The European Commission accused Apple on Friday of wielding an unfair advantage over Apple Music rivals because of Cupertino’s tight control of the App Store’s commission system.
“By setting strict rules on the App Store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” said Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App Store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options.”
This is the latest development in a long-running criticism of Apple, as voiced by the likes of Spotify. It follows two years after an initial complaint by Spotify about Apple’s 30% cut of subscriptions. Last June, the EU officially opened a probe into Apple over the matter. The EU previously also investigated Apple regarding Apple Pay.
Our preliminary conclusion: @Apple is in breach of EU competition law. @AppleMusic compete with other music streaming services. But @Apple charges high commission fees on rivals in the App store & forbids them to inform of alternative subscription options. Consumers losing out.
— Margrethe Vestager (@vestager) April 30, 2021
The European Commission has yet to announce any fines or punishments against Apple. The regulatory part of this investigation will follow next. As noted by Vestager Friday, today’s conclusion is only “preliminary.”
Statement from the Coalition for the App Fairness
“We welcome the European Commission’s Statement of Objections as an important step in curbing Apple’s harmful behavior,” the Coalition for the App Fairness, a nonprofit that includes Spotify and Fortnite maker Epic Games as members, said in a statement. “These anticompetitive practices hurt European consumers, app developers, and entrepreneurs and underscore the need for App Store Principles. Sound guardrails will prevent monopolistic gatekeepers from controlling consumer access, self-preferencing, and charging exorbitant fees.”
Authorities around the world continue to scrutinize Apple’s control of the App Store. In the Netherlands, antitrust investigators are currently concluding a “years-long” investigation into the matter. The Netherlands may become the first country to rule on it. This week, it was also brought up by regulators in Australia.
Do you think Apple’s ownership of the App Store gives it an unfair advantage over rivals? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Source: European Commission