Many years ago, when I first started writing about Apple on the MacUser blog, one of my first recurring features was a series I called “Under the Gavel”, in which I rounded up legal challenges to Apple.
Those challenges haven’t abated over the last several years—if anything, they’ve intensified. In fact, just in the last day or two, there have been several new places where Apple has found itself on the receiving ends of government investigations or legal actions. So, if you’ll allow me to indulge in a bit of a trip down nostalgia lane, I’m briefly dusting off the old gavel to break down these latest developments.
Can’t tap, won’t tap
At issue is the fact that while Apple uses the iPhone and Apple Watch’s NFC chips for Apple Pay, it doesn’t allow third-party developers to take advantage of the hardware for the same purpose. Therefore, companies like Square or Venmo can’t leverage the technology for tap-to-pay features in their own apps without using Apple Pay—of which Apple, of course, gets a cut.
These charges stem from an investigation that
Also on the topic of payment, the Netherlands has taken aim at Apple’s in-app payment system, perhaps the company’s most popular punching bag at the moment.
This comes just two months after
It’s unlikely that the Netherlands will be the last country to take umbrage at Apple’s business practices, raising the question of whether the company intends to make country-by-country exceptions to its App Store, or get ahead of the matter with more sweeping, global policy changes.
(Too) Big in Japan
Apple reportedly controls almost 70 percent of the mobile operating system market in Japan, with Android making up the other 30 percent. The JFTC will thus be investigating how that market dominance comes into play, and whether or not Apple and Google are using their positions to limit competition. (It will also look into related markets like wearables.)
The investigation is, of course, not guaranteed to yield charges against Apple. At the moment, it’s merely a study that will talk to app developers, users, and the companies themselves, culminating in a report detailing any anticompetitive practices. This is likely to be a bit of a slower burn than the other cases, which expect decisions more imminently, but it’s also casting a much wider net, which could mean a higher probability that the JFTC takes action on something.
Just the beginning
As I wrote