European News Media Welcomes Launch Of Apple Antitrust Investigation

European news media have welcomed decision of the European Commission to launch formal antitrust investigations to assess whether Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. 

News Media Europe, which counts the News Media Association among its members, said European news publishers suffer from Apple’s commercial practices, as does Spotify, who filed an official complaint with the European Commission’s competition authority last year.

Wout van Wijk, NME executive director, said: “The European Commission’s decision to open a formal investigation validates our long-held beliefs of just how harmful some of Apple’s commercial practices are for the digital economy. The stakes for consumers and businesses couldn’t be higher and we are greatly encouraged by this development. We hope other tech giants can draw lessons from this case.”

The Commission’s investigations will look at the mandatory use of Apple’s own proprietary in-app purchase system and restrictions on the ability of developers to inform iPhone and iPad users of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities outside of apps.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “Mobile applications have fundamentally changed the way we access content. Apple sets the rules for the distribution of apps to users of iPhones and iPads.

“It appears that Apple obtained a ‘gatekeeper’ role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices. We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, for example with its music streaming service Apple Music or with Apple Books.

“I have therefore decided to take a close look at Apple’s App Store rules and their compliance with EU competition rules.”  

The Commission has also opened a formal antitrust investigation to assess whether Apple’s conduct in connection with Apple Pay violates EU competition rules.