BREAKING: EU opens investigation into Apple over DMA compliance — Apple could face a fine of up to 10% of its worldwide turnover

Apple cutout outside Apple Store
(Image credit: Future)

The European Commission has today announced it is investigating Apple over its compliance with the Digital Markets Act. 

The Commission has opened non-compliance investigations under the DMA into Alphabet (Google), Apple, and Meta. Specifically, it highlighted "Alphabet's rules on steering in Google Play and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple's rules on steering in the App Store and the choice screen for Safari and Meta's “pay or consent model”.

The Commission says it "suspects that the measures put in place by these gatekeepers fall short of effective compliance of their obligations under the DMA." Furthermore, the Commission has launched "investigatory steps" into Apple's new fees for alternative app stores. This likely includes the new Core Technology Fee, which charges alternative app store vendors and app makers a 0.50 cent fee on every first annual install of an app after the first one million. 

EU opens investigation into Apple

The Commission wants to "assess whether the measures implemented by Alphabet and Apple in relation to their obligations pertaining to app stores are in breach of the DMA." It says it's concerned that Apple's measures "may not be fully compliant as they impose various restrictions and limitations," constraining developers' ability to "freely communicate and promote offers and directly conclude contracts, including by imposing various charges." 

Apple is also being scrutinized for its measures regarding how easy it is to uninstall "any software applications on iOS," "easily change default settings on iOS," and "prompt users with choice screens which must effectively and easily allow them to select an alternative default service, such as a browser or search engine on their iPhones." Apple's iOS 17.4 update in the EU includes a browser screen that offers a randomized list of the top 11 browsers in that country alongside Safari

The Commission says it is "concerned that Apple's measures, including the design of the web browser choice screen, may be preventing users from truly exercising their choice of services within the Apple ecosystem." 

As noted, the final investigation point is Apple's new fee structure and the terms of distributing apps via alternative app stores or the web (sideloading. The EC claims Apple's fees "may be defeating the purpose of its obligations under Article 6(4) of the DMA." 

This won't be a short process, the Commission wants to conclude proceedings within 12 months but could fine Apple up to 10% of its worldwide turnover if it's found to have infringed on the DMA. 

Apple's compliance with the DMA continues to be a work in progress. It has already made significant changes to its initial compliance offering including the aforementioned web distribution offering. Apple has also told the EU to "stay tuned" regarding the Core Technology Fee. All of this indicates a very fluid situation whereby Apple continues to tweak its new App Store policies. 

In a statement, an Apple spokesperson told iMore "We’re confident our plan complies with the DMA, and we’ll continue to constructively engage with the European Commission as they conduct their investigations. Teams across Apple have created a wide range of new developer capabilities, features, and tools to comply with the regulation. At the same time, we’ve introduced protections to help reduce new risks to the privacy, quality, and security of our EU users’ experience. Throughout, we’ve demonstrated flexibility and responsiveness to the European Commission and developers, listening and incorporating their feedback.”

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • FFR
    Ofcourse they are.

    Apple should just pull the App Store from the eu 7 % of their revenue isn’t worth all of this.

    Best of luck to google and meta being investigated as well.
    Reply
  • Annie_M
    I'm so glad I'm not in the EU.
    Reply
  • naddy69
    I agree with the above. Apple should just write off the EU. It is not worth doing business in a such totally business-unfriendly place.
    Reply
  • Wotchered
    Annie_M said:
    I'm so glad I'm not in the EU.

    Me too !
    Reply