Apple is apparently also defending itself in Russia against a forced opening of the app store for external purchase options: The group is taking action against a decision by the Russian competition authority and wants to have this judicially checked, like the state broadcaster Russia Today reports. According to the Federal Antimonopoly Service of the Russian Federation (FAS), Apple is abusing its dominant position in the sale of iPhone apps, thereby violating competition law.
Antitrust proceedings are ongoing
The regulatory authority asked Apple in August to no longer prohibit app developers from referring to external purchase opportunities in apps – and set a deadline of the end of September, which Apple apparently let pass. The company did not comply with the request, complained the competition authority in October and announced the opening of antitrust proceedings. Should Apple be found guilty, a sales-oriented penalty threatens.
iPhone users and developers had previously complained to the regulator that some content in apps is more expensive than when purchased via the provider’s website, writes Russia Today.
Dispute over link ban
The crux of the matter is the controversial passage 3.1 from Apple’s app store approval specifications – also in the USA and Europe. There, developers are also prohibited from integrating “buttons, external links and other calls to action” in apps that refer users to (external) payment options other than Apple’s in-app purchase (IAP). For purchases made via its own IAP interface, Apple automatically withholds its commission of up to 30 percent. Some app providers increase the price of their in-app purchases and pass the commission through to the end customer.
In the legal dispute with Epic Games in the USA, Apple made it clear that the manufacturer definitely wants to charge a commission on digital sales in apps, even if the compulsory use of the in-app payment interface should be lifted. That only requires considerable effort. Apple sees the processing via its own payment interface as a plus for users: It increases security and allows additional functions such as the restoration of purchases and central subscription management.