UK launching investigation of Apple App Store after anti-competition complaints

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 4
The UK's anti-competition authority is opening up an investigation of continued allegations that Apple uses its App Store to restrict competition, and set "unfair terms" for developers.




Adding to the increasing number of international anti-trust investigations against Apple, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) says it is to examine the App Store. The CMA says it follows an unspecified number of complaints sent to it.

"Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Dr. Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, said in an official government statement.

"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," he continued.

In response, Apple told BBC News that it plans to cooperate with the CMA over the investigation.

"We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," a spokesperson said. "The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place - applied fairly and equally to all developers - to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent."

"We look forward to working with the UK Competition and Markets Authority to explain how our guidelines for privacy, security and content have made the App Store a trusted marketplace for both consumers and developers," concluded the Apple spokesperson.

The CMA says that the investigation is only just beginning, "and no decision has yet been made on whether Apple is breaking the law." It also says that it intends to cooperate with the European Commission, which it notes opened four antitrust probes into Apple, before the UK's Brexit transition period ended.

International investigations into App Store all center on the issues of how much Apple charges developers, and how it requires them to use its own in-app payment systems. The most high-profile dispute regarding both of these issues is the ongoing battle between Apple and "Fortnite" developer Epic Games.

Separately, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority is considering a complaint filed by the Which? consumer watchdog. That organization is requesting an investigation into Qualcomm's allegedly anti-competitive pricing, that Which? believes resulted in inflated iPhone prices.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 75
    PezaPeza Posts: 192member
    This is very good. Apple seems to have gained the attention of a lot of official legal bodies around the globe wishing to investigate them on competitive behaviour recently. Which they are obliged to do so if official complaints are made and seem genuine.
    This one is after a preliminary investigation which has led to the belief Apple has possibly breached the U.K. law on competition practice. The law is their to protect all including big businesses, and its customers. 
    So this will prove if foul play indeed took place or not. Hence the reason they wish to investigate deeper. 
    If Apple are innocent they will be found so. If they broke the rules they will be dealt with accordingly.
    edited March 4 williamlondonelijahgmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 2 of 75
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,830member
    Poor choice of words IMO:

    "We believe in thriving and competitive markets"

    Especially when part of the investigation revolves around the competition aspect. 

    Nothing in Apple's response tackled the root issue. It can't, because Apple doesn't allow for competition at a store level.

    Given the circumstances I think they would be better off not saying anything publicly. 

    elijahgPezamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 3 of 75
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,315member
    Peza said:

    If Apple are innocent they will be found so. If they broke the rules they will be dealt with accordingly.
    Do you have any idea how many lawfully convicted but innocent individuals are languishing in prison because of corrupt law enforcement, corrupt prosecutors, corrupt witnesses, incompetent defense lawyers? Hmmm?

    To say that Apple will be judged fairly and clearly based on evidence is about as naive as it gets. There are political agendas at play in all of these cases.

    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    rob53aderutterrobaban2itivguyradarthekatMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 75
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,229member
    There is very little chance that Apple will win all of these investigations and be able to continue as usual. Chances are some investigations will result in changes having to be made, so there will be different rules in different localities. That will be a bit of a headache for all involved, especially developers. Unless Apple applies the lowest common denominator to all App stores, but I imagine that very unlikely under Cook.

    Apple is and always has been a hardware company, the software (App Store, iOS etc) was supposed to be to push device sales, but Cook has realised it can be used to milk more money from iOS, and is apparently happy risking Apple's reputation to bump the bottom line slightly higher.

    It would be so easy for Apple to allow notarised sideloading and all this would go away, with a popup explaining to the user that security can be breached much more easily without going through the App Store. The notarised apps could be disabled if they are malicious, but without having to comply with onerous App Store rules. It's already done with enterprise certificates as it is, but "official" sideloading would make the user aware of the risks. Apple doesn't guarantee every app on the App Store isn't fraudulent anyway, so users should be careful as it is.

    Of course people here and elsewhere will claim that sideloading will infest iOS with malware, but macOS has been "open" for years, and it is not infested with malware. The inability to sideload on iOS is purely about profit and control.
    edited March 4 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 75
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,229member
    lkrupp said:

    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    As debated ad nauseam, that is not remotely the same thing. There is not a limited amount of space on the App Store.
    Peza
  • Reply 6 of 75
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,563member
    elijahg said:
    lkrupp said:

    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    As debated ad nauseam, that is not remotely the same thing. There is not a limited amount of space on the App Store.
    Wrong. It's a perfect example whether you like it or not. All these lawsuits about the way Apple operates ITS business are just a power and money grab. There are plenty of examples of businesses that restrict access and nobody is complaining. Perfect example is Costco. Costco is a membership store and is very restrictive on what they put on the shelves and how they're paid for. Visa and cash are the only accepted methods of payment and all credit purchases go through the Visa payment system, just like the Apple store. Where were all these countries when Microsoft was running a monopoly? Yes, they finally had their hand slapped but it really hasn't stopped them from anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior. Apple is not a monopoly, they are a business selling hardware products that use Apple software. Apps are still Apple software because they use Apple programming software to create them. Developers are simply non-Apple programmers. 
    aderutterradarthekatlkruppigorskyroundaboutnowMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 75
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,830member
    lkrupp said:
    Peza said:

    If Apple are innocent they will be found so. If they broke the rules they will be dealt with accordingly.
    Do you have any idea how many lawfully convicted but innocent individuals are languishing in prison because of corrupt law enforcement, corrupt prosecutors, corrupt witnesses, incompetent defense lawyers? Hmmm?

    To say that Apple will be judged fairly and clearly based on evidence is about as naive as it gets. There are political agendas at play in all of these cases.

    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    This is irrevelant. There is competition in grocery stores. Consumers are free to walk out of one store and into another to try and find the products they seek.  They are also free to do so without incurring costs.

    Compare that to what these investigations are looking into. First, you had to pay a hefty sum to even get on the platform. You could argue that you are getting more than an App Store but that is irrelevant too. Then, when you go looking for apps, there is only one store and the owner of that store demands a specific cut of the developer's and your business. This would be a non-issue if other stores existed, but they don't, so competition is non-existent and that is a problem.

    How big of problem will be known through the conclusions of the investigations but right now, what you are stating has no relevance to what is being investigated. It's not really about how much (or little, depending on your viewpoint) Apple charges for a slot on the shelf. It's about all the shelves belonging to the same store. 
    edited March 4 elijahgPezamuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 75
    aderutteraderutter Posts: 461member
    Consumers are free to walk out of the Apple store and go buy an Android mobile and use the android Play store instead.


    robabalkruppMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 75
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,830member
    aderutter said:
    Consumers are free to walk out of the Apple store and go buy an Android mobile and use the android Play store instead.


    At what cost? 

    The initial cost of purchasing the iPhone plus the cost of an Android equivalent?

    Not that that is relevant IMO. 
  • Reply 10 of 75
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 730member
    Man, I hope the AppStore survives.

    Apple as a company, is a programmer/developer haven, without them we (solo/private devs) would be doomed to a life of having to work for Corporations, instead of being individual developers with our own lives...
    robabaMacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 75
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,229member
    rob53 said:
    elijahg said:
    lkrupp said:

    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    As debated ad nauseam, that is not remotely the same thing. There is not a limited amount of space on the App Store.
    Wrong. It's a perfect example whether you like it or not. All these lawsuits about the way Apple operates ITS business are just a power and money grab. There are plenty of examples of businesses that restrict access and nobody is complaining. Perfect example is Costco. Costco is a membership store and is very restrictive on what they put on the shelves and how they're paid for. Visa and cash are the only accepted methods of payment and all credit purchases go through the Visa payment system, just like the Apple store. Where were all these countries when Microsoft was running a monopoly? Yes, they finally had their hand slapped but it really hasn't stopped them from anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior. Apple is not a monopoly, they are a business selling hardware products that use Apple software. Apps are still Apple software because they use Apple programming software to create them. Developers are simply non-Apple programmers. 
    Wrong. No business is free from regulation. Back to the same thing again, you're comparing apples and oranges. As I said, there is a limited amount of space in Costco, not so for the App Store. As I said above the quoted post, if people don't like the terms at Costco, they can go elsewhere without monetary loss. People don't have to re-buy every Costco purchase they have made when they switch to Walmart. Whereas it not possible for Apple customers to just switch to Android without re-purchasing everything they have bought on iOS over the years, plus HomePod etc that only works with iOS. That's what makes the App Store appear monopolistic, because there is no alternative to what App Store rules Apple implements to best boost their bottom line without customers suffering financial penalty. It's not possible for devs to switch without rewriting their apps. So as I said, your comparison to Costco is just not even remotely correct.
    Peza
  • Reply 12 of 75
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,229member

    avon b7 said:
    aderutter said:
    Consumers are free to walk out of the Apple store and go buy an Android mobile and use the android Play store instead.


    At what cost? 

    The initial cost of purchasing the iPhone plus the cost of an Android equivalent?

    Not that that is relevant IMO. 
    Plus the cost of all the apps and services they have paid for on iOS already, along with accessories etc.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 75
    avon b7 said: Compare that to what these investigations are looking into. First, you had to pay a hefty sum to even get on the platform. You could argue that you are getting more than an App Store but that is irrelevant too. Then, when you go looking for apps, there is only one store and the owner of that store demands a specific cut of the developer's and your business. This would be a non-issue if other stores existed, but they don't, so competition is non-existent and that is a problem.
    The obvious flip-side: desktop/laptop systems provide the "more than one store" option but have never provided better overall prices for software than mobile. In fact, there is no other system (PC, consoles, handhelds) that has ever produced lower overall pricing for apps than mobile. That's a fact based on mountains of pricing evidence from 40+ years of PCs and gaming systems. 

    People are trying to claim mobile software is an abusive or monopolistic system without any evidence to back it up. 
    edited March 4
  • Reply 14 of 75
    robabarobaba Posts: 129member
    elijahg said:
    There is very little chance that Apple will win all of these investigations and be able to continue as usual. Chances are some investigations will result in changes having to be made, so there will be different rules in different localities. That will be a bit of a headache for all involved, especially developers. Unless Apple applies the lowest common denominator to all App stores, but I imagine that very unlikely under Cook.

    Apple is and always has been a hardware company, the software (App Store, iOS etc) was supposed to be to push device sales, but Cook has realised it can be used to milk more money from iOS, and is apparently happy risking Apple's reputation to bump the bottom line slightly higher.

    It would be so easy for Apple to allow notarised sideloading and all this would go away, with a popup explaining to the user that security can be breached much more easily without going through the App Store. The notarised apps could be disabled if they are malicious, but without having to comply with onerous App Store rules. It's already done with enterprise certificates as it is, but "official" sideloading would make the user aware of the risks. Apple doesn't guarantee every app on the App Store isn't fraudulent anyway, so users should be careful as it is.

    Of course people here and elsewhere will claim that sideloading will infest iOS with malware, but macOS has been "open" for years, and it is not infested with malware. The inability to sideload on iOS is purely about profit and control.
    No it’s about lowest common denominator.  This forcing Apple to allow side loading will by its very nature, take controls AWAY FROM the user and INTO the hands of the app developers, some of whom will choose ONLY to work through side load.  If a user wants that software package they MUST then risk the security of their system.  This is inNO WAY consumer friendly, and to argue otherwise is to ignore all evidence from the Android side of the market.
    igorskyMacPro
  • Reply 15 of 75
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,830member
    avon b7 said: Compare that to what these investigations are looking into. First, you had to pay a hefty sum to even get on the platform. You could argue that you are getting more than an App Store but that is irrelevant too. Then, when you go looking for apps, there is only one store and the owner of that store demands a specific cut of the developer's and your business. This would be a non-issue if other stores existed, but they don't, so competition is non-existent and that is a problem.
    The obvious flip-side: desktop/laptop systems provide the "more than one store" option but have never provided better overall prices for software than mobile. In fact, there is no other system (PC, consoles, handhelds) that has ever produced lower overall pricing for apps than mobile. That's a fact based on mountains of pricing evidence from 40+ years of PCs and gaming systems. 

    People are trying to claim mobile software is an abusive or monopolistic system without any evidence to back it up. 
    Pricing and profitability are not relevant to the investigations at the root level. They are at best, secondary, and clearly unit scale  is a factor which is directly involved final pricing. It is also true that desktop, laptop systems offer more in terms of functionality. Every mobile app I have ever used which has a desktop/laptop family member has been a poor, feature lacking cousin to it PC sibling. 


  • Reply 16 of 75
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,411member
    elijahg said:
    It would be so easy for Apple to allow notarised sideloading and all this would go away, with a popup explaining to the user that security can be breached much more easily without going through the App Store. The notarised apps could be disabled if they are malicious, but without having to comply with onerous App Store rules. 
    Notarized by whom? Apple or the third party app store company? And disabled by whom, Apple or the third party app store company?
  • Reply 17 of 75
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,411member

    avon b7 said:
    lkrupp said:
    Peza said:

    If Apple are innocent they will be found so. If they broke the rules they will be dealt with accordingly.
    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    There is competition in grocery stores. Consumers are free to walk out of one store and into another to try and find the products they seek.  
    And people can buy Android if they don't like iOS.
    igorskyroundaboutnow
  • Reply 18 of 75
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,279member
    elijahg said:
    It would be so easy for Apple to allow notarised sideloading and all this would go away, with a popup explaining to the user that security can be breached much more easily without going through the App Store. The notarised apps could be disabled if they are malicious, but without having to comply with onerous App Store rules. 
    Notarized by whom? Apple or the third party app store company? And disabled by whom, Apple or the third party app store company?
    Apple, obviously.  That's what notarization is.

    Notarizing macOS Software Before Distribution | Apple Developer Documentation
    elijahg
  • Reply 19 of 75
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,411member

    elijahg said:
    rob53 said:
    elijahg said:
    lkrupp said:
    By the way, does anyone work in the grocery business? Do you know how much grocery stores demand from brands for prime shelf space?
    As debated ad nauseam, that is not remotely the same thing. There is not a limited amount of space on the App Store.
    Wrong. It's a perfect example whether you like it or not. 
    there is a limited amount of space in Costco, not so for the App Store. 
    That argument doesn't apply to Epic refusing to carry other Fortnite skins on their store. There's an unlimited space there too. Or are you against Epic?
    roundaboutnow
  • Reply 20 of 75
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 2,411member
    crowley said:
    elijahg said:
    It would be so easy for Apple to allow notarised sideloading and all this would go away, with a popup explaining to the user that security can be breached much more easily without going through the App Store. The notarised apps could be disabled if they are malicious, but without having to comply with onerous App Store rules. 
    Notarized by whom? Apple or the third party app store company? And disabled by whom, Apple or the third party app store company?
    Apple, obviously.  That's what notarization is.

    Notarizing macOS Software Before Distribution | Apple Developer Documentation
    Okay so you want Apple to notarize software that's sold ONLY on third party app stores and that those apps "do not have to comply with onerous app store rules." Makes no sense at all. Why would Apple sign any app that doesn't adhere to any of its app store rules?
    roundaboutnow
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