Last week, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager opened a formal investigation into whether the App Store was harming competition by acting as a “gatekeeper” for third-party apps, some of which rival Apple’s own services.
That investigation was launched a little more than a year after music-streaming service Spotify filed a complaint with Ms. Vestager’s office, arguing that Apple engaged in anti-competitive behaviour by charging developers fees as high as 30 per cent for selling digital goods and services through the App Store. E-reader company Kobo, which is headquartered in Toronto but owned by Japanese firm Rakuten, filed a similar complaint.
Developers have argued that Apple’s fees allow the smartphone giant to undercut rivals by charging less for its own, competing services.
The dispute between developers and the smartphone behemoth has also caught the attention of regulators in Apple’s home market. In the U.S., David Cicilline, a Democrat who chairs the House judiciary committee, has said he is preparing to ask the heads of major tech firms, including Apple chief executive Tim Cook, to testify at a hearing on competition. Microsoft president Brad Smith told a Politico conference last week that antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe needed to take a closer look at app stores.