Have you considered that giant technology companies have a lot in common with borderless governments? If you want proof, you can look at the brewing “app store taxes” debate.
For over a decade now, we had to accept that Google and Apple’s digital stores collect an up to 30 percent slice of the money developers receive when someone purchases their app or pays for a subscription or buys in-game currency. Those who are critics argue that Google and Apple, the mobile operating system duopoly, are the ultimate rent seekers. It has been years since the companies really delivered anything new when it comes to selling or delivering apps. But the pair are only tightening their grip on apps’ income, and cracking down on anyone who tries to skirt the rules.
App developers are getting tired of the taxes. Netflix Inc., Fortnite creator Epic and the video game distributor Valve Corp. are all now trying to get out of paying them, according to Bloomberg.
You can see why it would be frustrating if you’re Netflix. If a loyal Netflix customer only spends 10 percent of my Netflix watching hours on my iPhone, and if they sign up via the app store, then Apple gets a recurring 15 percent cut of any subscription fee.
If a customer buys a new TV, and they stop streaming on their phone, Apple still keeps collecting. The customer would literally need to cancel and re-subscribe if they decided that they wanted Netflix to get its full money’s worth.
App store defenders say that developers are effectively paying to help keep phones current and app stores curated. Just like a movie theater cultivates a film-viewing experience and takes a chunk of ticket revenue, any distributor will demand a cut.
In Europe, Google is no longer allowed to pre-install its app store on its phones. (Google is appealing.) So the tide may gradually be changing. For now, though, Apple and Google don’t just make decisions about what free speech looks like on the internet or what level of privacy a user can claim—they get to collect taxes too.