Consumers in the UK have launched a class action lawsuit against tech giant Apple, seeking damages which could be as high as £800 million ($1.03 billion).
The suit accuses the company of acting in an anti-competitive manner due to the 30% commission fee charged on in-app purchases. The suit also alleges that UK consumers are missing out, as the commission fee deprives them of money that could be otherwise spent on research and development.
The suit is being led by University of East Anglia professor of competition policy Sean Ennis on behalf of 1500 developers in the UK. Speaking to TechCrunch, he stated: “I have been studying competition questions for decades - and digital competition for quite a long time. I’ve written about it in technical economic papers but also in less technical work. And I’m really convinced that the type of behaviour we’re talking about in this case is deeply problematic. So I was interested in taking a role to help get some redress for those who I feel have been harmed by the behaviour.”
The lawsuit is an opt-out class action, and as such developers don’t need to register to be included in any compensation. Should the suit prove successful, damages will be calculated by each developer’s iOS business, meaning those affected to a higher degree will receive higher payouts, which could vary by millions of dollars.
The move follows other high profile suits filed against Apple by the likes of Spotify and Epic, with mixed success. Elon Musk, CEO of X, the recently renamed Twitter, has gone as far as calling the commission fee a de facto tax on the internet itself.
Apple has repeatedly denied that it is acting in an anti-competitive manner, stating that the fees allow it to offer consumers a premium experience and that it funds administrative needs such as assessing security and privacy concerns, quality control, and the storage and delivery of apps.
Last month, Apple reported that 90% of sales and billings facilitated by the App Store occurred outside its ecosystem.