Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is facing an antitrust challenge in India for allegedly abusing its dominant position in the apps market by forcing developers to use its proprietary in-app purchase system. The allegations are similar to a case Apple faces in the European Union, where regulators last year started an investigation into Apple’s imposition of an in-app fee of 30% for distribution of paid digital content and other restrictions.
The Indian case was filed by a little-known, non-profit group which argues Apple’s fee of up to 30% hurts competition by raising costs for app developers and customers, while also acting as a barrier to market entry.
“The existence of the 30% commission means that some app developers will never make it to the market … This could also result in consumer harm,” said the filing, which has been seen by Reuters.
Unlike Indian court cases, filings and details of cases reviewed by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) are not made public. Apple and the CCI did not respond to a request for comment.
In the coming weeks, the CCI will review the case and could order its investigations arm to conduct a wider probe, or dismiss it altogether if it finds no merit in it, said a source familiar with the matter.
“There are high chances that an investigation can be ordered, also because the EU has been probing this,” said the person, who declined to be identified as the case details are not public.
The complainant, non-profit “Together We Fight Society” which is based in India’s western state of Rajasthan, told Reuters in a statement it filed the case in the interest of protecting Indian consumers and startups.
In India, though Apple’s iOS powered just about 2% of 520 million smartphones by end-2020 – with the rest using Android – Counterpoint Research says the U.S. firm’s smartphone base in the country has more than doubled in the last five years.
The Apple case in India comes just as South Korea’s parliament this week approved a bill that bans major app store operators like Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google and Apple from forcing software developers to use their payment systems.