Microsoft: Apple’s tactics are worse than Windows’ ever were

More pressure on Apple to clarify the rules that govern the App Store, just in time for next week’s developers conference.

From Bloomberg’s “Microsoft Says Antitrust Bodies Need to Review Apple App Store” posted Thursday afternoon:

Microsoft President Brad Smith said it’s time for antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe to discuss tactics that app stores use to take advantage of those who want to distribute their software…

Some app stores create a far higher barrier to fair competition and access than Microsoft’s Windows did when it was found guilty of antitrust violations 20 years ago, Smith said Thursday at an event hosted by Politico…

“The time has come — whether we are talking about D.C. or Brussels — for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created,” Smith said..

As with Spotify Technology SA and others that have made complaints against the app store, Microsoft is competing with Apple services and the iPhone maker doesn’t need to share revenue with anyone else. Apple has argued that it’s the store keeper and takes a fee to support developers and distribute their apps and services.

My take: Next week, at WWDC20, Apple will have to address the controversies swirling around the App Store. Tune in at 10 a.m. PT Monday for Tim Cook’s keynote. I’ll be watching it live, and you can too. Click here.

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15 Comments

  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    I’ve written previously my need for clarity on this issue and this is just another in a series of filial peer companies’ allegations of standing to give me pause on this subject.

    The continued allegation that comes through to me as the common thread to follow is that Apple does not apply the rules in its’ App Store evenly to all participants. If this is correct, then Apple has an anti-competitiveness problem because all participant should be treated in a “fair and equitable” manner. Are those rules being applied the same amongst all participants? If not, why not?

    The comments on this forum always avoid this specific issue, and this IS the issue.

    2
    June 19, 2020
    • Fred Stein said:
      Agree. Thanks for the focus, Jerry.

      Worth noting: MSFT’s Brad Smith say “app stores”, and “some app stores”, apparently too keep it vague. In his last para, he calls out Apple still uses all lower case. Lawyers are always very careful about how they use language. hmm.

      1
      June 19, 2020
    • Grady Campbell said:
      there’s an inherent not “fair and equitable” aspect of Apple’s approach: Apple pays the store cost for free apps. Other apps, Apple tries to find a way to assess the cost to the developer but has struggled to do that in a fair and equitable way too (eg Amazon wants app store services but doesn’t want to pay any more than Spotify or Basecamp want to). And Apple wants them on the app store so makes concessions.

      1
      June 19, 2020
  2. Fred Stein said:
    Is Apple using anti-competitive practices? With 2 million apps, there will always be mistakes, letting some app break rules, and applying rules inappropriately.

    Can Apple compete with other apps and subscription services? Yes, drug and groceries stores sell house brand products next to big brands all the time.

    Proving Apple unfair and anti-competitive may be very tough. Proving that 30% is too high, sets up regulators to apply ‘fair and equitable’ caps to fees by all other digital market places.

    3
    June 19, 2020
    • John Konopka said:
      I can see Apple making improvements to the store. Maybe developers need an appeal process or an ombudsman of sorts. Maybe there should be a sliding scale assisting smaller developers.

      0
      June 19, 2020

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