Apple calls for dismissal of Indian app market antitrust case, cites small market share

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Apple has asked India’s antitrust watchdog to dismiss case alleging abuse of market power in the app market, claiming it is too small a player in the South Asian country where Google is dominant, according to a file consulted by Reuters.

The case was filed after the Indian Competition Commission (ITC) began investigating allegations that Apple harms competition by forcing app developers to use its proprietary system which can charge commissions of up to 30% on in-app purchases.

Apple has denied the allegations in its ICC case and pointed out that its market share in India is 0-5% “insignificant”, while Google orders 90-100% because its Android operating system powers most of it. other smartphones.

“Apple is not dominant in the Indian market… Without domination, there can be no abuse,” Apple said in the November 16 submission signed by its chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer.

“It has already been established that Google is the dominant player in India,” he added.

Apple and ICC did not respond to a request for comment. A Google spokesperson for Alphabet declined to comment when asked about Apple’s claims in the case.

The plaintiff in this case, a little-known nonprofit group called “Together We Fight Society,” said Apple with iOS dominates the market for unlicensed mobile operating systems.

Apple retorted this in its brief, saying the entire smartphone market – which includes licensed systems like Android – is the market that should be considered.

Apple also described the Indian complaint as a “filing of power of attorney” in its CCI submission, saying the complainant was “likely acting in concert with parties with whom Apple has ongoing commercial and contractual disputes around the world and / or who have filed a complaint with other regulators ”.

The US tech company did not provide any evidence in its submission to support its claim. The nonprofit told Reuters that Apple’s remark was “made to harm the spirit” of the ICC “without any iota of evidence.”

In the coming weeks, the ICC will review Apple’s response to the allegations and may order a broader investigation or dismiss the case altogether if it finds no basis. Details of the ICC investigations are not being publicly disclosed.

ITC is separately investigating Google’s in-app payment system as part of a larger investigation into the company after Indian startups expressed concern last year.

Apple’s iOS was powering about 2% of India’s 520 million smartphones at the end of 2020, with the rest running Android, according to Counterpoint Research, although it adds that Apple’s smartphone base in the country has more. than doubled in the past five years.

GLOBAL CHALLENGE

Apple is grappling with similar allegations in other parts of the world. In the United States, it is engaged in a legal battle with Fortnite creator Epic Games, and South Korea this year became the first country to ban dominant app store operators from forcing developers to use their apps. payment systems.

In the European Union, regulators last year launched an investigation into Apple’s enforcement fees for the distribution of paid digital content and other restrictions.

Companies like Apple and Google say their fees cover the security and marketing benefits provided by their app stores.

In its CCI filing, Apple argued that the in-app commissions it charges were “neither unfair nor excessive” and had declined over time, adding that it was charging lower rates to smaller developers.

“Only a small number of large developers, many of whom are multi-billion dollar conglomerates, are paying the overall rate of 30%,” Apple said.

“Competing platforms charged similar or higher commissions than Apple’s. In particular, Google charged a 30% commission on its app store,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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