Monday, March 21, 2022

Apple App Store critics lose another key player as head of Epic-Spotify-Tinder Coalition for App Fairness gets hired away by major brewery only three months after Spotify's top lawyer left for Disney

App distribution on iOS must open up--the question is just how, when, and where. In the Netherlands, Apple has just set the stage for another round of litigation with antitrust authority ACM by way of a new proposal it submitted this morning. In the U.S., its response to the Epic Games v. Apple Ninth Circuit appeal is due on Thursday. And while Apple is standing its ground, its adversaries are two strategic thinkers down compared to where they stood a few months ago.

In December it became known that Horacio Gutierrez, a former Microsoft IP chief whom I've known for well over a decade, was leaving Spotify to become Disney's top lawyer. Horacio was an incredibly effective and persistent advocate of the cause to open up app distribution on iOS. At Disney he's now going to have other priorities. Disney's relationship with Apple is hugely better than Spotify's.

And a few hours ago, Meghan DiMuzio--the first Executive Director of the Coalition for App Fairness (whose key members are Epic, Spotify, and Tinder operator Match Group)--confirmed on LinkedIn that she "couldn’t be more excited to join [brewery giant] Anheuser Busch to lead their corporate reputation efforts."

Formally, she worked at Forbes Tate, a major lobbying firm that effectively runs the CAF for Epic, Spotify, and Match Group. Her deputy Hannah Ricketts--also a senior director at Forbes Tate--recently explained the CAF's position on Apple's efforts to avoid giving app developers viable alternatives to its 30% tax (I disagree at least with respect to the situation in the Netherlands):

The career changes by Horacio Gutierrez and now also Meghan DiMuzio definitely weaken the Coalition for App Fairness, and it seems that the CAF's backers don't do enough to keep their key players on the team. But even Apple has a brain-drain problem as its long-time head of litigation Noreen Krall left a few months ago--just shortly after Apple's remarkable post-trial victory over Epic.

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