App Store on iPhoneSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple is under investigation in the UK.
  • It's over suspected anti-competitive behavior regarding its App Store policies.
  • The CMA says complaints focus on the fact developers can only distribute apps on the iOS App Store and Apple's own payment systems.

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is launching an investigation into Apple over its App Store policies.

The body announced today:

In addition to designing, manufacturing and marketing electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, Apple also operates the App Store. This is the only way for developers to distribute third-party apps on Apple's iPhones and iPads, and the only way for Apple customers to access them.

The probe has been prompted by the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA) own work in the digital sector, as well as several developers reporting that Apple's terms and conditions are unfair and could break competition law.

The body notes that App Store apps have to be approved by Apple, can only be distributed by the App Store, and can only use Apple's own payment system, meaning Apple takes a 30% commission fee. The CMA says it will consider "whether Apple has a dominant position in connection with the distribution of apps on Apple devices in the UK – and, if so, whether Apple imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers using the App Store, ultimately resulting in users having less choice or paying higher prices for apps and add-ons."

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It notes this is only the beginning of the investigation, and that no decision has been made on whether Apple is breaking the law.

The CMA's chief exec said:

Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway. So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny.

The news follows a blow to Apple across the pond after Arizona voted to pass a bill that could seriously impact Apple's App Store in the state, and have wider repercussions for antitrust fights against Apple elsewhere.