Russia has issued a fine of around $17.4 million to Apple for violating the country's competition laws and abusing its dominant position in the app store market. This happens in the wake of an investigation that was announced last July, where the size of the fine was to be calculated based on the App Store revenue in Russia.
Specifically, it was alleged that "Apple prohibits iOS app developers from informing customers within the app of the ability to pay for purchases outside the App Store or use alternative payment methods." This allegation was made by Russia's Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), which said it would "impose a revenue-based fine against the Apple App Store, the size of which would be determined in the course of an administrative investigation."
After months of investigation, Reuters now reports that the amount of the fine has been determined. Russia's FAS has fined Apple about $17.4 million, a representative of the FAS said on Tuesday, for what it said was the US company's abuse of its dominant market position. The representative said that Apple must pay the fine within two months.
Apple voluntarily suspended hardware sales in Russia back in March of last year, and also withdrew Apple Pay services to comply with US economic sanctions. The Ukrainian government called on Apple to go ahead and completely suspend App Store sales in Russia. However, the Cupertino-based company chose not to do so.
Apple did not comment on its decision, but it is likely that they weighed the potential balance of good and bad by denying Russian citizens access to the apps. However, the company has blocked the sale of apps owned by Russian companies hit by US sanctions - although some larger companies appear to have found workarounds.
Russia is one of many countries around the world that have found Apple's App Store policies to violate competition laws. The same has happened in the United States, where a court has ruled that Apple must allow developers to direct users to third-party payment services. At the time, the court ruled that Apple didn't have to go as far as allowing third-party app stores.
However, the Department of Justice and a number of US states have argued that this should be required. Apple appears set to lose appeal, making plans to allow third-party app stores on its platform, seen by many as a win for consumers.