EU's Almunia looks at links between platforms and app developers

BRUSSELS Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:55pm EST

BRUSSELS Nov 26 (Reuters) - EU regulators are examining the link between technology platform owners and application developers, the EU's antitrust chief said, in a move that could spell trouble for Apple and Google, leaders in a burgeoning industry.

EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said there was no investigation at present, but that it was possible certain business practices between the two sides could pose anti-competitive concerns in the future.

"Regarding apps, I cannot be explicit, but we are looking into the way some platforms have established or are establishing relationships with other industries, or the creation of apps or the innovators who create apps," Almunia told a conference.

"We are analysing some areas where these issues can be subject to future competition policy cases," he said, without identifying any companies.

Antitrust authorities so far have not publicly expressed any concerns about Apple's so-called application ecosystem.

But some analysts and industry commentators say its closed 'ecosystem' of software, services, content and customer support locks in users and developers and can affect competition.

Platform operators typically take a 30 percent cut of app and game revenues, making this a lucrative revenue source.

Other platform operators are Microsoft and Facebook Inc..