Apple and Google, but mostly Apple, has seen a lot of pressure regarding its digital storefront’s rules and regulations, and, ultimately, general business practices. Apple has made some moves to try and alleviate that pressure as of late, but the company still has to face an antitrust hearing to defend itself.
And that hearing has started today, entitled “Antitrust Applied: Examining Competition in App Stores“. Both Apple and Google are under the microscope in the overall hearing, but it’s Apple that’s getting the majority of attention. Especially when it comes to companies like Tile and Spotify, both of which have been vocal about their criticisms of Apple and the App Store.
Committee chair Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and ranking minority leader Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) both raised concerns regarding Apple’s practice to copy products from perceived competitors, serving as an unfair gatekeeper, and more. Meanwhile, Apple’s opening remarks doled out by Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer leaned into previous talking points, including that the App Store provided a “best-in-class” experience, and that the App Store has created “countless opportunities” for developers since its inception.
9to5Mac has a breakdown of the testimony provided by both Tile and Spotify as well. As noted earlier this week following Apple’s debut of its Tile-like tracking device, the AirTag, Tile is not happy with the way Apple has handled the situation. It is not a fan of Apple’s rules for how accessories work with the iPhone, or that Apple now has a copycat product that doesn’t have any inherent limitations like Tile’s product does.
Tile remains unhappy
Kirsten Daru is Tile’s General Counsel, and said that Tile does not believe they can trust Apple to “play fair”, calling out AirTag as a reason for that hesitation. Daru notes that Apple’s own AirTag offers a more seamless experience for iPhone users, something that Apple makes impossible for a third-party product.
And that’s even with Apple opening the Find My network to third-party devices and companies. Tile says that this support is essentially a “hostage program”, saying the terms and conditions are too strict. Daru also says it is unfair that Apple does not allow full access to the U1 ultra-wideband chip in newer iPhone models, something that AirTag relies on for precise tracking.
Spotify in an echo chamber
Spotify has not been happy about the 30% Apple Tax for some time now. A long time, in fact. But things certainly turned even more bitter when Apple launched Apple Music. As other companies have pointed out, Apple launches a product that directly competes with another product that has to fork over money on a regular basis to Apple, and yet Apple doesn’t have to take out the same cut for its same competing product.
Spotify’s Head of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez also said it’s not fair that Spotify can’t tell potential customers that they can save money by subscribing to Spotify on the web, and not directly in the app. Gutierrez also says Apple believes it owns the relationship between Spotify and its customers, as the App Store –and Apple’s own payment processing option– serves as the middleman.
A bit more
The opening to the antitrust hearing also brought up topics including scams discovered on the App Store as of late, App Store security in general, potential deals with large companies for their apps, and more. In most of those cases, Apple’s Andeer reiterated statements Apple has made in the past, including how much money it has invested in the App Store since its launch, and that finding potential issues in the App Store is a constant struggle.