Spotify’s accusation to the European Union that Apple uses its control of the App Store to squeeze out competition reportedly will soon result in antitrust charges being filed against the iPhone-maker. This comes on the same day the UK begins an investigation of the App Store.
The two antitrust agencies could force Apple to lower the commissions it charges software developers. Or even require rival iPhone app stores.
The EC made the tax demand to Apple in 2016, accusing it of benefitting from illegal state aid from Ireland. However, Apple appealed the decision and, in a July hearing, had its objections upheld. Now the EC is asking another court to overturn that verdict.
Does the voice data harvested by voice assistants like Siri give tech giants an unfair marketplace advantage? Lawmakers in Europe are currently pondering that exact question.
A European Commission investigation into the matter will look at whether this data is being used to stifle competition and maintain the position of companies like Apple and Amazon in the marketplace. This most notably relates to the rapidly expanding constellation of smart, connected devices.
“We do not consider it normal that the largest corporates get away with paying one percent tax at most,” European Commission executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in the aftermath.
In response, the EU opened an official investigation into the App Store. On Tuesday, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the government will scrutinize Cupertino’s business practices. “We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books,” Vestager said. “I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple’s App Store rules and their compliance with EU competition rules.”
Tile, a startup that makes location-aware tracking tags, told the European Commission’s Competition department that Apple isn’t playing fair. It claims the iPhone maker has moved to “completely disadvantage” its smaller rival, even as Apple prepares to launch its own tracking tags.
The European Commission doesn’t want its staff using WhatsApp or iMessage for internal communications. Instead, they must start using end-to-end-encrypted messaging app Signal as part of a push toward greater security.
“Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging,” noted an instruction that reportedly appeared on internal EC messaging boards in early February.
In August, EU antitrust investigators sent a questionnaire to banks and developers of rival payment systems about Apple Pay. They’ve gotten an earful, according to Margrethe Vestager, the EU Competition Commissioner.