Italy opens competition probe into Apple's app store policies

ROME, May 11 (Xinhua) -- Italy's antitrust regulator on Thursday opened a new investigation to assess whether the United States-based high-tech giant Apple abused its dominant position in the smartphone app market.

File photo: Xinhua

The move is the latest in a series of competition-related probes into the company by the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM).

Now, the AGCM alleges that Apple's rules for third-party app developers are more restrictive than those for its own smartphone apps on the iOS platform, especially when it comes to privacy guidelines. The authority also alleges that Apple provides outside developers with lower quality analytical data, making it more difficult for those companies to effectively advertise their products.

"The presumed discriminatory conduct carried out by Apple can cause a drop in advertising proceeds for third-party developers, in favor of its own commercial division," the AGCM said in a statement.

The authority did not comment on the amount of possible fines in case Apple would be found guilty of the charges.

In a statement emailed to journalists, Apple denied any wrongdoing and said its rules apply equally to all developers, whether in-house or not, adding that it would "continue to engage constructively" with the Italian authority to assuage concerns.

In a separate press release issued on Thursday, Apple cited a study from Analysis Group, an economic consulting firm, showing that the app store revenues of small developers grew by 71 percent over the two-year period ending in 2022 -- faster than the growth rate for larger developers.

Apple has been a recurring subject of antitrust investigations in Italy. In 2020, Apple faced charges of unfair commercial practices, more specifically of misrepresenting the hardware characteristics of its iconic iPhones, including the degree of their water resistance.

Earlier this month, Apple released its global financial results showing quarterly revenue of 94.8 billion U.S. dollars in the period ending April 1, a slight decline from the same period last year.

Nonetheless, Apple remains the world's largest company measured by stock market capitalization, with a total value of 2.73 trillion U.S. dollars as of Thursday.