Recently Apple attended Senate Judicial Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights hearing titled ‘Antitrust Applied: Examining Competition in App Stores’ on April 21. Aggrieved by Apple’s App Store policies, participating company ‘Tile’ accused the company of holding third-party apps ‘hostage’. Spotify and other members of the subcommittee remarked that the Cupertino tech giant is acting “as an unfair gatekeeper.”
The Cupertino tech giant was represented by Chief Compliance Officer, Kyle Andeer at the hearing which is investigating competition issues related to Apple’s and Google’s App Store and Play Store. Since most of the mobile apps are distributed via the companies’ app stores, the committee is reviewing their commission rate, anti-competitive policies, scams, security, and other issues.
Unhappy with Apple’s AirTag, rival company Tile calls it a copy cat product at Senate hearing
9to5Mac reports that in his opening remarks Apple’s Kyle Andeer said that the company’s App Store provides satisfactory customer experience and unlimited job opportunities. He further said that Apple’s digital marketplace “is a trusted and safe place to discover and download apps and that it revolutionized app distribution.” However, aggrieved participants like Tile, Spotify, and committee members did not have kind words for the Cupertino tech giant.
Skeptical of newly launched AirTag, General Counsel Kirsten Daru of rival tracker manufacturer ‘Tile’ complained that it did not trust Apple to play fair. Calling AirTag a copycat product, Daru implied that Apple had used Tile’s technology to build its own tracker.
Commenting on Find My app, Tile “it’s similar to a “hostage” program with very strict terms and conditions. The main point Daru is referencing is that if a third party builds Find My support into a product, customers can’t use the third-party app to control it. Notably, that is different than how the Home app and HomeKit third-party products work.
Right after the introduction of AirTag, Tile released a statement to express discontent with Apple and accused it of “unfair competition“.
Representing Spotify, a Swedish music streaming service, Head Of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer Horacio Gutierrez criticized the iPhone makers’ App Store 30% commission rate. It further said that “it’s unfair that it can’t share with customers in the iOS app that they can purchase their subscription at discount from Spotify’s website – and that Apple believes it owns Spotify’s relationship with customers.”
Spotify is Apple’s rival music streaming service and has already filed a complaint at the EU commission, alleging the company of unfairly charging a 30% commission rate for in-app purchases to stifle competition.
Furthermore, it is reported that Congressional subcommittee members pressed Apple’s Andeer on signing a deal with Amazon with a 15% reduced commission rate, its control on App Store, scam apps on its digital marketplace, and more.
Without giving clear details of the deal with Amazon, Andeer reiterated Apple’s standard line of defense that app review is the company’s mandatory security check to give users a safe and secure experience. Regarding numerous scam apps on the App Store, he said that victims of scams are refunded.