- The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority is investigating Apple over complaints from software developers about its App Store.
- Apple has a rigorous approval process for iOS apps and has faced criticism about a 30% fee it charges on in-app transactions.
- Large U.S. tech companies are facing mounting antitrust scrutiny from regulators around the world.
LONDON — The U.K.'s competition regulator on Thursday launched an antitrust investigation into Apple.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it would investigate Apple over complaints from software developers about the tech giant's App Store.
Apple only lets developers release iPhone and iPad apps through its iOS smartphone platform. The firm has a rigorous approval process for iOS apps and has faced criticism about a 30% fee it charges on in-app transactions.
"Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
"Complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice — potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps — warrant careful scrutiny."
Britain's competition probe into Apple follows similar moves from the European Union. Last year, the EU Commission launched antitrust investigations into Apple's App Store rules and its Apple Pay mobile wallet. The CMA said it would continue to coordinate closely with the EU and other regulators, despite Britain having formally left the bloc last year.
An Apple spokesperson said the firm would work with the CMA to address its concerns.
"We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," the spokesperson said.
"The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent."
Big Tech clampdown
Large U.S. tech companies are facing mounting antitrust scrutiny from regulators around the world. The EU is looking to clamp down on Big Tech with sweeping digital markets and services reforms. The U.K., meanwhile, has plans of its own to introduce new digital rules.
Epic Games, creator of the popular video game Fortnite, has been particularly vocal in its criticism of Apple. Epic claims the iPhone maker's App Store rules are anti-competitive and has particularly taken issue with the 30% cut that Apple takes from developers for in-app purchases.
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