Russian competition watchdog wants Apple to stop abusing its App Store power

nanoguy

Posts: 589   +8
Staff member
A hot potato: Apple's tight control over the App Store has served it well over the years, both in winning users' trust and in attracting high profile apps to iOS. However, the privacy and security argument is starting to look increasingly like an excuse for monopolistic behavior, bringing the company into the crosshairs of regulators in several regions.

While Apple is busy bullying a small app developer for supposedly creating confusion around a logo, Russia's antitrust watchdog has decided to take action against the iPhone maker for abusing its dominant position in the mobile app market.

The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) announced on Monday that it has concluded its investigation into Apple's App Store practices and found it in violation of local competition laws. In the ruling, the FAS cites the company's requirement that all iOS app be downloaded through the App Store, as well as the company's penchant for removing apps from the marketplace at a whim.

The investigation started in September 2019 after Apple decided to block parental control apps that made use of Mobile Device Management functionality, which gave them access over sensitive user information such as location, email accounts, camera permissions, browser history, and app usage data.

At the time, Russian antivirus company Kaspersky filed a complaint against Apple, as they were blocked from publishing updates to its parental control app called Safe Kids. Apple still believes it had the right to do, as to protect users' privacy and security, so it will appeal the FAS ruling in the coming weeks.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was questioned about controversial App Store policies during a U.S. Congress antitrust hearing last month, where he argued the same points about putting the user first and trying to create a safe app marketplace.

The App Store along with Apple Pay are the subject of an antitrust investigation in the European Union, after several companies complained about Apple's gatekeeping behavior. And as days go by, more companies hit the same wall -- Microsoft and Google can't offer their cloud gaming services on iOS, and Facebook couldn't launch a streaming player with mini-games -- because they supposedly look like alternative app stores to Apple's.

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m4a4

Posts: 2,006   +1,850
TechSpot Elite
Good. The more the merrier.

If they want such a big chunk of the market, they shouldn't be able to hide behind petty excuses anymore.
Customers can be pretty dumb, but they're not as dumb as Apple is painting them.
 

Burty117

Posts: 3,875   +1,764
I know peeps on here aren't a huge fan of LinusTechTips but did anyone listen in on the latest WAN show? Apple have basically said no to their Floatplane App and yet they allow Twitch and YouTube Apps but if anyone else tries to create anything similar, Apple just shoot it down...
 

Endymio

Posts: 664   +536
I'm not a big fan of Apple, but can anyone really be upset over their preventing random applications from accessing private user data?
 

Cubi Dorf

Posts: 251   +121
I like Apple product, but I can see they are doing illegal. iOS app sales are a market. Apple have complete control over that market. That is definition of monopoly. They need to allow competitor app store. It is illegal in almost every country what they are do. The problem is not what they allow on their app store. That is only what brought real problem to attention. The problem is they don't allow competing app store. They have cornered market illegally. Way worse than anything Microsoft ever did.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,640   +928
I like Apple product, but I can see they are doing illegal. iOS app sales are a market. Apple have complete control over that market. That is definition of monopoly. They need to allow competitor app store. It is illegal in almost every country what they are do. The problem is not what they allow on their app store. That is only what brought real problem to attention. The problem is they don't allow competing app store. They have cornered market illegally. Way worse than anything Microsoft ever did.
Yeah. Remember the good old days where Microsoft got raked over the anti-trust coals for having a default piece of software for their OS, but did nothing to actually stop someone from installing an alternative? Now, you have default apps you can't change, and even limit what software can and cannot be installed, and no one really bats an eye.
 
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Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,593   +1,628
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Yeah. Remember the good old days where Microsoft got raked over the anti-trust coals for having a default piece of software for their OS, but did nothing to actually stop someone from installing an alternative? Now, you have default apps you can't change, and even limit what software can and cannot be installed, and no one really bats an eye.
There are key differences.

MS had >90% market share for desktop OSes and bundled in a type of app that everyone on the planet uses, a web browser. It was an easy and effective way to passively kill all other market competitors. The wheels of "justice" in the US are far too slow to prevent this from happening as it's already succeeded by the time actual legal proceedings start. Pay a slap on the wrist fine, the price of doing business, and move on. As a strategy I love it, very clever.

By shipment volume, iOS has a bit less than 15% market share but seeing as OS support for older devices is way better than Android, you can assume 20-25% actual market share of devices in use. So the majority already have an alternative and use it: the Google Play Store.

Of course that's not what this is about. The Apple App Store makes way more money for app developers than any Android stores, even with Android's 4x larger installed base. And that's the money everyone is fighting for.
 

Endymio

Posts: 664   +536
iOS app sales are a market. Apple have complete control over that market. That is definition of monopoly.
Define any market small enough, and you have a monopoly in it. Beyoncé has a monopoly on musical works sung by Beyoncé. iOS = Apple. Any reasonable person would define the market not as "Apple apps" but as "mobile apps". In that market, Apple lacks monopoly power.

The problem is they don't allow competing app store. They have cornered market illegally.
In total number of apps, Google Play is much larger than Apple. In terms of actual revenue generated, Google is expected to supercede Apple sometime in the next few years.

In a free market, a company can and should have some measure of control over its own products. What's the problem? If you don't like their policies, do what I do, and buy from a competitor. It's not like there is any lack of alternatives.
 

Cubi Dorf

Posts: 251   +121
This isn’t about device market share or similar app markets. It is about iOS app market. Apple has total control of market. 100% control of market. you cannot buying iOS app anywhere else.

There are key differences.

MS had >90% market share for desktop OSes and bundled in a type of app that everyone on the planet uses, a web browser. It was an easy and effective way to passively kill all other market competitors. The wheels of "justice" in the US are far too slow to prevent this from happening as it's already succeeded by the time actual legal proceedings start. Pay a slap on the wrist fine, the price of doing business, and move on. As a strategy I love it, very clever.

By shipment volume, iOS has a bit less than 15% market share but seeing as OS support for older devices is way better than Android, you can assume 20-25% actual market share of devices in use. So the majority already have an alternative and use it: the Google Play Store.

Of course that's not what this is about. The Apple App Store makes way more money for app developers than any Android stores, even with Android's 4x larger installed base. And that's the money everyone is fighting for.
 
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Cubi Dorf

Posts: 251   +121
iOS app sale market is billion dollar market. That is hardly small market. It is not free market. that is point. It is not customer who is complain. It is multiple company who is closed out of market, including facebook and microsoft. I have no stake in this. maybe I am just not reasonable person.

Define any market small enough, and you have a monopoly in it. Beyoncé has a monopoly on musical works sung by Beyoncé. iOS = Apple. Any reasonable person would define the market not as "Apple apps" but as "mobile apps". In that market, Apple lacks monopoly power.

In total number of apps, Google Play is much larger than Apple. In terms of actual revenue generated, Google is expected to supercede Apple sometime in the next few years.

In a free market, a company can and should have some measure of control over its own products. What's the problem? If you don't like their policies, do what I do, and buy from a competitor. It's not like there is any lack of alternatives.
 
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Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,593   +1,628
TechSpot Elite
iOS is billion us dollar market. That is hardly small market. It is not free market. that is point.
And Apple's point will be that there is an even bigger market to exploit if people want an alternative: The Google Play store. 4x as many people to reach there.

Another example: Nintendo has absolute power over what gets approved for their consoles and they're in high demand. You have to pay your way in and Nintendo has absolute power to let you in or not on similar quality grounds that Apple claims. There are many other examples.
 

Cubi Dorf

Posts: 251   +121
Google app is not relevant. Google does allow competitors to run their own app store. Is there only one store that can sell nintendo app? I am not current in nintendo. Use to be able to buy at many physical store. Use to be able to sell game for nintendo, but it was unlicensed game and could not use nintendo logo. did policy change?

And Apple's point will be that there is an even bigger market to exploit if people want an alternative: The Google Play store. 4x as many people to reach there.

Another example: Nintendo has absolute power over what gets approved for their consoles and they're in high demand. You have to pay your way in and Nintendo has absolute power to let you in or not on similar quality grounds that Apple claims. There are many other examples.
 

Lew Zealand

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TechSpot Elite
You have to obtain a license from Nintendo to market a game with their logo on it and sell it legally for their consoles. I'm sure anyone can design a game which is compatible with any of their systems and get it to run, but you'll never be able to sell it legally without Nintendo's approval. It's been that way since the Famicom/NES. And in some way this is a good thing because one of the (many) things that killed the Atari 2600 was the huge volume of utter trash games because Atari did not enforce any kind of quality standards. Nintendo enforces quality standards and rejects games which they feel are not good enough.
 

Lew Zealand

Posts: 1,593   +1,628
TechSpot Elite
But then you can try to market that game to Sony or Microsoft, or release it for PC. Because there are other markets out there for your game/app. Same for the iOS store, except the iOS store makes devs a *lot* of money. So that's why people complain about that one so much. It's not necessarily the principle, it's the money.
 

Endymio

Posts: 664   +536
It is not customer who is complain. It is multiple company who is closed out
Antitrust law does not exist to protect competitors, it exists to protect competition. There is an enormous amount of competition in the mobile app marketplace.

As Lew said, many companies restrict what content can be used with or through their devices.
 

Cubi Dorf

Posts: 251   +121
The competitors in this case would be other app store which there are none because Apple is make it not possible. so there is no competition in app stores . App store does not compete with app maker.

Maybe these other devices maker need looked at too if they are do same thing. If there are other cases then that doesn’t make it legal. many people can commit the same crime and that is not make it no longer crime. it is crime if law says it is crime. and law can be change if need to protect .




Antitrust law does not exist to protect competitors, it exists to protect competition. There is an enormous amount of competition in the mobile app marketplace.

As Lew said, many companies restrict what content can be used with or through their devices.
 

Endymio

Posts: 664   +536
law can be change if need to protect...
Protect who? And from what?

Let's try this another way. My BMW automobile runs a software package (iDrive). I have no options on that software-- it is developed, produced, sold, and installed by BMW, period. If I don't like iDrive, my only option is to buy a different automobile. Call this Option A.

Now at some point in the future, BMW might decide to open up third-party extensions to this software. However, since it controls core automobile functionality, they would likely (and should) severely limit how those apps are tested, verified, and installed. That is well within their right. Option B.

Option A is how most hardware works today. My refrigerator, my Bluetooth speaker, and my computer motherboard all come with installed firmware. The manufacturer doesn't allow third-party makers to sell add-ons to that firmware. All very legal, and if I don't like it, I either hack the hardware, or buy elsewhere. Option B is essentially the current situation with Apple, and it allows considerably more competition than this.

Then we come to Option C ... exemplified by the Android ecosystem. One step (ok, maybe two steps) away from sheer chaos. If consumers prefer that option, they choose it instead of Apple. The consumer has choice, and thus the consumer needs no additional protection.

Ain't freedom great?
 

Cubi Dorf

Posts: 251   +121
Your car and refrigerator software are not markets. They are not selling other company product. The complaint is not about Apple software. It is about restrictions on companies to sell iOS app product. The product/service in question is Apple app store. Android market does not compete directly with Apple store. They sell completely different product although similar markets. There is no product exactly same on both markets. Android phone compete with Apple phone, but the app are not the compatible so the app markets are separate market. Customer could select to buy other device, but that is avoiding the Apple app market rather than allowing competition with it. And complaint is not coming from customer. It is from company making apps. Those company can't avoid app market and still reach the customer with product because it is not their choice which device people are buy.


Protect who? And from what?

Let's try this another way. My BMW automobile runs a software package (iDrive). I have no options on that software-- it is developed, produced, sold, and installed by BMW, period. If I don't like iDrive, my only option is to buy a different automobile. Call this Option A.

Now at some point in the future, BMW might decide to open up third-party extensions to this software. However, since it controls core automobile functionality, they would likely (and should) severely limit how those apps are tested, verified, and installed. That is well within their right. Option B.

Option A is how most hardware works today. My refrigerator, my Bluetooth speaker, and my computer motherboard all come with installed firmware. The manufacturer doesn't allow third-party makers to sell add-ons to that firmware. All very legal, and if I don't like it, I either hack the hardware, or buy elsewhere. Option B is essentially the current situation with Apple, and it allows considerably more competition than this.

Then we come to Option C ... exemplified by the Android ecosystem. One step (ok, maybe two steps) away from sheer chaos. If consumers prefer that option, they choose it instead of Apple. The consumer has choice, and thus the consumer needs no additional protection.

Ain't freedom great?
 
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mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,640   +928
This isn’t about device market share or similar app markets. It is about iOS app market. Apple has total control of market. 100% control of market. you cannot buying iOS app anywhere else.
Yeah, With OG Internet explorer, nothing stopped you from installing a different browser, it was just that most users would not because IE worked everywhere well enough and they simply did not care or notice the differences between them and Netscape.

With iOS, you cannot install a different app store at all. No one is saying Apple should greet you with "Hi, which app store do you want to use as your default" when you first set up your device. But you can't even have an app on iOS that even resembles an app store. What Apple is doing now would be as if Microsoft stopped IE from even looking at Netscape's website and download page and told their users "IE only, to ensure quality".

Even if Apple is forced to allow third-party app stores, most users are never going to download that store. Just like how most people still stuck to IE, and most Android users still stick to Google Play.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 664   +536
Your car and refrigerator software are not markets.
They are not markets because my carmaker and refrigerator manufacturer don't allow them to be markets. That is for more restrictive than allowing the market place that Apple does.

The complaint is not about Apple software. It is about restrictions on companies to sell iOS app product.
Put another way, why should Apple allow anyone to sell add-ons to their own product (iPhone/iOS)? They have no legal requirement to do so. Nor should they.

Android market does not compete directly with Apple store. They sell completely different product
lol, did you sprain a finger typing this one?
 
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