Apple CEO Tim Cook will argue that his company does not dominate any market in which it does business when he appears before the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee Wednesday, according to his opening statement released ahead of time (.pdf).
While Cook will say that “scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate,” he will assert that Apple refuses to make “concession on the facts” by agreeing that it is a monopoly. If anything, Cook will argue that Apple is no gatekeeper, but, through the App Store, has actually opened the gate to developers.
Tim Cook’s opening remarks: A gatekeeper to the App Store
“We want to get every app we can on the Store, not keep them off,” Cook will state. The company often faces complaints that it charges an unfair percentage of developers’ revenue. (Apple takes up to 30% of in-app payments.) However, Cook will portray this as a much better deal than developers got before the App Store opened in 2008.
(This is much the same argument that my colleague Ed Hardy made in an op-ed published Tuesday. For an interesting counterbalance, check out developer Brent Simmons’ response post: “I Got Teed Off and Went on a Long Rant About This Opinion Piece on the App Store.”)
“For the vast majority of apps on the App Store, developers keep 100% of the money they make,” Cook will state. “The only apps that are subject to a commission are those where the developer acquires a customer on an Apple device and where the features or services would be experienced and consumed on an Apple device.”
Congress scrutinizes Big Tech
Cook will testify virtually Wednesday along with CEOs from Facebook, Amazon and Google. The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee titled its hearing, “Online Platforms and Market Power, Part 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google” (.pdf). U.S. lawmakers launched their inquiry into these tech giants’ increasing power a year ago, amid calls from some politicians to break up Big Tech.
He will also state that, far from doing nothing but collect money simply for access to the App Store, Apple spends money constantly improving its tools. This includes giving developers “cutting-edge tools like compilers, programming languages, operating systems, frameworks, and more than 150,000 essential software building blocks” in the form of APIs. “These are not only powerful, but so simple to use that students in elementary schools can and do make apps,” Cook will say.
He will note that App Store guidelines are there to give users a high-quality, reliable, secure experience. “They are transparent and applied equally to developers of all sizes and in all categories,” Cook will say. “They are not set in stone. Rather, they have changed as the world has changed, and we work with developers to apply them fairly.”
Tim Cook’s congressional hearing
Cook’s congressional hearing will take place Wednesday at noon Eastern time. It can be live-streamed here. Congress originally scheduled the hearing for Monday, July 27. However, it was pushed back due to its overlap with a memorial service for the late civil rights leader John Lewis.
One area Apple will reportedly be scrutinized on is its “copy-acquire-kill” strategy. This refers to buying companies to acquire their innovative features, before killing them to stop other platforms from using them.