The European Commission is starting two new investigations into Apple’s practices

The European Commission is starting two new investigations into Apple’s practices
The European Commission loves poking around the business of even the largest companies (it’s kind of its job) and doesn’t hesitate to dish out fines in the 10-figure range. And one thing it particularly hates is monopolies. Google has been on the bitter end of the EC’s stick for its dominance over the online advertising industry, but now Apple is in the cross hairs of the regulator.

The Commission just announced that it’s opening two new “...formal investigations to assess whether Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules.” More specifically, the investigations will focus on the requirement that apps use Apple’s in-app purchases system exclusively and what developers can do if they don't want to use it.

In most cases, that’s perfectly fine in the EC’s book. However, when third-party apps compete with Apple’s own apps, the 30% cut that Apple receives from all transactions might be giving it an unfair advantage.

In short, the first investigation is about whether Apple is competing fairly with other developers on its App Store. The second is about the “...restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps.”

You probably already know how all this started. Spotify filed a complaint against Apple. The music-streaming giant has been vocal about the issue for years and removed the option to subscribe for its services through its iOS app to avoid paying Apple’s 30% cut. An unnamed e-book and audiobook distributor has also filed a similar complaint, prompting the European Commission to look into the matter.

Although not officially involved, Netflix made the same move as Spotify, removing the in-app subscription option, and will likely benefit if the Commission forces Apple to make changes in the way it operates its App Store.

It will probably be a while before we get the results from these investigations and even then, all might be settled with a massive check once again.


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