Apple has settled with the Russian government, agreeing to pay a hefty fine of ₽1.2 billion ($13.5 million) following allegations of violating Russian antitrust laws. The Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) announced on Monday that Apple had breached these laws by restricting iOS users from making in-app purchases (IAP) outside of the App Store.
The FAS stated that Apple prevented developers from informing in-app customers about the option to pay for purchases outside the App Store and utilizing alternative payment methods. The violation was identified in July 2022, and Apple made the payment on January 19, with the funds directed to the budget of the Russian Federation, according to the FAS.
This incident is not the first time Apple has faced antitrust scrutiny in Russia. In 2020, the FAS determined that Apple abused its dominant position by rejecting an app developed by Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. Apple reportedly paid a ₽906 million ($12.1 million) fine last year, even though it disagreed with the FAS’s decision.
The latest fine is linked to Apple’s practice of prohibiting developers from offering IAPs in a way that would bypass Apple’s 30 percent commission. This issue gained prominence in 2020 when the makers of the popular video game Fortnite sued Apple after being banned from the App Store for providing IAPs outside of Apple’s platform. While lower courts in the US ruled in favor of developers, allowing them to guide users outside the app store for IAPs, Apple still intends to collect a 27 percent cut for transactions made outside the App Store.
The FAS has a history of taking action against Apple for antitrust concerns, including fines in 2017 related to price fixing of iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 series devices in Russia. In 2022, Apple, along with Zoom and Ookla, also faced fines for not storing the data of Russian citizens within the country’s borders.
Despite Apple’s exit from the Russian market in response to the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the latest iPhones remain available in the country. The legalization of parallel imports in March 2022 has created a government-sanctioned gray market, allowing Apple devices to be sold in Russia through remaining stock and imports from other countries via the parallel imports scheme.