Tim Cook’s testimony in front of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee antitrust investigation committee will take place on July 27 at midday EST. The hearing, which will be live-streamed, will be accompanied by similar testimonies from Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
The title of the investigatory hearings is “Online Platforms and Market Power” with a focus on “Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple.”
House Judiciary confirms July 27 Big Tech CEO hearing pic.twitter.com/UqY5ybaUge
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Tim Cook antitrust hearing
The subcommittee investigations into the four tech giants have been going on since last year. The purpose is to examine whether the dominance of these companies impacts negatively on consumers and smaller companies trying to compete.
In the case of Amazon, Facebook, and Google, all three companies — while this does not necessarily suggest that they are guilty of antitrust violations — are market leaders in their categories. Amazon is the number one Western online retailer, Facebook dominates social media both through its own platform and acquisitions like WhatsApp, and Google is the clear leader when it comes to search.
The antitrust case involving Apple
Apple is a trickier case. It is the most valuable of the tech companies in the investigation. But it’s not actually a market leader, in terms of size, in any of its domains. Android phones outnumber iOS devices. Spotify is bigger than Apple Music. Netflix is larger than Apple TV+. Windows PCs are far more common than Macs, and so on.
The area raising potential problems for Apple is the App Store. The Yale Law Journal recently published a paper titled “The Antitrust Case Against Apple.” Its main suggestion is that Apple has “exploited its market power” through the App Store. This has allowed Apple to “impose a 30% tax and extract supracompetitive profits,” resulting in higher prices and reduced innovation.
Several app developers have accused Apple of behaving in an overly controlling manner, while taking an unfair cut of revenue. Apple has defended itself against what it claims are developers who use its infrastructure with paying their share. However, it has made some changes. For instance, devs will soon be able to better appeal App Store decisions. Apple also will not stop devs issuing bug fixes if apps break the App Store guidelines.
Apple is currently facing other antitrust investigations into the App Store, e-books, and Apple Pay in Europe.