After various proceedings in the USA, the EU and Asia, the Federal Cartel Office responsible for Germany has now begun to scrutinize Apple’s market position. The authority wants to use its new possibilities within the framework of the reformed Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB) to examine the large digital platforms. Google, Amazon and Facebook are already under this tightened observation, and now Apple is also joining.
Digital ecosystem – also targeting other platforms
“We will now examine whether Apple has built a digital ecosystem around the iPhone with the proprietary iOS operating system over several markets,” said the President of the Cartel Office, Andreas Mundt. The first step in the investigation is whether Apple has a “cross-market significance”. The group likes to deny this, as the iPhone has a significantly lower market share than the Google Android operating system.
With the 10th amendment to the GWB, completed in January the federal German cartel watchdogs take action against digital platforms more easily. To do this, you have to prove that these are companies that are of “paramount cross-market importance for competition”. With Google, Amazon and Facebook you can see this as a given.
Focus on the App Store – again
At Apple, the cartel guards could, among other things, examine the link between software and hardware, as well as software sales and services such as iCloud. “In addition to the Group’s position in these areas, we will also deal with extensive integration across several market levels, the company’s technological and financial resources and its access to data,” said Mundt. In particular, the App Store, which Apple operates exclusively, is in the center of interest – as in various other proceedings against the group.
They look forward to “discussing our approach with the Federal Cartel Office and having an open dialogue about all concerns,” said Apple in a comment to the news agency dpa With. They are “proud to be an engine for innovation and jobs”. The iOS platform alone supports more than 250,000 workplaces in Germany.