The probe into Apple’s policies comes as another Big Tech player, Google, is embroiled in a legal tussle with CCI over its billing policy
The antitrust watchdog might ask Apple to make changes to its app store billing and commission policies
The CCI initiated an inquiry into Apple's business practices in December 2021 after receiving accusations from the Together We Fight Society
India’s antitrust watchdog, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is reportedly reviewing the report on an investigation into the app store billing policy of Apple.
The probe into Apple’s policies comes as another Big Tech player, Google, is embroiled in a legal tussle with CCI in the Madras High Court over its billing policy.
The parties involved in the case will be called next to make their submissions, legal experts were quoted as saying by the ET. The findings of the probe and CCI’s stand are expected to be in line with the antitrust regulator’s order in Google’s case.
The antitrust watchdog might ask Apple to make changes to its app store billing and commission policies, as it has done with Google. However, given Apple’s stance on its iOS operating system and its ‘walled garden’ policy, this would be challenging.
Google, on the other hand, was ordered by CCI in October 2022 to allow third-party billing systems for payments on its app store and not limit the option to only the Google Play Billing System (GPBS), after slapping it with a hefty INR 936 Cr fine.
Google has appealed against the order, and the case is sub-judice.
Industry sources told ET that if the CCI imposes restrictions similar to what it has done in the case of Google, that would go against the very essence of Apple’s beliefs which deliberately has kept iOS as a ‘walled garden’. It could hamper the curated user experience that Apple provides while also opening up the risk of privacy and security breaches, they said.
The aforementioned probe into the allegations of Apple’s anti-competitive practices was concluded back in February. Media reports from the time noted that the commission watchdog didn’t release the report in the absence of a sitting chairperson.
In May, the CCI appointed a new chairperson, Ravneet Kaur, and she is expected to take up the Apple matter soon.
To recap, the CCI initiated an inquiry into Apple’s business practices in December 2021 after receiving accusations from the not-for-profit organization Together We Fight Society.
The allegations centred around Apple’s purportedly steep commission charges and the absence of third-party payment alternatives on its app store. Subsequently, the Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), a prominent industry group, and Match Group, a US-based technology company, also lodged similar complaints, leading to the consolidation of the cases for investigation.
According to the complaint filed by the non-governmental organisation (NGO), Apple mandates app developers to employ its in-app payment solution for distributing paid digital content while imposing a 30% commission.
The NGO denounced this commission as ‘exorbitant’ when compared to the considerably lower fees charged by other payment processors.
Although Google faced similar allegations, a fundamental distinction exists in the way Apple and Google operate.
While Android, Google’s mobile operating system, is open-source, allowing for greater flexibility and participation from various entities, Apple’s iOS is a non-licensable operating system exclusive to Apple iPhones. In simpler terms, Apple does not license its operating system, retaining complete control over its ecosystem.