Qustodio and Kidslox, two leading companies in the parental control market, have filed a complaint against Apple with the European Commission Directorate-General for Competition (EC DGComp) in regards to severe anti-competitive practices in the iOS App Store.
Qustodio and Kidslox develop parental control apps that help millions of parents worldwide protect their children online by allowing them to supervise and block harmful content and create healthy digital habits. The Qustodio and Kidslox apps, and those of their competitors, had been available and coexisting peacefully on the App Store for years until Apple moved into the space as a competitor in September of 2018 by pre-installing its own Screen Time service on all iOS 12 devices, activating it by default, and making it non-removable from those devices in any way. Screen Time uses exclusive technologies not available to other app developers in the category, comes at zero price point, and does not operate on non-iOS devices, further locking users into the Apple ecosystem.
Since then, Apple has arbitrarily blocked the most relevant parental control apps in the market from making app updates, hindering innovation and potential growth. On top of that, Apple went so far as to terminate apps from developers who did not take defensive measures against Apple’s systematic hostilities, fatally harming such businesses in the process.
“With the introduction of Apple’s Screen Time, developers in the parental control category experienced unprecedented anti-competitive behavior from Apple. The company acts as both a marketplace and a gatekeeper and uses its dominant position to create exclusive competitive advantage for its own service,” Qustodio CEO Eduardo Cruz said. “We’re requesting the European Commission take action to ensure fair and honest competition.”
“To create Screen Time, Apple took the best pieces and best practices from existing parental control and wellbeing apps in the App Store, bringing no tangible innovations to market. Standing up to Apple is about even more than fair competition,” Kidslox CEO Viktor Yevpak said. “It’s about innovation and being able to continually deliver the best technology to our users to help them care for and protect their children in a world where harmful content and apps are evolving constantly.”