A boy plays with a smartphone in an outlet of Apple Inc in Qingdao, Shandong province.
Based Dare & Sure Law Firm has brought the first anti-monopoly case against Apple in China. Beijing-based newspaper The Mirror comments:
The iOS operating system Apple installs on its products such as iPhone and iPad is a closed-source one and its users have no other channel but the virtual Apple store to download and install applications.
Such a technological barrier is jokingly known as "jail" among iPhone and iPad users. There used to be a group of hackers who developed special software to help users "jailbreak" iPhones and iPads, but Apple has defeated most of them by closing in the loopholes in the iOS operating system.
Yet Apple has been abusing its dominant position. This June alone, Apple withdrew 89,205 apps from its Apple Store within 20 days. Although the process actually began in 2013, since then as many as 60 very popular apps developed by about 30 companies in China have been withdrawn. And Apple withdrew these apps because they refuse to pay Apple a 30-percent service fee as the latter requires.
Apple has derived quite huge profits from the move. In the fourth financial quarter of 2016, Apple had derived 92 percent of the profits of the whole industry, and the Apple Store monopoly is a cash cow for the company.
But for consumers, that's bad news because iPhone and iPad users only have part of the usage right over the products they buy. Smartphones are supposed to be a bridge that connects app developers and users, but iPhone has failed in this regard.
That's why Apple has been fined many times in many countries, including the United States. Now lawyers have reported it to Chinese authorities and we expect the latter to launch investigations. Apple should also learn a lesson from the case.
The case of Apple is not alone. On July 1, a regulation of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology came into effect, which requires smartphone producers to make sure users can uninstall any app on their smartphones. That has hit the right point－Users that buy smartphones should have the final say on what apps should stay on their smartphones.