The case against Apple will assess if the Cupertino tech behemoth has “paramount relevance across markets” and whether, through its ecosystem, Apple wields enough power to make it difficult for “other companies” to compete with it.

The president of the Bundeskartellamt, Andreas Mundt, released the following comment on the preliminary proceedings:

We’ll now look at whether Apple has built a digital ecosystem around the iPhone using its own operating system, iOS, that spans many markets. Apple makes tablets, desktops, and wearable devices, as well as offering a variety of device-related services. As part of its services division, the tech corporation offers the App Store, iCloud, Apple Care, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, and other services in addition to manufacturing numerous hardware devices.

In addition to evaluating the company’s position in these areas, we’ll look at its broad integration across several market levels, the size of its technological and financial resources, and its data access, among other things. The functioning of the App Store, which allows Apple to influence the business activities of third parties in a variety of ways, will be a major focus of the investigations.

According to the agency, it has received “a number of complaints relating to possibly anti-competitive acts,” particularly in relation to the recent implementation of ATT or the App Tracking Transparency framework.

Another complaint received by the office, according to the news release, was over Apple’s own apps being pre-installed on its devices. The office specifically mentions section 19a of the German Competition Act, which stipulates that “the abuse of a dominating position by one or more businesses is prohibited,” as a possible law that Apple is breaking.

Russia recently took the first big legal action against Apple for pre-installing its own apps, mandating the company to display a screen during first device setup that allows customers to download government-approved programs. Similar legislation being considered in the United States Congress would require Apple to allow consumers to uninstall all pre-installed Apple apps rather than just a few.

The Bundeskartellamt also lists ongoing disagreements over Apple’s in-app purchasing scheme, which pays the tech giant a 30 percent fee on all purchases made and limits program distribution to Apple’s App Store rather than other third-party app marketplaces.

In response to the investigation, Apple has issued the following statement.

With over 250,000 employment supported by the iOS app economy in Germany, Apple is happy to be a driver of innovation and job development.  The App Store’s economic growth and activity has provided German developers of all sizes with the same opportunity to share their passion and creativity with users all over the world, while also providing a secure and trusted environment for customers to download the apps they want with the privacy protections they expect.  Apple’s main technical hub in Europe is in Germany, as is a new €1 billion investment in our European Silicon Design Center in Munich. We look forward to discussing our strategy with the FCO and engaging in a candid conversation regarding any of their concerns.

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