The Financial Times is reporting Apple could face antitrust charges from the European Commission over concerns about App Store practices. The commission is investigating if Apple broke EU competition rules with App Store policies, following a complaint from Spotify in 2019. Spotify complained Apple took 30% on subscriptions.
The European Commission went on to open two antitrust investigations into the company last year – one into the App Store and the other into Apple Pay. The Times reports only the App Store case is set for antitrust charges, though it’s not clear what action the Commission will take.
Spotify previously claimed Apple uses the App Store to limit consumer choice and stifle innovation in the market, pushing people to choose the Apple Music Service. A similar complaint was brought to the EU last year by Rakuten, who argued that it’s anti-competitive for the company to take a 30% commission on ebooks sold through the App Store while also promoting the Apple Books service.
Known to some as the “Apple Tax,” the 30% cut has been a target for companies including Spotify and Netflix. Apple continues to defend the policy, arguing that the revenue generated by this commission goes towards the costs of maintaining the App Store and enforcing content, security, and privacy guidelines.
Fortnite developer Epic Games has also hit Apple with antitrust complaints as part of the ongoing battle between the two companies. Epic attempted to circumvent Apple taking a 30% cut on in-app purchases, leading to Apple removing the app from its store.
While Apple continues to defend store policies, it has made some changes over the past year to better accommodate developers. The store now lets some video streaming apps bypass the Apple Tax and has reduced the commission to 15% for developers who earn under $1 million in annual revenue.
The changes are welcome but haven’t been enough to chase off EU regulators just yet. We’ll soon find out how the EU plans to respond to one of world’s largest tech companies.