The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) says(Opens in a new window) Apple racked up over $52 million (€50 million) in fines before allowing dating apps to use their own payment systems.
ACM told Apple to let Dutch dating apps use third-party payment solutions in August 2021. The company objected, but in December, a court upheld the Dutch watchdog’s decision. Apple finally said that it would let dating apps in the Netherlands use alternative payment systems in January.
The company wasn’t particularly happy about that concession to its App Store policies, however, so it said that dating app providers would have to create two separate apps to implement third-party payments in the Netherlands. And it would still charge a commission for in-app purchases.
Yet it seems ACM counts this as a victory. ACM chairman Martijn Snoep said in a statement:
“We want everyone to be able to reap the benefits of the digital economy. In the digital economy, powerful companies have a special responsibility to keep the market fair and open. Apple avoided that responsibility, and abused its dominant position vis-à-vis dating-app providers. We are glad that Apple has finally brought its conditions in line with European and Dutch competition rules. That offers app providers more opportunities to compete. And consumers will ultimately reap the benefits, too.”
ACM says it “collected information from dating-app providers and independent experts before its assessment that Apple complied with the order.” (Which is why it finally said that it was satisfied by Apple’s concessions nearly six months after they were announced.)
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But the watchdog probably isn’t done scrutinizing App Store policies. The crux of its argument—that “abuse of dominance drives up the price, reduces the quality of products and services, and restricts innovation—is by no means limited to dating apps. This could just be the beginning.
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