Apple-Epic row being closely watched by German antitrust chief

Epic Games Fortnite

Germany’s antitrust watchdog is following closely a legal row over Apple’s App Store payment provisions, stating on Wednesday it might in principle open a nationwide inquiry.

Apple dropped Epic Games following a dispute where the ‘Fortnite’ founder alleged that the iPhone maker’s in-app payment provisions constitute a monopoly.

“This has most certainly attracted our interest,” explained Andreas Mundt, head of the Federal Cartel Office.

“We are at the beginning, but we are looking at this very closely.”

Apple, that didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, ditched Epic after it used a feature to allow iPhone users create in-app purchases directly, instead of with Apple’s system, which costs a 30% fee.

Mundt advised an online briefing which Apple’s App Store along with the Play Store that functions smartphones running on Google’s Android operating system represented an”interesting habitat because they are the only two worldwide”.

Although the Bonn-based jurisdiction does have the capacity to impose penalties, it generally undertakes administrative probes into big technology firms to establish whether they are abusing their market dominance then seeks a change in the way that they work.

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It reached an agreement last year with Amazon after investigating provisions for merchants using the e-commerce platform. Facebook is appealing an order to curtail its assortment of user information.

Contest regulation in the EU is managed by its Brussels-based Commission, which is examining a complaint brought by streaming service Spotify contrary to Apple, and in parallel at national level.

A new investigation, sparked by complaints that Amazon had prioritised some imports early in the coronavirus pandemic, should be finished “quite quickly”, Mundt said.

The principal focus was now on whether Amazon is operating a system of price control and rates retailers based on pricing,” he said. Amazon says retailers set their own prices and its systems are designed to behave against price gouging.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Douglas Busvine. Editing by Alexander Smith.

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