Russian watchdog says Apple abused dominance of mobile app market, orders US tech giant to stop restricting competition

Apple has been found guilty of exploiting its app market dominance by Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). The investigation began after leading anti-virus software developer Kaspersky Lab lodged a complaint last year.

The Russian company insisted that Apple’s policy in the parental control applications market for mobile devices with its iOS operating system was unfair.

Monday’s ruling follows criticism from Telegram founder Pavel Durov over the predatory practices of Silicon Valley’s kingpins. “Apple and Google impose an insane 30 percent sales tax on all digital goods sold on every mobile phone in the world,” the Saint Petersburg-born developer tweeted. “The result – users pay higher prices, start-ups and entire industries get destroyed or never appear. Regulators have been ignoring this absurdity for 10 years.”

Kaspersky Lab said that Apple had started to use its dominant position to create a competitive advantage for its own Screen Time application. This is reflected in its demand that all iOS developers have to remove configuration profiles from their applications.

“The FAS Commission found that Apple abused its dominant position in relation to developers of parental control mobile applications and limited competition in the distribution market for applications for mobile devices running on the iOS operating system,” the anti-monopoly regulator explained, as quoted by news agency TASS.

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The violation also resulted in Apple having established the right to reject and exclude any third-party application from the App Store, even if it meets all the requirements. The company will be ordered to discontinue this practice in Russia.

According to Kaspersky Lab, Apple demanded that, in order to have its Kaspersky Safe Kids application certified for release via the App Store, it should disable its two main functions – Application Blocking and Safari Browser Blocking. Prior to that, the application had been available on the App Store for three years without any objections by Apple Inc.

In late April, it was reported that Apple explained the removal from the App Store of parental control applications made by a number of third-party developers via an official statement, claiming that they did not meet the requirements of the corporation’s policy regarding user safety and privacy. The corporation emphasized that removing third-party parental control apps from the App Store was not a matter of competition, but a matter of security.

The investigation established that Apple occupied a dominant position with a 100 percent share of the market for mobile applications on the iOS operating system, since it is only possible to legally install such an application via the App Store, which it controls.

A spokesperson for the Kaspersky Lab told TASS that they are satisfied with the outcome of the case. “Primarily because the abuse by large corporations and their attempts to transfer their market power, which has negative effects on competition in adjacent markets, must be prevented. Healthy competition fosters progress and as a result users benefit from that,” they explained.

“We hope that Apple will correct the policy and attitude towards competitors in the markets adjacent to the iOS platform and, when releasing its applications, Apple will not place them in a more privileged position and will not create all sorts of obstacles and barriers to other companies,” the statement continued.

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