European officials added to growing scrutiny of Apple’s business practices, opening probes exploring whether its App Store and Apple Pay services breach competition rules.
In statements, the European Commission explained it was exploring whether Apple effectively shut out competitors by mandating the use of its own in-app purchasing set-up in the App Store, while also investigating the terms and conditions imposed on integrating Apple Pay.
The App Store probe is a follow up to “separate complaints” by Spotify, and a distributor of e- and audio-books: it will explore whether Apple restricted the ability of developers to let iPhone and iPad users know of “alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps”.
Concerns raised by a preliminary investigation lie behind the Apple Pay move, and will explore allegations Apple refused access to the service and limited access to NFC on iPhones.
Competition Commissioner and EC VP Margrethe Vestager said Apple had apparently established a “gatekeeper role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices”.
“We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers.”
Apple yesterday (15 June) released figures highlighting the economic contribution of the App Store, as it reportedly draws increased scrutiny from US authorities.
Citing fresh research by Analysis Group, Apple stated the ecosystem generated $519 billion in “billings and sales” globally in 2019, $413 billion of which covered physical products and services; $61 billion from digital; and $45 billion from in-app advertising sales.
Apple noted it only received commission from digital goods and services, meaning more than 85 per cent of the total went to third-party developers and businesses.