A case brought by France’s finance ministry against Apple will have its day in court September 17. The case involves allegedly abusive contractual terms imposed by Apple for developers selling software in the App Store.
It’s a similar scenario to the complaint made by Fortnite makers Epic Games, regarding the control Apple has over developers on iOS. The lawsuit follows a three-year probe carried out by the DGCCRF consumer fraud watchdog. It’s also just the latest of many complaints made about the App Store around the world.
France’s leading startup lobby France Digitale has joined the case, Reuters said. The publication notes that it is “unlikely to lead to a significant fine if Apple is found guilty, based on previous similar cases. But the court could compel the iPhone maker to change some of its App Store contractual terms.”
Challenges regarding the App Store
France is far from the only place investigating Apple’s control over the App Store. In the US, for example, a bipartisan bill called the Ending Platform Monopolies Act could force Apple to spin off the App Store as its own separate business. Another bill requests that Apple stop installing default apps on the iPhone to give other developers a chance. Meanwhile, in Europe there is an antitrust investigation ongoing into Apple’s control of the App Store.
At the start of 2020, Apple was fined 25 million euros ($27.4 million) in France. This was after it was found guilty of intentionally throttling the speed of older iPhones. The head of France’s antitrust watchdog, Isabelle de Silva, has reportedly “set her sights” on U.S. tech giants. For example, she has fined Google 150 million euros ($167 million) for opaque advertising rules.
This latest case doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a major one for Apple. Nonetheless, it represents another challenge chipping away at Apple’s control of the App Store. Over time, this quantity of complaints is going to build up some kind of critical mass.