FT: Apple Fights Back as Regulatory Scrutiny Increases

Apple has gone on the defensive about how it runs its App Store, as regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone’s software and services marketplace mounts on both sides of the Atlantic, Financial Times reported.

Ahead of its annual developer conference in Silicon Valley next week, Apple has set out its “principles and practices” for the App Store, which include having hundreds of staffers review 100,000 apps every week to ensure they meet its “strict guidelines on privacy, design and business models.”

“We believe competition makes everything better and results in the best apps for our customers,” Apple said in an update to its website on Wednesday. “Our users trust Apple — and that trust is critical to how we operate a fair, competitive store for developer app distribution.”

Apple’s practices and guidelines have come under growing criticism from companies such as Spotify, which has complained to the European Commission about what the music streaming service describes as anti-competitive behavior, FT adds.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, has alleged that Apple is “acting as both player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers”, by charging a fee of up to 30 per cent on App Store purchases and subscriptions, and limiting Spotify’s access to iPhone features such as its Siri voice assistant and other accessories.

While Apple has dismissed Spotify’s antitrust complaint as “misleading rhetoric”, the EU is likely to launch a formal antitrust investigation soon, the Financial Times reported this month.

In the U.S., Apple is bracing itself for a class-action lawsuit from consumers who allege the App Store’s “walled garden” is anti-competitive. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this month that app buyers were allowed to sue Apple for alleged overcharging, again related to its 30 per cent commission.

Apple has maintained that it is “not a monopoly by any metric” and that the commission covers payment processing, app reviews and other distribution costs that it carries for developers.

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