New landmark legal action, which has been filed with the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, aims to force Apple to cut its controversial 30% commission on App Store purchases and to compensate UK iPhone and iPad users for years of alleged overcharging. The case is being brought by Dr Rachael Kent, a King’s College London digital-economy lecturer on behalf of around 19.6 million eligible UK iPhone and iPad users.
It alleges that Apple deliberately shuts out potential competition and forces ordinary users to use Apple’s own payment processing system, generating illegally excessive levels of profit for the company. Typically, 30% of the money app purchasers spend in the App Store goes straight to Apple.
The company is accused of using its dominant position as a platform for selling apps by imposing restrictive terms on app developers, stifling efforts by other would-be distributors to offer app purchasers better value for money.
In the past year, Apple has been hit with lawsuits in several jurisdictions from app developers and app purchasers. The case brought by Dr Kent today on behalf of UK app purchasers argues that ordinary App Store customers are the direct victims of Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour, and entitled to compensation, since they foot the bill.
Rachael Kent said, “the App Store was a brilliant gateway for a range of interesting and innovative services that millions of us find useful, myself included. But thirteen years after its launch, it has become the only gateway for millions of consumers. Apple guards access to the world of apps jealously, and charges entry and usage fees that are completely unjustified.
“Apple has no right to charge us a 30% rent for so much of what we pay for on our phones – particularly when Apple itself is blocking our access to platforms and developers that are able to offer us much better deals. This is why I am taking this action.”