Apple is under antitrust investigation in the UK over App Store guidelines

A person holds a smartphone in front of the words “Available on the App Store” and the Apple logo.

Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA pictures | LightRocket via Getty Images

LONDON – The UK competition authority opened an antitrust investigation on Thursday Apple.

The competition and market regulator said it will investigate Apple over complaints from software developers about the tech giant’s app store.

Apple only lets developers publish iPhone and iPad apps via the iOS smartphone platform. The company has a strict iOS app approval process and has been criticized for charging a 30% fee for in-app transactions.

“Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a snack,” said Andrea Coscelli, CEO of the CMA.

“Complaints that Apple is using its market position to impose conditions that are unfair or restrict competition and choice – which could potentially result in customers losing out when buying and using apps – require careful consideration.”

The British competition investigation against Apple is following similar steps taken by the European Union. Last year the EU Commission Antitrust investigations initiated in Apple’s App Store Rules and its Apple Pay Mobile Wallet. The CMA said it would continue to coordinate closely with the EU and other regulators despite the UK officially exiting the bloc last year.

An Apple spokesman said the company will work with the CMA to address its concerns.

“We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish,” said the spokesman.

“The App Store has been a success engine for app developers, partly because of the strict standards we have put in place – fair and equally for all developers – to protect customers from malware and prevent widespread data collection without their consent.”

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Big Tech Clampdown

Large US tech companies are facing increasing antitrust scrutiny by regulators around the world. The EU is trying to contain big tech comprehensive reforms of digital markets and services. Britain now has own plans introduce new digital rules.

Epic Games, creators of the popular video game Fortnite, was particularly vocal in his criticism of Apple. Epic claims the iPhone maker’s App Store rules are anti-competitive, specifically challenging the 30% cut Apple receives from developers for in-app purchases.

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