Apple’s App Store Draws E.U. Antitrust Charge

“They want all the benefits of the App Store but don’t think they have to pay anything for them,” Apple said in a statement. “The Commission’s argument on behalf of Spotify is the opposite of fair competition.”

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April 29, 2021, 6:16 p.m. ET

The app store criticism is part of a broader debate about the power of the tech industry, where a small number of companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have government powers to set guidelines for key parts of the digital economy. It determines how people find, communicate and shop for information and entertainment.

This week, Apple improved its performance by rolling out a software update that gives customers more options to block apps from tracking data. This change has sparked a rivalry with Facebook, which has criticized the move as anti-competitive as it will affect its online sellability through advertising.

Businesses are increasingly pushing regulators and courts to intervene. At a congressional hearing in Washington last week, companies like Spotify, Tile and Match Group told senators how guidelines from Apple and Google, whose Play Store is another sticking point for app developers, hurt competition and lead to higher app prices for Customers led. And next week, a lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, which has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple over its fees, is set to begin in California.

The UK is conducting another antitrust investigation into Apple through the App Store after receiving complaints from developers.

The case, announced on Friday, is part of a wider effort by the European Union to contain so-called gatekeeper companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. Policy makers are creating laws to prevent the tech giants from abusing their market power to harm smaller businesses, including the way they manage app stores.

Efforts to force changes to the App Store pose a threat to a rapidly growing Apple business. As the sales of iPhones, iPads, and other hardware devices mature, the company is turning to digital services as a new source of growth. Investor optimism about this deal has helped Apple stock skyrocket, reaching more than $ 2.2 trillion in market value, the largest in the world.

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