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Apple faces severe German antitrust abuse regime.

Photo: Apple

Today, Germany’s antitrust authorities recognized Apple’s “paramount relevance for competition across markets” specific misuse controls. Five years.

“The company holds a dominant, or at least powerful, position on all vertically related levels based on its smartphones, tablets, smart watches, proprietary operating systems, and the App Store, the only digital distribution platform for apps and other software products available to both app publishers and users on Apple devices,” it wrote in a press release.

“Based on this tight proprietary vertical structure and an installed base of more than 2 billion active devices worldwide, Apple is engaged in many ways on market levels and business sectors that are related and can thus attach its consumers to its complex ecosystem on a long-term basis. This gives third parties, especially app developers, tremendous rule-making power.”

The Federal Cartel Office (FCO) declared Amazon, Google, and Meta (Facebook) market power. It began investigating Microsoft’s competitive strength late last month.

In 2021, the country passed an ex-ante update to its domestic competition regime to empower the federal regulator to tackle Big Tech’s market power ahead of the Digital Markets Act, which will designate Internet “gatekeepers” and apply up-front operational rules to their businesses later this year.

Andreas Mundt, Bundeskartellamt president, stated:

Apple’s market dominance provides it with unchecked power. Apple’s digital ecosystem, based on mobile devices like the iPhone, is crucial to competitiveness in Germany, Europe, and the world. Apple controls competition, ecosystem access, and customer acquisition through iOS and the App Store. This ruling lets us target and stop anti-competitive conduct.

The FCO can move faster if Apple’s platforms and products raise competition concerns.

The regulator investigated Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which oversees tracking permissions for third-party iOS apps, last year. The FCO is investigating whether these restrictions favor Apple’s products and hinder competitors.

“No decision has been made on taking additional proceedings against Apple,” it stated in a press statement.

Apple was asked about the FCO’s decision.

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