US trade regulator mulls Apple Music antitrust probe

Restrictions on subscription sales through App Store come under scrutiny

Tags: Apple IncorporatedUSA
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US trade regulator mulls Apple Music antitrust probe (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  July 12, 2015

A US regulator is examining Apple's treatment of rivals to its recently launched music streaming service to determine whether the Cupertino company has broken antitrust laws, Reuters reported.

Spotify, Rhapsody, Jango and others provide similar services to Apple Music and are available for download through the App Store. Apple charges 30% of in-app revenues for any product downloaded from its store.

Music streaming businesses argue that they are left with a choice of settling for an erosion of their profit margins or charging more for their services, which would make them less competitive than Apple Music's $9.99 monthly fee.

The US Federal Trade Commission is examining the claims, but has not started a formal investigation. If it does, industry sources say the investigation will likely concentrate on App Store restrictions, which include bans on linking to app-providers' websites or informing customers that services can be purchased through those websites. If customers of streaming services made their subscription purchases through provider's websites Apple would not be due the 30% fee, which only applies to in-app purchases.

Google also levies a 30% transaction fee on Google Play for in-app purchases, but reportedly does not impose as many restrictions as Apple on directing consumers to alternative purchase points.

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