Monday, March 14, 2022

Apple facing 8th non-compliance fine from Dutch antitrust authority--total amount now €40 million ($44 million)--with complainant Match Group's own conduct still not being investigated

Two weeks ago, Dutch antitrust authority ACM (Autoriteit Consument & Markt; Authority for Consumers & Markets) slapped Apple with a sixth €5 million weekly fine despite a letter with which Apple sought to explain why it believed to be compliant with a ruling requiring the iPhone maker to support alternative in-app payment systems.

That same week I expressed my view that the ACM should actually be more concerned with the complainant's own conduct: Match Group runs Tinder and other dating apps, and some Tinder users apparently had to pay (according to a Mozilla/Consumers International study) 500% more than others, largely just based on age discrimination. I want competition in app distribution, particularly third-party app stores for iOS (and a level playing field for third-party app stores on Android), but it strikes me as odd that Apple's 30% would be of a greater concern than Tinder's 500%. Moreover, there is no evidence that Dutch consumers would actually pay less in the long run (short-lived PR stunts aside) if Match Group didn't have to pay Apple its 30% commission, while Mozilla and Consumers International delivered evidence that Dutch consumers paid discriminatory premiums to the Tinder company.

Telecompaper now reports that Apple has been fined for eight weeks in a row (though this week's fine could, as far as I know, still be avoided if Apple met the ACM's demands). The aggregate amount of those fines is now €40 million ($44 million). The limit is €50 million and likely will be reached in two weeks.

I remain unconvinced that Apple is out of compliance with that decision, as I explained in earlier posts.

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