Dutch antitrust fines don’t deter Apple, says EU regulator

By | February 23, 2022


Apple doesn’t care about the fact that it is regularly being fined €5M ($5.7M) by Dutch antitrust regulators, and would rather pay the fines than comply with the law, it is claimed.

The accusation was leveled by the European Union’s competition regulator Margrethe Vestager, after Apple was fined for the fifth time …

Background

Apple is facing antitrust pressure both home and abroad in respect to its monopoly on the sale of iOS apps.

In the Netherlands, the company was told that it must allow alternative payment methods for dating apps in the country. The company reluctantly agreed, but made it as hard as possible for developers to take advantage of the fact.

Developers will need to create and maintain a completely separate app binary which includes special entitlements, and is only made available in the Netherlands App Store […] As part of requesting the entitlement, applications must declare what payment processor they intend to use, purchase support URLs, and other information.

The company followed this by saying that developers would still have to pay a 27% commission if they used a third-party payment platform, making it more expensive to opt out than to stick with Apple. Dutch regulators responded by saying that this was not a “serious proposal” – and levied a fifth fine, taking the total to €25M ($28M).

Dutch antitrust fines irrelevant to Apple

TechCrunch reports on the reference in Vestager’s speech, delivered yesterday in Apple’s home state of California.

The European Union’s head of digital policy, EVP Margrethe Vestager, has hit out at Apple — suggesting the company is deliberately choosing to pay fines to avoid compliance with a Dutch antitrust order requiring it to allow dating apps to make use of third party payment tech when selling in-app content […]

“Effective enforcement, which includes the Commission having sufficient resources to do so, will be key to ensure compliance. Some gatekeepers may be tempted to play for time or try to circumvent the rules. Apple’s conduct in the Netherlands these days may be an example. As we understand it, Apple essentially prefers paying periodic fines, rather than comply with a decision of the Dutch Competition Authority on the terms and conditions for third parties to access its appstore.”

The speech does highlight a problem with regulating a company the size of Apple: Fines that would act as a serious deterrent to most companies are just an acceptable cost of doing business to the Cupertino giant.

Photo: Napendra Singh/Unsplash

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