The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an antitrust inquiry into Apple after software developers issued a formal complaint that the tech giant is using its App Store to restrict competition and choice.
Apple currently only allows apps to be downloaded onto iPhones or iPads through its iOS smartphone platform, with software developers having to go through a strict approval process and bear fees of up to 30 percent on in-app transactions.
Chief executive of the CMA Andrea Coscelli announced on Thursday that the complaints about Apple “using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice” will be subjected to “careful scrutiny” to ensure that customers and companies do not “lose out”.
The CMA’s investigation will consider whether Apple has a dominant position in connection with the distribution of apps on Apple devices in the UK.
The agency said it would fully consider the matter before making a decision, and no decision has been made yet as to whether Apple is breaking – or has broken – the law.
Responding to the announcement about the CMA investigation, a spokesperson for Apple said the App Store is “an engine of success for app developers” which was created by a company that believes “in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish”.
“We look forward to working with the UK Competition and Markets Authority to explain how our guidelines for privacy, security and content have made the App Store a trusted marketplace,” they added.
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This is not the first antitrust investigation into Apple’s activities. The EU has an ongoing inquiry into the firm after complaints from music app Spotify over the tech company’s rules, which Spotify says “purposely limit choice and stifle innovation”. Spotify further accuses Apple of “acting as both a player and referee”.
Meanwhile in the US, an antitrust report last year increased scrutiny on big tech companies across America, with some lawmakers suggesting that Apple and Google – which runs app services for Android devices – should have to include third-party payment options in their online stores.
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