Why we support app store antitrust investigations

Proton launches the Coalition for App Fairness

We updated this article on Sept. 25, 2020, to provide more context about why Proton is joining the Coalition for App Fairness.

In recent months, regulators in both the US and Europe have begun looking into app store policies. These investigations are not only centered on Apple, but are also looking at Google Play and app stores in general. Proton has long been supportive of these efforts, as we have stated in our first public statements on the matter.

Antitrust is a complex topic and often misunderstood. In supporting antitrust action, we seek to remedy the following problems:

First, app store operators utilize their monopoly power to eliminate competition on mobile payments, forcing all transactions to go through in-app purchases. This lack of competition leads to an artificially high fee of 30%, which is unavoidable. The result of this is higher prices for the consumer. As an example, a business that has a profit margin of 15% would have to raise prices on customers by at least 15% in order to break even, leading to consumer harm through higher prices. It also results in less innovation. If Apple’s fee was just 10%, for example, ProtonMail would have 20% more resources to develop more features and improve our product faster.

Second, these app store policies create an unbalanced playing field in favor of business models that abuse privacy. Notably, the 30% fee does not impact “free” apps (like Gmail), which instead monetize through abusing user privacy. Conversely, apps that leverage a subscription model in order to protect user privacy are subject to these fees. This dramatically unequal treatment has resulted in an internet economy that favors the exploitation of user data as opposed to the protection of privacy.

Third, through self-preferencing (such as Google bundling Gmail on all Android devices, setting it as the default, and requiring a Google account to be created in order to use Android), app store operators which also control the operating system have created an environment that makes it very difficult for competing services to gain traction. This naturally creates the conditions where there are fewer viable competitors, reinforcing the existing monopolies, and leading to less customer choice.

There are, of course, also benefits to the app store model, which Apple will be quick to point out. But app store policies are not a zero-sum game. Addressing the structural issues listed above does not imply the loss of the benefits of the existing apps ecosystem. It is therefore right for European and US regulators to ensure that app store policies also benefit the public interest, and not just the interests of tech giants. We are happy to note that the European Union has taken a promising step toward curbing anti-competitive tactics with its latest proposed legislation, the Digital Markets Act.

Proton is not alone in calling for reform. This week we announced the formation of a new coalition whose goal is to ensure that large app stores receive an appropriate amount of scrutiny and comply with competition laws. While many members of the Proton community have expressed agreement with our objectives, some have questioned our decision to associate with companies like Epic and Spotify. These are real concerns that were indeed factored into our decision. Therefore, we would like to candidly share some of our reasons for becoming a founding member of the Coalition for App Fairness (CAF).

Why we joined the Coalition for App Fairness

First, to be clear, our mission at Proton is to foster an open, free, private, and secure internet. We exist today because a large community of people agree with these goals and support our work. Helping to found CAF does not in any way signal a deviation from these core values. Proton will always remain fiercely protective of our independence in order to put user interests first.

In a perfect world, Proton would only work with companies that are fully aligned with our values, but the reality is that we live in an imperfect world. We genuinely believe that app store reform (both Apple and Google) is essential to our vision of a better internet that puts people first. Regulators around the world have already started taking action leading to increased discussions about reform.

We believe that Proton, with our unique values and community, has a lot to contribute to this discussion. As a company that is entirely dependent on the user community to thrive, we are uniquely positioned to advance the interests of the broader internet community in the upcoming discussions. Helping to found CAF gives us a seat at the table and the ability to impact what happens in DC and Brussels in the coming years, which will determine the future of the internet.

Our purpose for joining CAF is not about advancing the goals of Spotify and Epic, but about making sure that you, our community, have a voice in this important debate.

We believe antitrust efforts create a better internet and a better society, for all the reasons we have mentioned above. And as always, our goal is to inform, educate, and discuss with all of you, and use what we learn to inform our advocacy efforts. With this in mind, we welcome all comments from the community, and look forward to engaging with you further on this highly important topic.

Best Regards,
The Proton Team

Some thoughts on common opposing viewpoints

There are also detractors to antitrust regulations, and any complete discussion should also consider the opposing viewpoints. Therefore, for completeness, we will also cover the arguments of the other side.

Apple created the App Store; they should be allowed to do whatever they want.

Regardless of whether one agrees with that sentiment, this is actually governed by law. Both the US and the EU, and many other jurisdictions around the world have competition laws. In most countries, it is illegal for dominant market players to use their dominance to prevent fair competition. Such activity is illegal because of well-established economic theory which finds that unregulated monopolies end up harming society through higher prices, less competition, and less innovation. Ultimately, it is for regulators to decide whether app store policies are in compliance with the law, and we participate in this process by answering information requests from regulators so that they can make an informed decision.

Antitrust means that iOS will become just like Android.

This is not necessarily true because regulators are looking at just the subset of issues which harm consumers and competitors. For example, antitrust regulators are not seeking to dismantle iOS’s privacy settings or privacy options. Regulators are also not seeking to prevent Apple from screening and removing malicious apps.

There exist many remedies for the problems we have highlighted that do not undermine the aspects of iOS that some users like. For example, allowing ProtonMail to inform iOS users that it is possible to purchase ProtonMail for 30% less via our website does not undermine iOS security. Nor does allowing credit cards to be used to make purchases on iOS devices for a 30% discount. These changes do not turn iOS into Android, but go a long way toward addressing the problems with the current app store model.

If you don’t like iOS, you can just use Android.

First, it is important to note that antitrust regulators are not only looking at Apple, but they are also looking into Google’s potentially anti-competitive practices with Android, so the existence of Android does not by itself mean there is no problem.

In many markets (such as US or in the EU), Apple’s market share approaches 50%, and developers cannot survive without developing also on iOS. Even if this percentage were lower, that also does not excuse Apple’s behavior because US and EU competition laws do not apply a percentage threshold when determining antitrust violations.

Mobile app stores are also fundamentally different from the grocery stores or gas stations of the 20th century antitrust cases. When it comes to mobile platforms, it isn’t possible to just walk across the street to another store. On iOS, there is only one store. Switching to Android is also not an option for most iOS users because of the money invested into the device itself, and the lock-in from either the mobile provider or the other ancillary services which Apple offers. This high switching cost makes mobile app stores unique from an antitrust perspective, even if the Apple market share is not as high as one would expect from more classical monopoly situations.

Antitrust action is against capitalism and market economics.

Market economies and capitalism thrive on fair competition, whereas a monopoly situation is defined by a distinct lack of competition. In this sense, antitrust action actually strengths capitalism and allows market economics to work. A good example can be seen from Apple 30% fee for in-app purchases. Because it is the only payment option allowed on iOS, Apple is not subject to any competitive pressures and can set the price however it wants. If there were competition (for example, credit card companies charging 2% fees instead), Apple would still be free to charge whatever they want. However, most likely Apple would charge less, so that their payments option was competitive. In this situation, antitrust action allows competition to exist, therefore reducing prices and benefiting consumers.

Why don’t you just stop offering payments on mobile if you object to the fees?

This is not possible. Apple requires paid services or apps to support in-app purchases as a prerequisite to being listed in the app store.

Why don’t you just tell people to upgrade on your website instead if you object to the fees?

This is also not possible because Apple App Store policies forbid communicating with users that there are alternative ways to pay for the app or service.

UPDATE Jan. 26, 2021: This article was updated to include the European Union’s Digital Markets Act.

Feel free to share your feedback and questions with us via our official social media channels on Twitter and Reddit.

About the Author

Andy Yen

Andy is the Founder and CEO of Proton, the company behind ProtonMail and ProtonVPN. He is a long time advocate of privacy rights and has spoken at TED, SXSW, and the Asian Investigative Journalism Conference about online privacy issues. Previously, Andy was a research scientist at CERN and has a PhD in Particle Physics from Harvard University. You can watch his TED talk online to learn more about our mission.

Comments are closed.

53 comments on “Why we support app store antitrust investigations

  • I do not support you in this – you are in the wrong fight here with some dodgy allies. Concentrate on the quality of your products and stay away from this type of – commercial – activism. I don’t want to have to give up a valuable service because you guys become engrained in such schemes.

    • Hi HH, thanks for your feedback. I hope this goes without saying, but our values remain unchanged and our position about the negative aspects of tech monopolies (on privacy, above all) is well known. We don’t agree with the other members of the coalition about every issue, and indeed with may strongly disagree. However, by working with larger companies on the issues where we do agree, we make reform more likely. (By the way, participating in this advocacy does not affect product in any way. We have several releases planned for the next few months.)

  • Hi! As a small developer I’m deeply disappointed to see you joining this alliance. Your quest has absolutely nothing to do with freedom. It’s just a smear campaign against Apple.

    I’m disgusted how you basically want turn AppStore into a more anti-consumer and anti-developer place.

    Because of this, I’lm going to terminate my Protonmail-account and will never have anything to do with you.

    • Hi Kale, I’m sorry to see you go. If you read our previous writings on this, I am sure you’ll find that our concerns about Apple are limited to the areas in which their business practices harm developers and consumers, particularly when it comes to privacy.

  • Epic Games fighting for “Free Internet” while being the most anti-competitive and anti-consumer choice Gaming Platform ever is hilarious.

  • Please define, what is “unfair, unreasonable, or discriminatory fees”. How much is it? Who decide, what is fair price and what not? For me, for example, 50$yYear for Mail is unfair, unreasonable price, so start changes from your side.

    • Hi phd, we believe the market should be allowed to decide what is a reasonable fee. In competitive marketplaces, processing fees are usually less than 5%. But because Apple controls 100% of the market for app stores on its platform, they are able to charge 30%. Regarding our own pricing, we offer a free service as well as optional premium plans, and we set our prices understanding that consumers have many options for email providers.

  • Strongly considering pulling my data from Proton if you are now working with Epic.
    I open my wallet to subscribe to Proton services specifically to get as far away as I can from Epic and their like.

    • Thanks for your feedback. To be clear: We are not working with epic beyond the narrow scope of this coalition. And even here, we have, I believe, a much different interest in this issue as a privacy company. However, we realized that this was not clear from the original post, and we’ve updated the article to better reflect our position.

  • Wouldn’t it be more effective to just create a competing platform and remove your apps from Apple’s store? If enough developers leave Apple and are only available on competing platforms, I’m pretty sure Apple will feel the pain and be forced to change or lose a lot of their user base.

  • Is some sort of tiered system more equitable? I like the fact that Apple verifies the code of the apps in its store and that gives me some assurance against bad actors in the development world. It is naive to assume there are not bad actors there as well.
    So, one level of the store is low fee, low service. Some caveat emptor at this level.
    Another tier is higher fee, but Apple (Google) assures the code is not malicious or detrimental to the OS. More work on the app store owner, so they are free to charge more.

    People are free to buy in either tier. Developers are free to offer in either tier (or both) – Consumer choice wins

  • This is a deeply disappointing decision. I appreciate the work that you have all done on providing a private and secure email platform, but you are not economists, and this is a transparent example of that.

    I use ProtonMail for communications I want to have a higher level of security (that I can rely on) than is available in a typical email hosting service. In the same vein, I use iPhones in order to access those services from a device that remains secure unless the government or malicious actors specifically target me and dedicate the resources necessary to unlock my phone without my cooperation. The Supreme Court has gone so far as to recognize the important role that smartphones play in acting as a vault for people’s personal information in the modern age.

    In light of that, I cannot agree with your decision to join an alliance that, while you choose to focus on the fees you must pay when acquiring and maintaining customers in app, is also calling for what is ultimately a weakening of the security of those devices I rely on. Your argument rests on the specious reasoning (pulled from one of Ben’s responses below, since Andy’s post is only so much pablum) that

    …we believe the market should be allowed to decide what is a reasonable fee. In competitive marketplaces, processing fees are usually less than 5%…because Apple controls 100% of the market for app stores on its platform, they are able to charge 30%

    Let us make something very clear: credit card providers operating in “competitive marketplaces” derive the bulk (>70%) of their revenue not from interchange and processing fees (the 5% you mention), but from interest on outstanding card balances and other card fees. This is a fundamentally different model from that of a platform operator like Apple and Google, which charge a larger portion of the initial and recurring fees to cover their costs, but do so only at the time of sale. By this fact alone, you would be flatly misleading in terms of your (public) justifications for joining this alliance to a degree that speaks to either a fundamental misunderstanding of economics or a purposeful obtuseness bordering on disingenuousness.

    Setting that aside, your statement that “the market should decide” implies that there is some nebulous, untapped market out there composed of consumers who yearn to shake free of the shackles of a 30% charge to developers to gain access to a platform they have no role in maintaining or developing themselves. Again, this is wrong. The (consumer) market has spoken, and it has said it is fine with the fees developers must pay (even if they are passed onto the consumer), especially if that fees ensures (as it does on iOS devices) that the software can be trusted to an extent it cannot be on a personal computer, Mac, or Android device. Andy says in the post itself that

    Big Tech companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on campaigns to persuade you that they care about your online privacy and security.

    as if that claim isn’t true when it comes to consumers using iOS devices which, whatever your implied claims as to your potential ability to make it better, are some of the most secure devices available to consumers. Apple is able to do that because they are able to control their platform, and a 30% fee is small price to pay (that iOS customers have proven time and again they are willing to pay) for that certainty. That certainty will disappear if other companies, especially the largest among your “alliance”, are able to provide their own app stores on iOS that will be able to function as vectors for malicious software. I pay through the nose for iOS devices and AppStore software to make sure I am not the product, and in your misguided actions, you are threatening that fundamental bargain I enter into whenever I buy anything from Apple.

    You are wrong. You are now allied with a company I have fundamental philosophical disagreements with and practical fears of. I hope you fail in this endeavor, if for no other reason than you don’t take us all down with you in pursuit of a pitiful few percent more in revenue.

    • Thank you for taking the time to respond. We’ve updated this article to clarify our position, and it may address some of your points.

  • Wow I never thought a company who tried to move beyond the lowest common denominator would do this. Sorry to see Proton take this step. For our organization and for myself the walled garden that Apple has developed is the selling point. It just works for our use cases. We don’t worry about issues from side loading or from sketchy 3rd party developers. Is it perfect? No but it just works. The company is far from a monopoly and people know what they are getting when they buy Apple – the walled garden is often the selling point.

    If you want entry as a developer the price is a cut of revenue but you also can ignore the platform. Obviously you can make money even with the cut Apple takes or Android would have all the apps and the Apple App Store would be empty. At this point your stand appears to be less principled than you make out. I also see you did not mention all of the principles such as granting 3rd party developers low level access to hardware. That is essentially asking Apple to break their whole integrated hardware and software business model. This new organization does seek to address the same principles with Google either which raises more questions about motives.

    I am sure this will change zero minds but we have implemented a crash program to migrate our business off Proton By the end of October and I and my family members will be taking our visionary accounts down this weekend. Everyone can make their own choices and ours is not to patronize a business that will use that revenue to seek to undermine something that we have come to rely on.

    • Thanks for your feedback, Michael. The response from the community helped us realize that we did not adequately explain our position. We’ve updated the post to clarify, and it now addresses some of your points as well. With regard to Google, we agree; both platforms are hostile to competition and privacy.

  • Great move by ProtonMail.

    Very strange comments without much substance or facts but instead just criticizing ProtonMail for sticking up for consumer freedom.

    When a friend of mine contracted CoVid in March and had to go through the illness for months, he tried getting some of us playing with him via his iPad or iPhone.

    While I have and use both an iPad and iPhone, a few in the group only had Android. There was no real choice of games for us.

    When he and I both tried Apple Arcade, the graphics were a definite turn-off not to mention the laggy multiplayer implementations.

    With other games that were not Apple Arcade but popular on Android, their multiplayer was also lagging and unplayable whether racing or sports games.

    It may be anecdotal but if you look at a lot of the “premium” or non-Arcade games, their multiplayer implementation on iOS is a common source of complaints.

    Without this getting too long, that was just the issue of games and it’s great to see ProtonMail and others advocate for consumer choice and freedom.

  • While I also do not support the policies of some of your temporarily allies in this effort, I strongly support your fight against internet monopolies and censorship.

    I hope your alliance is successful in reducing prices, or together the alliance chooses to create an alternative marketplace, such as F-Droid, which is able to facilitate updates. You can certainly justify to US and European regulators the need to require aPPle & g00gle to allow apps sold through alternative marketplaces to work with their operating systems. Regardless on how your group succeeds, if you are successful, I hope you will also reduce your prices to reflect the reduction in commission costs you will no longer have to pay.

    As a long time paid client, I highly value your service. Still, I do believe your subscription prices need to be reduced to serve a much larger segment of the market. Especially, for your basic paid plans.

  • hi, am an Indie dev myself and appreciate your support for this campaign, i hope all major store will change their tax to a more appropriate value in the near future.

  • I have used Protonmail for quite a while and I am not totally agree with those 10 principles.
    However, I understand App suppliers are suffering from some unreasonable platform regulations and have to challenge the platform owner as a whole to stand a chance.
    I would suggest that the members in this organization should be ready to pull all your products out of the platform.
    If not, you are doing nothing rather than making real change in business environment.

  • Extremely disappointed to see you going this way. Even Protonmail has the best offer for my needs, ProtonMail looses a lot trust and sympathies from my side,

  • I love ProtonMail and I love Apple.

    As an equally biased and thus neutral observer, I side with Apple in this case, and it ain’t close.

    I am wholly disappointed in Proton Technologies’ stance here, as an original Lifetime Visionary supporter, and I sincerely hope that they too do not grow so successful one day that everyone and anyone tries to tear them down or cash in at their expense for it.

    Shame on you Andy & Co.

    • Thanks for your feedback and for your longtime support of Proton. We realized from the response to this post that we did not adequately explain our position, and we’ve updated it to clarify. To put an even finer point on this: There is nothing wrong with a company becoming successful. But it is illegal and harmful to consumers to use that success in ways that prevent other companies from also becoming successful.

  • I totally endorse this effort to mitigate the growing monopolistic landscape around the Internet. I hope you manage to get things moving so governments officials start looking into this stiffling environment.

    This is positive even from just an end consumer self-interest, as a reduced fee for devs could mean more resources available to them that would translate into a better service to their customers, more features added, etc.

    I’m already a Protonmail customer and I expect to upgrade to some new services in the near future.

  • I totally endorse this effort to mitigate the growing monopolistic landscape around the Internet. I hope you manage to get things moving so goverment oficials start looking into this stiffled atmosphere.

    This is positive even from just an end consumer self-interest, as a reduced fee for app devs could mean more resources available to them that would translate into a better service to their customers, more features added, etc.

    I’m already a Protonmail customer and I expect to upgrade to some new services in the near future.

  • The person who said:

    “ Concentrate on the quality of your products ”

    By getting involved in action like this, it might mean that Apple must reduce its pricing and thus services like PM would have more resources (financial) and can therefore direct more resources (staff and money) into the products they offer.

    I do not see it as a bad thing. There will always be unsavoury parties in any form of cause. Doesn’t make being involved in the cause wrong.

  • Unfortunately I will have to close my account at ProtonMail. I have been app developer for pretty much 14 years , since blackberry. I do not want an alternative Apple store in my phone, as a developer I don’t want t to have to support 100 app stores and on top of that is horrible for the user, it is already horrible in android with Huawei and play store, Asian store wars is just bad for the user in many levels , pro version bought in one app do not work in other app because comes from another store and uses other framework. If you just want not to Pay 30% to Apple , fair enough , fight for that . Don’t tell us stories about competition , Apple accounts the 18% of the noble market , so is quite clear that is al about the fees. I love your product , but this fight is just ridiculous and harms the users.

  • I read several statements from you (Apple, Hong Kong, etc…). Although I am in favour of human rights, I find that you commit yourself a bit too much. If you do it privately, no worries, but don’t engage Proton. Concentrate on ensuring the security of your emails, your infrastructure, your apps, develop new functions, etc…

    • Thanks for your feedback. The reality is that the environments in which we operate affect the privacy and security of our products and our users. This includes the laws of the jurisdictions in which our users live and the platforms from which they download our apps. For instance, Apple’s arbitrary rules about the content of app descriptions can delay the release of security patches, putting users at risk. We continue to invest in product development, security, infrastructure and advocacy, and we have talented, dedicated teams working hard on each.

  • I’m glad to see privacy concerned companies weigh in on this issue. I applaud you for your efforts and wish you the best of luck. I would very much like to see some fairer competition on both platforms.

  • I really hope this doesn’t end up with the app getting pulled off the appstore. That would be a deal breaker.

  • I need help understanding this. I was in Windows for 22 years, then to Mac in 2006. I own Android devices, iPhones, and Kindles. It does not bother me – as a consumer – that Amazon/Kindle and Apple/AppStore “limit” program and app offerings – as compared to what Android device owners have available. (As recently as this month, a well-respected Mac magazine advised, “We’d advise that you use a tool from the Mac App Store as you can be confident that it is approved by Apple.”) That “sentiment” is held by many: “We trust Amazon or Apple … programs/apps acquired from them just might be more “trustworthy” than the “open source” Android marketplace. So, as a CONSUMER, I feel fine. Please point me to a document or page that explains why I need to support the Coalition. I, obviously, am not a developer. But do want those incredible minds who make my life more productive on all platforms to be properly and failrly respected for their efforts.

  • Sorry – as others said you’re in this with some dodgy companies and your arguments are not holding water with me. I’m taking my paid account elsewhere and encouraging others to do the same. I’ve been here since the crowd funding campaign but this is a bridge too far.

  • Monopolies in any form are harmful for the free market and scrutiny by regulators is more than justified.

    I don’t believe anyone is requesting a free-for-all app store with no security policies, just fair conditions for all players.

    That companies with different philosophies are agreeing with you and joining the same coalition is unavoidable, even if their main motivation is pure profit. If this goes well it may even end up with improvements from them as well, if those companies can rely more on subscription fees instead of monetizing user’s private data via “free” apps.

  • I applaud this move but more specifically value your effort to be a good company by focussing not only on sales, profit, and the like, but also on fighting for certain ideals. Of course, as all these comments go to show, what good is, is subjective.

    While I agree with you on this particular matter, however, I would also like to warn against taking overly strong political positions in debates such as these, because it may ultimately harm the privacy of your users. If, for instance, Proton becomes known for political position X, then by a user’s very having of a ProtonMail e-mail address, you project that political association onto them. This is especially true if, judging by these comments, an opposing part of your userbase decides to cancel their Proton plans in protest. Repeat such a scenario several times, and what would ultimately remain is a userbase whose political stance coincides exactly with your own. This would mean that using a ProtonMail e-mail adress betrays that user’s political stance. That, too, is a violation of users’ privacy.

    Furthermore, whether the association of a user’s ProtonMail e-mail adress with a particular political stance is accurate or not, it may have tangible consequences. With regard to the current matter, for instance, I would hate for my ProtonMail e-mail address to be associated with anti-Apple sentiment, and subsequently for Apple or any other company to downright reject my job application on that very basis.

  • I support anti-monopoly investigations and the expansion of human rights, but I think attacking the Apple App Store is the wrong way to achieve these goals.

    As a consumer the Apple App Store has been a great benefit to me. I happily pay higher prices for apps because they have gone through a review process and are easily available in the store. I’m willing to purchase apps from small developers when the payment is handled through the app store because I don’t have to worry about how my payment information is handled. If I had to pay the developer directly I just wouldn’t purchase the app because the potential expense of lost payment information exceeds the potential benefit of the app.

    I don’t accept the argument that the Apple App Store is the cause of the unbalanced playing field that favors business models that abuse privacy. The abuse of privacy by apps offered for free has been around long before the Apple App Store.

    As a consumer I don’t find your self-preferencing argument very compelling. I think more research needs to be done investigating consumer behavior, and how they choose apps.

    I’m just not convinced that what the CAF is proposing would address any anti-competitive issues or expand human rights. My read of what CAF is proposing is that they want additional ways to exploit consumers so they can increase their revenue, and they’re unhappy that Apple is making it harder for them to do that.

  • I have conflicting opinions about this matter. Specifically regarding how everyone attributes the 30% markup fee of the involved app stores.

    Most articles about this matter, this one included, mention credit card fees as being lower in competing solutions however, none address the elephant in the room: customer payment data will not be scattered around in different payment systems.

    If I am a malicious actor, I can create a legit app that passes the store’s scrutiny but then send the user to a payment system where I can set up recurring payments that maybe difficult for the end user to cancel. This fault will end up being attributes to the store since it failed to protect the user.

    This is the first example that comes to my mind.

    I’m not sure that Proton and the community’s interests will be able to be heard at the table with players that have, most likely, different interests in mind. I suggest threading carefully.

    My final suggestion is creating a visual description, at the top of this article, of what these common interests are and are not shared with other corporations. As in a green checkmark with what you want or a red cross for what you don’t want with this involvement.

  • I agree with the comment in “focus on your own products” and people will flock to you. Proton should stop trying to virtue signal. I don’t use the Play Store nor the Apple Store. I specifically use Fdroid. That being said….why are there so many cry babies in the comments? BOOHOO! Protonmail joined an alliance to fight for freedom and it just so supposedly aligns with Epic. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in cahoots. Let me ask you this…if you buy a car, wouldn’t you want the ability to check under the hood and see how the motor works?<<You don't get that with GOOGLE OR APPLE.

    I support Protonmail because they are literally the only freakin company advocating for transparency. You ever hear GOOGLE and APPLE say anything remotely close to being transparent? Wake up, sheep! Don't you think it's crazy that the general public is only given two choices to download software? e.g. Apple Store and Play Store. Come on. Pull your heads out of your butts. Smartphones should be treated the same exact way as a regular PC. I choose what I download from the WORLD wide web. I don't want to be spoon-fed garbage from Apple and Google.

  • I support Protonmail.

    I’m even more disappointed at the supposed “developers” in the comments section. Apple Store and Google Store is regulation at it’s finest. There’s no transparency.

    Use Fdroid. I say what I download to my devices and not what I’m spoon-fed. I’m deeply disappointed that people don’t realize how they’re being exploited by these big tech industries and a lot of people don’t even care. We’re in the era of “convenience > privacy” it’s a sad reality. How would you like it if there was only two grocery stores in the world and they decided what food is placed in those stores? Think about it.

  • I’m a protonmail user for past couple of years but I don’t support you in this fight. I never knew that protonmail is available to purchase via app. I directly purchased from website and I’m a paid proton mail user for 2 years. In this case you’re just supporting Epic and Facebook (billion dollar businesses) who undermine privacy which is core value of PM. Please don’t support these guys. We need to agree Apple’s privacy policy is far better than all these guys who are fighting even people don’t agree

  • Devon Redfield’s response below is great explanation of some of the problems with your position. I just wanted to add my thoughts that you are on the wrong side of this. If you think that consumers are all sat at home moaning about the 30% fee, or the 15% fee you are wrong. I am happy to pay Apple, and do, in order to make sure my device is safe, secure and useable and that Apple will continue to invest in that. I am happy to pay you to do the same for email and other data that is important to me. But I am not happy to pay you to undermine Apple and the work they are doing.

    It is a mistake to hitch your wagon to Softbank – via Epic. What they are trying to achieve is to break Apple’s focus on privacy and the consumer. It is a long game for them and you were ill advised to join them.

  • Thank heavens I don’t have any ‘uptodate’ things (nearly wrote toys).

    24 years an IBM (yes they were ‘not nice’) mainframe sysprog (TCP/IP included).

    I had to exist in an IBM, Hitachi and being a Brit ICL world.

    Stop bitching about the trivia of you new world and embrace it !

  • I do agree that the 30% cut of every store, not just Google’s, and Apple’s is a relic of a bygone age. I will keep supporting Protonmail for a more free and open internet, but do have some concerns.

    1. Is cooperation with Epic Games limited to specifically Google and Apple with regards to fairness to developers? Epic is very self serving and also isn’t a good actor (i.e stealing Steam user data without consent). Its great that people are standing up to trillion dollar companies, but remember that Epic is a billion dollar company that has ties to Tencent.
    2. As we’ve seen from Android, third party applications to be installed outside of your store runs a serious risk of malware (which has happened with fake Fortnite APKs, to say the least). How would you ensure user safety and privacy?

  • Thank you very much for your fight against the apple\google duopoly! As a user and as a developer I find their policies and lack of competition truly frustrating. I fully support your decision and hope that together we will shape a future where users and developers can have a freedom in getting and distributing their apps.
    I am honestly surprised that there are people who don’t understand that freedom is better than non-freedom and competition is better than mono- (or duo)poly.
    Please, keep fighting on our behalf – I am happy to support you with 2-year long subscription purchased, of course, via the web site.

  • I totally support ProtonMail position and I feel very sorry for you that you get some negative comments here.

    Many people are buying Apple’s propaganda on their fake Privacy and think they are the “good guys” that protect their privacy. They think they can install TikTok, Facebook, Insta and other malwares from the App Store and that Apple will magically “protect them” from those apps. They give a blind support to Apple and criticize anyone opposing them.

    The solution to privacy is not to give up all your rights and give total power to one individual or company and keep finger crossed it’s a “good guy”.
    The solution is to build transparent and open alternatives like ProtonMail, Mozilla, etc. are trying to do. But “Alternative” and “Apple / Google walled-garden” don’t go together.

    Today Apple & Google try to prevent third-party apps and payments, tomorrow they will prevent third party Mail & VPN provider like ProtonMail in the name of “Privacy and Security” and people will buy that lie and support them.

    With this kind of practice, the web would not exist.

    Can you imagine Google Chrome or Apple Safari asking 30% fee of any item sold on Ebay because people are using “their platform” to access the website ? Can you imagine not being able to access a website because Apple or Google decided that you shouldn’t (like Apple just did on Epic game) ? Can you imagine every website in the world having to bid to Apple / Google / Microsoft conditions ? Can you imagine Apple imposing their 100$ fee/year on every single personal website or blog because it is accessible on their browser ?

    There is absolutely no difference here, a website is a piece of code with a GUI running on your device, a website = an app. Why should “native apps” get a special monopolistic treatment when they are exactly the same as web apps ?

    Anyway, I fully support you on this ProtonMail and wish you all the best

  • I do not support this decision and this means that I will start migrating away from protonmail and no longer consider neither ProtonVPN or the Drive. I have an issue with developers that are so-called self-proclaimed fighters for consumers. I am the consumer and not you. You can deny it but by supporting the alliance, you are in favour of the 9th principe and that is breaking the exact reason why I and probably other consumers choose apple. A stable and secure environment with no side-loading and where I can trust on Apple to do what they should do. I pay a premium for their devices with a reason.

    9. Principle. No app store owner should prohibit third parties from offering competing app stores on the app store owner’s platform, or discourage developers or consumers from using them.

    Besides i think you are a bit cheeky. A subscription via In-App purchase is 64,99 euros compared to 48 Euros (yearly subscription) on the website. True that the In App purchases includes the 30% but it is the user who pays it and you will lose a small amount (3,50 euros) – consumer prices. However, the second year the fee is lowered to 15% and then suddenly the In-App purchase is not that bad for protonmail because you keep on charging the same amount.

    Anyway, it is morally wrong that Proton aligns itself with companies like Epic that only want a free ride and are in fact greedy. You can write lofty words that you are not in full agreement with all the signees but then you should not have aligned yourself with them.

    Really disappointing.

  • Hi! I wish you can spend mire bringing your products like ProtonDrive to the market than this nonsensical Coalition of App Fairness gimmick.

  • The very old school expression ‘power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely’ remains true. At the moment the founders of the tech giants are still around, they do to an extent moderate behaviour. When they depart, the free market will always exploit a monopoly and everyone will suffer. We also have to accept paying for things that we want and then that is no guarantee of keeping data private.

    CAF is a step in recognizing that we need to keep tech Honest Truthful Legal and Decent!

  • You guys are doing 100% the right thing. Antitrust needed to go after these public utility companies years ago. Don’t pay attention to the Apple or Google cult members spamming this comments section, nothing is good enough for them.

  • I just want to say I totally support your decision. I feel the same problems with Apple and would never buy a phone from them, whilst I do not understand someone still does buy it… I am happy with ProtonMail being not only a technology company but also a moral authority who can speak out loud with global problems and who can act against them. I’m glad I am subscribed to your service and will recommend it to everyone more than before.

  • Sorry, I LIKE having apps vetted and cryptographically signed to run them on my device. It saves me heartache from malware. That service costs money, just like your service. I don’t think I’ll be renewing this year.

    Regardless of whether one agrees with that sentiment, this is actually governed by law.
    Isn’t really an argument. Legality isn’t the equivalent to ethics or morality. Many of the things I like Proton for are legal, government spying for instance, doesn’t mean they are right.