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March 16, 2021updated 24 Aug 2021 12:45pm

Look at all our happy devs, says Apple ahead of CMA antitrust probe

By Robert Scammell

Apple has pointed to how its App Store support “more than 330,000 jobs in the UK” in what has been interpreted as an attempt to deflect from how a competition watchdog recently launched an antitrust probe against the company.

Earlier this month the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) became the latest regulator to investigate the tech behemoth’s App Store. The probe will determine whether it is anti-competitive for Apple to force third-party developers to use its own payment systems, among other areas.

At the time, the Cupertino, California-headquartered company described the App Store as an “engine of success for app developers” and that it was “looking forward to working with” the CMA.

In a blog post published Monday, Apple doubled down on this message, describing the App Store as a “powerful engine of economic growth in the UK”.

It said developers in the UK have generated £3.6bn in total earnings since Apple launched the App Store in 2008.

However, Apple takes a 30% cut of some in-app purchases – an area also scrutinised by the CMA.

While the blog post doesn’t refer to the CMA or its investigation directly, its UK focus and timing has been interpreted as an indirect response to the regulator’s investigation.

The $2tn company said that UK developer earnings grew by 22% in 2020 from the previous year. It added that the number of iOS app developer jobs in the country – 330,000 – is the highest in Europe.

“In a year like no other, the UK has remained a vibrant and innovative hub for entrepreneurs and app developers,” said Christopher Moser, senior director of the App Store. “More people in the UK than ever before are working as part of the iOS app ecosystem, creating exciting apps enjoyed by people all over the world.”

Not all developers agree. Music streaming service Spotify and Epic Games, maker of hit battle royale game Fortnite, have ongoing lawsuits with Apple over the terms of its App Store.

Apple also faces a separate antitrust investigation into its App Store from the European Commission.

Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of dominant social media and advertising company Facebook, has accused Apple of having “every incentive to use their dominant platform position to interfere with how our apps and other apps work, which they regularly do.”

Facebook has criticised the launch of Apple’s new App Tracking Transparency feature, which would give Apple device owners the option to block tracking for advertising purposes. The social media company has announced it will join Epic Games’ lawsuit in a sign of growing backlash against Apple’s market position.


Read more: CMA takes bite at Apple with App Store antitrust probe