The European Union has Apple in its sights as one of the big tech companies on its regulatory “hit list,” The Financial Times reports.
The list singles out companies “subject to new and far more stringent rules aimed at curbing” their market power. Apple has been battling with the European Union for several years, including over an enormous $16 billion tax fine — the largest in history.
The FT report notes that:
“One particular [EU] focus is said to be on so-called ‘gatekeeper’ companies, which have the power to decide to keep competitors off their platforms or to impose conditions with make it harder for them to compete. Spotify, for example, claims that Apple does this because Apple Music users can subscribe from within the app at the end of a free trial. Spotify users, in contrast, cannot do so without Apple taking a cut – and the very slim margins in streaming music would be this completely unaffordable. If the App Store were a separate business, Apple Music would either have to pay the same 30% commission, or the app business would need to remove the commission for all streaming music apps.”
European Union vs. Apple
Alongside its tax battle with Cupertino, the European Union currently has three investigations into Apple. One of these concerns Apple Pay, while the other two focus on the App Store.
For the EU, the challenge of going after tech giants is how, exactly, to do so most effectively. For companies with such high valuations — in Apple’s case, more than $2 trillion — even record fines don’t mean all that much. As such, the EU reportedly wants to “go beyond” fines. This could mean finding other ways to force companies to change their behavior. In Apple’s case, it could conceivably mean forcing Apple to ditch the default apps that come preinstalled on devices.
Tech companies currently face scrutiny in the United States as well. Last week, a House antitrust report revealed the findings of an investigation into big tech. It laid out a number of potential solutions, of which one could be to try to break up the companies.