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Exclusive: EU's Vestager worries about Apple, Meta fees, insulting competitor goods

An Apple logo is visible at an Apple shop in Paris, France, March 6, 2024

BRUSSELS, March 19 (mod1s) - EU antitrust watchdog Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday cautioned Apple (AAPL.O), opens new tab and Meta Platforms (META.O), opens new tab on their increased prices for their services, warning that this may restrict customers from enjoying the advantages of the Digital Markets Act which intends to provide them more options.
Apple unveiled a flurry of adjustments in January in an effort to comply with the historic EU tech law which mandates it to open up its closed eco-system to competitors.

A new pricing structure includes a core technology cost of 50 euro cents per user account per year that large app developers will have to pay even if they do not use any of Apple's payment systems, which has provoked criticism from competitors such as Fortnite creator Epic Games.
Vestager said the additional levies had grabbed her notice.
"There are things that we take a strong interest in, for instance, whether the new Apple pricing structure would de facto not make it in any way viable to utilize the advantages of the DMA. That type of behavior is what we will be examining," she told Reuters in an interview.

Vestager highlighted her worries about Meta's additional fees.
The firm earlier on Tuesday claimed it has offered to practically cut its monthly membership charge for Facebook and Instagram to 5.99 euros from 9.99 euros but Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems said the problem is not about the size of the fee.
"I believe there are many different methods to monetise the services that you supply. Because one thing are the extremely targeted advertising that develops on data being consumed. Another method of showcasing your advertising is to make that relevant," she added.

"So I think it's important to continue the conversation with Meta and we will assess also finally, what is the next push in order for them to be compliant with the DMA."
Vestager also advised corporations against deterring consumers from moving to competitors by criticizing them, saying this type of activity might provoke a probe. Apple has stated some of the updates might expose customers to security concerns.

"I would view of it as foolish to imply that the services are not safe to use, since it has nothing to do with the DMA. The DMA is there to open the market for other service providers to come to you and how your service provider of your operating system, how they will make sure that it is secure is for them to determine," she added.
"And of course, if we see or get the suspicion that this is in order to say that someone else are not doing their job of course, we might take initiatives to look into that."
Vestager said input from developers was important to whether she would begin investigations against any of the six businesses exposed to the DMA.
Asked if she had received any remarks from third parties, she said: "Quite a lot, I would say."


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