The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published Apple’s response to its Interim Report on mobile ecosystems. It also includes responses from other companies such as Epic Games (of course), Google, and Microsoft.
The CMA is a non-ministerial government department in the UK that’s responsible for strengthening business competition and preventing and reducing anti-competitive activities. Last year it launched an investigation into Apple’s alleged anti-competitive behavior.
The problem, per the CMA: “In addition to designing, manufacturing and marketing electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets, Apple also operates the App Store. This is the only way for developers to distribute third-party apps on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, and the only way for Apple customers to access them.
CMA Andrea Coscelli says the probe has been prompted by the organization’s own work in the digital sector, “as well as several developers reporting that Apple’s terms and conditions are unfair and could break competition law.:
All apps available through the App Store have to be approved by Apple, with this approval hinging on developers agreeing to certain terms. The CMA says complaints from developers focus on the terms that mean they can only distribute their apps to iPhones and iPads via the App Store.
Here’s part of Apple’s response to the CMA: ….Apple differentiates itself on the basis of its continuing commitment to tight integration across product areas and policies that protect the value that consumers clearly recognise and the benefit that developers clearly derive.
This integration has, from the outset, been at the heart of Apple’s vision and proposition to consumers2 and has significant benefits in relation to consumer protection, privacy, device and data security, and child safety. It also supports a vibrant, healthy, competitive market in which small developers have an opportunity to be found by consumers and compete with established developers on a trusted platform.
The evidence before the CMA demonstrates the reasons why Apple has designed its products as it has, and the benefits that this has delivered to consumers and developers. Yet on the basis of partial analysis and hypothetical concerns – as detailed below – the Interim Report (IR) proposes interventions in an already highly competitive market that would fundamentally change the iPhone and have huge implications for consumers, including in terms of Apple’s industry-leading privacy and security standards, and would reallocate the distribution of benefits of the app economy from the broadest set of developers to a small set of successful incumbents.