A person holds a smartphone in front of the words “Available on the App Store” and the Apple logo.
Pavlo Gonchar | Images SOPA | LightRocket via Getty Images
LONDON – The UK’s competition regulator launched an antitrust investigation into Apple on Thursday.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it would investigate Apple for complaints from software developers about the tech giant’s App Store.
Apple only allows developers to release iPhone and iPad apps through its iOS smartphone platform. The company has a rigorous approval process for iOS apps and has faced criticism over a 30% fee it charges for in-app transactions.
“Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order takeout,” said Andrea Coscelli, CEO of CMA.
“Complaints that Apple is using its market position to establish terms that are unfair or that may restrict competition and choice, potentially losing out to customers when buying and using applications, deserve careful scrutiny.”
Britain’s competition inquiry into Apple follows similar moves by the European Union. Last year, the EU Commission launched antitrust investigations into Apple’s App Store rules and its Apple Pay mobile wallet. The CMA said it would continue to coordinate closely with the EU and other regulators, despite Britain formally leaving the bloc last year.
An Apple spokesperson said the company would work with the CMA to address its concerns.
“We believe in prosperous and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish,” the spokesperson said.
“The App Store has been an engine of success for application developers, in part due to the rigorous standards we have, applied fairly and equitably to all developers, to protect customers from malware and prevent rampant collection of data without your consent “.
Repression of big technology
Large American tech companies face increasing antitrust scrutiny from regulators around the world. The EU is seeking to clamp down on big tech with sweeping digital market and service reforms. The UK, meanwhile, has plans of its own to introduce new digital rules.
Epic Games, creator of the popular Fortnite video game, has been particularly critical of Apple. Epic claims that the iPhone maker’s App Store rules are anti-competitive and has struggled in particular with the 30% cut Apple takes away from developers for in-app purchases.