Apple Makes Striking Confession To The EU About Operating Five Different App Stores

iPhone maker Apple is busy with its preparations of trying to enable third-party app stores to align with the stringent rules and regulations in the EU region. This came after several questions were raised about antitrust behavior from the commission.

But while it’s busy doing that, we’re also seeing it put forth more arguments on why it shouldn’t be forced to do this in the first place. The latest on this front has to do with the Cupertino firm refusing to call its App Store an entire platform or one that shouldn’t be viewed as a separate entity.

This is where the tech giant added how it currently operates five different app stores and that raised even more eyebrows.

For those who aren’t aware, several antitrust regulators have been after the company and its exclusive control regarding the sales of iPhone applications belonging to third-party sources. It doesn’t depend on whether you happen to be a consumer wishing to purchase apps for your iPhone device or a developer wishing to sell one. There is just a single place where it could be done and that’s the App Store.

Now the iPhone maker has full authority and control on which platforms are allowed on the App Store and the firm is setting its own terms and conditions for this. For instance, the share of 15 to 30% in the name of commission goes to the tech giant while developers as well as customers need to accept just that.

Meanwhile, regulators found in the EU find that a difficult pill to digest, referring to the action as a clear-cut violation of competition law.

And that’s exactly where the Digital Markets Act comes into play. It states in bold terms how the App Store is fully covered by such laws. Therefore, the iPhone maker must enable competition to arise in the growing iPhone app market as that’s the only way by which the firm could abide by the law by enabling third-party arch-rival app stores to enter the market. Now the deadline outlined for this clause is April of 2024 and the iPhone maker has been working long and hard to meet such requirements as we speak.

But that is a separate topic altogether as the major concern that many critics are having is related to the company confirming its control over five different App Stores.

Remember, the DMA is a law application to all tech apps and the EU is responsible for defining which goods and services fall in this domain with the App Store being at the top of the list. But Cupertino firm argued that it should not be the case, because it has control over five app stores.

Many were shocked to hear that during a court hearing arising in the EU yesterday as confirmed by media outlet Reuters. Apple revealed through a plea how the EC has made a big error in claiming the firm’s five App Stores are a single entity when that’s not the case as they work independently from each other.

More details about the argument were revealed including how the tech giant controls different app stores across all of its devices including phones, Mac computers, TVs, Watches, and iPads. Therefore, each of those was designed to provide apps for particular operating systems in line with the product’s design.

And even more shocking reports are talking about how the firm’s iMessage feature might just have one of its own platforms, even though it’s yet to delineate it as one right now.

The summary from Reuters appears as if there is more to the matter and the outline is quite sketchy, so to speak.

Meanwhile, the firm contended that iMessage does not fall in the domain of the Digital Markets Act because it’s not a free service for all and therefore doesn’t generate revenue through the sales of hardware or data belonging to users.

But seeing the matter of Apple’s app store being plural instead of singular does not or should not make a huge difference as the single iPhone App Store is enough to be considered a platform alone.

Some experts however do believe the company might succeed in terms of its argument of excluding app stores linked to other devices.

Apple argues its five app stores work independently, rejecting EU's claim of a singular entity, challenging antitrust scrutiny.
Photo: Digital Information World - AIgen

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