Executives from the two companies, along with
Although Apple and Google hold a duopoly in the Western world’s app store ecosystem, much of the ire was directed at Apple, which charges big developers 30% of revenue, a cut that witnesses at the hearing said amounts to a “tax.”
“Apple abuses its dominant position as a gatekeeper of the App Store to insulate itself from competition and disadvantage rival services like Spotify,”
App developers have
The hearing, before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, is part of Congress’s expanding scrutiny of the power of technology companies. Democrats, and some Republicans, are pushing for changes to antitrust laws that would make it easier for competition watchdogs to bring cases against companies that they say are buying up -- and crowding out -- rivals.
“Capitalism is about competition,” she said. “It’s about new products coming on. It’s about new competitors emerging. This situation, to me, doesn’t seem like that’s happening when you have two companies really each dominating in different areas.”
Klobuchar has introduced legislation that would make it easier to prevent and punish anticompetitive behavior, and she said Wednesday’s testimony “strengthened the case for sweeping antitrust reform so companies big and small don’t have to live or die by the whims of monopolies.”
“If these actions aren’t proof of serious competition problems, I don’t know what is,” Klobuchar said.
Andeer told senators that the App Store revolutionized software distribution by making it possible for developers to reach users in a new way. He said the commissions are lower than what was charged for software distribution when Apple introduced the App Store more than a decade ago, and that its tight controls over which apps are allowed are aimed at meeting privacy, safety and performance standards.
Until now, congressional scrutiny has focused more on Google than Apple, and Google is already facing antitrust complaints on several fronts. A Justice Department lawsuit filed last year accuses Google of illegally maintaining a monopoly in web search. Texas and other states have sued over the Mountain View, California-based company’s digital advertising practices.
But antitrust complaints against Cupertino, California-based Apple are piling up. They focus largely on the company’s App Store practices, which are now under
Apple drew much of the criticism from lawmakers during Wednesday’s hearing. Republican Senator
Kirsten Daru, Tile’s general counsel, said Apple has exploited its power to harm Tile and give Apple’s competing product -- AirTags -- a leg up. Apple has refused to give Tile access to a chip in iPhones that would improve Tile users’ experience, even though AirTags have that access, she said.
“If Apple turned on us, it can turn on everyone,” Daru added. “If Apple chooses to compete against developers on its platform, it should just do so fairly, and according to the same rules. Regulating a giant like Apple won’t be easy, but it’s just going to get harder as it gets bigger and more powerful.”
“He added that we just should be glad that Apple is not taking all of Match’s revenue, telling me: ‘You owe us every dime you’ve made,’” Sine said.
When Klobuchar asked if Match faced retaliation for testifying at the hearing, he said a Google employee reached out to the company last night to ask why Match’s testimony differed from previous statements it had made.
“They could hurt us in little ways, they could hurt us in big ways,” Sine said about the app store. “We’re all afraid, is the reality, Senator.”
(Updates with Klobuchar quote, beginning in the ninth paragraph.)
--With assistance from
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