13:14 GMT19 January 2021
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    An antitrust regulator in Japan is probing US tech giant Apple on suspicion of unfair trade practices for allegedly forcing its rival to withdraw from a game platform, Nikkei reported Thursday. The Fair Trade Commission was informed last fall about the iPhone maker’s anti-competitive behavior towards Yahoo Japan.

    The Internet services firm launched a web-based Game Plus platform last summer, which allowed users to play games without downloading an app and had laxer rules for sales than Apple’s App Store.

    Months later, it reportedly complained to business partners about pressure from Apple, on which it relies for part of its sales through App Store, and eventually stopped advertising the service.

    Apple — the world's first public company with a market value of $1 trillion — was also compelled by Japanese authorities in July to improve unfavorable terms of contracts with the nation’s wireless carriers.

    Game Plus offers free and fee-based games developed by Square Enix Holdings Co and other game publishers, some of which are also available on the App Store for Japan-registered users.

    The gaming site has reportedly more than 60 million monthly users, which the company and game publishers can tap for usage history and other data.

    Yahoo Japan’s biggest shareholder is SoftBank Group Corp. In 2017, Apple confirmed its plans to invest $1 billion in a SoftBank Vision Fund set up by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. According to Reuters, a deal with SoftBank would provide Apple an opportunity to gain insight into emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the “internet of things,” in which familiar consumer products are linked.


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    investigation, competition, regulations, marketing, trade, Yahoo Japan, SoftBank Group Corp, Apple, Japan
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