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EU to Launch Two Anti-Trust Investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay

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The European Commission has formally announced that it will be launching two anti-trust investigations into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay.

Announced on Tuesday, the European Commission’s investigation will primarily focus on looking into Apple’s set rules on in-app purchases on the App Store platform. Apple restricts develops of informing Apple users that cheaper alternatives are available on the App Store when Apple’s own in-app purchases are in play.

As reported by CNBC, the investigation follows as Spotify has made separate complaints regarding the competition rules in place. Apple charges a 30% commission to use the App Store and companies such as Spotify, who are in direct competition with Apple Music believe this to be unfair.

In a statement, Executive Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager said: Mobile applications have fundamentally changed the way we access content. Apple sets the rules for the distribution of apps to users of iPhones and iPads.” Vestager continued, “It appears that Apple obtained a ‘gatekeeper’ role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices. We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books. I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple’s ‌App Store‌ rules and their compliance with EU competition rules.”

The EU’s second investigation is in relation to Apple Pay. Apple has set conditions when in regards to Apple Pay’s incorporation into apps and websites that may restrict competition. Apple also has a tight grip over the NFC technology.

While on the topic of Apple Pay, Vestager said: “It appears that Apple sets the conditions on how Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites.”

“It also reserves the ‘tap and go’ functionality of iPhones to Apple Pay. It is important that Apple’s measures do not deny consumers the benefits of new payment technologies, including better choice, quality, innovation and competitive prices. I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple’s practices regarding Apple Pay and their impact on competition.” 
In response to the European Commission’s investigation, Apple released a statement saying:
“We developed the App Store with two goals in mind: that it be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs and developers. We’re deeply proud of the countless developers who’ve innovated and found success through our platform. And as we’ve grown together, we’ve continued to deliver innovative new services — like Apple Pay — that provide the very best customer experience while meeting industry-leading standards for privacy and security.”
“At the end of the day, our goal is simple: for our customers to have access to the best app or service of their choice, in a safe and secure environment. We welcome the opportunity to show the European Commission all we’ve done to make that goal a reality.”

An anti-trust investigation of this magnitude could last an upwards of years depending on the number of factors at play. The EU has also launched other anti-trust investigations into companies such as Google and Facebook.

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