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Russia launches antitrust probe into Apple, adding to growing list of App Store investigations

Although Apple proposed a number of changes to its App Store policy, critics have argued that this doesn’t go far enough.

Adding to the growing list of investigations targeted at app stores, Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) on October 27 launched an antitrust investigation into Apple's App Store for not allowing developers to link to third-party payment systems. What prompted this investigation? On August 30, FAS gave Apple a warning over abusing its dominant position in the distribution market for iOS apps and asked the company to eliminate signs of violations before the end of September. But since the company did not comply with this warning, the FAS has launched a formal investigation. FAS said that several iOS users and app developers reported concerns that users are not allowed to be informed about the possibility of cheaper purchase options outside of the app. Apple App Store, like Google Play Store, requires app developers to only use the billing system provided by Apple for in-app purchases of digital goods. Those who do not comply are not allowed on the App Store. This impacts competition and results in a hike in prices, the FAS observed. Although Apple on August 27 proposed a number of changes to its App Store policy including allowing developers to let users know about other payment methods available through external communications like e-mail, critics have argued that this doesn’t go far enough because Apple still does not allow apps to include "buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase. "If Apple is found violating Russia's Competition Protection Law, it will face…

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