Russia fines Apple for App Store monopoly

TASS, Russia’s anti-monopoly agency, has fined Apple the equivalent of $17.4 million in rubles for maintaining a monopoly on the App Store. The US company has two months to pay the fine, but it is unclear whether it will be forced to offer alternatives to its services as a result of the decision, or whether it will face further penalties. The situation is rather odd, however, as Apple couldn’t legally pay the fine even if it tried.

Apple accused of having a monopoly on App Store payments

The issue TASS has with Apple at the moment is that the App Store, the app store on the iPhone, only allows payment through Apple systems. Since Russia is under sanctions from the US and other countries, Apple has complied and stopped selling products there. As a result, the company has not attracted any new customers in Russia in the past year.

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The monopoly fine refers strictly to Apple’s control over iOS payments, forcing app developers to use Apple’s system exclusively, and is an abuse of market dominance, which is against Russian law. Presumably Russia wants to implement a local payment system, as has happened in other regions where Apple has received similar sanctions.

Of course, Apple may not be able to pay the fine even if it tried, since most banks block transactions to Russia because of the embargo imposed internationally following the invasion of Ukraine. Thus, it is possible that this situation is strictly political, with Russia imposing sanctions on companies from countries that in turn impose sanctions on the country and companies of Russian origin.

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Given that Apple products are no longer officially sold in Russia anyway, and Apple’s online services, no longer make money in Russia as they cannot process payments, the chances of Apple paying this fine are slim. Before the war in Ukraine began, Russia had fined other US companies, such as Google and Netflix, for other violations of local law, such as not having an office on Russian soil, or refusing to distribute Russian state TV channels in their video streaming service offerings.

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