Tech giant Apple plays a highly active role in shaping the App Association’s policies despite not being a member of the group, sources told Bloomberg.
The four former employees of the group, which is also known as ACT, claimed that the lobbying agenda of the association is very consistent with the iPhone-maker’s, even when it doesn’t suit its own members.
While the association rejected the claims that it’s tied to Apple, it said that the company provides more than half of its funding. However, the sources who requested anonymity said that it receives way more than that from the iPhone-maker. According to ACT’s filings, it generated $9 million in total in 2020 from all of its backers.
The App Association, which says it gives a voice to small technology companies, has mostly positive things to say about Apple. For instance, in the wake of the Epic vs Apple trial, which resulted from Fortnite’s removal from the App Store, ACT defended the tech giant saying it’s not a monopolist.
Rick VanMeter, who is the Head of Coalition for App Fairness which was founded in 2020 to fight against App Store policies, said that the ACT’s representation of small app developers is ‘deceptive’ because of its ties with Apple. “When you pretend to be something that you’re not in order to make a point, that’s bad for the lawmaking process,” he said, as reported by Bloomberg.
Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games which is also among the founders of Coalition for App Fairness, called ACT “Apple’s fake ‘small app developer’ lobby” in a tweet that he shared in late June.
Morgan Reed, the President of the App Association, said that the claim that ACT is a front for Apple “doesn’t pass the laugh test”. “Our job is to make sure we’re paying attention to the way that government can have an impact, unintended or otherwise, on all of those small businesses making cool software products,” he added.
He and other executives of ACT said that they make their policy decisions according to their members’ views, without taking any instructions from Apple, however, taking Apple’s viewpoints into consideration.