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Telegram files antitrust complaint against Apple’s App Store in the EU

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The big picture: Hot on the heels of an antitrust hearing where the CEOs of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google were questioned about their companies’ business practices, Telegram has filed an antitrust complaint in the EU, hoping to convince regulators that Apple is wielding the App Store as a monopolistic weapon against third-party iOS app developers.

Just as Apple CEO got grilled by the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, the creators of encrypted messaging app Telegram filed an antitrust complaint in the EU where they condemn Apple’s tight control of the apps and services distributed through the App Store.

In the filing, Telegram argues that Apple must “allow users to download software outside the App Store.” Earlier this week, Telegram founder Pavel Durov wrote a blog post where he highlighted what he believes are the top seven myths the Cupertino giant is using to justify the 30 percent cut it takes from app developers’ revenues.

For instance, Durov takes issue with Apple’s explanation that a 30 percent commission allows the company to maintain the App Store. The Telegram founder explained it would only take tens of millions of dollars to run the App Store, while Apple profits billions from third-party apps. For reference, the App Store generated revenues of $519 billion in 2019, with the Cupertino giant collecting anywhere between 14 and 15 percent of that amount.

Durov notes that users can’t choose to install apps from a different source in the way they can on Android, and Apple forces developers to go through the App Store if they want to reach over a billion users on iOS. Building out a competitor for iOS with a different app store isn’t a real option, as demonstrated by Microsoft’s efforts with Windows Phone that proved the mobile OS market would only fit two players.

Telegram’s complaint follows those of other app makers such as Spotify, Epic Games, and Rakuten (the owner of ebook retailer Kobo), which are similarly distraught with the App Store tax and the lack of alternative ways of reaching iOS users. Last month, the European Commission opened an antitrust investigation into Apple’s “gatekeeper” role in Apple Pay and the distribution of iOS apps, which will haunt the company for years to come.

Image credit: nat.kanok



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