European Commission says Apple breaks competition rules and charges too much

Apple logo and 100 dollar bills

Apple's practices with its App Store and the policies relating to it means that the company is in breach of European Union laws. The European Commission says that Apple fails to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The iPhone-maker has been criticized following an investigation by the Commission, and the findings say that App Store rules "prevent app developers from freely steering consumers to alternatives channels for offers and content".

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Apple has been under investigation by the European Commission for a number of months, and the findings are also highly critical of the terms third-party app developers are expected to sign up in order to qualify to appear in the App Store.

The investigation found that Apple's method of working effectively stifle competition, and prevents customers from seeking out cheaper alternatives to apps that appear in its flagship store. The Commission stresses that the DMA requires Apple -- like other large companies -- to give developers freedom to promote their own payment platforms. They must be able to "free of charge inform their customers of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities, steer them to those offers and allow them to make purchases".

Apple policies actively prevent developers from being able to do things like openly advertising pricing information. In a statement, the Commission says:

If the commission’s preliminary views were to be ultimately confirmed, none of Apple’s three sets of business terms would comply with article 5(4) of the DMA, which requires gatekeepers to allow app developers to steer consumers to offers outside the gatekeepers’ app stores, free of charge. The commission would then adopt a non-compliance decision within 12 months from the opening of proceedings on 25 March 2024.

Apple is also criticized for charging developers App Store fees that "go beyond what is strictly necessary.”

The company is free to appeal the findings, and says that it "will continue to listen and engage with the European Commission".

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