THE HAGUE, May 5 — The Dutch consumer watchdog on Wednesday said it had launched a preliminary investigation into Google over its Play store for apps, months after targeting fellow tech giant Apple.

The Match Group, which owns dating site Tinder, lodged a complaint saying that Google only allowed its own payment system to be used when purchasing apps, the Authority for Consumers and Markets said.

Google Play is used to buy applications to be used on smartphones and tablets using Google’s Android system, which together with Apple dominates the global market.

“We very recently received a complaint, and we will see if there is material to launch a formal inquiry,” the Dutch regulator’s spokesman Murco Mijnlieff told AFP.

The process “could take years” but the competition watchdog “may be able to get results faster because of the possible resemblance to Apple”, he added.

The Netherlands fined Apple a total of €50 million (RM231.3 million) between January and March this year for similar conditions relating to payments on Apple’s App Store.

The watchdog said app developers must be able to use other payment systems than Apple’s. 

Apple has still not complied, and the Dutch regulator is now considering a further fine, Mijnlieff said.

Silicon Valley giants have repeatedly come up against problems in the United States and Europe over alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

The EU formally accused Apple on Friday of unfairly squeezing out its music streaming rivals. — AFP