The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee revealed its recommendations for dealing with Big Tech Monday in a 449-page report, following 16 months of investigation.
While the report has recommendations for Amazon, Facebook and Google parent company Alphabet, it also focuses on Apple — and what needs to change to make Cupertino antitrust-compliant.
The report suggests that Apple uses its operating systems and App Store to “create and enforce barriers to competition and discriminate against and exclude rivals while preferencing its own offerings.”
In turn, Apple uses this power to “exploit app developers through misappropriation of competitively sensitive information and to charge app developers supra-competitive prices within the App Store,” according to the report. “In the absence of competition, Apple’s monopoly power over software distribution to iOS devices has resulted in harms to competitors and competition, reducing quality and innovation among app developers, and increasing prices and reducing choices for consumers.”
Fixing the alleged problem
It’s still early days when it comes to fixing these alleged problems. However, some recommendations include splitting up companies and stopping dominant platforms from entering adjacent businesses. This could, for example, mean splitting off the App Store from Apple. Another recommendation is shifting the burden of proving the tech leaders are not anticompetitive to companies, rather than making lawmakers prove that they are. Companies also could have to stop preferencing their own services as defaults, provide regular compliance data, and more.
How much these rules wind up being enforced remains to be seen. If they are introduced in their strongest terms it would mean a significant shake-up to the current tech landscape.
In a statement, Apple responded to the antitrust subcommittee’s report:
“The App Store has enabled new markets, new services and new products that were unimaginable a dozen years ago, and developers have been primary beneficiaries of this ecosystem. Last year in the United States alone, the App Store facilitated $138 billion in commerce with over 85% of that amount accruing solely to third-party developers. Apple’s commission rates are firmly in the mainstream of those charged by other app stores and gaming marketplaces. Competition drives innovation, and innovation has always defined us at Apple. We work tirelessly to deliver the best products to our customers, with safety and privacy at their core, and we will continue to do so.”