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Apple Silently Funding a Lobby Group of Small Developers

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read

Apple is playing a huge behind-the-scenes role for App Association, a group that distinguishes itself as a representative of app developers globally. 

According to Bloomberg reports, the leading tech company might not be a member of App Association but can influence its affairs considerably as it provides up to 50 per cent of the association's funding.

Reports from Bloomberg state that although ACT confirmed the claims that half of its funding Apple, previous group employees believe the percentage is much higher. 

In 2020, funding for the organisation exceeded $9 million. In a news briefing with ARS, a spokesperson for ACT said, "Apple's commitment contributed more than 50 per cent of the App Association's sponsorship revenue, making their support one of many contributors for the year."

App Association claims it "gives a voice to small technology companies'' while restating its stand in implementing policies that reflect positively on these small innovators and maximising opportunities for them, notwithstanding the challenges in the developer ecosystem. However, its major policies, including statements dated way back to Q1 of 2017, align with Apple's. Legislations such as antitrust bills targeted against big tech like Apple are opposed by the association, which has praised the firm. 

ACT Debunks Accusations of Fronting Apple

Following criticisms that ACT is tilting her legislation in favour of Apple, ACT President Morgan Reed has denied this, saying that the assumption the association is acting as a Front for Apple "doesn’t pass the laugh test.”

"Our job is to make sure we're paying attention to how the government can have an impact, unintended or otherwise, on all of those small businesses making cool software products," he said.

Reed and other ACT executives said that the association's policy decisions are not engineered by Apple but based on member preferences. Nonetheless, it does take the positions of the tech giant into account.

"ACT representatives regularly testify in Congress, file court briefs in defence of Apple's positions and host annual 'fly-in' meetings for developers with lawmakers," Bloomberg reported.

According to information from the group's website, members of the App Association include about 5,000 app makers and connected device companies. US-based members include Concentric Sky, Startup Health, SheerID, Dogtown Media, Wellbeyond, Stroll Health, Project Hosts, Colorado Technology Consultants, MotionMobs, Rimidi, Southern DNA, Devscale, BadVR, CannedSpinach, BitSource, SentryOne, and AirStrip.

Rival Developer Group Heavily Opposes the Relationship Between App Association and Apple 

The relationship between App Association and Apple has been a waxing reason for stalwart contention between App Association and other rival coalitions. 

The Coalition for App Fairness, a rival group headed by Rick VanMeter, a former Congressional aide, has condemned the App Association. 

In a tweet made early on Tuesday, the coalition criticised App Association, saying, "an association funded primarily by Apple and represents Apple's interests against developers and their customers, is a front group for Apple no matter how it brands itself." 

The Coalition for App Fairness is backing antitrust legislation called the Open App Markets ACT, gathering momentum in Congress. The bill is geared toward seeing Apple lose some grip over the App Store as developers are not satisfied with Apple's sales cuts of  15 to 30 per cent for paid apps and subscriptions. 

However, ACT staunchly opposes the move, which it says would expose the App Store to privacy and security threats, a reflection of Apple's argument.