Apple is reportedly on an EU “hit list” of technology firms that will be subjected to much tighter regulations, thanks to their market dominance. In addition to Apple, the list reportedly includes Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others.
[The list is] likely to include Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook and Apple, that will be subject to new and far more stringent rules aimed at curbing their market power.
Under the plans, large platforms that find themselves on the list will have to comply with tougher regulation than smaller competitors, according to people familiar with the discussions, including new rules that will force them to share data with rivals and an obligation to be more transparent on how they gather information.
The list will be compiled based on a number of criteria, including market share of revenues and number of users, meaning the likes of Facebook and Google are likely to be included. Those deemed to be so powerful that rivals cannot trade without using their platforms could also be added.
FT reports an anonymous source told it that a shorthand description of these companies would be those considered ‘too big to care’ about antitrust action, and are able to pay fines without impacting their businesses. It says the ultimate sanction on these firms would be to break up the companies. This could include such actions as forcing Apple to spin-off its App Store as a completely separate business.
The EU could focus on so-called “gatekeeper” companies, which have the power to keep competitors off their platforms or to impose conditions hampering other companies’ ability to compete. An example of such actions is Spotify’s claims that Apple does this to hinder the music streaming service’s ability to compete with Apple Music. Trial subscribers to Apple’s streaming service can subscribe from within the app when their trial expires. Spotify users, however, cannot do this, as Apple takes a cut of the action, reducing Spotify’s already slim margins.
If the App Store were spun-off as a separate business, Apple Music would also be forced to pay a 30% commission on in-app subscription purchases or would be required to remove the commission for all streaming music apps.
As part of the powers, the EU is seeking to go beyond just fines, which often are seen as just the cost of doing business. Instead, Brussels wants to be able to move quickly to force the likes of […] Apple to ensure they give access to competitors and that they share data with rivals.
Europe generally takes a tougher line on competition than officials in the US. However, a recent congressional report concluded the Apple Store grants Apple “monopoly power” over iOS apps, and also includes proposals on how to force the break-up of the giant tech firms.