Germany's antitrust watchdog FCO said on Monday it had opened an investigation into whether Apple was abusing its market dominance. It follows similar actions against its US tech rivals Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
As with similar investigations opened this year, the proceedings determine whether the iPhone manufacturer meets the threshold of Germany's updated competition law. The law's 10th amendment, which went into effect in January, allows for proactive intervention against the practices of large digital companies in order to prevent them from engaging in anti-competitive practices.
The sweeping amendments to Germany's antitrust law broadly target big tech companies. This is with the aim of keeping markets open, promoting innovation, and putting an end to any abusive behavior. This is done through FCO provisions, such as banning, limiting self-preference, stopping giants linking products to try to enter neighboring markets, or blocking interoperability and data access to try to block competitors, to name a few.
A mix of provisions is likely to be adopted, with tech giants classified as addressable by law, depending on the specifics of each case and particular ecosystem actions. Apple's operation of the App Store is the main focus of the investigation because it allows it to influence the business activities of third parties.
The agency is examining whether Apple has created, through the iOS operating system, a digital ecosystem around the iPhone that spans many markets. Apple produces tablets, computers, and wearables and provides a range of hardware-related services.
The tech company also offers the App Store, iCloud, Apple Music, AppleCare, Apple Arcade, and Apple TV+. In addition to other services as part of its commercial services. The authority examines its overall integration across many levels of the market, the size of its technological and financial resources, and its access to data.
The FCO indicated that it had received a number of complaints against Apple regarding potentially anti-competitive practices. Among these complaints is one from the advertising industry against Apple that restricts user tracking to the entry of iOS 14.5.
There are complaints against the exclusive initial installation of the company's applications as a possible form of self-preference prohibited by law. App developers also criticize the mandatory use of Apple's in-app purchase system. In addition to the commission rate of 30 percent.
In this context, marketing restrictions for app developers in the Apple App Store are also addressed.
Apple said, Apple is proud to be an engine for innovation and job creation. There are more than 250,000 jobs supported by the iOS app economy in Germany. The App Store's economic growth and activity have given German developers the opportunity to share their creativity with users around the world and create a safe and trusted place for customers to download apps while protecting the privacy they expect.