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UK regulator to investigate Apple’s App Store ToC over alleged anticompetitive behavior


In context: In the US Apple is currently embroiled in a high-profile case with Epic Games, but is also facing heat from the US Department of Justice, several state attorneys general, the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, and several smaller lawsuits from developers. Now its name is beginning to pop up with UK and EU regulators over the exact same issues.

Regulators in the UK launched an antitrust probe against Apple on Thursday. Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it is investigating allegations from several developers claiming the App Store’s policies are “unfair.” The CMA is looking into whether Apple’s terms and conditions break any competition laws.

The complaints the CMA received are par for the course as conflicts between Apple and developers are concerned. Regulators said in a statement that they are concerned with Apple requiring app distribution through its App Store then further forcing developers to use its payment system for in-app purchases at the cost of a 30-percent commission.

“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 – and, if so, whether Apple imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers using the App Store, ultimately resulting in users having less choice or paying higher prices for apps and add-ons.”

These complaints are exactly the same ones that Epic Games raised during its very public feud with the Cupertino powerhouse. That ugly battle has been dragging out in US courts since last summer with the two companies constantly at each other’s throats.

While the CMA stated that it has only just begun its investigation and has not come to any conclusion, Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA was not afraid to share her feelings on the situation.

“Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway,” Coscelli said. ” So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny.”

The CMA’s probe comes right on the heels of another UK regulator shutting down calls by Epic Games to investigate Apple. Last month UK Competition Appeal Tribunal refused to consider virtually identical claims stating that it had no interest in looking into the matter until Epic settled its beef with Apple in the US.

Image credit: BigTunaOnline



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