Wednesday, 20 Mar 2019

EU Reg Mulls Apple Antitrust Investigation

The European Union’s competition regulator might launch a probe of Apple over antitrust allegations.

The tech giant is accused of using its app store to gain an advantage for its own services over rivals. As a result, Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said her agency would investigate to find out if there are any parallels with Google, which was fined 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in 2017 for cooking its search results to benefit its own shopping services, at the disadvantage of the services of others.

“We have to examine the role of Apple and Apple’s app store,” she was quoted as saying, according to Reuters. “If we conclude that they have a market-dominating position, then the case would be comparable to our proceedings against Google.”

The news comes just a few days after music streaming service Spotify filed an antitrust complaint in Europe against Apple, accusing the tech giant of abusing its control of the Apple App Store so that it restricts competition from other music streaming services.

The Spotify allegations state that Apple has made it “difficult” for competitors to reach App Store users without using the tech giant’s own payment option, which, it has been widely reported, takes a significant percentage of transactions, at about 30 percent.

Spotify eventually walked away from the in-app payment setup, which meant users had to upgrade via other means, such as laptops. Spotify also said apps could not link to pages with promotional information, a feature tied to Apple phones but not to Android.

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s general counsel, said “apps should compete on merits, not who owns the app store,” adding “Once Apple became not only a platform provider, but also a direct competitor, their incentive to disadvantage rival services, like Spotify, became even greater, and their restrictions started to become more frequent and extreme.”

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