Google and Apple are abusing their dominant mobile market position by pushing their own products and services at the expense of those developed by independent companies, several European startups including Spotify, Rocket Internet, and Deezer wrote in a letter sent to the European Commission on Thursday. While first reports of the letter emerged on Friday, its full contents have only been published today, revealing that numerous mobile firms on the Old Continent believe that Google and Apple — neither of whom have been specifically named but are clearly implicated as "major online platforms" — often practice abusive "gatekeeping" due to the fact that they're not only mobile developers but also the largest distributors of apps, with their Google Play Store and iOS App Store accounting for the vast majority of all mobile app downloads in the world.
Instead of promoting diversity that would benefit consumers, the Internet giants that control two of the most popular mobile ecosystems on the planet are looking to promote their own products through their digital stores at the expense of competitors, the letter states. Among other things, the companies accused the U.S. tech giants of manipulating app store search results, aggressively highlighting their own products and services, and even restricting the competition's access to user data of its apps, implying that Google and Apple are trying to indirectly prevent third-party developers from efficiently tweaking their apps with the goal of maximizing user engagement and other important metrics that directly impact the performance of their offerings.
The letter was signed by Chief Executive Officers of the aforementioned companies, in addition to CEOs of Qobuz, LeKiosk, Snips, FaberNovel, and United Internet. Recent reports indicate that the European Commission is currently in the process of creating legislation that will redefine business-to-business (B2B) transactions between Google, Apple, and mobile developers. It's currently unclear how long have the rules been in the works but the Thursday letter sent to the Commission was likely intended to directly influence their contents, though it's debatable whether several European Internet companies have the power to do so. Industry sources claim that the Commission will adopt the new rules by the end of the year, so an update on the situation should follow shortly.