Tinder-Owner Files Case Against Apple For Their Monopolistic Conduct In India
Tinder-owner Match Group has filed an antitrust case against Apple with the Competition Commission of India (CCI), the competition regulator in the country.
It has accused the tech giant of “monopolistic conduct” that forces developers to pay high commissions for in-app purchases.
This is just one of several antitrust challenges faced by Apple around the globe.
Match’s filing adds to two other cases in India although it is the first foreign company to pose such a challenge against Apple in India.
Match argues Apple’s conduct restricts innovation and development of app developers by enforcing the use of its proprietary in-app purchase system and “excessive” 30% commission.
A similar dispute in the Netherlands resulted in a 50 million euro fine for Apple along with an agreement to allow different payment methods in Dutch dating applications.
Apple has since long made it compulsory for apps hosted on its store to use the in-app payment system.
The trouble is that this system charges commissions that some developers like Match have argued globally are too high.
Match argues in its India filing that users in other countries often prefer to use payment methods which Apple does not permit.
Similarly in India a government-backed online transfer system was preferred.
Mark Buse, head of global government relations for Match, said in the filing that Apple is thereby exploiting its dominant position in the iOS App Store market, to promote the exclusive use of its own payment solution.
The CCI in December had begun investigation of allegations from a local non-profit group that Apple’s in-app purchase system hurts competition by raising costs for developers and customers, while also acting as a barrier to market entry.
The probe was ordered after Apple denied any wrongdoing, saying it was not the dominant player in India where it has an “insignificant” 0-5% market share.
It instead pointed fingers to Google’s Android that commanded a 90-100% share as it claimed.
The investigation will now cover each of the three separate cases that have been filed against Apple.
The case assumes significance since Tinder is one of India’s most popular dating apps, and accounted for about 51% of consumer spending in the top five dating apps during the second quarter of this year.
In Apple’s defense
In recent years, Apple has loosened some restrictions for developers globally, like allowing them to use communications – such as email – to share information about payment alternatives outside of their iOS app.
It also lowered commissions for smaller developers to 15%.
Match’s filing stated that such commission rates do not apply to the apps of Match’s portfolio brands.
Apple defended that in India, 87% of apps on its App Store are those which don’t pay any commissions at all.
Match has further complained that Apple considers ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Ola in India as those providing “physical goods/services”.
This allowed them leeway to provide alternate payment solutions despite performing a “a similar matchmaking function” like a dating app.
It explained that dating and ridesharing apps share the same fundamental purpose i.e. matching two people online to meet in the real world.
However Apple has arbitrarily decided that the two are different.