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EXCLUSIVE Apple seeks dismissal of antitrust case in India apps market, citing tiny market shares




A salesman talks to a customer at an Apple retail store in Mumbai, India September 1, 2021. REUTERS / Francis Mascarenhas / File image

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  • Apple wants the antitrust case in India lifted
  • American giant describes complaint against the company as “submission of power of attorney”
  • The company claims that the fee system in the app is not excessive

NEW DELHI, December 19 (Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) has asked India’s antitrust watchdog to dismiss a case alleging abuse of market power in the app market, saying it is too small a player in the South Asian country where Google is dominant, according to an archive set by Reuters.

The filing was made after the Competition Commission of India (CCI) began reviewing allegations that Apple was harming competition by forcing app developers to use the proprietary system that could require commissions of up to 30% on in-app purchases.

Apple denied the allegations in its submission to CCI and stressed that the market share in India is an “insignificant” 0-5%, while Google commands 90-100% as the Android operating system drives most other smartphones.

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“Apple is not dominant in the Indian market … Without dominance, there can be no abuse,” Apple said in a November 16 filing signed by Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer.

“It has already been established that Google is the dominant player in India,” it added.

Apple and CCI did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Alphabet Incs (GOOGL.O) Google declined to comment when asked about Apple’s claims in the archive.

The complainant in the case, a little-known non-profit group called “Together We Fight Society”, said that Apple with iOS dominates the market for non-licensable mobile operating systems.

Apple countered this in its application, saying that the entire smartphone market – which includes licensed systems such as Android – is the market that should be taken into account.

Apple also described the Indian complaint as a “proxy file” in its CCI filing, saying the complainant “probably acted in consultation with parties with whom Apple has ongoing commercial and contractual disputes globally and / or who have complained to other regulators.”

The US technology company did not provide any evidence in its contribution to support the claim. The nonprofit told Reuters that Apple’s remark was “made to harm the mind” of the CCI “without any evidence.”

In the coming weeks, the CCI will review Apple’s response to the allegations and may order a broader investigation or dismiss the case altogether if it finds no justification for it. Details of CCI surveys have not been released.

CCI is conducting a separate survey of Google’s payment system in the app as part of a broader investigation of the company after Indian startups last year expressed concern.

Apple’s iOS powered about 2% of India’s 520 million smartphones by the end of 2020, while the rest used Android, according to Counterpoint Research, although it adds that Apple’s smartphone base in the country has more than doubled in the last five years.

GLOBAL EDITION

Apple has struggled with similar claims in other parts of the world. In the US, it is locked in a legal battle with “Fornite” creator Epic Games over the problem, and this year South Korea became the first country to ban dominant app store operators from forcing developers to use their payment systems.

In the EU, regulators last year launched an investigation into Apple’s fees in the app for distributing paid digital content and other restrictions.

Companies like Apple and Google say that their fees cover the security and marketing benefits of their app stores.

In its CCI filing, Apple argued that the commissions in the app it requires are “not unfair or excessive” and have declined over time, adding that they require lower prices from small developers.

“Only a small number of large developers, many of whom are multi-billion-dollar conglomerates, pay the 30% headline,” Apple said.

“Competing platforms have charged similar or higher commissions as Apple. In particular, Google has charged a 30% commission on its app store,” it says.

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Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi; Editing Edwina Gibbs

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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