Executives from both companies, as well as Tile Inc., which makes a consumer tracking device, urged lawmakers at a Senate hearing on Wednesday to tackle Apple and Google’s dominance in the markets. digital where users download apps.

Although Apple and Google hold a duopoly in the Western world’s app store ecosystem, much of the anger was directed at Apple, which charges big developers 30% of revenue, a cut that witnesses say at the hearing, amounts to a “tax”.

“Apple is abusing its dominant position as custodian of the App Store to isolate itself from the competition and put competing services like Spotify at a disadvantage,” Horacio Gutierrez, legal director of Spotify, told lawmakers. The streaming service competes with Apple Music. Apple’s restrictions on developers, he added, “are nothing more than an abusive takeover and confiscation of value created by others.”

App developers have complained for years that Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google are forcing them to forgo too much of the revenue collected from app sales. They also complain that the rules governing app stores are too strict and inconsistent. Gutierrez, for example, complained about what he called Apple’s “gag order,” a rule that prevents Spotify from telling app users that they can sign up for Spotify at lower prices elsewhere. Executives also accused Apple of copying products from other developers and of retaliating against partners who denounce its practices.

The hearing, before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, is part of Congressional scrutiny of the power of tech companies. Democrats, and some Republicans, are pushing antitrust laws to more easily override competition authorities to sue companies they say buy – and oust – their rivals.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who chairs the antitrust panel, said Apple and Google are gatekeepers who have the power to decide how or if apps can reach iPhone and Android users, even if they are. compete with applications with their own services.

“Capitalism is about competition,” she said. “It’s about the arrival of new products. It is about the emergence of new competitors. This situation, to me, doesn’t seem to happen when you have two companies that each dominate in different areas. “

Klobuchar introduced legislation that would make it easier to prevent and punish anti-competitive behavior, and she said Wednesday’s testimony “strengthened the case for radical competition reform so that businesses, large and small, do not have to live or die by the whims of monopolies. “

“If these actions aren’t proof of serious competition concerns, I don’t know what they are,” Klobuchar said.

Kyle Andeer, Apple’s chief compliance officer, and Wilson White, senior director of public policy and government relations at Google, have defended their companies’ practices.

Andeer told senators that the App Store has revolutionized software distribution by allowing developers to reach users in new ways. He said commissions were lower than what was charged for software distribution when Apple launched the App Store more than a decade ago, and that its tight controls on allowed apps are aimed at upholding privacy standards. , safety and performance.

So far, congressional scrutiny has focused more on Google than Apple, and Google is already facing antitrust complaints on several fronts. A complaint filed by the Justice Department last year accuses Google of illegally maintaining a monopoly on web search. Texas and other states have filed a lawsuit over the Mountain View, California-based company’s digital advertising practices.

But antitrust complaints against Cupertino, Calif.-Based Apple are mounting. They focus largely on the company’s app store practices, which are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice, Bloomberg News reported.

Apple drew much of the criticism from lawmakers during Wednesday’s hearing. Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri accused the iPhone maker of making special deals with big companies like Amazon.com Inc. to keep them out of the market “while putting pressure and cover on smaller competitors, the all at the service of the conservation of this sauce train. sinking monopoly rents. “

Kirsten Daru, Tile’s general counsel, said Apple used its power to harm Tile and give Apple’s competitor AirTags a boost. Apple refused to give Tile access to a chip in iPhones that would improve the experience for Tile users, even though AirTags have that access, she said.

“If Apple turned us on, it can turn everyone on,” Daru added. “If Apple chooses to compete with developers on its platform, it must do so fairly and under the same rules. Regulating a giant like Apple won’t be easy, but it will get harder and harder as it gets bigger and more powerful. “

Hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on App Store competition
Match Group Jared Sine

Match’s chief legal officer Jared Sine told senators that a few years ago the company wanted to make changes to its application in Taiwan in order to strengthen user security by instituting identity verification rules. Apple rejected the app, and when Sine contacted an Apple executive about the decision, the person “disagreed with our assessment of how to run our business and protect our users.”

“He added that we should just be happy that Apple doesn’t take all of the income from Match, telling me, ‘You owe us every penny you’ve earned,” Sine said.

When Klobuchar asked if Match faced retaliation for testifying at the hearing, he said a Google employee contacted the company last night to ask why Match’s testimony differed from previous statements.

“They could hurt us in little ways, they could hurt us in a big way,” Sine said of the App Store. “We are all afraid, that is reality, senator.

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Source: www.dailymaverick.co.za
This notice was published: 2021-04-22 03:57:00

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