Facebook, too.
The two Silicon Valley giants have sparred each other over different policy approaches for more than a decade. Apple ‘s hierarchy, including Steve Jobs and new Chief Executive, Tim Cook, has repeatedly denounced Facebook for mishandling consumer data and privacy violations.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives have been commended for keeping their product free for users and providing new, free services for the average user and entrepreneurs. On Friday, the complaint against Apple was yet another opportunity to cast itself as a supporter of small businesses.