Apple is once again facing antitrust scrutiny in the European Union. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has announced they are investigating whether Apple gives their own apps priority or preferential treatment over other apps in the App Store. The ACM indicated that Google’s Play Store will also be investigated but, for now, the focus is only on the Apple App Store. This is due to the larger number of complaints associated with the Apple platform.
Apps have increasingly become important parts of our daily lives. Businesses that provide apps depend on the app stores of Apple and Google for offering their apps to users. Given the significant importance of these app stores to app providers, ACM expects Apple and Google to exhibit fair and transparent behavior. ACM will investigate, among other aspects, whether Apple acted in violation of the prohibition of abuse of dominance, for example, by giving preferential treatment to its own apps. At first, the investigation will focus on Apple because, at the moment, the most detailed reports have been received about Apple’s App Store. ACM believes that these reports may indicate conduct that is at odds with competition law.The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets
The ACM is clear in their statement that Apple and Google are both innocent until evidence found suggests otherwise.
The ACM announcement indicates that unnamed developers have claimed that their apps are not given a fair chance to compete against Apple’s own apps. It also points out that Google’s built-in apps are the issue for developers on that platform, along with the requirements of using Apple and Google’s payment mechanisms for in-app purchases.
If this sounds familiar, it should. Spotify has recently filed a compliant with the European Commission with near identical verbiage.