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Summary: CCI orders detailed antitrust investigation into Apple over App Store practices

The order highlights restraints on app developers as unfair in a preliminary evaluation of Apple’s allegedly abusive conduct.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) on 31 December 2021 ordered a detailed investigation into Apple after noting that there is prima facie evidence of the company abusing its dominance in the market for the distribution of apps for iOS devices. The Commission has directed the Director General to complete the investigation and submit the report within a period of 60 days. The order follows a complaint lodged by a non-profit called Together We Fight Society (TWFS) in August. With this order, India joins a long list of nations that are scrutinising Apple's App Store practices including the US, the UK, the EU, China, and Russia. Also, Apple now joins Google, which has been under investigation by CCI since November 2020 for its Play Store practices. What did the CCI say in its order? There are three steps that CCI takes when adjudicating an antitrust case: 1) establishing the relevant market, 2) ascertaining market dominance, and 3) if it is able to establish market dominance, it then determines whether there has been an abuse of this dominance. In its order, the Commission noted: The market for app stores for iOS in India is a relevant market and Apple has a monopoly in it: Noting that app stores are a crucial component of any operating ecosystem because of how dependent developers are on these stores to reach users and how dependent users are on these stores to download apps they want, CCI prima facie accepted that the market for app stores for iOS in India is…

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