According to the latest news, mobile app developer Kosta Eleftheriou has filed a lawsuit against Apple in California. Earlier this year, he publicly called out Apple for the negligence in policing iOS scams and copycat apps on the App Store. More specifically, he accused Apple of exploiting its monopoly power over iOS apps “to make billions of dollars in profits at the expense of small application developers and consumers.”
Eleftheriou co-owns KPAW LLC with his partner Ashley Eleftheriou. They have filed the above-mentioned complaint in Santa Clara County last Wednesday. The complaint details the development and release timeline of FlickType Apple Watch keyboard app.
Last month, Eleftheriou revealed that his FlickType app had been targeted by competing for software which either does not work or is inferior. He said the competing apps used false advertising and fake reviews. He said, even after his initial complaint to Apple, the company did not do enough to combat the scams.
Lately, some developers, competing tech companies, and regulators accused the mobile marketplace of being a monopoly in software distribution. Eleftheriou’s claims add up to this chorus of growing complaints against Apple and the App Store.
Fortnite maker, Epic Games has recently targeted both Apple and Google with antitrust lawsuits over the removal of its game last summer. On the other hand, a group of app makers, starting from Epic Games, Spotify, and Tinder parent company Match Group have started lobbying state lawmakers to take up the fight against the App Store and Google Play Store.
In his complaint, Eleftheriou details Apple’s wrongful behaviours like false advertising, breach of its developer agreement, and fraud. He also claimed that Apple is trying to acquire FlickType. Eleftheriou said he has faced “roadblock after roadblock” to sell his software on the App Store. In simple words, it seems, Apple chose not to take action on scam and copycat apps in an effort to force Eleftheriou to sell his app to Apple. The complaint read, “Evidently, Apple thought Plaintiff would simply give up and sell its application to Apple at a discount.”
It seems, during the initial tryouts, Eleftheriou had a conversation with an Apple executive named Randy Marsden, who led mobile keyboard technology at the company and later held the position of Text Input Special Projects Manager. Marsden is known for co-founding the keyboard technology startup Swype, and for co-founding the Dryft, which was acquired by Apple back in 2015. Post-acquisition, Marsden was put in charge of the iOS keyboard at Apple from 2014 to 2018.
Eleftheriou said Marsden approached him on behalf of Apple to acquire his software to improve typing on the Apple Watch. After this, Eleftheriou claims, Apple removed his FlickType keyboard app and refused to approve future versions. Later on, Apple permitted the apps after months of appeals and after Eleftheriou let countless other app makers integrate his technology.
Eleftheriou’s complaint reads:
“Apple entices software application developers like Plaintiff to develop innovative applications with the promise of a fair and secure App Store in which to sell them. In truth, Apple systematically flexes its monopoly muscle against potential competition through the App Store and profits from rampant fraudulent practices. If Apple cannot buy a desired application from a developer on the cheap, Apple attempts to crush that developer through exploitive fees and selective application of opaque and unreasonable constraints against the developer.
At the same time, Apple permits other developers that Apple does not view as real competition, including scam competitors, to peddle similar, inferior products because Apple profits from their sales. Scammers oftentimes use screenshots and videos taken from legitimate developer’s applications and manipulate their ratings. Apple does little to police these practices because it profits from them. Apple then lies to its regulators by asserting that it must maintain its monopoly power over the sale of Apple-related applications to protect consumers, when, in fact, Apple lets them get ripped off and exploits the developers trying to deliver innovation to consumers.”
Eleftheriou said, his app became the best paid app on the App Store after it got approved. This earned him $130,000 in its first month of release but after that, he had to face down a wave of scam apps and copycat software that targeted FlickType.
The complaint further reads, “Despite possessing massive resources and technological savvy, Apple intentionally fails to police these fraudsters, costing honest developers millions, and perhaps billions, while Apple continues to amass huge profits for itself. Apple holds both its device users and developers hostage. Yet each time it faces antitrust claims, Apple justifies its monopoly by claiming it is necessary to protect its users and developers from unscrupulous conduct and ensure a fair competitive marketplace for the benefit of both. In truth, Apple turns a blind eye to rampant fraud and exploitation to make an easy profit.”