Apple runs afoul of Japanese government again

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Apple Japan required carriers to subsidize iPhone
Apple Japan allegedly used strong-arm tactics to get Yahoo's Game Plus online service shut down.
Photo: Apple

For the second time this year, Apple is being investigated by the Japanese Fair Trade Commission. This time, it may have forced Yahoo to scale back a web-only gaming platform that competes with the App Store.

Apple Japan seems to play hardball. This summer, the FTC made it stop forcing Japanese carriers to put subsidies on iOS handsets.

Yahoo’s Game Plus service allowed users to play games online, with no app downloads required. It launched last summer, and 52 companies signed up to participate. It was doing so well, Yahoo even considered expanding to productivity software.

Apple Japan bullying Yahoo?

Then, last fall, Yahoo dramatically cut the budget for Game Plus and essentially stopped advertising the service. Yahoo informed its business partners that it was forced to do so by Apple, according to Nikki Asian Review.  

Yahoo apparently depends too heavily on revenue from the App Store to risk Apple’s ire. How much revenue is at stake isn’t known, but the  U.S. version of the iOS store lists 14 applications from Yahoo, including Tumblr, Flickr, and (of course) Yahoo Mail.

The Japanese Fair Trade Commission is investigating, considering this a possible violation of the country’s Anti-Monopoly Act. But Yahoo doesn’t seem to be cooperating with the investigation. It’s still afraid of losing the money it makes from the App Store by cooperating with the authorities.