Apple India faces case for forcing developers to use its own app purchase

Apple is facing an antitrust challenge in India for abusing its position in the apps market by forcing developers to use its own in-app purchase system, Reuters reported.
Apple iPhone 12 5G smartphone for business
The allegations are similar to a case Apple faces in the European Union, where regulators last year started an investigation into Apple’s imposition of an in-app fee of 30 percent for distribution of paid digital content and other restrictions.

A non-profit group, which filed the case, argues Apple’s fee of up to 30 percent hurts competition by raising costs for app developers and customers, while also acting as a barrier to market entry.

“The existence of the 30 percent commission means that some app developers will never make it to the market. This could also result in consumer harm,” said the filing.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) CCI will review the case in the coming weeks and could order its investigations arm to conduct a wider probe, or dismiss it altogether.

The non-profit Together We Fight Society based in Rajasthan, told Reuters in a statement it filed the case in the interest of protecting Indian consumers and startups.

In India, though Apple’s iOS powered just about 2 percent of 520 million smartphones by end-2020 – with the rest using Android – Counterpoint Research says the U.S. firm’s smartphone base in the country has more than doubled in the last five years.

South Korea’s parliament this week approved a bill that bans major app store operators like Google and Apple from forcing software developers to use their own payment systems.

Last year, after Indian startups publicly voiced concern over a similar in-app payments fee charged by Google, the CCI ordered an investigation into it as part of a broader antitrust probe into the company. That investigation is ongoing.

The India antitrust case against Apple also alleges that its restrictions on how developers communicate with users to offer payment solutions are anti-competitive, and also hurt the country’s payment processors who offer services at lower charges in the range of 1-5 percent.

Apple has hurt competitors by restricting developers from informing users of alternative purchasing possibilities, thereby harming “app developers’ relationship with their customers by inserting itself as middleman in every in-app transaction,” the filing added.