This decision comes after a long-standing clash between the ACM and Apple, highlighting concerns about the company’s market power and the fairness of the fee structure of its App Store, Bloomberg reported Thursday (Oct. 31), citing a confidential decision it had seen.
The ACM and Apple did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.
In the decision, the ACM stated that Apple’s rules unfairly target companies offering subscription services, according to the report. These companies are subject to high commission rates on app sales, unlike those that do not offer paid digital content. The Dutch regulator argues that Apple harms these companies by charging them “an additional and inexplicably higher fee.”
Apple had previously offered to reduce its app sale commission in the Netherlands from 30% to 27%, the report said. However, the ACM’s confidential findings indicate that this offer does not go far enough to address the concerns raised. Apple now faces the choice of opposing the ACM’s findings or attempting to remedy the concerns by restructuring its commission structure.
The ACM’s ruling could pave the way for greater antitrust scrutiny across the 27-nation EU regarding the fairness of Apple’s fee structure for different apps, per the report. The European Commission in Brussels is already investigating how Apple restricts apps from informing users about cheaper subscriptions available outside the app store.
The ACM has been engaged in a legal battle with Apple since 2021 when it accused the company of breaching Dutch competition rules in the dating app market, according to the report. Apple was fined a total of 50 million euros (about $53 million) for failing to comply with an order to allow developers of dating apps to use third-party payment systems. However, Apple later reached a truce with the Dutch regulator by allowing dating app providers to offer different payment methods.
App stores have been at the forefront of policy debates surrounding digital markets. The gatekeeping position of Apple and Google in the App Store and Google Play Store, respectively, have been the subject of market studies launched by regulators in several jurisdictions.