Update- EU Formally Opens Cases
Following multiple requests to open investigations, the EU announced today it has formally opened two antitrust cases against Apple. The commission says that one will focus on ” whether Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules.”
The second antitrust case, in regards to Apple Pay will focus on limitations Apple includes in its system with NFC, as the press release reads:
The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Apple’s conduct in connection with Apple Pay violates EU competition rules. The investigation concerns Apple’s terms, conditions and other measures for integrating Apple Pay in merchant apps and websites on iPhones and iPads, Apple’s limitation of access to the Near Field Communication (NFC) functionality (“tap and go”) on iPhones for payments in stores, and alleged refusals of access to Apple Pay.
Apple in a statement to Reuters says that it’s frankly disappointing the EU will move forward with the cases and that they are based on “baseless complaints” from companies who want a “free ride” in Apple’s ecosystem.
“It’s disappointing the European Commission is advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride, and don’t want to play by the same rules as everyone else,” the iPhone maker said in a statement.
“We don’t think that’s right — we want to maintain a level playing field where anyone with determination and a great idea can succeed.”
The Financial Times reports that Rakuten, a Japanese media e-commerce company is asking the EU to investigate Apple for antitrust violations. The company claims that Apple collecting 30% commission from its app, Kobo, an e-reader apps digital sales is unfair. It also says that Apple promotes Apple Books, which is a competitor to the app.
According to people who’ve seen the letter sent to the EU, Rakuten says that in order to prevent Apple from collecting commission it’s been forced to redirect users to its website to purchase e-books instead of via the app which they say means “losing business.” This accusation follows a similar trend made by Spotify which says that limitations by Apple on default apps on iOS means users will likely choose Apple Music vs. 3rd party apps.
Only until recently has Spotify slightly backtracked saying Apple is getting easier to work with but that there is still work down the road. Apple allowed Spotify to gain Siri support last year, opening a big path for the possibility of allowing users to choose default apps. Apple is set to unveil iOS 14 at WWDC on June 22nd and if Apple is serious about default apps, we should hear about it then.