European Union competition chief Margrethe Vestager is reportedly set to this week issue charges against Apple suggesting that its control of the App Store violates EU rules.
According to the Financial Times, the announcement will be made late this week. This is based on conversations with “several people with direct knowledge of the announcement.”
It follows two years after an initial complaint by Spotify about Apple’s 30% cut of subscriptions. Last June, the EU officially opened a problem into Apple. This related to its role as a gatekeeper in the “distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices.” The EU has previously opened a probe into Apple Pay.
Apple and the EU have battled it out on previous occasions. Most notably, the two have clashed over the amount of tax Apple pays in Europe. The European Union ordered Apple pay a $14.8 billion tax bill in August 2016. In July 2020, Apple won an appeal of this ruling. This came after the European Union’s General Court said Apple had not been given a “selective economic advantage” by virtue of its tax deal in Ireland. The EU is now, itself, appealing that ruling.
Critiquing the App Store
Criticism of Apple’s App Store position isn’t limited to Europe, however. It was also scrutinized during last summer’s Big Tech hearings in the United States. In February, it was reported that antitrust investigators in the Netherlands are coming to the end of a “years-long” investigation into this very issue. The Netherlands may become the first country to rule on it.
Notably, Apple’s control of the App Store — and payments outside of it — is also at the heart of Apple’s battle with Epic Games, makers of Fortnite. Epic started selling Fortnite in-app purchases on iOS, without going through the App Store. This deprived Apple of its financial cut.
Possibly as a way of warding off criticism, Apple last year dropped its commission from 30% down to 15% for the majority of developers. It remains to be seen what, if any, difference this will make to scrutiny of Apple.
What do you think of Apple’s control of the App Store? Is there a way to solve this to the mutual satisfaction of all parties involved? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Source: Financial Times