Dutch Antitrust Watchdog to Investigate Whether Apple Gives Itself Preferential Treatment in App Store [Updated]

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The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, or ACM for short, today announced that it will investigate whether Apple abuses its position in the App Store by, for example, giving preferential treatment to its own apps.


ACM says the investigation will initially focus on Apple because the majority of anticompetitive allegations it has received from other companies and developers have been about the App Store. More specifically, the investigation will revolve around Dutch apps for "news media" available in the App Store.

ACM board member Henk Don:
To a large degree, app providers depend on Apple and Google for offering apps to users. In the market study, ACM has received indications from app providers, which seem to indicate that Apple abuses its position in the App Store. That is why ACM sees sufficient reason for launching a follow-up investigation, on the basis of competition law.
However, the antitrust watchdog stresses that Apple is innocent unless proven guilty, and also encourages developers to come forward if they experience similar problems with Google's Play Store.

ACM launched the investigation upon completion of its market study that explores the influence of app stores. For numerous apps, the watchdog found that no realistic alternatives to the App Store and Play Store exist, potentially giving Apple and Google the opportunity to set unfair conditions.
On the one hand, Apple and Google have an interest in offering many different apps from app providers in their app stores. On the other hand, however, Apple and Google are app providers in their own right, too. So their apps compete with those of other market participants. These competing interests may pose antitrust problems.
ACM cites unnamed developers who say they do not always have a fair chance against Apple's and Google's preinstalled apps on mobile devices, must use Apple's and Google's in-app purchase mechanisms for digital goods and services, have difficulties communicating with Apple and Google, and more.

Many of these issues are at the core of Spotify's recent complaint with the European Commission over Apple's App Store practices. Last month, the streaming music company accused Apple of "acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers" that it competes with.

The investigation's initial focus on Dutch news apps is a rather narrow one, especially considering that Apple News is not yet available in the Netherlands. But, the premise seems to be that Apple News is a preinstalled app while other news providers must go through the App Store and pay Apple's "tax."

As the ACM notes, apps have become an increasingly important part of daily life, so it will be interesting to see how these investigations play out and how they impact the future of the App Store and Play Store.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Bloomberg, which first reported the news.

Update: In a statement issued to CNN, Apple said it is "confident" the probe "will confirm all developers have an equal opportunity to succeed in the App Store."

Article Link: Dutch Antitrust Watchdog to Investigate Whether Apple Gives Itself Preferential Treatment in App Store [Updated]
 
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BGPL

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May 4, 2016
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Doesn't seem like it to me. When I'm searching for an Apple developed application, I usually run into others from third parties along the way. Sometimes even when I type the app name verbatim, probably also because it is a popular keyword.
 

cmaier

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Define monopoly? There is more than marketshare.... The appstore is still a dominant platform (and only platform on ios). Consumers do not easily switch from the appstore to the playstore? Which is it competitor...kinda? And don't forget the vendor lock in which Apple does very well.
“Only platform on iOS” is as relevant as the fact that the only place you can get Big Macs is mcdonalds. It doesn’t matter.

A monopoly actually has a definition. Can you set prices irrespective of the demand curve. And as recent evidence shows us, apple certainly cannot.
 

Khedron

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Sep 27, 2013
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“Only platform on iOS” is as relevant as the fact that the only place you can get Big Macs is mcdonalds. It doesn’t matter.

A monopoly actually has a definition. Can you set prices irrespective of the demand curve. And as recent evidence shows us, apple certainly cannot.
Worst analogy ever. Does McDonalds also sell Whoppers with a 30% tax?

The definition of monopoly is completely irrelevant if Netherlands competition laws aren't based on that term. It's an American concept that you can freely engage in unethical anti-consumer behaviour so long as you only have 49% of the market.
 

jlc1978

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Aug 14, 2009
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“Only platform on iOS” is as relevant as the fact that the only place you can get Big Macs is mcdonalds. It doesn’t matter.

A monopoly actually has a definition. Can you set prices irrespective of the demand curve. And as recent evidence shows us, apple certainly cannot.
Exactly. People are upset because Apple built a system, lets them offer products, and then sets the terms. 30% cut may be steep, but then again you get to reach a large audience and access to an infrastructure you could not recreate if you tried; even if Apple allowed apps to load outside of their store.

It's like a company whining because a store puts its store brands front and center where customers can easily access them.

In Apple's case, when I go to the app store most suggestions are for non-Apple apps. Part of the problem, IMHO, is there are so many apps, many of which are crap, that it's hard to actually find useful ones. As a result, unless someone shows me an app or I read a good review I really don't bother with the app store. But that is not Apple's fault.

IMHO, this is just a move to protect local businesses disguised as a consumer protection move.

Developers can either develop for Apple, another platform, or do something totally different. It's their choice. Choose wisely.
 

jlc1978

macrumors 68020
Aug 14, 2009
2,440
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Worst analogy ever. Does McDonalds also sell Whoppers with a 30% tax?

The definition of monopoly is completely irrelevant if Netherlands competition laws aren't based on that term. It's an American concept that you can freely engage in unethical anti-consumer behaviour so long as you only have 49% of the market.
Actually, it's not; it's based on whether or not you have the ability to dictate prices in a market. Apple does not have the ability to dictate prices i n the app market; which is broader than just the Apple app store.
 

Bestevaer

macrumors member
Jan 25, 2018
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Exactly. People are upset because Apple built a system, lets them offer products, and then sets the terms. 30% cut may be steep, but then again you get to reach a large audience and access to an infrastructure you could not recreate if you tried; even if Apple allowed apps to load outside of their store.

It's like a company whining because a store puts its store brands front and center where customers can easily access them.

In Apple's case, when I go to the app store most suggestions are for non-Apple apps. Part of the problem, IMHO, is there are so many apps, many of which are crap, that it's hard to actually find useful ones. As a result, unless someone shows me an app or I read a good review I really don't bother with the app store. But that is not Apple's fault.

IMHO, this is just a move to protect local businesses disguised as a consumer protection move.

Developers can either develop for Apple, another platform, or do something totally different. It's their choice. Choose wisely.
Funny... At the start of the iphone Apple needed the companies to develop apps. Now that Apple knows what generates money they come with competing apps. But those apps of Apple don't have to pay an extra 30% for the first year and 15% for the years after.
 

whoisyourdaddy

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Oct 2, 2018
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But you could have chose android. No forces you to use Apple. If Apple owns the AppStore they should be able to do as they choose with it.
They could choose what they do with the OS and apps offered on it until they created a free marketplace which is bound by similar rules to other markets of products and services. This is what the App Store is considered now. Want complete control over your marketplace whereby you make all of the rules and choices made by those who use your market, then don't open it up to third-parties.
 
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strategicthinke

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Feb 6, 2014
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What sets Apple apart from other competitors in regards to anti-competition claims is that it produces its own hardware. Doing what Apple does in a hardware produced by another company is fundamentally different from Apple favouring its apps on its own software that runs in its own hardware. Or would anyone argue that Nintendo should allow other kinds of apps to be downloaded in the Nintendo Switch E-shop?
 

strategicthinke

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Feb 6, 2014
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They could choose what they do with the OS and apps offered on it until they created a free marketplace which is bound by similar rules to other markets of products and services, which is what the App Store is considered now. Want complete control over your marketplace whereby you make all of the rules and choices made by those who use your market, then don't open it up to third-parties.
It runs in their own hardware. I’m not saying Apple is right or wrong, but the marketplace is not “out there”, it is still an exclusive OTT of their tight and internally-produced ecosystem.
 

windywalks

macrumors 6502
Mar 12, 2004
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How many apps does Apple have on the Appstore? iWork, iMovie, GarageBand...
They're first party apps that make up a negligible percentage amongst all of the apps offered there. Preferential treatment towards apps that are already free with new devices - that is rich.
If I want an alternative I'll find it either way.
 

realtuner

macrumors 68000
Mar 8, 2019
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You're the first person to bring up that word. This is about competition laws.
Let’s rephrase to language commonly used in antitrust cases in the EU. “Market dominant position”. Or specifically in this complaint “abuse of dominance”. Do you think Apple has a dominant position in The Netherlands or anywhere in the EU?
 
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