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Russian bill would force Apple, Google to take smaller cuts of app sales

A bill would lower the cut Apple and Google take from app sales in the country, forcing them to rethink their stores.

Published onSeptember 2, 2020

Google Play Store on smartphone stock photo 1
  • A Russian bill would cap Apple and Google’s cut of app sales to 20% instead of the usual 30%.
  • App sellers would also have to pay a third of their share to an IT training fund.
  • If it passed, Apple and Google would have to either lower their cuts or reconsider Russian app sales.

If Apple and Google weren’t already feeling pressure to reform their app stores, they might feel it through a proposed piece of Russian legislation.

Reuters reports that politician Fedot Tumusov has submitted a bill to Russia’s lower house of parliament that would cap the commission on app sales to 20%, or a third lower than the 30% Apple and Google respectively demand from the App Store and Play Store. It would also require that a third of the commission go toward an IT specialist training fund.

The move would be a “growth opportunity” for developers, Tumusov said.

We’ve asked Apple and Google for comment.

There’s no guarantee the bill will pass. If it did, however, it could force Apple and Google to make difficult decisions. They would have to either reduce their take from app sales (even if it’s just a Russian exception) or else stop offering app downloads in the country. Russia is one of the world’s largest smartphone markets, and losing that could affect the bottom line for both tech giants.

This wouldn’t be the first time either company has been asked to change its ways in the region. Russian antitrust regulators made Google unbundle apps on Android devices, and determined that Apple abused App Store dominance in rejecting a Kaspersky parental control app. Officials aren’t particularly fond of the effects Apple and Google have on Russian developers, and that’s creating serious headaches for both firms.