Apple faces antitrust case in India over in-app payments

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Following a move in South Korea to prevent Apple and Google from restricting developers to their own proprietary payment systems—and an ongoing antitrust investigation in the EU—Apple now faces a similar antitrust suit in India.

According to a Reuters report, a suit has been filed with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) by a Rajasthan-based non-profit, which alleged that Apple is abusing its dominant position in the apps market for iOS devices by forcing developers to use its proprietary in-app purchase system.

The group argues that Apple’s 30 per cent fee on payments hurts competition and raises costs for app developers and customers while also acting as a barrier to market entry.

“The existence of the 30 per cent commission means that some app developers will never make it to the market…This could also result in consumer harm,” the filed reportedly stated, according to the Reuters report.

The case will have to be reviewed by the CCI, which could decide to order a probe or dismiss it, the report said.

It can be noted that last year, a consortium of Indian tech companies led by Paytm’s Vijay Sharma criticised Google’s App Store fees of 30 per cent, with Sharma noting that it was “costlier than business tax on India’s internet ecosystem. Google later moved to defer its 30 per cent commission on in-app purchases to 2022.

While the overwhelming majority of smartphones in India run on Android, Apple has recorded consistent growth in India—reporting its best-ever quarter in the country at the end of 2020—a year in which it shipped 3.2 million iPhone units, up 60 per cent year on year. In Q1 2021, Apple had 48 per cent of the premium smartphone market share (which is for devices costing Rs 30,000 or above).

Apple has made long moves to solidify its position in India—since 2017, it has started assembling iPhones in India, thereby avoiding tariffs on imported smartphones.

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