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Apple Forced In-App Purchases on ProtonMail Like ‘Mafia Extortion’ Says CEO

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As part of hearings and deliberations to determine whether tech companies like Apple have monopolies, encrypted email service ProtonMail revealed to Congress that it, like WordPress, was made to add in-app purchases (IAP) to its previously completely free iOS app, reports The Verge.

Comparing Apple’s antics to those of a mafia protection racket in an interview with The Verge, CEO of ProtonMail Andy Yen told the publication how after being completely free on the App Store for 2 years, Apple started demanding they add in-app purchases in 2018 following a significant uptick in app downloads.

“But a common practice we see … as you start getting significant uptake in uploads and downloads, they start looking at your situation more carefully, and then as any good Mafia extortion goes, they come to shake you down for some money,” said Yen.

Had the encrypted email service refused to add in-app purchases, Apple threatened to block updates for the app — which it actually did for about a month — and ultimately remove the app from the platform entirely.

Apple being the final authority on what goes on in the App Store, ProtonMail had to add in-app purchases and, as a result, raise the cost of its service on iOS by approximately 26% to appease Apple and be spared from its wrath.

On September 11, Apple changed the App Store rules, excluding “free apps acting as a stand-alone companion to a paid web based tool” from its IAP requirement. The most successful business in the world even specifically stated that this change exempts email apps from the requirement.

However, ProtonMail has chosen to not remove its in-app purchases yet, in fear of backlash from Apple. That’s how scared app developers — the very backbone of the App Store — are of Apple.

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