MASTERCLASSING

The CMA investigates Apple over 'unfair' App Store terms

Tyrone Stewart


The UK’s competition watchdog has launched an investigation into whether Apple’s terms and conditions are ‘unfair’ for app developers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided to proceed with the investigation following complaints from developers about the App Store.

Complaints from developers focus on the terms they are forced to agree to that mean they can only distribute their apps to iPhones and iPads via the App Store, as well as the fact that some developers who offer in-app extras are required to use Apple’s payment system rather than an alternative. Apple charges these developers a commission of up to 30 per cent whenever a transaction is carried out.

As such, the CMA will investigate whether Apple has a dominant position when it comes to the distribution of apps in the UK and, if so, whether Apple uses this position to impose ‘unfair or anti-competitive’ terms on developers.

“Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway. So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny,” said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA.

“Our ongoing examination into digital markets has already uncovered some worrying trends. We know that businesses, as well as consumers, may suffer real harm if anti-competitive practices by big tech go unchecked. That’s why we’re pressing on with setting up the new Digital Markets Unit and launching new investigations wherever we have grounds to do so.”