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Apple: Arizona bill government mandate to give away the App Store

“Apple and Google hired probably almost every lobbyist in town”

What you need to know

  • Apple is desperately trying to stop a new Arizona App Store bill.
  • That’s because it could let developers use third-party payment systems, circumventing Apple’s commission.
  • Apple described the move as a “government mandate that Apple give away the App Store.”

Apple and Google are desperately trying to stop a bill in Arizona, which Apple says is a government mandate to give away the App Store.

As reported by Protocol:

Arizona State Rep. Regina Cobb hadn’t even formally introduced her app store legislation last month when Apple and Google started storming into the state to lobby against it.

Apple tapped its own lobbyist, Rod Diridon, to begin lobbying in Arizona. It hired Kirk Adams, the former chief of staff to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, to negotiate with Cobb on its behalf. It quickly joined the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, which began lobbying against the bill. And lawyers for both Google and Apple went straight to the Arizona House’s lawyers to argue that the bill is unconstitutional.

According to Cobb, there was a weekend where Apple and Google “hired probably almost every lobbyist in town.” As the report notes, both Apple and Google are staunchly opposed to developers using third-party payment systems on its App Store. As the report notes, Apple’s chief compliance officer Kyle Andeer told a hearing last week that the bill was basically a “government mandate that Apple give away the App Store”. From the report:

“This bill tells Apple it cannot use its own checkout lane and collect a commission in the store we built,” Andeer said. The app developers supporting the bill say it would prevent Apple and Google from taking a 30% cut from sales facilitated through their app stores, a fee that they have called “highway robbery.” Apple has responded that most software developers don’t pay a commission and those that do often pay around 15%, claiming the main beneficiaries of the Arizona legislation would be Epic Games, Spotify and Match.com, each multibillion-dollar companies.

The bill is supported by the usual band of parties trying to reshape Apple’s online marketplace for iOS software, including the Coalition for App Fairness, as well as Basecamp co-founder David Heinemeier Hansson, who said the bill was “easier” compared to a broader piece of legislation in North Dakota. Hansson marveled at how quickly the bill was moving in Arizona and said it would be “mind-blowing” if it was passed. The report notes “serious” opposition from some politicians who think supporting the bill could be seen as getting involved in Apple’s lawsuit against Epic Games, where the matter is currently being litigated.

That case is due to call in court on May 3, and may even be held as an in-person trial, following months of Zoom hearings.

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