How Apple Uses Its App Store To Copy The Best Ideas

from WaPo

Developers have come to accept that, without warning, Apple can make their work obsolete by announcing a new app or feature that essentially copies their ideas. Some apps have simply buckled under the pressure.

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5 Responses to How Apple Uses Its App Store To Copy The Best Ideas

  1. Wyatt Slone September 10, 2019 at 6:33 pm #

    Apple has been known as the pinnacle of technology since the Iphone debuted in 2007. Since then Apple has taken over the mainstream media elevating connections between people, promoting health and adding safety features to keep consumers comfortable. Reed Albergotti, Washington Post’s electronics reporter, dives into the dirty workings of Apple and how they stay as one of the top marketing strategists in America. In the article, it is stated that Apple is stealing the intellectual property of many app developers that have had successful results inside the App Store. Recently, the menstruation tracker app “Clue” has become stressed to find out Apple’s health app is adding new features to help women consumers track their cycles.
    Whether Apple is intentionally taking the ideas of popular apps from inside the App Store, or they just have a team of smart developers; it has become a known fact that once a published app goes live inside the App Store, Apple analysts have access to all their data. The company DoApp who worked with Apple in the early years of the Iphone to create useful apps, who also had to sell out in 2016 due to falling consumerism, had the brilliant technology to have an app able to adapt the Iphone camera’s flash into a flashlight. Profits at its highest brought DoApp 30,000 dollars a month, but soon Apple released a new feature with one of their IOS updates, the flashlight. While new consumers buying new phones with the new updates. DoApp’s profits plummeted dramatically, and their company went under.
    As app developers create new useful apps that ease day to day struggles in life, many are wary whether to sell their product to Apple. Many developers know the risk that selling their product to the App Store could end up with their intellectual property being cloned and written off as Apple’s. However, the initial pay off of profits if their app becomes successful leads developers to taking the risk and pushing to create more diverse apps.
    As more issues arise, I surmise that laws will need to be put into place to bar Apple (and other large technology companies) from monopolizing the market, as well as to pay app developers for their ideas and give credit where credit is due. But while I am advocating for helping the underdog, I do think this is a dog eat dog world and that developers know what they are getting themselves into when venturing into Silicon Valley. Heavy intellectual property laws do not exist to protect designers, as far as I know, so perhaps in the coming years our generation of law students can develop adequate methods to stop larger companies from finding loopholes in contracts.

  2. Alexander Nowik September 13, 2019 at 1:41 pm #

    One issue I have with this article, is that it does not account for the fact that many of the apps Apple “copied” are not ingenious themselves. For example, the flashlight not being a core part of the iPhone until 2013, meant app developers could market their flashlight to Apple users. However, the flashlight is not a groundbreaking invention, nor is the idea to put it on a phone. To me this being an example used in the article is a reach (at best) to accuse Apple.
    That being said I think the more interesting side of this is Apple using its app store to discover data. Whether or not Apple is “copying” apps or not, they are still well aware of trends on their app store, and what apps they should include in their next version of iOS. This gives them a competitive edge over any app developer. I do think it’s interesting that members of congress want to pursue this under anti-trust laws. While I think it might be too much to say ban them from making apps and running an app store (as Senator Warren seems suggests), perhaps there is a way to make a [more] level playing field for app developers. App developers are forced to put their apps on the Apple store after all (it is 71% of the market), and that same store is one that Apple can use to collect (at the very least) data. It would be like Coca-Cola owning all the soda production factories, and only letting companies produce there if the company gave them access to their recipes.

  3. Nicholas Luciano September 13, 2019 at 4:41 pm #

    The article “How Apple uses its App Store to copy the best ideas,” was very insightful to read. It was also very interesting because we have always thought Apple has taken ideas. The consumers that have been with Apple from the very beginning remember not having functionality of the “flashlight” on their iPhone 4 without getting a free app. The Health and Activity apps are brand new pre-installed apps that were introduced just a few years ago. Apple has notoriously taken ideas from their own app stores and put them into their own apps. They go to the top of their charts and Apple ultimately beats them out with functionality. These apps are then deleted because why does the consumer need two of the same apps?

    Apple has gotten a taste of their own medicine as of late. One of their biggest competitors, Google, makes a myriad of apps in the Apple App Store. They have recently found better ways to improve their pre-installed apps better than Apple has. While this is opinion based, it is based on experience. I personally use Google’s Maps and Gmail apps instead of Apple’s pre-installed apps that do the same thing. I think they are better with functionality and simply work better for my style. These apps are incredibly easy to use if you have a Google account that you can use across all the apps. Apple has not made its own emailing service which is something that I think will come out in the future. Apple has been in the news for its maps app for the wavy terrain not being realistic. Apple’s mail app has not always been incredibly user friendly either. While Apple has been taking ideas from third party developers, other companies have been finding ways to undermine Apple with better apps. This has been incredibly hard for companies to do because it is Apple’s app store so you have to play by their rules. There is no true way of knowing whether or not people like, for instance, Apple’s or Google’s maps app. The reason being that Apple does not put their own apps in the “Top Charts,” you can only find Apple’s apps in the search bar. You only see what the third party developers apps that are the most downloaded. This goes for top free and top purchased apps.

    The article speaks on how data is used within these companies to find new niches in the market. Amazon does this incredibly well too, they see when consumers click on a category, product, and even when you add something to your bag. Apple recently introduced a credit card from their company that would work like any Visa or Mastercard. Not that Apple did not have an enormous amount of data to work with before, now they have data on where and what you are buying at any time. This is the first time they are being able to collect data from consumers that is outside of the consumer buying services or products from Apple themselves. This opens up a door for possibilities for Apple. They have had ideas about different business ventures that they were unsure of doing. This will allow them to more accurately make better business decisions.

    My question is when do the laws come into play to have Apple throttled back a bit from becoming too strong in the market? As long as there are other players in the market, there is not a monopoly. That is what the law suggests at least, but there can be rules and regulations inside their own services to stop that. Apple’s rules for apps going on their app store are extremely restrictive and they take a 15-30% cut from all purchases (Apple). Cutting down the percentage so that the smaller developers do not have to take such a big hit on the in-app purchases.

  4. Emily Rodger September 13, 2019 at 6:33 pm #

    Over the years, Apple has risen to be probably the biggest technology company worldwide. Pretty much almost everyone has at least one Apple product. The rise of Apple throughout the years has become a huge disadvantage for other companies because it is becoming harder and harder to compete with such a successful brand. This article primarily talks about how Apple is “copying” other well-known apps by incorporating the same concepts into their own products. Some people call this copying, but I would personally say that it is a good selling strategy on Apple’s part. Apple is already the dominant and leading competitor in this market, so the more features they add to their technology, the less competition they will have. As stated in the article, the only constant thing about technology is that it is always changing. I think that Apple “copying” these other apps is a good way to make the other companies work harder and become more innovative.
    Another point made in this article was that Apple uses their App Store to see how successful other apps are. Apple has the ability to see the top ranking apps downloaded and see how long people spend on those particular apps. Apples ability to do this seems like a huge disadvantage to the other successful apps because they are practically handing their ideas over for Apple to take. Although this is primarily the reason how Apple gets their new ideas, I do not think it is that fair to those apps who originally created the concept. Those apps really have no other choice but to put their ideas on the Apple store, but then their content is being tracked and possibly copied by Apple if it is a trending concept. I would have to agree with the previous commenters, that there should be some sort of motion put into place to make the playing field more even between Apple and the other app creators so that Apple does not completely take over the industry.

  5. Walter Dingwall September 13, 2019 at 6:52 pm #

    Well, “it’s a bittersweet symphony, it’s life,” sings Richard Ashcroft, vocalist for The Verve. No truer could this be when The Rolling Stones took the band to court over the use of a similar melody to The Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time.” The case which ended in the royalties of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” song going to The Rolling Stones.
    In the music industry, the laws and regulations used in settling disputes over intellectual property rights have developed greatly in favor of keeping a creator’s product unique to their self and their brand. Often have bands seen cases brought over uncredited cover songs and similar sounding tunes. It was not always the case, however, that the original creative peoples were held as such and, thus, they were left to compete with a more current, more popular version of their product with little hope.
    Now, the problem lies in the new favorite entertainment business, phone apps. The time spent on the phone is no longer for the phone call, but to sift through the multitude of apps, accessible to the phone owners. This creates jobs in design and other creative fields for a whole new field. App creators spend their hours as song writers, painters, sculptors and the lot would their selves in the studios. The difference in this new app field is the vehicles on which their creation is distributed.
    Reed Albergotti’s article focuses on the Apple’s App Store and the difficulty app creators have getting their product to the consumer. More than having to birth a brilliant, new app that consumers will enjoy in great masses, the app must make its way through the review board. If the app is well functioning and appears safe, it should pass through to being placed in the App Store. What else stands in the way of the creators, as stated in the article, is that Apple employees may peek at incoming apps under review, which isn’t allowed. Even if they don’t do this, they can see the apps’ productivity after addition to the app store and make an app of similar manner. The problem here is that there is nothing that is stopping Apple from maintaining a monopoly on apps in the App Store in this copycat fashion.
    In May 2019, the people did seek to bring a class-action lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court based on antitrust laws regarding Apple’s creation of apps similar to ones already existing in Pepper V Apple Inc.. The Supreme Court decide by a vote of 5 to 4 in favor of Pepper due to the “Illinois Brick Doctrine,” which holds, in this instance, that the App Store users who have purchased apps may sue Apple directly as they are, in fact, maintaining the purchasing prices.
    Apple tried to get around this by claiming they charge a 30 percent commission from the app creators, which accounts for the prices set in the app store (30 percent commission of app price + the app creators’ set price). They were trying to say the commission added did not change the fact that consumers were still paying the price set by the creators. And in good news, Apple purchasers, this did not work, and this seemingly impenetrable monopoly may be attacked.
    The times are changing as they did for the music industry. App creators in the Apple ecosystem are getting the standards and treatments they deserve for their intellectual property.
    Ironically, The Verve has recently earned back the rights to royalties on “Bittersweet Symphony.” Goodness is this a strange time.

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