The US Justice Department is looking at Apple’s App Store as part of a larger antitrust probe.
The App Store’s policies have recently come under public scrutiny when Apple and Hey Email engaged in a very public debate about the App Store’s payment system requirements.
Now, it appears that the United States Justice Department has been talking to developers such as Hey Email for the last year about the same subject, Bloomberg reports.
Justice Deptartment lawyers are reportedly asking developers about rules calling for apps to use the App Store payment system for subscriptions rather than an alternative — a practice that enables Apple to take a 30 percent cut.
The Justice Department has met with both high-profile and small developers that sell apps, including the developers of the Hey email app.
“We’ve spoken with the DOJ regarding Apple and the App Store twice,” said David Heinemeier Hansson, the founder of Basecamp, the creator of Hey. “We shared our experience, relayed the experience of others, and put them in contact with a developer who didn’t want to go public with their story. I’m really glad that the DOJ is looking into this, because we need both legislative action, but also enforcement.”
Most of the department’s antitrust resources are focused on its probe into Google and its dominance of the digital advertising market, Bloomberg notes, and that case is further along and could be brought this summer.
However, a “person familiar with the case” said that the preliminary investigation into Apple’s App Store policies, though in early stages, is also quite serious.
It is still unclear if the Department of Justice will bring a case against Apple, but the investigation is ongoing.