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India’s Competition Commission Set to Rule on App Store Antitrust Case Against Apple

Apple’s App Store is once again in the spotlight as the Competition Commission of India (CCI) nears the end of its antitrust investigation into the tech giant. According to reports from the Economic Times of India, the CCI is currently in the final stages of reviewing a report on the investigation, indicating that a ruling could be imminent.

The CCI launched the investigation in September 2021 after receiving a complaint from a non-profit organization called “Together We Fight Society.” The organization raised concerns about Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices in its App Store.

While the exact details of the ongoing investigation remain undisclosed, unspecified legal sources have indicated that the next step will involve Apple being called to make a submission. It is unclear how this submission will differ from any previous ones made by Apple throughout the investigation. Additionally, the timeline for a final ruling has not been specified.

However, these sources suggest that the CCI is likely to follow in the footsteps of its previous action against Google. The CCI had directed Google to allow third-party payment systems on the Google Play Store, and it is anticipated that a similar ruling will be imposed on Apple. This would mean that Apple must open up its App Store to alternative payment systems, rather than mandating developers to exclusively use its own payment infrastructure.

Apple has already faced similar demands from South Korean authorities in 2022. In response, the company allowed developers to utilize rival payment systems, but with certain limitations. The option was only available for apps exclusively distributed in South Korea, and Apple still imposed a significant 25% fee.

The potential impact of this ruling on Apple’s software distribution is significant, especially considering India’s aspirations to boost its hardware production. Recent figures indicate that India is on track to export one out of every five iPhones by 2025. The requirement for Apple to open up its App Store to alternative payment systems could have far-reaching consequences for both developers and consumers in India.

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Interestingly, this development coincides with Europe’s Digital Markets Act, which is expected to come into effect in 2024. The legislation is likely to mandate Apple and other tech giants to facilitate the use of alternative payment systems within their app stores. Therefore, Apple’s preparations for a broader implementation of alternative payment systems in the App Store align with the upcoming regulatory changes in Europe.

As the CCI’s investigation nears its conclusion, all eyes are on India to see how this decision could shape the future of the App Store and the wider app distribution landscape. Apple may be compelled to open its gates to rival alternatives, marking a significant shift in the dynamics of the Indian app ecosystem.

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