U.S. Senator Calls AirTags Release 'Timely' as App Store Antitrust Hearing Kicks Off
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, who is spearheading an antitrust hearing on competition in App Stores, today called Apple's AirTags release "timely" because it is the type of conduct that she plans to examine, reports Reuters.
"It's timely given that this is the type of conduct that we'll be talking about at the hearing," she said, while also mentioning that criticisms of the App Store and Play Store have not received enough attention.
The "Antitrust Applied: Examining Competition in App Stores" hearing takes place today to examine App Stores and mobile competition. Executives from Apple, Google, Tile, Spotify, and Match Group will be participating. Apple initially did not plan to send anyone to attend, but agreed to provide Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer after senators complained.
Tile General Counsel Kirsten Daru will also be attending, and yesterday, Tile said that it intends to bring up the AirTags launch. Tile CEO CJ Prober said that the company is "skeptical" about Apple's aims with AirTags, given its "history of using platform advantage to unfairly limit competition."
We welcome competition, as long as it is fair competition. Unfortunately, given Apple's well-documented history of using its platform advantage to unfairly limit competition for its products, we're skeptical. And given our prior history with Apple, we think it is entirely appropriate for Congress to take a closer look at Apple's business practices specific to its entry into this category. We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further in front of Congress tomorrow.
Tile has known about Apple's work on the AirTag for some time now and has brought it up in prior legal proceedings as it is unhappy to have Apple as competition in the item tracking space. To avoid antitrust complaints, Apple waited to launch AirTags until it had already debuted the Find My Network accessory program, which allows third-party Bluetooth devices like item trackers to integrate into the Find My app alongside AirTags.
The Find My network is open to Tile, but it does require item trackers to work exclusively with Find My, and Tile already has an established item tracking app and its own network that uses smartphones for crowdsourced tracking purposes.
Apple in a statement said that it has worked to build a platform that enables third-party developers to thrive.
"We have always embraced competition as the best way to drive great experiences for our customers, and we have worked hard to build a platform in iOS that enables third-party developers to thrive," Apple said in a statement.
Other companies that have long had competitive issues with App Store, such as Spotify and Match will participate, and will complain about the restrictive rules employed by Apple and Google and the App Store fees.
With the App Store competition hearing kicking off today, Fight for the Future launched an "Abolish the App Store" initiative that calls on people to sign a petition to demand that Congress "end the App Store monopoly."
Fight the Future believes that iOS should work like other "general purpose" computing systems, giving users the freedom to install software directly onto their devices without Apple's permission.
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