Telegram Files EU Antitrust Complaint Against Apple

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Secure messaging app Telegram files official antitrust complaint with EU officials, over Apple’s App Store and the fees it charges

Telegram has filed an official complaint with European antitrust officials against Apple and its App Store.

Its complaint centres on the fees Apple’s App Store charges, as well as the strict rules that govern the App Store.

It comes after an Apple commissioned report last week defended its fees, stating that the 30 percent commission is about average.

Apple investigations

In June Apple was hit with a double whammy, when European Commission, after a year of debating, officially opened two formal antitrust investigations over its App Store and Apple Pay.

And now Telegram has become the latest company to file a formal antitrust complaint to the EU over Apple’s App Store, according to the Financial Times.

In a complaint to EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, Telegram reportedly said Apple must “allow users to have the opportunity of downloading software outside of the App Store”.

Apple’s App Store fees across the world are estimated to generate more than $1bn for the company each month.

In its complaint, Telegram reportedly took issue with Apple’s argument that the App Store commission keeps it running.

Telegram co-founder Pavel Durov in a blog post this week listed seven ‘myths’ Apple uses to justify its 30 percent commission on apps hosted in the ‌App Store‌.

“Myth 1: 30 percent commission allows Apple to maintain the App Store,” wrote Durov. “In fact, running an app store costs only a fraction of what Apple takes from app developers. Every quarter, Apple receives billions of dollars from third-party apps. Meanwhile, the expenses required to host and review these apps are in the tens of millions, not billions of dollars.”

“We know that because we at Telegram host and review more public content than the App Store ever will,” he added. “Actually, any company running a massive video platform will need both more servers and more moderators than a company running an app store.”

Telegram said that in 2016 Apple had restricted the messaging app from launching a gaming platform on the grounds that it went against App Store rules.

Telegram reportedly risked being deleted from the App Store and therefore halted the venture.

Telegram alleged that this is an example of Apple’s capacity to curb innovation thanks to its “monopolistic power” on the app market.

Spotify complaint

Durov’s comments echo similar complaints from Spotify, and in March 2019 the music streaming service filed an official complaint and accused Apple of unfairly using the dominance of its App Store to give the Apple Music service a competitive advantage.

Rakuten has also previously complained to the EU that the app store represents a monopoly power.

And in June last year, Apple was hit with a lawsuit in the US from two app developers, who alleged that the App store gives the iPad maker a monopoly on the sale and distribution of iOS apps.

Apple at the time strongly defended itself against Spotify’s complaints, and slammed the firm for using its App Store to dramatically grow its business, and then allegedly seeking to keep all the benefits of the App Store ecosystem (including hefty revenues), without making any contributions to that marketplace.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has also been questioned about the App Store fees and the domination of big tech firms and whether it has hurt competition, in an antitrust hearing in Washington DC this week.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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