The German government today launched an investigation into suspected market competition violations by iPhone maker Apple Inc. making Apple the fourth U.S. technology giant to be investigated by German authorities in this category.
Germany’s antitrust authority, the Federal Cartel Office (FCO), has opened similar investigations in recent weeks against Amazon, Google and Facebook. This is based on a new law that came into effect in January this year, giving German regulators greater authority to regulate large technology companies.
The Federal Cartel Office said it has launched the first phase of an investigation into Apple to determine whether it has “cross-market significance.
The German authorities said: “Whether an enterprise’s business ecosystem spans different markets can be considered an indicator of such a status. Having such a strong position can make it very difficult for other companies to compete with it.”
Federal Cartel Administrator Andreas Mundt said his unit will examine whether Apple is using its proprietary iOS operating system to build a strong digital business ecosystem around the iPhone that spans several markets.
Mundt explained: “A major focus of the investigation will be on the operation of the AppStore. In many instances, it gives Apple the power to influence third-party commerce.”
An Apple spokesperson emphasized Apple’s contribution to the German job market, saying that the iOS app economy contributes to 250,000 jobs. Through a statement, the spokesperson said, “We look forward to discussing our approach to business with the Federal Cartel Office and to having an open dialogue in response to any concerns they may have.”
The Federal Cartel Office said that after the first phase of its investigation into Apple, it may next look at other specific issues, as authorities have received several complaints from companies about Apple’s behavior that may violate competition in the market, including app developers who are unhappy that they must use Apple’s system to make “in-app purchases. (in-app purchase).