Apple is set to face a major antitrust probe concerning supposedly illegal practices with its App Store and mobile payment system Apple Pay.
The European Commission investigation will look into the iPhone maker's requirement of forcing app developers to sell to potential customers using its own in-app purchase system in the App Store.
It will also look into existing Apple rules which prevent developers from telling customers about how cheaper products can be found elsewhere.
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Executive vice-president of the European Commission, Margrethe Vestager explained that Apple has become a gatekeeper that can prevent apps and content from reaching its devices, saying:
“Mobile applications have fundamentally changed the way we access content. Apple sets the rules for the distribution of apps to users of iPhones and iPads. It appears that Apple obtained 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.”
The probe into Apple comes after Spotify made a complaint last year in which it said the company was unfairly restricting rivals to its own music streaming service, Apple Music.
The second case against Apple focuses on the terms and conditions regarding how Apple Pay should be used in the apps and websites of online merchants as well as its refusal to allow rival services to access its payment system.
Regulators have raised concerns about the fact that Apple Pay is the only mobile payment service that is allowed to use the “tap and go” functionality on Apple's iPhones. As contactless payments have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, other services should be able to use this functionality to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 as businesses around the world reopen.
In a statement though, Apple fired back at the European Commission and its investigation into the company, saying:
“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. 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.”
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Via Reuters (opens in new tab)