By Foo Yun Chee and Sudip Kar-Gupta
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -EU antitrust regulators on Tuesday narrowed their case against Apple, focusing on its App Store rules that prevent developers from informing users of other purchasing options, while dropping another charge related to in-app payments.
The European Commission, which acts as the executive for the 27-country European Union, did not say why it had dropped its case against the iPhone maker for requiring developers to use its own in-app payment system.
However, the victory for the U.S. tech giant will be short-lived as a new EU tech law known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will apply from May, bans both of the Apple practices investigated by the Commission, with fines of up to 10% of a company’s global turnover for infringements.
The Commission said Apple’s so-called anti-steering obligations, which prevent developers from informing users about other purchasing options, violate EU rules against unfair trading conditions.
These obligations are “neither necessary nor proportionate for the provision of the App Store on iPhones and iPads” and “are detrimental to users of music streaming services on Apple’s mobile devices who may end up paying more”, the EU competition enforcer said in a statement.
Apple said it was pleased the Commission, which can fine it up to 10% of its global turnover for antitrust violations, had narrowed the case and it would respond to the regulator’s concerns.
Spotify triggered the case against Apple by complaining about both its anti-steering mechanism and in-app payment system, leading the Commission to issue a charge sheet against Apple in April 2021.
The streaming giant urged the Commission on Tuesday to issue a swift decision.
The Commission said Tuesday’s charge sheet, known as a statement of objections, would replace the 2021 document.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee and Sudip Kar-GuptaEditng by Mark Potter)