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Apple under fire as UK launches investigation into anti-competitive behavior

Apple App Store
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple's App Store is the only place for iPhone and iPad users to download and use apps, which means it's the only way for developers to get their third-party apps out to Apple consumers. This has caused concern to many developers, and the UK's Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) is getting involved.

Apple is under investigation as its terms and conditions on the App Store have been labeled as unfair and could break competition law. While no decision has been made as of yet if Apple is breaking the law, the results could lead to some major changes on the App Store. 

"Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Chief Executive of the CMA Andrea Coscelli said in a statement. "So complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny."

Currently, apps on the App Store have to be approved by Apple, and to be approved, developers have to agree to certain terms and conditions.

Complaints from developers include only being able to release their apps on iPhones and iPads through the App Store, and being forced to use Apple’s payment system for in-app transactions instead of using other systems. Along with this, Apple charges a commission of up to 30% to developers on these transactions.

Basically, Apple may be imposing unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers, which is pushing the company to the top of the market as there are no other ways for customers to choose different apps. That is, unless they opt for an Android smartphone, of course.

The CMA launched the full investigation under Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998, which "prohibits any conduct on the part of one or more undertakings which amounts to the abuse of a dominant position in a market, and which may affect trade within the United Kingdom."

Apple having the authority over the App Store isn't all bad though, as it has helped with stopping certain COVID-19 vaccine passports from being available on the App Store, all to control the spread of misinformation.  

However, the iPhone is one of the best smartphones on the market today, and with iPhone 12 sales soaring, beating record-setting numbers it achieved in 2018, many users can only use the App Store to download apps.