Chinese App Developers File Antitrust Complaint Against Apple

By Alyssa Abkowitz Features Dow Jones Newswires

A group of 28 Chinese app developers filed a complaint against Apple Inc. alleging antitrust violations over the company's App Store.

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The complaint accuses Apple of engaging in monopolistic behavior by removing apps from the App Store without detailed explanation and charging excessive fees for in-app purchases. The complaint also alleges Apple doesn't give details on why apps are removed and puts local developers at a disadvantage by not responding to queries in Chinese.

Lin Wei, an attorney at Beijing Dare & Sure law firm, said he filed the complaint on behalf of the developers Tuesday with the National Development and Reform Commission, which handles antitrust issues in China, and the State Administration for Industry & Commerce.

"There is a lack of transparency in the App Store operation," Mr. Lin said. "At this stage, we think complaining to the Chinese regulators to get them involved is most ideal."

The government agencies didn't respond to requests to confirm the filing of the complaint or if they would review the allegations.

In a statement, Apple said that "most submissions in China are reviewed and approved to be on the store within 48 hours, or less." It added that its App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers in every country and that if an app is rejected or removed, developers may request a review to restore the app in a timely manner.

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The complaint comes as Apple's challenges are multiplying in China as the government ramps up its scrutiny of online content and services. Last month, Apple removed virtual private network apps, or VPNs, from its Chinese App Store that allowed users to circumvent internet filters; the company said it did so to comply with new government rules, though some users criticized Apple for abetting censorship.

Apple has also announced plans to open a data center operated by a government-backed company to store user data locally, as required under new regulations intended to enhance cybersecurity.

Write to Alyssa Abkowitz at alyssa.abkowitz@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 10, 2017 02:55 ET (06:55 GMT)