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EU launches probe into Apple's App Store

June 24, 2024

The iPhone maker could face billions of euros in fines if found guilty of anti-competitive practices.

The logo of an Apple flagship store
Image: CFOTO/NurPhoto/IMAGO

The European Commission on Monday said it was launching an investigation into Apple's App Store for alleged anti-competitive practices.

The investigation relates to the European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is aimed at stopping powerful digital "gatekeepers" abusing their positions as intermediaries between businesses and customers.

What the commission said

A Commission statement said it was looking into the practice of charging alternative app stores and app developers a fee each time an iPhone user installs their software.

According to the Commission's preliminary findings, the iPhone maker had breached the DMA.

The statement said it would also examine the steps that Apple device users have to go through to use an alternative app provider.

Apple faces antitrust charges in US

Brussels said Apple's App Store rules appeared to "prevent app developers from freely steering consumers to alternative channels for offers and content."

It would additionally investigate Apple's eligibility criteria for developers to supply iPhone apps via the web rather than through its own app store.

What happens now?

The opinion that Apple appears to have transgressed is not final, and Apple now has a chance to issue a response that will be assessed by the Commission. Brussels must make a final decision on Apple's compliance by March 2025.

If the final decision says that Apple is indeed in violation of the DMA, then it could face fines worth up to 10% of its global revenue, equivalent to billions of euros.

Apple said that, over the past several months, it "has made a number of changes to comply with the DMA in response to feedback from developers and the European Commission."

"We are confident our plan complies with the law," the company said.

It is the first time the Commission has made a formal accusation against a tech firm under the DMA rules, after opening the first such probes into Apple, Google and Meta in March.

rc/ab (dpa, Reuters, AFP)