Apple’s recent changes to its services in the European Union have sparked controversy and concern among 34 digital organizations, including major players like Epic Games and Spotify. These organizations have complained to the European Commission, stating that Apple’s proposed scheme for compliance with the Digital Markets Act (DMA) falls short of meeting the requirements of the law. The concern raised is that these changes may hinder the ability to deliver the benefits of the DMA to consumers in a timely manner.

In an effort to comply with the DMA, Apple announced modifications to its iOS operating system, Safari browser, and App Store in the EU. This move is part of the EU’s crackdown on anti-competitive practices online. Apple, along with other tech giants like Google, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and TikTok, classified as “gatekeepers”, have until March 7 to align themselves with the provisions of the DMA. The law carries heavy fines, up to 10 percent of global revenue for non-compliance, or 20 percent for repeat offenders.

One of the notable changes Apple introduced was opening its App Store to rival apps and allowing alternative payment services on iPhones. However, app developers choosing this route were met with a new “Core Technology Fee” imposed by Apple. This fee charges developers 50 euro cents ($0.54) per download for apps exceeding a million downloads. Companies like Epic Games, known for its popular Fortnite game, argue that this fee is exorbitant and only serves to benefit Apple, reinforcing its gatekeeper position.

The digital companies and associations behind the complaint letter to the European Commission expressed their disappointment in Apple’s new terms. They believe that these terms not only defy the essence and specifics of the law but, if unchanged, belittle the DMA and the efforts made by EU institutions to promote competitiveness in digital markets. Critics have cast doubt on the extent to which Apple’s changes will enhance consumer choice and foster digital competition.

When asked about the concerns raised in the letter, the European Commission mentioned that it would carefully examine the proposed compliance measures put forth by designated gatekeepers after the March 7 deadline. The Commission stressed the importance of a thorough analysis rather than relying solely on announcements, indicating that enforcement actions will be taken decisively when needed.

Apple’s steps towards antitrust compliance in the EU have triggered skepticism and disapproval from digital organizations, app developers, and experts alike. The ongoing dialogue between the EU regulators and tech giants like Apple will determine the extent to which these changes truly promote fair competition and benefit consumers in the digital landscape.


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