Germany: Apple under investigation for anti-competitive practices

Steph Deschamps / June 22, 2021

Germany's competition watchdog, the Bundeskartellamt, announced on Monday the opening of an investigation against U.S. Apple for possible anti-competitive practices, based on a new law strengthening powers to act against digital giants.

 

After Facebook, Amazon and Google, a procedure has been initiated against the technology company Apple under the new antitrust rules applicable to digital groups, announced in a statement the German anti-cartel office. The Office has received several complaints against possible anti-competitive practices, of the group said the institution. The investigation will focus on the operation of the App Store, because in many cases it allows Apple to influence the activities of third parties, said Andreas Mundt, president of the Office, who also said he is investigating whether Apple has created a digital ecosystem around the iPhone with its own iOS operating system, which extends to different markets, namely its tablets, computers and connected accessories. The German antitrust watchdog is thus taking advantage of the expanded powers it has since a new competition law passed by Germany earlier this year. The authorities will have to determine whether the company enjoys primary importance in the markets.

 

From this qualification comes certain specific obligations, such as the prohibition of self-referencing, or the establishment of barriers to entry on its platforms. This law is mainly aimed at digital giants, accused of taking advantage of a quasi-monopoly position, thanks to platforms where they set their own rules. The App Store is the only platform for downloading applications available on devices sold by Apple. This situation gives it a position of power that is difficult for other companies to attack, according to the anti-cartel office. In its response, Apple says it looks forward to discussing its approach with the Bundeskartellamt and having an open dialogue on all concerns. The tech giant says it still prides itself on being a driver for innovation and jobs. The opening of this investigation comes as competition authorities in Europe and the United States are mobilizing against digital giants. The U.S. group is facing a lawsuit in the U.S. by online game publisher Epic Game, which accuses it of abuse of dominant position, on its App Store platform. The publisher of the game phenomenon Fortnite would like Apple to allow alternative platforms on its Iphone, in order to open the market of application distribution.

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