Apple to let apps bypass commissions by linking to websites

Apple is the latest foreign company to catch heat in relation to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have lasted four months. — AFP pic Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW YORK, Sep 2, 2021, Kyodo. Apple Inc. said Wednesday it will allow developers of music, videos, books and other media apps to include an in-app link to an external website where users can make purchases, enabling them to gain income without paying commissions to the iPhone maker, Kyodo News reported.

The change that goes into effect in early 2022 will end an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission into the commissions of up to 30 percent the tech giant charges for app developers that use its in-app payment system.

It will be applied globally to what Apple calls “reader” apps available on its App Store, the company said. Gaming apps are not included, according to the JFTC.

The move came amid mounting criticism of the tech giants known as GAFA — Google LLC, Apple, Facebook Inc. and Inc. — over their monopolistic influence in the global market.

The JFTC has been probing Apple since October 2016 for alleged antitrust law violation as the company charges a commission of between 15 to 30 percent for apps that use its in-app payment system and prohibits alternative payments by leading users to external websites.

Apple’s App Store, launched in 2008, currently distributes about 1.8 million apps and it has become an important source of income for the company.

Among other countries moving to place restrictions on global tech giants, South Korea’s parliament passed a bill Tuesday to ban Apple and Google from forcing app developers to use their mobile platforms’ in-app payment systems.

In July, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at cracking down on anti-competitive practices in major companies with GAFA in mind.

The European Commission, which announced the launch of an antitrust probe into Apple in June last year, said in April it has sent a preliminary view to the tech giant that the mandatory use of Apple’s own in-app purchase mechanism imposed on music streaming app developers distorted competition.

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