Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, the Bundeskartellamt, today initiated proceedings against Apple on the claims of anti-competitive behavior related to the App Store, its products, and other services.
The news comes via a press release from the Bundeskartellamt. It announced that today’s proceedings will determine whether Apple holds a “paramount significance across markets” and whether or not, through its ecosystem, Apple holds enough power to make it difficult for “other companies” to challenge it.
Andreas Mundt, president of Bundeskartellamt, issued the following statement on the initial proceedings:
We will now examine whether with its proprietary operating system iOS, Apple has created a digital ecosystem around its iPhone that extends across several markets. Apple produces tablets, computers and wearables and provides a host of device-related services. In addition to manufacturing various hardware products, the tech company also offers the App Store, iCloud, AppleCare, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+ as well as other services as part of its services business. Besides assessing the company’s position in these areas, we will, among other aspects, examine its extensive integration across several market levels, the magnitude of its technological and financial resources and its access to data. A main focus of the investigations will be on the operation of the App Store as it enables Apple in many ways to influence the business activities of third parties.
The press release doesn’t offer much in the way of specifics as to what the outcome of the investigation might lead to. However, it did indicate that it may prohibit that company from “engaging in anti-competitive practices.”
The office says it has received “various complaints relating to potentially anti-competitive practices,” particularly related to Apple’s recent rollout of its App Tracking Transparency framework.
Another complaint that the office says it received was related to the pre-installation of Apple’s own apps on its devices. The office directly references section 19a of the German Competition Act, which states “the abuse of a dominant position by one or several undertakings is prohibited” as a potential clause that Apple may be violating.
The Bundeskartellamt will also look at disputes over Apple’s in-app purchasing system, which wets Apple’s beak to the tune of a 30% commission of all purchases made.