App developers have seen a boom in business due to the coronavirus pandemic, Apple has revealed.
The tech giant, valued at more than two trillion dollars, says 2020 saw a 22 per cent boost in earnings compared to 2019 for developers. Apple did not give exact figures for either year.
As a result, more than 330,000 Britons are, at least in part, now employed with money from the App Store. This figure is up 10 per cent year-on-year, Apple claims.
The figures released this morning by the Cupertino-based firm come one week after it was announced the App Store will be investigated in the UK by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and in Australia by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The probes will independently look into concerns Apple abuses its position to squash competition.
They join a hefty stack of lawsuits and investigations which Apple is currently battling, all citing a breach of antitrust regulations or anti-competition practices.
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Apple says 2020 saw a 22% boost in earnings compared to 2019 for developers. The figures released this morning by the Cupertino-based firm come one week after it was announced the App Store will be investigated in the UK by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and in Australia by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
The UK is the biggest contributor to the Apple ecosystem of apps in Europe, Apple says, with its 330,000 professionals trumping France and Germany’s 250,000 apiece.
Across the entire continent, there are now seven per cent more jobs propped up by the App Store, totalling 1.7 million people.
‘In a year like no other, the UK has remained a vibrant and innovative hub for entrepreneurs and app developers,’ said Christopher Moser, senior director of the App Store.
‘More people in the UK than ever before are working as part of the iOS app ecosystem, creating exciting apps enjoyed by people all over the world.’
One of the apps to flourish was Busuu, a language learning tool which capitalised on the early-2020 optimism as people plunged into lockdown vowed to be productive.
While some turned to baking banana bread and Joe Wicks inspired workouts, others downloaded Busuu and tried to learn Italian.
This demand and revenue led to huge expansion with 70 new hires. The London-based company hopes to grow its workforce another 50 per cent in 2021.
‘As more people around the world turned to language learning during lockdown, we saw huge growth here at Busuu — it’s been fantastic to see more people join our community to learn together,’ said Bernhard Niesner, CEO of Busuu.
‘Throughout our growth journey, the App Store team has been incredibly supportive, and it’s been a real pleasure working with them.’
Hutch Games is another success story. The company makes free-to-play games like the F1 Manager, Top Drives, and Rebel Racing and now employs 117 people.
Thirty-one of these employees were taken on over the last year.
‘We’ve had an amazing few years which has allowed us to grow and take more risks. We saw our figures double during lockdown, so it’s helpful that we can get our games out there so easily via the App Store,’ said Shaun Rutland, CEO of Hutch Games.
The UK is the biggest contributor to the Apple ecosystem of apps in Europe, Apple says, with its 330,000 professionals trumping France and Germany, each with 250,000
However, while the App Store is no doubt a bountiful tool for app developers, it is also highly controversial and facing vociferous criticism, now more than ever.
A public feud between Apple and Fortnite creators Epic Games raged for much of last year, focusing around Apple’s monopoly of in-app payments.
In August, Epic became so frustrated with Apple’s hefty commission of 30 per cent that it brought in a direct-payment scheme, cutting Apple out of any financial gain.
Apple responded by mercilessly booting Fortnite off the App Store for breaking the rules laid out in its terms and conditions.
Epic retaliated by filing a civil lawsuit against Apple, alleging the iPhone manufacturer was in violation of antitrust laws and abusing its position.
Epic also revealed Apple threatened to terminate its ability to support the Unreal Engine platform which Epic uses to make games, effectively cutting off Epic’s way of making new games for iOS or Mac.
On August 25 a US federal judge granted Epic Games a temporary restraining order against Apple which preserved its access to the Unreal Engine.
However, the decision stopped short of getting Fortnite back on iOS. It is still not available on the App Store.
Now, Apple is embroiled in various antitrust claims around the world.
All are pushing for the same thing – a fairer way of doing business and the ability to keep more of the money that customers pay for their product without the seemingly omnipotent broker taking a huge slice of the pie for itself.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee says getting all young people online should be a global priority
Tim Berners-Lee, 65, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has called the internet a ‘basic right’ and says getting all young people online should be a global priority.
In an open letter to mark the 32nd birthday of the World Wide Web — a tool Mr Berners-Lee built in 1989 while at CERN to navigate the burgeoning internet — he says the internet is to the 21st century what electricity was to the 20th century.
He urged leaders to fund schemes to make sure ‘everyone, everywhere is within reach of a meaningful internet connection’ because ‘things need to change’.
The letter also took aim at ‘Big Tech’, saying companies must ‘respect the rights’ of young people and they should be held to account by tougher laws.
In a separate interview, Mr Berners-Lee added he is optimistic that change is coming, believing the tech giants that dominate the internet are a ‘fad’.
The investigation from the CMA is the latest in a long list of antitrust actions against Apple, including an EU investigation which has been rumbling on since June 2020. Results of this investigation are expected shortly.
At the time, Apple was unimpressed. Its statement in response read: ‘It’s disappointing the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride, and don’t want to play by the same rules as everyone else.’
However, it seems more and more companies do, in fact, want to play by the same rules — just not the current laws.
The main issue is that the rules the developers want to abide by are increasingly diverging from Apple’s policies, which have proved to be highly-profitable since the App Store’s creation in 2008.
Spotify, a formidable firm in its own right, has also become disgruntled with Apple’s conduct, saying the US company is unfairly restricting iOS users to its own platform, Apple Music, and forcing iOS users away from rivals.
A similar situation sprung up with Google in 2018 when the EU ruled Android phones were unfairly forced to come pre-installed with the Google Search and Google Chrome apps.
Google was fined $5billion in 2018 by the EU, and a new lawsuit, this time in its native US, has sprung up recently over similar concerns.
Last week, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced another new probe into both Apple and Google over the same issue.
Tech giants are being faced with a moment of reckoning over their practices, with bosses called before the US Senate to justify their practices after a report published in October found Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google do employ anti-competitive, monopoly-style tactics.
The 450-page report was the summation of a 16-month investigation which put forward a slew of changes to federal law to bring the Silicon Valley giants into line.