U.S. Antitrust Committee Likens Tech Companies Including Apple to 'Oil Barons and Railroad Tycoons'

Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon have been the subject of an ongoing antitrust investigation conducted by the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, which today said the tech companies "have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons."

appstore
As outlined by CNBC, the subcommittee has released a 450 page report [PDF] highlighting findings from multiple hearings (including one with of the CEOs from each company), interviews, and more than 1.3 million documents, with the report also including recommendations for new antitrust laws.

The recommendations are focused on promoting fair competition in digital markets, strengthening laws related to mergers and monopolization, and restoring vigorous oversight and enforcement of antitrust law.

The committee wants Congress to prohibit dominant platforms from entering adjacent lines of business, encourage antitrust agencies to view mergers by dominant platforms as anticompetitive by default, and prevent dominant platforms from preferencing their own services with a requirement that they offer equal terms for equal products and services.

The subcommittee says that dominant firms should also make their services compatible with competitors and allow users to transfer their data, that "problematic precedents" need to be overridden in antitrust case law, and that forced arbitration clauses and limits on class action lawsuits should be eliminated.

Although these four corporations differ in important ways, studying their business practices has revealed common problems. First, each platform now serves as a gatekeeper over a key channel of distribution. By controlling access to markets, these giants can pick winners and losers throughout our economy. They not only wield tremendous power, but they also abuse it by charging exorbitant fees, imposing oppressive contract terms, and extracting valuable data from the people and businesses that rely on them. Second, each platform uses its gatekeeper position to maintain its market power. By controlling the infrastructure of the digital age, they have surveilled other businesses to identify potential rivals, and have ultimately bought out, copied, or cut off their competitive threats. And, finally, these firms have abused their role as intermediaries to further entrench and expand their dominance. Whether through self-preferencing, predatory pricing, or exclusionary conduct, the dominant platforms have exploited their power in order to become even more dominant.

As for Apple specifically, the subcommittee determined that Apple has a monopoly when it comes to the distribution of software apps on iOS devices and that its control over iOS "provides it with gatekeeper power over software distribution on iOS devices."

In contrast, Apple owns the iOS operating system as well as the only means to distribute software on iOS devices. Using its role as operating system provider, Apple prohibits alternatives to the App Store and charges fees and commissions for some categories of apps to reach customers. It responds to attempts to circumvent its fees with removal from the App Store. Because of this policy, developers have no other option than to play by Apple's rules to reach customers who won iOS devices.Owners of iOS devices have no alternative means to install apps on their phones.

The committee cited multiple interviews with App Store developers, including those that have been in major conflicts with Apple, such as the CEO of email app "HEY" and the General Counsel of Tile, along with public disputes with companies like Airbnb and ClassPass, who recently clashed with Apple over fees for digital events during the ongoing public health crisis.

Through interviews and document review, the committee reviewed Apple's 30 percent ‌App Store‌ fees, its control over the ‌App Store‌, the dominant position of its own apps as default apps, ‌App Store‌ search rankings, blocking rival content like parental control apps, ‌App Store‌ guideline enforcement, Apple's decision not to allow other voice assistants to replace Siri as the default, and more, with the data outlined starting on page 329 of the report for those interested.

Much of what was shared was already known through prior reports and coverage of Apple's disputes with various companies, and the recommendation document provides broad recommendations for action rather than recommendations specific to Apple, but Apple could be impacted in a multitude of ways should the recommended antitrust laws be implemented.

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

PJWilkin Avatar
26 months ago
And they did not find Google had a monopoly on Ads

Utterly astounding
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GeoStructural Avatar
26 months ago

lol I seriously doubt Apple will allow a third-party App Store.

And Apple has no obligation to open up their platform just, because developers have become greedy. This will cause more harm to the ecosystem than good.
They can be forced to. Apple is not above the law.


Like I’ve said all along: Apple can be the referee or a player in the “game” that is the App Store, but it’s legally difficult if not untenable to be both. Break it up.
You can cause a heart attack to some passionate people in this forum for saying that.

Some fail to understand that it doesn't matter if Apple originated the App Store or manufactured the device, if they want to be in the business they have to do it under commercial law and competitively fair. If they make little XYZ developer sign the developer agreement they cannot allow Amazon (specially giant Amazon) to under the same agreement and market segment pay smaller fees... And then if developer XYZ complains he/she is now greedy, or should just find another Store. No!

Apple here sets the rules, arbitrates, charges you fees, removes your work without consultation and only since a few weeks ago, only recently, they have laid out something equivalent to a formal procedure, before they would just send you an email in which they terminated your license and removed your work. THIS IS WRONG, it does't matter if Apple administrates the Store, they have to do it fairly and protect users and developers alike.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jayducharme Avatar
26 months ago

first the EU, now this ... concerning that bureaucrats are getting more and more involved in tech ...
What's concerning is that their meddling appears to be without a full understanding of how it all operates. When you have a senator asking how Facebook makes money, that's a big problem. I don't see how any of the services they're citing is a monopoly. If you don't like Amazon, shop online at Walmart or Target. If you don't like Apple computers, get a PC or a Chromebook. If you don't like Google, use Duck Duck Go. If you don't like iPhones, get an Android (or even a Blackberry). There's plenty of choice currently out there.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PlayUltimate Avatar
26 months ago

lol I seriously doubt Apple will allow a third-party App Store.

And Apple has no obligation to open up their platform just, because developers have become greedy. This will cause more harm to the ecosystem than good.
They will change the business model before they open it up. Apple created a marketplace when there was not one before. Despite the profits of the current App Store, I can see Apple shutting the whole thing down for developers before allowing anyone to have unfettered access to their hardware.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Red Oak Avatar
26 months ago
Where is it in the report how the App Store has been a godsend to both consumers and developers? Look at the fu**** metrics - downloads, unique users, rev generated, ease of WW distribution. All went off the charts with the App Store

Let’s all take a moment to remember how god damn awful software distribution was on Windows and carrier digital stores 10 years ago. It was a F**** shi* show

What a god dam crime this whole charade is
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chrjy Avatar
26 months ago
I always struggle with the monopoly argument and it might be because I misunderstand it but I see it quite simply:
Any company, let's take Apple (as it's appropriate!) started from nothing, just an idea. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started the company from a garage in Cupertino and managed to grow it into one of the most successful companies ever. Starting a company is easy, creating a successful company is incredibly hard, especially to get to the size and turnover of Apple.

As soon as a company becomes successful, they get slammed and people try to bring them down. It seems to be the same with people who become famous, once they get to a certain stratosphere, people love to try and pull them down and I find that really sad. Why do we live in a world of such hate rather than celebrate successes.

If a company such as Apple is able to be successful without hurting others or selling others (Google, Facebook etc!) then shouldn't that be something to cheer about?

Again, I reiterate, it maybe my lack of understanding but I'm pretty simple!
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Illinois Floats Bill That Would Let Developers Skirt Apple's In-App Purchase Rules

Wednesday January 19, 2022 4:09 pm PST by
Illinois is the latest state to attempt to pass legislation that would prevent developers from being required to use Apple's in-app purchase options by allowing for alternate payment solutions within apps. As outlined by Illinois news site WGEM, under the Freedom to Describe Directly Act, distribution platforms like the App Store and Google Play would not be able to force Illinois developers ...
cydia vs apple feature

Judge Dismisses Cydia Creator's Lawsuit Against Apple For Now

Wednesday January 5, 2022 9:33 pm PST by
U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers today granted Apple's motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the company by Jay Freeman, creator of an alternative App Store known as Cydia for "jailbroken" iPhones and iPads. The case might not be over yet, however, as Freeman was given the option to file an amended complaint by January 19. Freeman sued Apple in late 2020, alleging that the...
General App Store South Korea Feature Feature

Apple to Allow Alternative Payment Systems in App Store in South Korea

Monday January 10, 2022 8:37 pm PST by
Apple will let App Store developers offer alternative payment systems in South Korea after the country passed a law that bans app store operators from requiring developers to use their own in-app purchase systems, reports The Korea Herald. Apple still plans to charge a reduced fee on purchases made through alternative payment systems, according to plans the company submitted to the Korea...
european parliament

EU Provisionally Agrees on Law That Would Force Apple to Allow Alternative App Stores, Sideloading, and iMessage Interoperability

Friday March 25, 2022 4:46 am PDT by
European lawmakers have provisionally agreed upon a new law that would force Apple to allow user access to third-party app stores and permit the sideloading of apps on iPhones and iPads, among other sweeping changes designed to make the digital sector fairer and more competitive. The European Council and European Parliament said on Friday they had reached a political agreement on the...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Indie Developer Dogged By Scammy Clone Apps Again Highlights the Holes in Apple's App Store Review Process

Monday February 21, 2022 9:29 am PST by
Apps that copy concepts and features from other apps are nothing new in the ‌App Store‌, but scammy like-for-like clones of genuine apps remain a perennial problem that Apple still hasn't resolved, as indie developer Kevin Archer recently discovered. Archer is responsible for 2Stable's Authenticator App, a feature-rich app that stores and generates secure two-factor authentication tokens...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2

Apple Defends App Store Changes in the Netherlands as Fines Reach €30 Million

Monday February 28, 2022 9:32 am PST by
Amid an ongoing dispute with the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands over the App Store, Apple has defended its plan to require app developers to submit an additional app binary for the Dutch storefront if they wish to use a third-party payment processing method. The ACM has ruled that Apple must allow dating apps in the Netherlands to use third-party payment...
General App Store South Korea Feature Feature

Apple's Proposal to Allow Third-Party Payment Methods in App Store 'Lacks Detail,' Says South Korean Regulatory Commission

Thursday February 3, 2022 2:36 am PST by
Apple's plans to allow developers to use third-party alternative payments methods within their apps in South Korea "lacks concrete detail," according to South Korea's Communications Commission (KCC). In August, South Korea passed a law that bans app store operators from requiring developers to use their in-app purchase systems. Last month, Apple submitted its compliance plans to the KCC that ...
Mac App Store General Feature

Apple's Arguments Against Sideloading on iOS: All Your Questions Answered

Thursday November 11, 2021 10:38 am PST by
Sideloading is a fancy word for downloading an app binary from non-official platforms or the open internet and installing it on a device like a normal app. The practice is allowed on Android, granting users the flexibility of downloading apps from official or non-official app stores and the open internet. The iPhone, on the other hand, is a polar opposite. Since the launch of the App Store...

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra deuglify 1

Apple Watch Ultra User Mods Titanium Casing to 'Deuglify' Design

Tuesday September 27, 2022 8:05 am PDT by
An Apple Watch Ultra user has modified their new device's casing to add a brushed finish and remove the orange color of the Action Button in an effort to make it more visually appealing. The Apple Watch Ultra offers the first complete redesign of the Apple Watch since the product line's announcement in 2014, and while the design has been met with praise from many users, some have criticized...
Dark Sky App Featured

Dark Sky Removed From iOS App Store Ahead of Upcoming Shutdown

Wednesday September 28, 2022 4:27 pm PDT by
The Dark Sky weather app that's owned by Apple is no longer available for download in the U.S. App Store, suggesting that it has been removed ahead of schedule. Apple acquired Dark Sky back in March 2020 and has since incorporated elements of the app into the Weather app available on the iPhone (and soon, the iPad). Dark Sky remained available for purchase as a standalone weather app...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
tony blevins car

Apple Procurement VP Departs Company After Vulgar TikTok Comment

Thursday September 29, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
Tony Blevins, Apple's vice president of procurement, is set to depart the company after he made a crude comment about his profession in a recent TikTok video, reports Bloomberg. Blevins was in a video by TikTok creator Daniel Mac, who was doing a series on the jobs of people he spotted with expensive cars. After seeing Blevins in an expensive Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, Mac asked Blevins what ...
iPhone 14 Pros in Hand Black Background Feature

Verizon iPhone 14 Pro Customers Reporting Cellular Connection Issues

Monday September 26, 2022 6:23 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro customers on the Verizon network in the U.S. are reporting issues with slow and unreliable 5G cellular connections and calls randomly dropping. Several threads on Reddit (1,2,3) and the MacRumors forums chronicle issues faced by Verizon customers and Apple's latest iPhone. According to user reports, signal strength on the iPhone 14 Pro is unreliable and weak, while other...
iPhone 15 to Switch From Lightning to USB C in 2023 feature sans arrow

Kuo: iPhone 14 Pro Max Popularity Could Lead to More Differentiation Between iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Wednesday September 28, 2022 10:22 am PDT by
Apple has seen high demand for the 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, which could lead the company to further differentiate the next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple could add exclusive features to the iPhone 15 Pro Max in an effort to encourage more people to purchase the larger and more expensive device. Kuo last week said that Apple asked...
iPhone 14 Pro Sports Scores Dynamic Island

iPhone 14 Pro Features Live Sports Scores in Dynamic Island on iOS 16.1

Monday September 26, 2022 7:52 am PDT by
Earlier this month, Apple announced that iOS 16.1 will enable a new Live Activities feature that allows iPhone users to stay on top of things that are happening in real time, such as a sports game or a food delivery order, right from the Lock Screen. On the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Live Activities also integrate with the Dynamic Island. Premier League match in Dynamic Island via Paul Bradford ...
iOS 16

Everything New in the Latest iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 Betas: Stage Manager Expansion, Wallpaper Tweaks and More

Tuesday September 27, 2022 11:36 am PDT by
Apple today released new betas of iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1 to developers, tweaking some of the functionality that's been introduced in prior betas and in the case of iPadOS 16.1, adding a major new feature to Stage Manager. We've rounded up everything new in both betas below. Wallpaper Updates Apple has updated the Wallpaper section of the Settings app to allow users to swap between...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...