Apple Denies Abusing French Developers, Says They’ve Earned 1 Billion Euros From App Store

Apple has issued a statement defending against allegations made by France's finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who earlier this week accused the iPhone maker of treating French startups and developers unfairly.

In the statement, loosely translated from French to English, Apple said it has "strong relationships" with French developers, and added that they have collectively earned one billion euros in revenue from the App Store.

Le Figaro via MacGeneration:
We are proud to have strong relationships with tens of thousands of developers across France, who have earned 1 billion euros on the App Store. Many of these talented developers founded their companies with one or two people and then saw their teams grow to offer their applications to users in 155 countries. This was only possible thanks to Apple's investment in iOS, development tools, and the App Store. Apple has always defended the confidentiality and security of users and does not have access to user transactions with third-party applications. We are fully prepared to share our history in the French courts and to clarify this misunderstanding. In the meantime, we will continue to help French developers realize their dreams and support French students in their learning of the code through our coding program.
Le Maire said France will be taking Apple and Google to court in Paris for "abusive trade practices." In a radio interview, he mentioned that Apple and Google "take all their data" and "can unilaterally rewrite their contracts."
"I learned that when developers develop their applications, and sell to Google and Apple, their prices are imposed, Google and Apple take all their data, Google and Apple can unilaterally rewrite their contracts," Le Maire said in an interview with RTL radio. "All that is unacceptable and it’s not the economy that we want. They can’t treat our startups and developers the way they do."

"I will therefore be taking Google and Apple to the Paris commercial court for abusive trade practices," Le Maire said.
It's not very clear what Le Maire is referring to exactly. It's possible the bit about prices being "imposed" refers to the 30 percent cut that Apple and Google collect from sales of apps and in-app purchases, but his comments were vague.

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France Suing Apple and Google for Taking Advantage of Developers With ‘Abusive Commercial Practices’

French finance minister Bruno Le Maire today announced that the country will be taking legal action against Apple and Google for "abusive commercial practices." Specifically, Le Maire said that the tech companies are taking advantage of French developers with these practices and that the fines from such a legal action could be in the "millions of euros" (via Bloomberg and Reuters).

Speaking on RTL radio, Le Maire said that he has recently become aware of practices performed by Apple and Google, where the companies "unilaterally" impose their prices and tweak other contractural terms with app developers to their liking. After discovering this, Le Maire led the ministry's fraud office into an investigation and found that between 2015 and 2017 there were "significant imbalances" in the relationships between Apple/Google and developers who sold apps on their stores.
“I learned that when developers develop their applications, and sell to Google and Apple, their prices are imposed, Google and Apple take all their data, Google and Apple can unilaterally rewrite their contracts,” Le Maire said on RTL radio. “All that is unacceptable and it’s not the economy that we want. They can’t treat our startups and developers the way they do.”
Le Maire went on to state that despite their power, Apple and Google "should not be able to treat" French startups and developers "the way they currently do." The legal action will take place in the Paris commercial court.

Le Maire also mentioned that he expects the European Union to officially close the tax loopholes benefiting Apple and other tech companies -- Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc. -- by the start of 2019.

The loopholes are said to have allowed Apple to "minimize taxes and grab market share" at the expense of Europe-based companies. France's crackdown on these loopholes accelerated during a meeting of European Union officials last September, which now appears to be on track to end by early next year.

Tag: France

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Apple Denied Request to Ban Tax Protestors From Its Stores in France

The High Court of Paris on Friday denied Apple's request for an injunction that would have blocked activist group Attac from protesting at the company's retail stores across France, as it has been doing for the past several months.

The order states that the mere presence of protesters at Apple's stores in France, without violence, vandalism, or customers being blocked from entering the premises, is not enough to justify limiting the group's rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly protected by human rights laws in Europe.

The court added that Attac acted in accordance with the European Union's Statutes of the Association, and defined the protests as a matter of public interest. Apple has been ordered to pay 2,000 euros to cover Attac's legal fees, according to the order, which was earlier reported by French website MacGeneration.

Attac is a voluntary association that has been accusing Apple of corporate tax evasion in Europe, in line with the European Commission ordering Ireland to recover around 13 billion euros in back taxes from the iPhone maker last year. Apple and Ireland have denied the accusations and are appealing the decision.

Apple previously said it has "a long tradition of supporting individuals and groups that peacefully express their opinions," but it accused Attac's activists of "vandalizing shops and endangering the security of staff and customers," which it finds unacceptable, according to court documents obtained by The Guardian.

During a stunt at an Apple store in Aix-en-Provence last November, for example, activists painted "pay your taxes" on the glass windows. Attac also gathered in front of the High Court of Paris last week with Stormtrooper costumes and Star Wars-themed signs that equated Apple to the evil Galactic Empire.

Apple CEO Tim Cook equated to Darth Sidious via Sol Trumbo Vila‏

Attac has a different view. In a blog post published today, the association said it is "defending the public interest" with "non-violent citizen actions," and it has previously called its actions "festive and good-natured."

Apple has yet to comment on today's decision, and it's unclear if it will exercise other legal options in its fight against Attac.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Apple Goes to Court With French Tax Activist Group That Paints Company as The Empire From Star Wars

Last month, Apple sued French tax activist group "Attac" for occupying its flagship Parisian store during a protest of what Attac called "wide-scale tax evasion." Today, Apple has asked the court in Paris to ban the group from its French stores and prevent any further stunts from happening.

In response to the court filing, Attac today mobilized in front of the court in further protest, sporting a Star Wars theme that equates Apple to The Empire and Tim Cook to Emperor Palpatine (via The Guardian and MacGeneration).

Image via @attac_fr

The court will rule later in February on the case, and Apple is said to hope for a full ban to prevent any Attac members entering or being near its Apple retail locations. Apple said the group "vandalizes" its stores and potentially "endangers" staff and customers. One protest in November 2017 saw Attac write "Apple pay your taxes" on a window at Apple Aix-en-Provence. Following Apple's claims, the group said its protests are "good natured."
At the height of the Christmas shopping period last December, about 100 Attac volunteers arrived at Apple’s Paris store at Place de l’Opéra. Some danced the conga, others unfurled a huge banner saying “We’ll stop when Apple pays” and some brandished huge cardboard cheques in reference to the European commission ruling in August 2016 that the iPhone maker must reimburse the Irish state a record €13bn (£11.5bn) to make up for what it considered to be unpaid taxes over a number of years.
In the case filing, Apple said that it has "a long tradition of supporting individuals and groups that peacefully express their opinions," but the company believes the vandalism of its stores and potential danger to its customers are steps too far. In addition to the ban, Apple France has asked the court to fine the activist group 150,000 EUR, and 3,000 EUR in commercial damages "if they break the ban."

Images via @attac_fr and @Soltrumbo

An Attac spokesperson denied the vandalism reports from 2017 and said the group "simply went into Apple shops in a festive and good-natured way with music and theatre."
Attac’s lawyer Julien Pignon told France Info: “These demands are totally out of proportion with regard to the superior principle of freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate which is guaranteed by French law and the European convention on human rights.”
Attac's ire is focused on tax avoidance claims lodged at Apple over the past few years. In August 2016, the European Commission ruled that Apple must repay 13 billion euros ($15.46 billion) in back taxes dating between 2003 and 2014, which it reportedly avoided with the help of sweetheart tax deals from Ireland. Now, Apple will begin paying the back taxes owed to Ireland around March, expected to continue through September.

The French court is expected to announce its decision on the case on Friday, February 23.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: France

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HomePod Costs £319 in UK and $499 in Australia, Launches in France and Germany in Spring 2018

In addition to the HomePod launching February 9 in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, Apple has also revealed that its Siri-enabled speaker will launch in France and Germany at some point "this spring," suggesting a release date between March and June at the absolute latest in those countries.

France and Germany will be the first HomePod launch countries where English isn't the primary language spoken. Siri on the HomePod should be able to answer French and German queries as on the iPhone and other devices.

While we already knew the HomePod is priced at $349 in the United States, Apple today confirmed the speaker will cost £319 in the United Kingdom and $499 in Australia. Apple hasn't revealed pricing information in France or Germany yet, or provided release dates for other countries like Canada at this time.

Apple has primarily positioned the HomePod as a speaker that can stream Apple Music, but with built-in Siri, users can send messages, set timers, play podcasts, check the news and weather, control HomeKit-enabled smart home accessories, and complete other tasks without needing to take out their iPhone.

The high-fidelity speaker is equipped with spatial awareness and Apple-engineered audio technology, including a seven‑tweeter array and high-excursion woofer. The nearly seven inch tall speaker is powered by Apple's A8 chip.

HomePod is Apple's answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home. The speaker was originally set to be released in December, but Apple delayed the launch, and missed out on sales during the holiday shopping season in the process.

Related Roundup: HomePod

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Apple Now Selling Refurbished 2017 27-inch iMac Models in Europe

Apple quietly updated several of its European online stores for refurbished products over the last couple of days, and has added its latest 27-inch 5K iMac models to the discounted listings for the first time.

The iMacs were first released in June of 2017 and feature Kaby Lake processors, faster SSDs, and AMD discrete graphics. Online stores in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Spain have all been updated with the new stock, although the largest range of configurations currently appears in the United Kingdom.

In the U.K., for example, an entry-level model with 8GB RAM, a 1TB Fusion Drive, a 3.4GHz i5 processor, and a Radeon Pro 570 is priced at £1,489, which is a £260 discount off the standard price.

This is the first time the machines have been available in refurbished stores around Europe since their introduction at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference. Apple first began selling the refurb models in the U.S. and Canada back in August.

In addition, Apple has boosted its European stock of refurbished 21.5-inch 4K iMacs, also released in June of this year. Apple has added a range of configurations, from low-end to top-of-the-line. As with all refurbished products, stock will fluctuate regularly based on the machines Apple is getting in for repair.

All of Apple's refurbished products go through a rigorous refurbishment process before being offered for sale, which includes inspection, repairs, cleaning, and repackaging. Refurbished Macs come with a one-year warranty that can be extended with an AppleCare+ purchase. For more tips on purchasing a refurbished product, make sure to check out our guide.

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer's Guide: iMac (Neutral)

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iPhone X Won’t Be Available to Walk-In Customers at Apple Stores in Belgium or France on Launch Day

Apple recently confirmed that the iPhone X will be available for walk-in customers to purchase at its retail stores when the device launches Friday, November 3, but that will not be the case in two European countries.

Due to anti-terrorism restrictions, Apple will not be selling the iPhone X to customers without a pre-order or pickup reservation in Belgium or France. The news was first reported by the Dutch-language blog One More Thing, and MacRumors has since received confirmation from a reliable source who asked not to be identified.

As best as we're aware, Apple is simply complying with local laws and regulations discouraging large gatherings and queues in popular tourist areas, due to recent terrorist attacks in cities with Apple retail stores like Brussels and Paris.

Belgian and French customers can still pre-order the iPhone X on Apple's website for in-store pickup or delivery, although shipping estimates have slipped to 5-6 weeks in both countries. Also, in Belgium at least, Apple will begin accepting reservations for in-store pickup on November 4 at 6:00 a.m. local time.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Related Roundup: iPhone X
Buyer's Guide: iPhone X (Buy Now)

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Apple CEO Tim Cook and French President Macron Discussed Education and Taxes in Monday Meeting

Apple CEO Tim Cook today met with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Élysée Palace, and over the course of 45 minutes, the two discussed topics like education, the economy, and taxes in Europe, according to French news sites.

Apple would like to extend its "Everyone Can Code" educational initiative to France, and plans to discuss its expansion with the Ministry of National Education.

Introduced in 2016, Everyone Can Code is aimed at adding coding lessons into elementary schools and colleges. Hundreds of elementary schools have adopted Everyone Can Code material in the United States, and community colleges across the country have also begun offering App Development with Swift classes.

As rumored, Apple also plans to open an installation at Parisian startup incubator "Station F" in an effort to help French app developers create and launch iOS apps. Station F is the largest startup facility in the world and other companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Ubisoft, already run startup programs at the incubator.

The two also discussed the relationship between Apple and French suppliers and how it can be improved, with Apple planning to work with additional French suppliers for future products.

Taxes in Europe were the last topic of discussion. Cook and Macron discussed the need for tech companies to contribute to the economy in the countries in which they operate. Led by Macron, France and Germany have called for an aggressive overhaul of how tech companies pay taxes across the European Union with the aim of introducing a more unified corporate tax system across Europe.

Cook and Macron are said to have had a constructive discussion on taxes, with no deadlock in the dialogue, but both agreed that a solution will ultimately be enacted by the European Union rather than France.

Cook had a busy day in France. In addition to meeting with Macron, he also visited iPhone X component supplier Eldim, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, "My Little Paris" recommendation startup, and "CoachGuitar," a company that makes an app for teaching people how to play the guitar.

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Apple Reportedly Joining Parisian Startup Incubator ‘Station F’ to Assist App Developers

As Tim Cook meets with French president Emmanuel Macron in Paris today, a new rumor is looking to the week ahead and what could potentially be announced by the Apple CEO as he continues his trip around France. According to information gained by Mac4Ever, Apple is set to announce its appearance at Station F, described as one of the largest centers for entrepreneurs in Europe and the largest startup facility in the world.

Emmanuel Macron appeared at the grand opening of Station F in June (via @joinstationf)

Apple will allegedly deploy a small team to Station F that will help developers create, validate, and manage applications to be launched on the iOS App Store. Given Cook's arrival in Paris today, if Apple does end up supporting Station F in some way it makes sense that the announcement could come out of the CEO's travels this week. Other companies with startup programs at Station F include Facebook, Microsoft, Ubisoft, and more.
According to our information, Apple would open - it is a first - an official cell in one of the largest centers of welcome for entrepreneurs in Europe. We do not yet know all the details, but the Apple would plan to deploy a small team, to help developers, especially in the creation and validation of applications.
Earlier this year, Apple opened its own iOS App Accelerator facility in Bangalore, built to support engineering talent and boost the growth of India's iOS developer community. Apple has eagerly supported and promoted the App Store and its developer community over the years, since it and other Apple services -- Apple Music, Apple Pay, AppleCare, iTunes, and iCloud -- continue to grow and contribute to much of the company's revenue.

In terms of Cook's current trip, he has visited an iPhone X component supplier, the Normandy American Cemetery, and a few app-based startups. More details of his meeting with Macron -- expected to cover international tax laws -- should begin to surface throughout the day.

Tag: France

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Tim Cook Visits iPhone X Supplier, Normandy Cemetery, and ‘My Little Paris’ Startup on French Trip [Updated]

Apple CEO Tim Cook is in Paris today ahead of a meeting with the French president Emmanuel Macron at 4:15 CEST. Before that meeting happens, Cook has a full itinerary for his day and the CEO has been documenting parts of his travels on Twitter.

Cook's first Tweet noted his visitation to Eldim, a company based in Normandy that specializes in creating advanced optical metrology tools. Eldim is a component supplier of the upcoming iPhone X, providing Apple with critical components of the iPhone X's Face ID biometric security system.

Specifically, Eldim is said to be responsible for the eye detection abilities of Face ID -- a crucial factor in Apple's new software, which can detect when a user's eyes are open (unlocking the iPhone X) or closed (keeping the smartphone locked). Eldim CEO Thierry Leroux called the collaboration with Apple "an incredible adventure." Leroux further stated that, "for us it was a bit like sending someone to the moon." Tim Cook was said to have responded with a congratulations and telling the company and its 42 employees, "it's great what you did for us!" (via Mac Generation and Ouest-France).

While in Normandy, Cook visited the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, which honors the American lives that were lost in Europe during World War II.

Cook also made a surprise visit to a startup called "My Little Paris" where he shared a roast chicken with employees. My Little Paris specializes in recommending sites and attractions to see around the city. Originating as a weekly newsletter created by Fany Péchiodat and sent to her friends and family, the original idea has since evolved into a $42 million startup.

Next up should be Cook's meeting with Macron. The topics of discussion for this meeting are being kept secret, but the two men are largely expected to talk about the issue of corporate tax law in France. In August, France and Germany announced preparations to stop tech companies like Apple from exploiting tax loopholes in their respective countries, with Macron leading the crackdown on international tech companies in France.

Cook's visit to France in 2017 follows a troublesome period of months for Apple back in 2016, when the European Commission ruled that Apple received illegal state aid from Ireland and ordered the company to pay $14.5 billion in back taxes. Apple appealed the decision in December of 2016 by arguing the European Commission made "fundamental errors" in its ruling, but the Cupertino company has noted that it expects the case to continue for several years.

In the wake of these reports, Cook called the tax avoidance claims "total political crap," writing an open letter that stated Apple has become "the largest taxpayer in the world," and that the company "follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe."

Update: Cook also visited the offices of "CoachGuitar," an app that teaches users how to play the guitar.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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