U.S. antitrust regulators are scrutinizing Apple for App Store rules which allows it to take a 30% cut from App Store IAP transactions from app developers as a part of their ongoing antitrust investigation.
The Bloomberg report highlights that the regulators have met with app developers and have been asking them questions about Apple’s rules related to its payment system for the App Store. The investigation was started by the DOJ against Apple and other tech giants in mid-2019 and its result will decide whether a formal antitrust case against Apple will be launched or not. As a part of the investigation, government lawyers are asking developers about the App Store review process. In some cases, developers themselves approach the antitrust regulators with their grievances, while in other cases, the department themselves contacted major developers.
The department asked at least one of the developers if Apple lowering its 30% commission would solve the issue. The developer, however, said that the commission was less of an issue, with Apple not allowing alternate payment systems to be a bigger problem.
The primary focus of the investigation is Google’s control over the digital advertising market though. That investigation is into a much more advanced stage and a formal antitrust investigation can be launched against Google as soon as this summer. However, a “person familiar with the case” said that the preliminary investigation into Apple’s App Store policies is also serious.
Apple has been heavily criticized by developers for its App Store policies in recent times. While there was already a growing dissatisfaction among developers, they have come to the spotlight after the Apple-Hey drama. Apple rejected app updates for the Hey email app and wanted the company to add support for IAPs in their app. This led to a lot of back and forth between the two companies and a lot of public drama which eventually led Apple to approve the app.