Apple’s App Store targeted by British antitrust investigation

Competitive fronts are multiplying for Apple. Thursday, it is the British antitrust which made public the opening of an investigation into the practices of the Californian giant in terms of distribution of mobile applications.

Asked by several developers about Apple’s contractual terms and conditions, and after producing its own report on digital markets last summer, the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) will now determine whether the company has a position dominant in the market for the distribution of mobile applications to Apple devices in the United Kingdom – which is not in doubt since alternative app stores are prohibited by the manufacturer of the iPhone.

Above all, the CMA will have to say whether Apple takes the opportunity to impose unfair or anti-competitive conditions on developers, which would result in more choice or higher prices for the consumer. The CMA will focus in particular on the obligation for developers to use Apple’s payment system for all transactions within its mobile ecosystem, and on which the group charges a commission of 15 to 30% – largely criticized by the developers.

Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play games, or order take out. So complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms that are unfair or restrict competition and choice – potentially to the detriment of consumers who buy or use apps – deserve careful analysis. ยป, Explains Andrea Coscelli, General Manager of the CMA. ” Our ongoing review of digital markets has already revealed some disturbing trends. We know that businesses, as well as consumers, can suffer real harm if anti-competitive practices by tech giants remain unchecked.

Four surveys in Brussels

Such a grumbling against Apple is not new. But it is going crescendo. Since last summer, no less than four investigations for possible anti-competitive behavior by Apple have been opened in Brussels. The services of Commissioner Margrethe Vestager are interested not only in Apple’s commission and its ability to offer its own competing apps – for streaming music, e-books or video games for example – but also its system. Apple Pay mobile payment system. Not to mention that the bloc’s antitrust is also engaged in an epic legal standoff with Apple over the 13 billion euros in back taxes that Brussels wants to force the group to pay.

In France too, the Competition Authority was seized – by representatives of the advertising world, worried about the upcoming implementation of tracking limits in mobile apps in iOS. The French gendarme must speak out shortly.

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