The competition regulator in Russia has fined Apple $17M, after an antitrust investigation concluded that the company broke the law by not allowing app developers to link to payment options outside of the App Store.
The size of the fine is based on the company’s App Store turnover within the country, which is currently lower than usual due to Apple’s compliance with financial sanctions against Russia …
The result of the investigation was announced in July of last year, but the size of the fine needed to be calculated from App Store turnover in Russia.
Russia says it will fine Apple for violating the country’s antitrust laws and abusing its “dominant position in the app store market” as “Apple prohibits iOS app developers from telling clients inside the app about the possibility of paying for purchases outside the App Store or using alternative payment methods.”
The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) in Russia said it would “levy a turnover-based fine against Apple App Store, the size of which would be determined during the course of an administrative investigation.”
Reuters reports that the fine has now been determined.
Russia’s FAS fined Apple about $17.4 million, the regulator said on Tuesday, over what it said was the U.S. company’s abuse of its dominant market position. […] It said Apple must pay the fine within two months.
Apple voluntarily suspended hardware sales in Russia back in March of last year, and additionally withdrew Apple Pay services in order to comply with US economic sanctions.
The Ukraine government called on Apple to go further, and completely suspend App Store sales in Russia. The Cupertino company chose not to do so. Apple didn’t comment on its decision, but it likely weighed up the potential balance of good and harm by denying Russian citizens access to apps.
However, the company has blocked sales of apps owned by Russian companies affected by US sanctions – even if some larger companies appear to have found workarounds.
Russia is one of many countries around the world to have found that Apple’s App Store policies breach antitrust laws – including the US, where a court ruled that Apple must allow developers to direct users to third-party payment services.
At the time, the court decided Apple did not have to go as far as permitting third-party app stores – a compromise we predicted. However, the Department of Justice and a number of US states have argued that this should be required. Apple appears to be preparing to lose the appeal, and is making plans to allow third-party app stores on its platform, something we see as a win for consumers.
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