EU to Launch Apple Antitrust Probe

Posted on May 6, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Apple with 60 Comments

It’s finally happening: The European Commission will investigate whether Apple is abusing its market power with the iPhone’s app store.

And yes, Spotify’s formal complaint—and, no doubt, Apple’s feeble response—was the impetus for this action. As you may recall, Spotify in March complained that “Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience—essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers.” The firm tried unsuccessfully to resolve the issues directly with Apple, so it formally requested that the EC take action to ensure fair competition.

And it will do so.

“We filed our complaint because Apple’s actions hurt competition and consumers, and are in clear violation of the law,” a Spotify statement explains. “This is evident in Apple’s belief that Spotify’s users on iOS are Apple customers and not Spotify customers, which goes to the very heart of the issue with Apple.”

The EC’s complaint will prove that Apple “deliberately disadvantage other app developers,” as the evidence is clear. The only questions then regard timing—the EU moves very slowly—and the degree of the punishment. I expect Apple to be required to make changes to its business practices and to pay a fine between $1.67 billion and $5 billion, which are the amounts of Google’s two most recent EU antitrust fines.

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