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Apple faces antitrust suit in China for app removal, high charges

(CNTV)    08:29, August 11, 2017

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Apple has been accused of anti-competitive behavior in China for the first time, after a group of 28 domestic app developers complained that the US computer giant had removed their apps from the App Store without detailed explanation and took a 30-percent cut from in-app purchases (IAPs).

"There is a lack of transparency in the App Store operation," said Lin Wei, a lawyer from Beijing-based Dare & Sure.

"At this stage, we think complaining to the Chinese regulators to get them involved is most ideal," he added.

On Tuesday, Lin brought the case on behalf of the developers to the National Development and Reform Commission, which tackles antitrust issues in China, and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

Neither the government agencies nor Apple have issued statements yet.

Dispute over apps removal

According to Dare & Sure, Apple removed certain apps which allegedly infringed on the rights of its business partners.

However, Apple provided insufficient evidence and left developers waiting months during audits.

Apple has been questioned about app removals before. In June, Apple China said that app deletions were to guarantee the quality of apps offered, as well as to ensure user's security.

Over 100,000 apps have been removed from the Apple Store worldwide since the second half of 2016.

According to ASO100, China's mobile promotion data analysis platform, there have been 615 cases delayed during app audit, accounting for 55.3 percent of the total audit cases. 

30-percent cut of IAPs

The developers are also suing Apple for levying a high charge on IAPs, claiming that it did not give a reasonable basis for the fee and did not offer a consultation process.

The charge was supported by companies in Europe as well.

An IOS mobile game developer said both Apple and Google took a 30-percent cut from IAPs.

"[Apple founder] Steve Jobs represented the American dream. But Apple’s unequal treatment of China’s young developers stops them from realizing their Chinese dream,” Lin said.

China is one of the tech giant's largest iPhone markets, and the country made more money for Apple's App Store than any other country in 2016, according to market research firm IDC.

The company announced last month it was opening its first data center in southwest China's Guizhou Province, which will be operated by a government-backed company to store users' data locally, a move required by China's new regulations for cybersecurity improvements. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Du Xiaofei, Bianji)

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