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CCI directs probe against Apple in app-market case over alleged antitrust activities

The case against Apple pertains to its control over the app market for iOS ecosystem, according to the order from the anti-trust watchdog.

December 31, 2021 / 08:14 PM IST

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has directed a detailed investigation against Apple over its alleged anti-competitive practices and supposed abuse of market position in relation to app-market case.

The anti-trust watchdog has expressed a prima facie view that Apple is in violation of provisions of the Competition Act and its activities warrant a detailed investigation. The Director-General of the commission is directed to complete the probe within a period of 60 days, said the order passed by the CCI on December 31.

The case against Apple pertains to its control over the app market for iOS ecosystem. The commission noted that Apple, being one of the two big players in operating system ecosystems, cannot be said that it is not a major player in the relevant market.

The Informant in the case has alleged that Apple uses restrictive practices for distribution of apps for its operating system while also imposing “unreasonable and unlawful restraints on app developers from reaching users of its mobile devices.” App-developers are required to use single-payment option provided by Apple to list their apps in the market and this process sees Apple charging an exorbitant commission of 30%, the complaint alleges.

Apple defended its stand by saying that the relevant market would comprise the overall smartphone market of which Apple is small player, and as such the company cannot be in abuse of dominant position. Moreover, the iOS maker has denied any abusive practices altogether. The company has also claimed that the commission charged by it aligns with industry standards and cannot be called exorbitant.

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The commission opined that prima facie the relevant market in the scenario would be market for app stores for iOS in India and prima facie Apple is in contravention of the provisions of the competition law. The CCI order added, “it also needs to be seen whether Apple would have access to data collected from the users of its downstream competitors which would enable it to improve its own services”.

The commission also clarified that the opinions expressed are only prima facie in nature and shall not be construed to be commission’s final finding.
Shruti Mahajan
first published: Dec 31, 2021 08:08 pm
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