April 24, 2024

The European Union’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, has warned the tech giants Apple and Meta concerning their new fee structures. The agency frowned at the entities’ bad approaches to competition.  

She noted that such service fees and practices contradict the Digital Markets Act’s (DMA) aims of giving users a wide range of choices, thereby limiting user experiences.

Apple Fee Structures Go Against EU’s New Antitrust Guidelines

In late January, Apple disclosed a series of adjustments, including a new fee structure. The changes came in compliance with the EU tech legislature with mandatory requirements that encourage fair competition within the tech space.

Apple’s new fee structure includes a core technology fee of 50 euro cents on every user account annually.

The firm demands that major app developers pay the fee, including those that don’t use the Apple Pay services. The introduced fee changes triggered several reactions and criticism from many, including rivals like Fortnite creator Epic Games.

This new fee structure attracted Vestager’s attention, as she expressed her dissatisfaction during an exclusive interview with Reuters. She highlighted the factors her agency takes cognizance of, which include whether the new fees will allow users to enjoy the benefits of the DMA. 

If the EU discovers that such fees go contrary to the DMA’s provisions, it won’t hesitate to call such firms to order. 

Vestager Reveals the Place of DMA and Fair Competition Among Companies

Vestager also expressed reservations regarding Meta’s new fees. On Tuesday, March 19, Meta announced that it slashed its monthly subscription fee for Facebook and Instagram by nearly half.

It dropped the value from 9.99 euros to 5.99 eurosHowever, Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems countered the move from Meta, noting the magnitude of the fee isn’t the major issue. 

Vegas pointed out other ways the companies can monetize their services, including targeted ads that rely on consumers’ data, without imposing subscription fees. According to the antitrust chief, another monetization option is showing contextual ads.

She noted that they would initiate a dialogue with Meta and thereafter assess the situation to decide the next step to take to enforce compliance with the DMA.  

In addition, Vestager warned tech firms against derogating rivals to discourage users from switching to other services. She noted that such behaviors could attract antitrust investigations. According to her, all platforms should have a fair and open market to compete healthily.

Meanwhile, Apple mentioned that some of its recent adjustments could expose users to security threats. Already, such an assertion attracted scrutiny. Vestager reiterated that presenting the platform as unsafe is unwise since such matters don’t concern the DMA, which only primarily focuses on promoting healthy competition.

Moreover, Vestager mentioned that feedback from developers will determine if antitrust will open investigations for DMA violations. The DMA has six listed companies subject to the DMA, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta.

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