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Home / Technology / Apple also earns an EU fine

Apple also earns an EU fine



The European Commission had solid antitrust reasons to correct Google's € 4.3 billion ($ 5 billion) for violations, including bundling certain apps with the Android operating system, and not Apple for a similar Sacrifice behavior. From the point of view of the consumer, however, Apple should receive the same attention.

Google's main violation in EU ruling is "illegally linking" its search and browser apps to the Android operating system. The search giant, the decision has led Android phone manufacturers to pre-install their search and browser applications, if they wanted to grant access to the Google Play Store, where almost all Android users get their apps. According to the European Commission, this has reduced the ability of other search engine providers and browser developers to compete because pre-installation creates "status quo distortion": users are too lazy to seek alternatives to apps that are already on their new phones ] The commission ruled that the bundling practices are illegal because Google dominates "licensable smart mobile operating systems and app stores for the Android mobile operating system" in the markets. The language is important because Apple (or Blackberry) does not license systems to device manufacturers. It produces a complete package and can not be accused of putting manufacturers under pressure. It intuitively makes sense for the EU not to punish Apple too: if a product belongs entirely to a company, it can decide what it should pack into it.

But if Google is to blame for its de facto monopoly in the Android app stores, Apple should be held accountable for a similar infringement. Although an Android user can easily shop in some alternative stores (though no one agrees with the Google Play store), an iPhone user can not leave Apple's App Store without "jailbreaking" the phone. That's what Apple does to a monopoly in the truest sense of the word, and the US Supreme Court has agreed to file a lawsuit against this super-dominant position on behalf of consumers who have no choice but to pay Apple's 30 percent commission for developers as part of the price of each app.

Like Google, Apple makes the preinstalled browser from a phone erasable, while Google allows users to choose their own standard applications, including the browser and maps You can, for example, the Google Chrome browser and Google Maps on an iPhone but they do not start by default when you click a link in an email or other app. This is even more anti-competitive han just pre-install your own software and hope that users keep it because it's good enough.

In fact, Chrome's market share on mobile devices is smaller than that of Android. Apple is more effective in keeping competitors out of the market: The Safari browser holds almost the same market share as its iOS operating system.

Who is the monopoly?

Market share of the two leading developers of mobile operating systems, June 2018

Source: Gs.statcounter.com


As a consumer, I want all phone manufacturers, whether they have gadgets, run Android, the iOS, Samsung Tizen, or Linux something even more exotic to offer me a selection of apps. When setting up a new phone, users should see a list of browser apps with reviews from users and independent reviewers, as well as a list of email applications and mapping and navigation apps. Lazier users could simply press a button to install all the OS recommended apps.

The experience of Microsoft forced by the EU to provide users with a selection of browsers on Windows computers (it has been fined twice), shows that the decision is for itself Level playing field creates competition. Chrome, not a program developed by Microsoft, is now the most popular browser on Windows.

Independent developers are able to produce better apps than those of the big platform companies. They deserve a boost through a universal pre-installation ban. And even the platform companies can only benefit from more competition: they remain in shape as app developers.

Margrethe Vestager, EU Competition Commissioner, understandably has not issued a complete ban on pre-installation of basic apps on mobile phones. Attempting to regulate giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Intel, who have received antitrust fines from the EU over the last decade, requires a lot of resources. The companies are resisting with all their lobby power and appeal to any decision against them. Vestager needs to focus on areas where it is on the strongest ground, and it would probably be too ambitious to expect big behavioral changes in an entire industry. On Wednesday, she repeatedly said that it was not up to her to tell Google what to do just to punish him for illegal behavior.

And yet there is a case for regulatory intervention in app pre-installation procedures. European companies are unlikely to become the leading operating system in the foreseeable future. But Europe has a sizeable app economy: in 2017, it employed 1.89 million people, compared to 1.73 million in the US. This industry's access to consumers should be a goal for European policy-makers and regulators. Vestager's latest Google verdict should be just a first step, not an isolated attack on a US company for something others do.