San Francisco/Los Angeles — A backlash against Apple and Google app stores is gaining steam, with a growing number of companies saying the tech giants are collecting too high a tax for connecting consumers to developers’ wares. Netflix and video game makers Epic Games and Valve are among companies that have recently tried to usurp the app stores or complained about the cost of the tolls Apple and Google charge. Grumbling about app store economics isn’t new. But the number of complaints, combined with new ways of reaching users, regulatory scrutiny and competitive pressure are threatening to undermine what have become digital gold mines for Apple and Google. "It feels like something bubbling up here," said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Macquarie. "The dollars are just getting so big. They just don’t want to be paying Apple and Google billions." Apple and Google launched their app stores in 2008, and they soon grew into powerful marketplaces that matched the creations of millions of in...

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