Apple in Dutch antitrust spotlight for allegedly promoting own apps

Joanna Estrada
April 14, 2019

Dutch regulator ACM is investigating the possible abuse by Apple of its dominant position with its App Store, by favouring its own apps over others.

"Given the significant importance of these app stores to app providers, ACM expects Apple and Google to exhibit fair and transparent behavior".

The European Commission, which is looking into Swedish music streaming service Spotify's complaint that Apple abuses its position, said the Dutch investigation was in line with its own case.

There's no word on what specific business practices or App Store policies may have caught the ACM's attention.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM, chose to look into the matter after receiving complaints from iOS app makers. ACM believes that these reports may indicate conduct that is at odds with competition law. Also Dutch apps for news media, but is also calling on app providers to flag.

While the investigation will focus on Apple initially, the ACM has also called on app developers to come forward "if they experience similar problems with Google's Play Store". That gives Apple and Google an edge to treat developers however they see fit, which may not be always for the best. On the one hand, it is in the interest of Apple and Google to offer many and different apps in their app stores. That dual interest can lead to competition problems.

As subscription terms and conditions and the costs of a package are often unclear in iOS, many users have accidentally subscribed to services, only to realize when they look at their bank statement and notice a hefty chunk being taken as part of an App Store transaction. Both services are lucrative money spinners for Apple and Google. Also the distinction between those apps that do and do not have to pay the commission over in-app purchases. They often can not use all of the facilities of an iPhone.

The antitrust probe adds to a growing backlash against the tolls Apple and Google charge to developers using their app stores.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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