India antitrust watchdog orders investigation into Apple’s business practices

Indian antitrust watchdog on Friday ordered an investigation into Apple’s business practices — in particular, the mandatory use of its own payments system for iPhone apps on its app store — in India, where the American firm commands less than 2% of the smartphone market.

The Competition Commission of India, which ordered the Director General to conduct the probe within 60 days, said it is of the prima facie view that the mandatory use of Apple’s in-app payments system for paid apps and in-app purchases “restrict[s] the choice available to the app developers to select a payment processing system of their choice especially considering when it charges a commission of up to 30% for app purchases and in-app purchases.”

The watchdog began reviewing the case after a complaint filed by Together We Fight Society, a non-profit based in India’s western state of Rajasthan.

“At this stage, it appears that the lack of competitive constraint in the distribution of mobile apps is likely to affect the terms on which Apple provide access to its App Store to the app developers, including the commission rates and terms that thwart certain app developers from using other in-app payment systems,” the watchdog wrote in a 20-page order.

The CCI said it is also worth investigating whether Apple uses data it collects from the users of its competitors to “improve its own services.”

We have reached out to Apple for comment.

This is a developing story. More to follow…

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