Apple’s Regulatory Woes Mount With German Antitrust Chief’s Scrutiny

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Apple’s clash with Fortnite developer Epic Games is now drawing unwanted scrutiny by German regulators involving a key part of the tech giant’s business, its App Store.

Andreas Mundt, Germany’s top antitrust regulator, told reporters on Wednesday (Sept. 2) that he is following the showdown between Apple and Epic over access to Apple’s App Store “with great interest,” Bloomberg reported.

Nor would Mundt rule out the possibility of a probe into Apple’s decision to terminate Epic’s account at its App Store, which has made it impossible for gamers to update Fortnite at the store.

While no probe has been launched, the issue falls within his jurisdiction, Mundt told reporters at the Federal Cartel Office’s annual press conference. He noted that there are only two major app stores globally: the one run by Apple and the other by Google Play.

“One thing is clear: app stores are an interesting biotope, simply because there are only two of them globally,” Mundt said, according to Bloomberg. “Every developer on this planet who produces an app needs to pass through their gates – that’s indeed interesting, to put it cautiously.”

The battle between Apple and Epic erupted last month when Epic launched a payment platform enabling users to go around the App Store and avoid the 30 percent commission the tech giant charges.

Apple retaliated on Aug. 28, saying it would end Epic’s access to the App Store, in turn triggering a lawsuit by Epic.

Daniel Matray, head of the App Store in Europe, has defended its business practices as being both fair to developers and user-friendly for consumers.

For Apple, the prospect of a potential investigation by German regulators cannot be particularly appetizing, with the tech giant already being probed by the European Union over its practice of charging a 30 percent cut of subscription fees from software developers who use its in-app payment system.

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