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ACM: Developing a new app is an unnecessary and unreasonable condition that Apple imposes on dating-app providers

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets has concluded that the revised conditions that Apple has imposed on dating-app providers are unreasonable, and create an unnecessary barrier. The new conditions stipulate that dating-app providers must develop a completely new app if they wish to use an alternative payment system. Apple has informed ACM about these new conditions. App providers cannot adjust their existing apps. ACM finds this to be an unreasonable condition that is at odds with the requirements that Apple had set out. ACM is of the opinion that, as such, Apple still does not comply with ACM’s requirements. Apple must therefore pay another 5 million euros. The total of all penalty payments currently stands at 20 million euros.

What is wrong with Apple’s revised conditions?

In its revised conditions, Apple imposes a considerable number of conditions on dating-app providers that wish to use an alternative method of payment. For example, dating-app providers must develop a new app, and submit that new app to the Apple App Store. ACM is of the opinion that this condition hurts dating-app providers. Dating-app providers that opt for an alternative payment system are thus forced to incur additional costs. And consumers that currently use the app have to switch to the new app before they are able to use the alternative method of payment. It will cost app providers a lot of time and effort to inform consumers properly about such a change. For example, consumers will have to delete the old app, and install the new one. In addition, ACM has doubts about several other elements of the revised conditions  that Apple has imposed on dating-app providers. 

What was this case about?

Apple must adjust its conditions for access to the Dutch App Store for dating-app providers. In the App Store, dating-app providers must also be able to use payment systems other than Apple’s payment system. In addition, dating-app providers must have the ability to refer to payment systems outside of the app. This had been laid down in an order subject to periodic penalty payments that ACM imposed on Apple in August 2021. On December 24, 2021, the court ruled that this part of the order could be published.

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