Apple charges app developers a 30% commission on all digital content bought via its in-app system.
EU officials are concerned that Apple’s practices may harm consumers by preventing them from benefiting from greater choice and lower prices. A preliminary investigation found that Apple’s competitors have passed on its fees in the form of higher prices to customers, or disabled the in-app purchase systems altogether.
“We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books,” Vestager said.
Rakuten, Japan’s biggest e-commerce company, filed a similar complaint against Apple in March this year, arguing that it is engaging in anti-competitive behavior when it takes the 30% cut on ebooks and audiobooks sold through the App Store while pushing its own ebook service.
The second antitrust investigation will look into the impact of Apple’s conduct on competition in mobile payments.
It also has concerns that Apple is limiting access to its “tap and go” functionality on iPhones for payments in stores, and may be refusing rivals access to Apple Pay.
In a statement responding to both investigations, Apple said it was “disappointing” to see the Commission advance “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.”
“At the end of the day, our goal is simple: for our customers to have access to the best app or service of their choice, in a safe and secure environment. We welcome the opportunity to show the European Commission all we’ve done to make that goal a reality,” the Apple spokesperson said.
— Brian Fung contributed to this report.