The Competition Commission of India has ordered an inquiry into Apple’s App Store policies, based on a complaint by a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Together We Fight Society. It has found prima facie merit in the charge of abuse of market dominance, and initiated a detailed review.
App Store and Google Play Store both charge app developers, who use these facilities to host apps for users to download, 30% of any fees paid, and prohibit in-app purchases that circumvent this commission to the operating system provider. Google and Apple have offered steep discounts to smaller players, after challenges in their home market, the US, and in India. Do the charges of abuse of market power stick?
Suppose you really like a neighbourhood store, appreciate its look and feel, the display on store shelves, and the assurance that you would get authentic stuff, no knockoffs. You regularly buy your groceries there. Then you discover that it is charging you a little more than another store down the street, one whose overall ambience you do not really care for. How strong is your case for insisting that the owner of your favourite store sell you his wares at a price that is competitive with that of his rival down the road?
If you went to consumer court or even the Competition Commission of India with your demand, would you be entertained? Absolutely not, you would be told to shop from other stores whose prices suit…