If there’s anything that makes company leaders and representatives crabby, it’s Apple sucking 30% of the profits from their apps sold through the App Store. Evidently, Apple’s competitors have had quite enough because the rumor mill suggests an impending FTC investigation. However, as Jeff John Roberts points out, rumors of FTC investigation hardly indicate legal consequences for Apple, especially since they are neither a monopoly nor competition killers. For example, Spotify Premium, which is typically downloaded from the App Store for $12.99 per month, can be downloaded from Spotify’s website for $9.99 per month because the website version doesn’t have to contend with Apple’s 30% cut.
Following the launch of Apple Music, criticism has increased because the App store can sell its premium service (Apple Music has no free tier at the time of this writing, aside from Beats 1) for the standard $9.99, but other music streaming services must either increase their price to compensate for Apple’s cut or drastically reduce their profit margins, and reducing a profit margin is never the preferred move. What concerns the FTC is that Apple can use its App Store, which its competition is also very attached to, to sell competing apps for a price nearly impossible to match. Granted, the prices are the same if the customer spends a little time looking for the website, so Apple isn’t really harming the competition (not that the competition cares to admit it). This in mind, the FTC hasn’t brought charges yet, and they very well may not.
On the other hand, The Verge reports that Apple’s rules do not permit companies to use the App Store to send users to the website where it would be cheaper. Many streaming services depend on the App Store to reach iPhone users, so they argue that they are being abused. In any case, whether guilty of monopolizing or just being obnoxious, Apple doesn’t look as though it’s worried about facing the music any time soon.
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