Competitors complain that Apple gives its own apps special treatment over third parties in its App Store, and they’ve got a point.
Apple is “acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers,” Spotify’s Daniel Ek wrote in the complaint that launched a European Council antitrust investigation of Apple’s App Store.
Elizabeth Warren put it even more starkly:
Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time.
But Congress, which will have a chance tomorrow to press the issue with CEO Tim Cook, doesn’t have to carve up Apple to create a level playing field.
If the problem is Apple’s “tax” (15% to 30%) on third-party apps, why not make an exception for apps that compete directly with Apple’s—like Spotify—and drop the tax for them. Problem solved.
That’s the idea, and the antitrust committee can have it free of charge. (Truth be told, I stole the idea from NYU’s Scott Galloway suggested it last week on Pivot.)
One more thing: Let’s not quibble about Walmart, etc, or whether Apple deserves monopoly control over its own App Store. To paraphrase someone smarter than me: The relevant market is whatever the regulatory authority says it is.