Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks Apple’s control of the App Store should be scrutinized. In an interview for Axios on HBO, the Facebook overlord said that Apple has “unilateral control of what gets on phones, in terms of apps.”
Zuck went on to say that this power meant that there are questions that should be asked about whether this is “enabling as robust of a competitive dynamic.”
“I think I’m not necessarily the person to answer that,” Zuckerberg said. He then continued that, “some of [Apple’s] behavior certainly raises questions. And I do think it’s something that deserves scrutiny.” Zuck suggests that allowing sideloading of apps (i.e. making them available outside the App Store.)
Zuckerberg made his comments in an interview with Axios co-founder Mike Allen, broadcast Tuesday evening.
Beyond App Store: Mark Zuckerberg and Apple
Mark Zuckerberg is not the first person to question Apple’s control of the App Store. Microsoft’s president has voiced similar concerns. So, more notably, has Epic Games, currently in a dispute about Fortnite‘s status in the App Store. And the U.S. government is currently doing its own investigation.
Nonetheless, his comments are part of an increasing habit of Apple and Facebook exchanging snippy words. In Steven Levy’s excellent 2020 book Facebook: The Inside Story, he observes that Apple CEO Tim Cook’s predecessor Steve Jobs got “a kick out of [Zuckerberg’s] brash approach” to business. However, things have been decidedly “chillier” when it comes to Cook and Zuck’s relationship.
In January 2019, Apple threw Facebook into temporary chaos by breaking its internal apps. This happened because Apple discovered that Facebook took advantage of its Apple developer certificates to distribute a “research” app outside of the App Store. This violated Apple’s privacy policies.
At this summer’s tech antitrust hearing in Congress, Zuckerberg wasted no time in pointing out how “the most popular messaging service in the U.S. is iMessage,” suggesting it should be scrutinized over Facebook.