The European Commission Tuesday opened two antitrust investigations into U.S. tech giant Apple, one over its mobile payment solution “Apple Pay” and another one over the “App Store.”
In the first investigation, Brussels’ antitrust officials will look into whether Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules.
“It appears that Apple obtained a ‘gatekeeper’ role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.
“We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers,” she added.
The probe follows complaints by Spotify and “an e-book/audiobook distributor” on the impact of the App Store rules on competition in music streaming and e-books/audiobooks.
In a second probe, the Commission zeroes in on a number of potentially anticompetitive behaviors in relation to mobile payment solution Apple Pay, such as how Apple integrates Apple Pay in merchant apps and websites and how it restricts access to its Near Field Communication functionality.
These are the first two antitrust cases involving Apple opened by Vestager, who previously ordered Ireland to recover over €13 billion in unpaid taxes from the company. Vestager in three decisions imposed over €8 billion in antitrust fines on Google and is currently also investigating Amazon.
In a statement, the iPhone maker said that the Commission was “advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride,” adding that these firms did not want to play by the same rules as others who used the company’s App Store.
Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s head of global affairs and chief legal officer, applauded the Commission’s move.
“Apple’s anticompetitive behavior has intentionally disadvantaged competitors, created an unlevel playing field, and deprived consumers of meaningful choice for far too long,” he said Horacio Gutierrez. “We welcome the European Commission’s decision to formally investigate Apple.”
This article has been updated to add comment from Apple and Spotify.