The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is reportedly readying a draft decision in its investigation over Apple’s App Store rules that require developers to use its in-app payment system, which allows Apple to wet its beak to the tune of a 15% to 30% cut of the action.
If it issues a decision soon, the ACM could become the first antitrust authority to rule on Apple’s app-store payment policies, which have long drawn complaints from app developers. The European Commission last year opened a formal investigation into the iPhone maker over some of the same practices.
In letters to developers involved in the investigation sent earlier this month, which were described to Reuters by two people who received them, the regulator said it was nearing a draft decision in the case.
It gave no indication of how it would rule.
According to the letter sent by ACM, the regulator is also scrutinizing Apple rules that prevent developers from telling users about any cheaper payment alternatives outside of the app.
“It’s not just that Apple is inflicting economic harm,” said David Heinemeier Hansson, co-founder of software firm Basecamp and one of those who received the letter. “Apple is essentially giving us a gag order.”
ACM began investigating the App Store nearly two years ago, intending to determine whether Apple abuses its position, including the commission charged by Apple on in-app purchases, and whether the Cupertino firm gives its own apps preferential treatment.
A separate ongoing ACM probe is investigating contactless platforms on smartphones and the access that payment apps have to NFC capabilities. The ACM says that some smartphone platforms “only allows the developer’s own payment app to connect to NFC communication,” preventing third-party payment apps from accessing the devices’ NFC capabilities.