EU says Apple’s App Store breaches DMA rules

24 Jun 2024

Image: © Sundry Photography/

The European Commission’s preliminary view is that the App Store prevents developers from freely steering consumers to alternative offers, while Apple is facing a new investigation into its contractual requirements for developers.

Apple is facing more pressure in the EU, as the company’s App Store has been found to be in breach of the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The European Commission says it has reached a “preliminary view” that the App Store rules are in breach of the DMA, as they prevent app developers from freely steering consumers to alternative channels. The commission said it has informed Apple of these findings.

This preliminary view stems from an investigation the EU launched into Apple earlier this year, due to concerns that the App Store may “constrain” the ability for developers to promote offers and directly conclude contracts.

Under the DMA – the EU’s attempt to crack down on anti-competitive behaviour – developers distributing their apps on Apple’s App Store should be able to inform their customers of alternative cheaper purchasing possibilities and steer them to those offers.

But the European Commission says none of the App Store’s business terms allow developers to freely steer their customers. For example, developers can’t provide pricing information within the app or communicate “in any other way with their customers to promote offers available on alternative distribution channels”.

The investigation also found that the fee Apple receives when developers acquire a new customer from the App Store is “beyond what is strictly necessary for such remuneration”.

“Our preliminary position is that Apple does not fully allow steering,” said EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager. “Steering is key to ensure that app developers are less dependent on gatekeepers’ app stores and for consumers to be aware of better offers.”

Apple can now defend itself from the findings of the European Commission by examining the documents from the investigation and replying in writing.

Meanwhile, the EU has also opened a new investigation into Apple over concerns that its new contractual requirements for third-party app developers and app stores are in breach of the DMA.

“The developers’ community and consumers are eager to offer alternatives to the App Store,” Vestager said. “We will investigate to ensure Apple does not undermine these efforts.”

Apple recently announced that it was delaying the release of new features, including Apple Intelligence, for its products in the EU, due to the challenges of complying with the DMA.

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic