A seven-year-old lawsuit finally goes before the Supreme Court, and while this itself won't rule on whether the App Store is a monopoly, it could pave the way for future litigation.
But is the App Store a good thing, or is it a monopoly that needs to face competition?
If you want a good backgrounder on the Pepper v. Apple case that's going in front of the Supreme Court, I suggest you check out the piece on Gizmodo. It's a good read and should fill you in on this lawsuit that kicked off back in 2011.
But let's put aside the lawsuit for now and consider a simpler question -- should Apple have the power to control what you install on your iPhone or iPad?
I can see a couple of ways of looking at this.
The first is that the App Store is a good thing.
The App Store is a one-stop-shop of curated and vetted apps created by developers that are registered with Apple, and offered as part of a framework that allows Apple to protect users from badware.
The other way is that the App Store is a bad thing and a monopoly.
If as the owner or an iPhone or iPad you want apps (and aren't willing or able to go down the jailbreaking route), then Apple is your only option, and you have to pay the sticker price. Same for developers, except that you have no choice but to jump through Apple's hoops, obey a bunch of rules, and give the company a 30 percent cut on all your sales.
As a heavy iPhone user, I'm torn.
The convenience and safety of the App Store gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. While I've had my fair share of buggy apps, I've never installed anything that went rogue, and Apple's track record for keeping the store safe is pretty good.
On the other hand, I find Apple's rules and regulations weird and restrictive. Rules that prevent me buying digital content through apps if the service provider doesn't want to give Apple a cut of the sale is annoying. For example, I can't buy audiobooks from the Audible app, and can't rent videos using the YouTube app.
For any of that, I have to turn to a browser. And that feels weird and inconvenient. While I know that this is down to Apple's rules (and desire for a cut of a sale), I wonder what regular users make of it.
For my position, on the whole I'm happy with the App Store model, although I do find it strange how tightly Apple wants to control the ecosystem, even when it gets to the point of being inconvenient to the end user. I wouldn't put up with that on a PC or Mac, so it feels odd to put up with it on a device that I now use far more than a PC or a Mac.
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But with that said, I think a third-party app store would be a good thing. Yes, it would have to go through a proving stage (I imagine many would wither and die along the way), but competition to Apple would not be a bad thing, and might result in either developers getting a better deal, or consumers being able to buy cheaper apps.
Thoughts? Are you a fan of the App Store, or do you find it a restrictive, monopolistic model?
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