Tim Cook reportedly got in touch with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in addition to other members of Congress, to voice his worries about possible antitrust legislation, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Democrats are currently circulating drafts of antitrust bills that could affect the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google. If passed, these bills could impact Apple’s ability to own and operate its own App Store marketplace in the way it currently does.
In a letter sent Monday, a number of nonprofits — including ones connected to Apple, such as TechNet, the Consumer Technology Alliance, and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation — urged the House Judiciary Committee to reject the bills.
Germany’s antitrust watchdog said Monday it is launching an antitrust investigation to see whether Apple has a “paramount significance across markets.”
According to Reuters, the probe by Germany’s Federal Cartel Office was partly prompted by advertising and media industry complaints over Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature.
“Based on this first proceeding, the (FCO) intends to assess in more detail specific practices of Apple in a possible further proceeding,” notes the investigatory paperwork. “In this regard, the authority has received various complaints relating to potentially anti-competitive practices.”
Apple says it looks forward to “discussing our approach with the FCO and having an open dialogue about any of their concerns.”
The European Union vs. Apple
One of the leading countries in the European Union, Germany previously announced investigations into Facebook, Amazon and Google over different complaints. And given how much scrutiny the EU has placed Apple under, it’s no surprise to hear Germany begin its own investigation.
As governments around the world scrutinize Apple’s App Store policies, the U.S. Congress is pondering legislation that could stop the company from preinstalling default apps on iPhones.
Apple critics suggest that such a move would level the playing field and give smaller developers a chance to compete. But would it actually benefit consumers, the purported goal of such antitrust legislation?
I’m not sure it would. In fact, it might simply make owning an iPhone a lot less enjoyable.
Japan is the latest country to turn its antitrust attention on Apple. The Japan Times reports that the Japanese government is set to investigate both Apple and Google over their dominance in mobile operating systems.
The report, which cites a Nikkei article, is short on details. It notes that nine out of 10 phones sold in Japan run either Android or iOS. But it does not explain where the problematic aspect of this is. Typically, antitrust involves situations in which a market leader, or collusion between market leaders, results in a monopoly of a particular market. Breaking up these monopolies is intended to give customers more choice.
Efforts to regulate Big Tech continue with Democrats currently circulating drafts of antitrust bills that could affect the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google.
While there is every possibility that these draft bills morph over time, the biggest way they would currently affect Apple is by curtailing its ability to operate an app marketplace. This feeds into growing criticism about Apple’s control of the App Store, which has been the subject of investigation around the world.
The European Union has warned Apple that regulators’ investigation into Apple Pay is going ahead. In an interview with Bloomberg News, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the Apple Pay case is “quite advanced” and “something that we’re pushing forward.”
In a letter to the judiciary subcommittee investigating antitrust complaints against Apple, the company takes aim at companies like Spotify, Tinder and Tile.
All three companies previously criticized Apple’s dominance of the App Store. But Cupertino says they are simply airing “grievances related to business disputes” rather than making legitimate arguments about competition-related issues.
The European Commission accused Apple on Friday of wielding an unfair advantage over Apple Music rivals because of Cupertino’s tight control of the App Store’s commission system.
“By setting strict rules on the App Store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” said Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager in a statement. “This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App Store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options.”