Apple faces formal complaint today over abuse of dominance in China

10 August 2017 4:49pm
The App Store

8 August 2017. By Yonnex Li and Xu Yuan.

A group of Chinese app developers is set to formally complain to the country's antitrust regulators today over Apple's alleged abuse of dominance in the way it operates its App Store.

Dare & Sure Law Firm, which represents the app developers and announced its move yesterday in Beijing, will submit the complaint and related evidence to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the National Development and Reform Commission by the end of today.

The complaint alleges that Apple engaged in refusals to deal and discriminatory treatment, both prohibited by China's Anti-Monopoly Law. Apple is accused of removing some Chinese apps from the App Store without reasonable justification, with more than 150,000 apps taken off the platform in February alone.

According to the law firm, Apple is also accused of violating the Anti-Monopoly Law by abusing its market dominance through excessive pricing and illegal bundling in the operation of its App Store. Apple also engaged in bundling by requiring purchases of all apps to be made through iTunes and prohibiting payments via third parties.

In April, Chinese Internet giant Tencent shut down the blog post tip-payment feature on its messaging app WeChat due to the restrictions in Apple's new app policy. According to the policy, one-to-one tips on social media platforms are recognized as in-app purchases, which means Apple takes a 30 percent cut of the money made from inside popular social networking sites in China.

In the same month, the Beijing-based law firm announced that it had accepted requests for representation and consulting from a number of domestic mobile-app developers and consumers to conduct an investigation and detailed analysis of alleged violations and infringements by Apple.

The law firm said in May it had gathered evidence and information from more than 10 mobile app developers whose applications had been removed from the App Store since the announcement in April.

Last month, two seminars were organized to discuss legal issues related to Apple's new App Store policy, with participants including lawyers, economists and prominent Chinese antitrust scholars.

In one of the seminars, some economists and other experts argued that Apple enjoyed absolute dominance of the market for its iOS operating system and its App Store, focusing on those two markets rather than the iPhone device market.

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