The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into Apple, following complaints that its terms and conditions for app developers are allegedly unfair and anti-competitive. Currently, app developers are not able to publish and distribute an app on an Apple mobile device without using the Apple App Store. Developers who offer "in-app" features, add-ons, or upgrades are required to use Apple's payment system, rather than an alternative system. Apple also charges a commission of up to 30% to developers on the value of these transactions or any time a consumer buys their app. "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," the CMA said.
Australia's competition watchdog wants to see Apple and Google provide for greater choice of default apps for consumers. "There is a need for consumers to have more choice through an ability to change any preinstalled default app on their device that is not a core phone feature," the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said. "This would provide consumers with more control to choose the app that best meets their needs, and promote more robust competition in downstream markets for apps." The remarks were made in its report into app marketplaces, which echoed much of what it has said before: That the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store dominate mobile app distribution. The report [PDF] follows a probe into the competition and consumer issues associated with the distribution of mobile apps to users of smartphones and other mobile devices.
Epic Games has launched legal proceedings in Australia against the local arm of Apple, continuing its fight with the iPhone maker over its app store practices. Epic said it was extending the battle down under to make digital platforms fairer for consumers and developers. The claim was filed at the Federal Court of Australia. It states Apple's conduct is unconscionable and breaches Australian Consumer Law as well as various sections of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. It alleges Apple's conduct in the Apple App Store is a misuse of market power and substantially lessens competition in app distribution and payment processes.
Apple has responded further to the Australian consumer watchdog's probe of app marketplaces, this time rejecting characterisation that the Apple App Store is the most dominant app marketplace and saying there are other options for iOS users, such as by going to a website. "Apple perceives and treats other distributors of apps, for platforms other than iOS, as significant competitors whose pricing and policies constrain Apple's ability to exercise power over developers," the iPhone maker said in a submission [PDF] to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) "Apple is not in a position to disregard the environment in which its app marketplace operates and does not accept the Commission's characterisation of the Apple App Store as'the most dominant app marketplace by a large margin'." The app store practices of Apple and Google are under the microscope by the ACCC as part of its digital platforms probe. The ACCC is concerned with the market power held by both tech giants in the app marketplace space. In its submission, Apple argues that the ACCC's position is based incorrectly on the assumption that there is a relevant market failure arising from Apple's purported market power.
Microsoft's latest move in its war on Apple's App Store rules is a list of 10 principles outlining what the Redmond company will and won't do to developers who publish apps for Windows 10 and distribute them on the Microsoft Store. Microsoft says it will not block competing app stores on Windows and will not block apps because of a developer's business model, such as whether an app's content is installed on a device or streamed from the cloud. Microsoft published the 10 principles a day after Congress released a damning report into anticompetitive practices at Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The EU opened its investigation into Apple's App Store rules this June. "Apple's monopoly power over software distribution to iOS devices has resulted in harms to competitors and competition, reducing quality and innovation among app developers, and increasing prices and reducing choices for consumers," the US House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee wrote. Setting out the new principles, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel Rima Alaily acknowledged the importance of app stores to software developers.