Last year, European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, announced a preliminary finding that Apple had disadvantaged competing music services.
“App stores play a central role in today's digital economy. We can now do our shopping, access news, music or movies via apps instead of visiting websites. Our preliminary finding is that Apple is a gatekeeper to users of iPhones and iPads via the App Store. With Apple Music, Apple also competes with music streaming providers. By setting strict rules on the App store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition. This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options.”
Apple was given the opportunity to reply to the allegations; however, it appears the company's arguments have not convinced the EU.
According to a Reuters source, a supplementary statement of objections against Apple will soon be issued, likely presenting new evidence that strengthens its case.
Apple faces an additional EU antitrust charge in the coming weeks in an investigation triggered by a complaint from Spotify, a person familiar with the matter said, a sign that EU enforcers are strengthening their case against the U.S. company.
Although the EU is nearing the full approval of the Digital Markets Act (DMA) which would make such practices illegal, the act won't go into effect until 2024.
"The DMA is still two years away. The rules will probably apply to Apple at the beginning of 2024. This is why antitrust cases remain important," said lawyer Damien Geradin at Geradin Partners.
If Apple is found to have breached EU antitrust rules, it could face fines of up to 10% of global turnover.
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