Apple Added to German Watchdog’s Big Tech Hit List

Apple Inc. became the latest target of a German antitrust crackdown on tech giants’ market power with a wide-ranging probe examining the company’s “digital ecosystem.”

The nation’s Federal Cartel Office said Monday it will focus on the App Store and whether Apple has created a dominant business around its iPhone and operating system iOS that extends across several markets. Since the start of the year, the agency has opened similar investigations against Facebook Inc., Google and Inc.

“A main focus of the investigations will be on the operation of the App Store as it enables Apple in many ways to influence the business activities of third parties,” Andreas Mundt, the regulator’s head said. “We will examine” Apple’s “extensive integration across several market levels, the magnitude of its technological and financial resources and its access to data,” he added.

The German antitrust regulator was equipped with far-reaching new powers at the start of the year, letting it move against so-called digital platforms that play a crucial role in the online economy.

Apple said in an emailed statement, adding that it’s an engine for innovation and job creation, with more than 250,000 jobs supported by the “iOS app economy” in Germany. The App Store has given German developers of all sizes the same opportunity to share their passion and creativity with users around the world, the company said.

“We look forward to discussing our approach with the Federal Cartel Office and having an open dialogue about any of their concerns,“ Apple said.

The Cartel Office is also weighing additional proceedings based on complaints from the advertising and media industry.

These concern planned privacy curbs on how advertisers track users and Apple’s move to place its own services on its devices.

Regulators may also look at the mandatory use of Apple’s in-app payment service, also the subject of an investigation by the European Commission.

The Cartel Office said it may need to discuss with the EU executive in case it proceeds with any potential action.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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