In brief: In April 2021, the European Commission found Apple in violation of EU competition rules after investigating the company’s alleged gatekeeping of the App Store. This year, the case against it may grow with additional antitrust charges and sweeping regulations that will force significant changes in the way Apple operates in the region.
European regulators are preparing sweeping legislation that could force open Apple’s walled garden, among other things. The Cupertino giant has long maintained that iOS is safer than Android because of an insistence on only allowing users to install apps from the App Store, but the new rules will put that claim to the test.
The EU’s Digital Markets Act will also allow app makers to offer alternative payment methods for their services, despite Apple vehemently opposing the idea. Last month, the company made a slight concession and changed its developer guidelines to allow alternative payment systems to be used, but it still wants to receive its cut from the overall sales.
It turns out that Apple’s headaches are mounting, as it faces further antitrust charges in the European Union related to an earlier probe into how music streaming works and is promoted within the Apple ecosystem. The probe was launched after a complaint filed by Spotify in 2019, where the streaming giant accused Apple of purposely limiting choice and preventing innovation through preferential treatment given to its apps.
Now that the EU is bolstering its antitrust regulation, it is believed that it will make a stronger case against tech giants like Apple who can use their platforms to gain an advantage against up-and-coming competitors. Last year, the European Commission found Apple’s App Store in violation of existing competition rules, which could translate into a fine to the tune of $36.6 billion or 10 percent of its global revenue in 2021.
As for the Cupertino giant, it strongly denied Spotify’s accusations of anti-competitive behavior, explaining that it sees them as misleading rhetoric designed to help the latter company’s financial ambitions. Reuters writes that people familiar with the case expect the EU to issue more antitrust charges in a supplementary statement of objections sometime in the coming weeks.
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