Apple Faces U.K. Antitrust Probe Over App Store Rules -- 2nd Update
By Sam Schechner
The U.K. is investigating Apple Inc.'s treatment of app
developers that offer their wares on the company's App Store,
adding a new front to antitrust complaints against the iPhone
The Competition and Markets Authority, the U.K.'s antitrust
regulator, said Thursday that it has opened an investigation into
whether Apple imposes unfair or anticompetitive conditions on app
developers, including requirements that some types of apps use
Apple's in-app payment system, from which Apple can take
commissions of up to 30%.
The authority said it opened the investigation following
complaints from developers about some of Apple's terms, such as the
requirement that all apps on iPhones and iPads must be distributed
through Apple's store. The authority said it would conduct its
initial investigation through September, and no decision has been
made about whether the company broke any laws.
Andrea Coscelli, the regulator's chief executive, said special
scrutiny is warranted for "complaints that Apple is using its
market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict
competition and choice -- potentially causing customers to lose out
when buying and using apps."
Apple said Thursday that it will work with the CMA, and defended
the requirements it places on app developers when submitting apps,
saying they are "applied fairly and equally to all developers" and
are necessary "to protect customers from malware and to prevent
rampant data collection without their consent."
The U.K.'s new investigation covers similar ground to a set of
probes that the European Union opened into Apple's App Store
policies last June, while the U.K. was still transitioning out of
the bloc. The EU case could involve some of Apple's conduct in the
U.K. through the end of 2020, and the CMA on Thursday said that it
is coordinating its investigation with the European Commission, the
EU's top competition enforcer, as well as with other antitrust
agencies around the world.
Apple has said the complaints in the EU cases are baseless.
At the core of the antitrust concerns is how much control and
share of revenue technology giants should have in relation to
popular apps. The EU cases into Apple stem from multiple complaints
filed by app developers, including Spotify Technology SA, over its
treatment of app developers, alleging that the company has tried to
"Fortnite" game developer Epic Games Inc. has made similar
claims, filing lawsuits against Apple in the U.S., U.K. and
Australia, and submitting an antitrust complaint against Apple last
month at the European Commission.
Arizona's House of Representatives narrowly approved a bill
Wednesday that would restrict operators of large software
application marketplaces from requiring developers to exclusively
use their payment processing systems for in-app purchases. The
measure, which would also empower the state attorney general to
investigate complaints for alleged violations of the law, still has
to be approved by the state senate before it heads to Republican
Gov. Doug Ducey's desk.
Though Apple and Google have panned the legislation, it has
received support from independent developers as well as the , a
nonprofit alliance of developers formed last year to push for
changes to app-marketplace rules.
--Coalition for App Fairness
The CMA on Thursday declined to name the companies that had
complained to it in the U.K.
Write to Sam Schechner at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
March 04, 2021 11:16 ET (16:16 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.