The EU is preparing an App Store change that Apple won’t like

The EU is narrowing its focus on Apple’s App Store, a new report says. Coming from the Financial Times, which cites three sources familiar with the matter, the body now plans to focus on Apple’s ban against linking to subscriptions off the App Store. The EU confirmed this report in an update to its statement of objections shared on Tuesday morning.

Where this policy might have been merely annoying at first, the color of it changed once Apple began offering competitors to rival services it had banned from advertising in the store.

App Store displayed on an iPhone 14 Pro against a pink background
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

In this scenario. Apple could charge for Apple TV  Plus and Apple Music at, say, $9.99 a month, while competitors Netflix and Spotify would have to contend with the 30% App Store tax and either raise their prices and risk being seen as expensive — or simply eat the cost if they wanted to make use of the convenience of the App Store’s payment services. At the same time, they are also unable to direct customers to cheaper alternatives elsewhere.

The EU says as much, noting: ” These anti-steering obligations: (i) are neither necessary nor proportionate for the provision of the App Store on iPhones and iPads; (ii) are detrimental to users of music streaming services on Apple’s mobile devices who may end up paying more; and (iii) negatively affect the interests of music streaming app developers by limiting effective consumer choice.”

If Apple is found to be in violation of EU law, it could see a fine of up to 10% of its annual worldwide revenue, the body says. Should the EU further strike this anti-steering rule down and a change is made, app developers like Spotify and Netflix would be able to notify customers of cheaper alternatives away from the App Store.

It’s not clear if the same rule will apply to the Google Play Store, which insists on similar restrictions (albeit one that has been steadily watered down in India and elsewhere, presumably to avoid a situation like this).

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