Japan’s antitrust agency said this week it would keep a close eye on Apple’s App Store practices,media reported. The decision was reportedly triggered by the tech giant’s high-profile legal battle with Epic Games. Although Japan’s Fair Trade Commission has failed to launch a formal investigation into the App Store guidelines, the agency said it would pay closer attention to Apple’s business, Bloomberg reported. It is not known what processes and oversight measures are required for such a level of review.
While the government is pressing, some game makers in the region are also spoken out against Apple’s management of the App Store, though the campaign appears to be more about communication and developer relationships than mandatory fees.
“Apple’s app reviews are often ambiguous, subjective and irrational. Apple’s response to developers is often crude and templated, but even so, you have to be polite on many occasions, just as a servant asks the host what he wants next. Makoto Shoji told Bloomberg. Shoji is the founder of PrimeTheory Inc., which sells a service called iOS Reject Rescue to help developers navigate the App Store’s approval process.
Japan is home to some of the game industry’s largest companies, including Square Enix, Wandainan Dream Palace and Sony. Square Enix, known for its Final Fantasy series, accounts for 40 per cent of its group’s revenue from smartphone app sales, according to the report.
Japanese developers are familiar with Apple’s revenue-sharing model, which takes a 30 per cent share of in-app purchases, as Nintendo did in the 1980s. Most app makers don’t mind the fee, but want companies like Apple to offer better service, the report said.
Game developers say Apple’s App Store program is opaque and has problems, especially compared to Google’s Android Play Store. Google’s approval process is “smoother” than Apple’s, and the search giant is better able to communicate the information it needs. Some complain that the review period is weeks long and that the delay could be costly for applications that promote seasonal activities.
“While Apple will never admit it, I think sometimes they just forget that an item is in the review queue, or that they deliberately stay still as a sanction for developers giving them the wrong attitude,” Shoji said. Others point out that app Store rules are unevenly applied and executed, and in some cases even contradictory.
Apple says it is committed to providing high-quality support to the Japanese development community through its approximately 1,400 consultants and customer service staff based in Japan. In addition, the company’s application review team operates across two time zones and provides Japanese-language representation over the phone.
These efforts are not enough for some. Developers in the region are condemning Apple’s handling of the App Store in a high-profile legal battle between the iPhone maker and Epic Games. Epic implemented a direct payment feature that violated the App Store guidelines in August, after which Apple removed the popular game Fortnite from the App Store. After the game was taken off the shelves, Epic launched a lawsuit and marketing campaign to protest Apple’s 30 percent cut in-app purchases and restrictions on third-party app stores.
Apple suspended Epic’s developer account last week while the two sides await a hearing scheduled for Sept.
Epic’s actions have alarmed Japanese developers. As Bloomberg points out, Hironao Kunimitsu, founder and chairman of Gumi Inc., posted on Facebook at the risk of retaliation: “I hope Epic wins from the bottom of my heart.” “