Apple is facing complaints of anti-competitive behavior in China, according to The Financial Times.
The case, filed by a Chinese law firm on behalf of 28 local developers, alleges Apple violated antitrust regulations by abusing its control of the iOS App Store by charging excessive fees for in-app purchases and removing apps from its local store without detailed explanation.
In a statement, Apple noted that its App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers across all countries, and in the chance an app is removed from the App Store, developers have the opportunity to request a review to reinstate the app in a timely manner.
The complaint comes as Apple continues its efforts to maintain strong ties with China’s government, which has heavily restricted the ability of western technology companies to compete.
- A few weeks ago, Apple announced the removal of several virtual private network (VPN) services from its App Store in China. This move came as the Chinese government had been pressuring the firm to ban all VPNs — which allow users to bypass China’s heavily regulated internet — that aren’t approved by state regulators.
- Earlier this month, the company announced plans to begin storing its Chinese users’ data on servers run by a Chinese government-controlled company. This could arguably give the government access to users’ personal information. Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook has taken a hard line against sharing user data with the US government.
Apple is looking to China as a key growth market, but has struggled in the region in recent quarters. With the Google Play store for Android smartphones being blocked in China since 2010, the Chinese app market plays to Apple’s advantage; China accounts for Apple’s largest source of iOS app revenue, according to App Annie. The country is also the firm’s largest market outside the US, accounting for over one-fifth of Apple’s total revenue in the 2016 fiscal year. However, revenue derived from China has fallen for six consecutive quarters, to $8 billion in fiscal Q3 (that ended June 30) 2017, down 10% from fiscal Q3 2016.
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