Why Competition Might Force Apple to Change the App Store

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The most important thing in tech today is …

the fight for the digital economy. Even as Apple is facing legal and regulatory challenges over the 15-30% cut it takes of many digital transactions in the App Store, rivals are trying a novel approach: competition.

Microsoft on Thursday introduced new Windows Store policies that will see the company take a 12% cut of purchases made through its payment processor, or let developers choose to use their own payment processor and keep 100%.

It’s the latest float in the “We’re More Generous Than Apple” parade: Google in March said it will reduce its take to 15% of the first $1 million businesses make on the Play Store, no matter how big the developer. (Apple offers a 15% deal only to developers making less than $1 million annually.) Facebook said it will take zero fee on online events, fan subscriptions, badges and independent news products through next year. And Microsoft’s Windows 11 announcement also boosts Amazon’s Android Appstore, making it the default method people will use to download Android apps on Windows devices; Amazon reduced fees for smaller developers earlier this month.

Remarkable, here, is the chess board. Microsoft, which won the PC operating system war, is teaming up with cloud rival and e-commerce king Amazon to take on Apple. Google launched the world’s most popular operating system (Android), and together with Facebook dominates online advertising; both are mounting challenges to Apple’s App Store economics, too.

Maybe as this plays out, we’ll all get clarity on whether Apple has monopoly power over something, or just operates a platform that mobile users trust and prefer.

Coming up today on CNBC’s TechCheck, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT …

C3.ai CEO Tom Siebel, Chainalysis CEO Michael Gronager

While you were sleeping …

Britain’s competition regulator on Friday launched a formal probe into Amazon and Google over concerns they haven’t done enough to tackle fake reviews. CNBC

Google is testing a new feature to notify people when they search for a topic that may have unreliable results. The move is a notable step by the world’s most popular search engine to give people more context about breaking information that’s popular online — like suspected UFO sightings or developing news stories — that are actively evolving. Vox

Lina Khan, the new chair of the Federal Trade Commission, on Thursday named three top staff members amid one of the most radical shifts in the agency’s history, according to a memo viewed by The Information. The Information

Virgin Galactic announced on Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration granted the company the license it needs to fly passengers on future spaceflights, a key hurdle as the venture completes development testing. CNBC

In the broader world …

Nike shares surged more than 13% Friday morning, on pace to open at a record high, after the sneaker maker forecast full-year sales topping $50 billion as its North American business rebounds from the lows of the pandemic. CNBC

President Biden on Thursday said he won’t sign the bipartisan infrastructure deal if Congress doesn’t also pass a reconciliation bill, committing to a dual track system to get both bills passed. The Hill

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