There are growing concerns that Apple could be facing an antitrust App Store investigation by the United States Department of Justice. They have had multiple complaints and lawsuits filed recently over “business killing” practices related to how it treats developers.
Since the beginning of The App Store, Apple has taken a 70/30 split with developers on paid apps. With subscriptions, they take 30% the first year, and then it drops to 15% for following years. This commission is at the heart of possible antitrust violations over The App Store.
A major lawsuit against Apple and its App Store will be allowed to move forward, the United States Supreme Court has decided, affirming the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. The lawsuit relates to Apple’s requirement that apps distributed on the iPhone go through the App Store which is controlled by the iPhone (which forces developers to pay the 30% commission).
The argument against Apple in part is that Apple’s App Store requirement is monopolistic, enabling the company to impose unfair fees on developers which in turn get passed on to consumers. In some cases, developers don’t have a 30% margin to even give (companies they resell content generally operate at razor thin margins).
Apple asked that the lawsuit be thrown out last fall when the Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides before ultimately deciding to allow the lawsuit to continue. Apple previously appealed a lower court decision that ruled against the company in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit against Apple was not thrown out and the Supreme Court has decided to allow the lawsuit to move forward. This means the lawsuit will return to the court system and could eventually lead to a decision that forces Apple to change its App Store business model and policies.
This lawsuit is on top of the Apple Music EU probe that Spotify has been granted. According to Financial Times, The European Union is set to launch a formal probe into Apple over Apple Music and Spotify.
After considering the complaint and surveying customers, rivals and others in the market, the EU competition commission has decided to launch a formal antitrust investigation into Apple’s conduct, according to three people familiar with the probe.
Both Spotify and Apple declined to comment on the rumors, but these probes can take years to complete, so it’s likely we won’t know anything for some time.
Follow our guide for all the latest news into possible App Store antitrust violations against Apple.