EU opens antitrust cases against Apple over App Store and Apple Pay
The European Commission today launched two new antitrust cases against Apple, bolstering its fight against market dominance in the technology sector.
The first investigation will explore whether Apple’s practice of charging a 30 per cent commission fee on sales and subscriptions made via its App Store is anti-competitive, following complaints by Spotify and Rakuten.
Spotify’s complaint argued Apple was utilising the practice in favour of its own Apple Music service. Rakuten filed a similar complaint, alleging it’s unfair for Apple to market its own Apple Books platform while taking a 30 per cent cut from other ebook services.
“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,” said the EU’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The second probe will look at Apple’s terms and conditions on how Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites, and also the company’s refusal to allow rivals access to the payment system.
“It appears that Apple sets the conditions on how Apple Pay should be used in merchants’ apps and websites,” Vestager added.
“It also reserves the ‘tap and go’ functionality of iPhones to Apple Pay. It is important that Apple’s measures do not deny consumers the benefits of new payment technologies, including better choice, quality, innovation and competitive prices.”
Apple hit back strongly at the complaints, and criticised the EU for listening to the companies in launching their investigations.
“It’s disappointing the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride, and don’t want to play by the same rules as everyone else,” it said in a statement.
“We don’t think that’s right — we want to maintain a level playing field where anyone with determination and a great idea can succeed.”
An Apple-backed study released yesterday revealed its App Store created $519bn in estimated total billings and sales of both physical products and services and digital goods in 2019.
The European Commission has become known for its major antitrust cases against large technology companies, prompting other countries to follow suit.
Vestager’s unit has levied more than $9bn in fines against Google to date, and is currently planning investigations against the likes of Amazon alongside probing Apple.