In Tinder vs. Apple, Rotterdam swipes left

From Reuters’ “Apple’s App Store broke competition laws, Dutch watchdog says” posted Friday:

The Netherlands’ top competition regulator on Friday said Apple Inc. broke the country’s competition laws and ordered changes to the iPhone maker’s App Store payment policies.

Apple’s practice of requiring app developers to use its in-app payment system and pay commissions of 15% to 30% on digital goods purchases has come under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world.

An investigation by the Netherlands’ Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on whether Apple’s practices amounted to an abuse of a dominant market position was launched in 2019. But it was later reduced in scope to focus primarily on dating market apps, including Tinder owner Match Group Inc…

The disclosure of Apple’s regulatory setback in the Netherlands comes after the iPhone maker lost a fight in South Korea to stop a law that requires major app platform providers like Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google to allow developers to use third-party payment services.

Apple is facing proposed legislation in the European Union and United States that would force it to change its in-app payment policies and other business practices objected to by developers.

My take: Why did the Dutch court narrow its judgement to dating apps? According to the ruling, it’s all about network effects…

Multi-homing [i.e. iOS and Android] is critical to dating-app providers, because dating apps heavily rely on network effects: the greater the odds of a successful match are, the more appealing it becomes to use the app. Consumers that use dating services assume that the reach of their dating app is not limited to the mobile operating system on which the app has been downloaded. Dating-app providers are therefore forced, even more so than the average app provider, to be present in the both the App Store and the Google Play Store.

Apple will fight this to the bitter end, of course. Meanwhile, developers may have to navigate two kinds of legal patchworks: Rules that apply to particular geographies and rules that apply to particular categories of apps.

5 Comments

  1. Timothy Smith said:
    Brilliant headline. Happy Festivus.

    1
    December 25, 2021
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Ironic that the court sees only the positive aspect of network effect, which can be used for innocent social purposes or for spreading fraud schemes, cyber bullying, or dis-information campaigns.

    Why are Tinder and Epic the ones who need to be rescued? Tinder – hook up with strangers; Epic – sell digital ephemera to adolescents.

    The case against the railroad monopolies was their strangle hold on essential goods like coal and food.

    6
    December 25, 2021
  3. “according to a survey by Statista, 60% of singles in the Netherlands are using Tinder to find a relationship; making it the most popular dating app in the country.” – Expatica

    0
    December 25, 2021
  4. Steven Philips said:
    If these various countries weren’t making big bucks (or Guilders or Rubles etc.) from these “lawsuits”, would they even SEE any “injustice” to pursue?

    4
    December 25, 2021

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