U.S. House Committee Wants Tim Cook to Testify in App Store Antitrust Probe in July

As part of an ongoing probe of competition in digital markets that involves Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee this week sent a letter to each company demanding to know whether their CEOs will testify in hearings set to take place in July, reports Axios.

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The antitrust investigators want to know by Sunday whether Apple, Google parent company Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook will have their CEOs attend the hearings voluntarily. They're also seeking a number of materials related to other competition probes and internal communications, with the letters asking questions "on issues related to possible competitive harms."

According to Axios, the letters suggest the Judiciary Committee could send out subpoenas to force testimony and document production if the companies do not comply.

"These are documents that are essential to complete our ongoing, bipartisan investigation of the digital marketplace," antitrust subcommittee chairman David Cicilline said in a statement. "This is the appropriate process to secure their production."

The United States Department of Justice last July launched a broad antitrust review into whether major technology companies are unlawfully stifling competition.

In September 2019, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook requesting details on documents and communications related to the App Store, product repairs, and seller agreements with Amazon.

Much of the focus was on Apple's ‌App Store‌ policies, with questions about the removal of parental control apps from the ‌App Store‌, how search result rankings are determined, how Apple's in-app purchase mechanism works, whether apps are permitted to include in-app links to non-Apple payment systems, policies surrounding setting non-Apple apps as default, and more.

Later that year, investigators began questioning third-party app makers, include those who make parental control apps that were impacted by the release of Apple's Screen Time feature and new ‌App Store‌ restrictions on apps abusing Mobile Device Management.

Apple has been accused of anticompetitive business practices when it comes to the ‌App Store‌, with some developers and companies claiming that Apple's own apps, features, and services have a significant advantage over third-party apps. Spotify, for example, has complained that Apple Music has a distinct advantage because Spotify has to pay Apple a portion of its subscription fees.

With the investigation, U.S. House Judiciary Committee is aiming to produce a report on the findings from the probe that has recommendations for updating antitrust laws.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

TechieGeek Avatar
50 months ago
Anti-competitive policies ultimately hurt the consumer, remember that next time you defend a giant corporation. Competition drives innovation, and preventing competition (i.e., closing your platform so that there’s only one App Store, then promoting your own apps above others in the App Store) is harmful to consumers.

Even us iOS users would benefit from increased competition from third party apps. It would force Apple to innovate.

Imagine how much better Siri could be if people on iPhone had the option to set google assistant as their default voice assistant. Applewood feel immense pressure and might have immensely improved Siri
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
az431 Avatar
50 months ago

Seems like Apple is always involved in anti-trust laws - cook is worse than Jobs and at least he won most if not all the anti-trust lawsuits.
Two lawsuits in 45 years is not "always." That would be like me saying you always spell incorrectly. I'm sure there's been one forum post that you nailed.

And just FYI, Jobs did not "win" any antitrust lawsuits, whatever that means.


Anti-competitive policies ultimately hurt the consumer, remember that next time you defend a giant corporation. Competition drives innovation, and preventing competition (i.e., closing your platform so that there’s only one App Store, then promoting your own apps above others in the App Store) is harmful to consumers.

Even us iOS users would benefit from increased competition from third party apps. It would force Apple to innovate.

Imagine how much better Siri could be if people on iPhone had the option to set google assistant as their default voice assistant. Applewood feel immense pressure and might have immensely improved Siri
ALL businesses enact policies and practices that are anti-competitive. I'm not aware of any company that runs their business to make life easier for their competitors.

That is why there is no such thing as a prohibition on anti-competitive practices. The law regulates anti-competitive practices, and prohibits conduct such as bid rigging and price fixing. Monopolies that arise out of a purely competitive market and vertical-price controls are both anti-competitive, but are in fact, 100% legal.

Just because a policy is anti-competitive does not mean it hurts the consumer. In fact, that's why only certain practices are illegal.

The App Store is indeed a monopoly, but it is not an illegal monopoly, and it most certainly does not hurt consumers. If you think Spotify for iOS would be cheaper if it was offered on a third-party app store, then you don't have a clue.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mr. Awesome Avatar
50 months ago
Looking forward to app defaults in iOS 14 hopefully!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JGIGS Avatar
50 months ago

" Spotify, for example, has complained ('https://www.macrumors.com/2019/03/16/spotify-calls-apple-monopolist/') that Apple Music has a distinct advantage because Spotify has to pay Apple a portion of its subscription fees." Spotify whining again. they have as many paid subscribers as everyone else put together, most people get a subscription outside of the App Store anyway, and on iOS, they offer their crappy service which comes in compressed, has to be decompressed and then recompressed to AAC - because (poor babies, they aren't large enough to stream in a better format, sheesh!). If they were tiny, I could see it. But the industry dominant player? Makes no sense
To be fair Spotify still needs to pay the artists so Apple also getting a chunk of that revenue as well definitely affects their bottom line.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MauiPa Avatar
50 months ago
" Spotify, for example, has complained ('https://www.macrumors.com/2019/03/16/spotify-calls-apple-monopolist/') that Apple Music has a distinct advantage because Spotify has to pay Apple a portion of its subscription fees." Spotify whining again. they have as many paid subscribers as everyone else put together, most people get a subscription outside of the App Store anyway, and on iOS, they offer their crappy service which comes in compressed, has to be decompressed and then recompressed to AAC - because (poor babies, they aren't large enough to stream in a better format, sheesh!). If they were tiny, I could see it. But the industry dominant player? Makes no sense
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Rainshadow Avatar
50 months ago

Anti-competitive policies ultimately hurt the consumer, remember that next time you defend a giant corporation. Competition drives innovation, and preventing competition (i.e., closing your platform so that there’s only one App Store, then promoting your own apps above others in the App Store) is harmful to consumers.

Even us iOS users would benefit from increased competition from third party apps. It would force Apple to innovate.

Imagine how much better Siri could be if people on iPhone had the option to set google assistant as their default voice assistant. Applewood feel immense pressure and might have immensely improved Siri
Maybe, but there is also the chance that even Apple isn’t large enough to effectively compete to be TOP DOG in phones, mail, word processors, voice assistants, watches, speakers, wearables, tvs, Browsers, music services, etc etc etc you get my point - and would eventually decide it’s not financially feasible to maintain all categories.

That would lead to services or apps outside of the ecosystem and not designed with such tight integration that Apple enthusiasts enjoy.

look... there is competition. I can always switch to another phone and there is a plethora of android options. That’s where the competition is good. When I choose an Apple product, I choose it for the integration, not because I think EVERYTHING they do is the BEST. Just that everything they do on a whole is a better package than the rest.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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