Apple has once again gotten into trouble for its controversial in-app purchase regulations. The Dutch Consumer and Market Authority has imposed a fine in the millions, which is now increasing weekly.
In-app purchases mean a real windfall for Apple. In the first half of 2021 alone, Apple’s App Store generated around $41.5 billion in sales.
In 2020, the figure was around 2.3 billion euros in Germany alone. Much of this revenue comes from in-app purchases, from which Apple earns a hefty percentage.
And it is exactly this percentage that has already caused the iPhone company quite a bit of trouble – first and foremost in the dispute with Fortnite manufacturer Epic Games.
Now Apple has also gotten itself into trouble in the Netherlands over its app store practices. The Dutch consumer and market regulator ACM has imposed a fine of 5 million euros on the tech company.
What is behind the fine for Apple’s in-app purchases?
The background for the fine is precisely the regulation for in-app purchases in Apple’s App Store. The case in question involves the use of third-party payment methods for such purchases in dating apps.
Back in August, the ACM had issued a fine order against Apple. The order was then published in December following a court order.
On January 15, the iPhone company then published a statement on the matter. In it, Apple states that the “ACM’s recent order” is not “in the best interest of our users.”
We are concerned that these changes could impact the user experience and create new threats to privacy and data security.
For that reason, the group said it has “appealed the ACM’s decision to a higher court.” In the meantime, however – the Apple statement said – the group intends to comply with the “mandated changes.”
Is Apple really complying with the demands?
The Dutch Consumer and Market Authority, however, does not see it that way. Apple is not complying sufficiently with the requirements.
According to them, it is still not possible for dating app providers to use third-party payment systems for their apps. Currently, it is only possible for “dating app providers to express their ‘interest’.”
The ACM also faults Apple for “imposing several hurdles for dating app providers to use third-party payment systems.” It says there currently appears to be a constraint on app providers to choose between a payment system outside the app or an alternative payment system.
The authority explains, “This is not permissible.” This is because Apple must allow providers to choose from both variants.
What happens next for Apple in the Netherlands?
The fine of 5 million euros imposed by the ACM is not the end of the line for Apple, however. After reviewing Apple’s January 15 statement, that payment is now due.
Since Apple “remains obligated to comply with the order,” the fine now increases weekly. As long as Apple does not sufficiently comply with the order, the fine will increase by 5 million euros per week until the maximum fine of 50 million euros is reached.