The next tech giant to fall under EU scrutiny? That may be Apple

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone

The European Union seems to pretty much have its hands full investigating Google’s suspected abuse of its market dominance, but now it may end up looking into Apple’s practices too. The authority has sent out questionnaires to regional networks asking about everything from Apple’s marketing practices to 4G requirements, which could lead to a formal investigation in the future.

According to the Financial Times, the nine page document is designed to figure out if Apple’s tactics are anti-competitive, and comes after some networks complained about the requirements the company sets for them. The questionnaire touches on aspects like whether Apple requires that operators purchase a minimum number of iPhones, influences marketing budgets and requires that operators don’t offer its competitors a better deal.

As the roll out of 4G networks in Europe continues, the company is being questioned about why it restricts its phones from accessing certain 4G / LTE networks. By default, Apple’s iPhone is not broadly enabled to access all available LTE options — Apple goes through a process of testing individual carriers’ networks before it allows iPhone users to connect for the faster data service. This goes against the usual process of carriers testing phones on their networks themselves, and potentially means they could have an active 4G network which their iPhone customers can’t access. The questionnaire mentions this, saying “there are also indications that certain technical functions are disabled on certain Apple products in certain countries in the EU/EEA. If the existence of such behaviour were to be confirmed, it might constitute an infringement of [antitrust law].”

However, it may be difficult to suggest that Apple is abusing its dominance when there are a number of competitors in markets in Europe, most notably from manufacturers like Samsung.



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