Under the House bill, could Apple pre-install apps, or couldn’t it?

Trustbusting Representative David Cicilline’s comments leave the tech press confused and divided.

From Techmeme:

  • Mike Peterson, Appleinsider: Proposed antitrust bills would ban Apple from preinstalling its own iOS apps
  • Rebecca Kern, Bloomberg: .@davidcicilline confirmed that under his new antitrust legislation, @Apple would be banned from pre-installing apps on their iPhones
  • Luther Lowe, Hey look the entire basis of @benedictevans
    tweet storm is a bad faith read of a misquoting of @davidcicilline. Maybe we should stop looking to VCs (who are in on the take) for our antitrust analysis
  • Benedict Evans, @benedictevans Replying to @lutherlowe
    and @davidcicilline Hey Luther – 1: I’m not a VC 2: Since you accuse me of being ‘on the take’, no, I was not paid to say that by Apple. 3: The bill proposed does, explicitly and unambiguously, ban Apple for pre-installing any app. I suggest you read it. You can find it in Google.
  • Michael Gartenberg, @gartenberg:   Democratic Representative David Cicilline is clearly a clueless idiot. Other than that, his legislative ideas make perfect sense.
  • Rebecca Kern @rebeccamkern: Replying to @ZacharyGraves and @lutherlowe Misunderstood his response to my questioning, updating the story momentarily.
  • Rebecca Kern, Bloomberg: Apple Can’t Block Pre-Installed App Removal Under Bill

My take: There’s still time for a rewrite.

23 Comments

  1. Dan Pallotta said:
    Maybe Apple should also be prohibited from installing their own glass, and electronics, and buttons, and motherboards. Hell, maybe Nike should be prohibited from installing their own shoelaces and soles. Maybe Campbell’s should be prohibited from including their own potatoes and carrots. Do these people think anything through? So many problems in our country and they want to attack the few things that are actually working, like Apple.

    9
    June 17, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Dan Pallotta Actually, parts of India’s content laws heavily tax, tariff or otherwise disincentivize circuit boards and parts made elsewhere and imported to make whole iPhones in India. So Apple/Wistron had to create a factory to build the boards from locally sourced parts and labor, using only the essential parts not made in India.

      But your point is well taken. Perhaps people would want to have parts left out of their hardware products and require consumers to pick and choose among third party parts to install to run their fridge, TV, router, automotive electronics subsystems, business security, heck, even the power company, and water supply.

      They basically would want everyone to DIY their smartphone like some, not a major majority, did with PC’s. Just because you can build a PC doesn’t mean you should be building a PC.

      2
      June 17, 2021
    • Lalit Jagtap said:
      Dan Pallota, well said. I have concluded that not all of our elected officials have decent amount of common sense. Apple has helped the humanity with better experience. Period.

      0
      June 17, 2021
  2. Dan Pallotta said:
    Here is perhaps a pitier retort: just because politicians come preloaded without ideas doesn’t mean iPhones should come preloaded without the apps that everyone uses and loves.

    8
    June 17, 2021
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    I wouldn’t worry about this ambiguous attempt at “fairness”. After all, it was written by a “politician” or one of his constituents.

    It’ll never pass.

    3
    June 17, 2021
    • Dan Scropos said:
      Who cares if this passes or not? The assumption here appears to be that the pre-install represents some sort of combination of impulse and/or convenience power. Neither is true. Apple followers are choosing pre-installed apps because they believe they’re both the best and safest. Adding an extra step will only appease lawmakers, but it won’t affect downloads and sales. If anything, this directs folks to the App Store and gets more ad hits and allows more folks to see the top apps. While inconvenient, this may actually benefit Apple *and* developers. There’s very little lawmakers can do to nullify Apple’s brand power. Everyone knows that but them.

      3
      June 17, 2021
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    “… My take: There’s still time for a rewrite.”

    Getting a bill successfully into law entails a lot of sausage making & the final product is a long ways off. I long have stated & brother Bart Yee also denoted the other day (whether seriously or frivolously) that: “…. Forcing the product to suffer in order to protect the rights of other developers to make money will be at best a mixed bag in terms of success.”

    Congress must tread carefully with what it seeks. There are over 1 billion contented Apple users. I say the vast majority of us would gladly trade the existing Apple App Store for a closed software & hardware system with Apple developing its own apps with existing employees & through contracting with Developers willing to work with Apple in developing apps. This approach retains our secured & Zen-like Wall Garden experience which is the reason Apple users switched to Apple from Windows.

    1
    June 17, 2021
    • Bart Yee said:
      @Jerry While I did initiate parts of the previous discussion, in your reply you actually quoted this:

      @Daniel Epstein: “…. Forcing the product to suffer in order to protect the rights of other developers to make money will be at best a mixed bag in terms of success.”

      Just giving credit where credit is due. Carry on everyone.

      5
      June 17, 2021
      • Jerry Doyle said:
        @Bart Yee: Thanks for the correction. I didn’t go back searching for the blogged article but glanced at my notes in Pages where I responded. Those notes failed to attribute the quote to Daniel Epstein. My oversight & apologies to Daniel E. I remembered the luminance and what I thought the brilliancy of that single statement of his and found it in my notes. Dan deserves credit, for the quote left an indelible imprint on me.

        1
        June 17, 2021
      • Daniel Epstein said:
        Thanks Bart! I appreciate your acknowledgement!

        1
        June 17, 2021
  5. David Emery said:
    Twitter is just a forum for yelling soundbites…. I would have thought we learned that by now.

    2
    June 17, 2021
    • Robert Stack said:
      @David: Agree completely, and we should never forget that most users tend to be focused on trying to increase their number of followers. It’s good for their egos; makes ’em feel important. There are exceptions of course!

      0
      June 17, 2021
  6. Steven Noyes said:
    Dollars to donuts David is a lawyer. Only a lawyer could come up with such a whacky concept.

    0
    June 17, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      Who, me? I’m a retired software/systems engineer.

      2
      June 17, 2021
  7. Fred Stein said:
    Cicillini’s proposal is nonsense. It will be challenged in the legislative process, and if enacted in the judicial process.

    How many legislators want to tell their voters, “Look what I did for you. I made yours, and your kids’, iPhones harder to use and less safe.”

    6
    June 17, 2021
  8. Bart Yee said:
    Taken to an extreme, Apple should just be a hardware company, making a great platform but should have no pre-installed software at all, not even iOS. Then competing operating systems (even Android, Linux, Windows, Palm, Geos, Nintendo?) “could” be installed to get it initially turned on and running. Then Apple would be required to offer its apps only with a price or subscription for installation & continued use. This would more “level” the app playing field? The only problem is Apple can’t even tout its hardware without discussing its software to use it, thus having too much of an advantage??

    1
    June 17, 2021
  9. Bart Yee said:
    I’ll even bet that some lawmakers would claim that having preinstalled software makes upgrading hardware and re-installing/restoring from a backup too much of an advantage. Consumers should be forced to disable and dump apps prior to backup, collect only their “data” and be forced to choose their apps over again, and then migrate only data across. After all, just because you like, learned and have used an app before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t (be forced to) sample newer apps that have come along. Everyone should be made to try a different mail, call, text message, security, etc. app for minimum 2 week trial and minimum at least 3 apps before settling for something else.

    Just because you can choose other apps (like Android) doesn’t mean you should or would want to.

    1
    June 17, 2021
  10. Bart Yee said:
    All of my comments above are meant to illustrate that Apple has been trying FOR YEARS to provide an integrated, tightly honed and efficient hardware-software system that REMOVES FRICTION for its users, uncomplicates operations, and still allows huge choices to much of the apps and basic functions.

    All of these bills would ADD FRICTION to Apple’s ecosystem in the name of making more money for others. OTOH, if Apple were required to charge for each app they offered like other apps, and be forced to even charge more, one time or subscription (because being so big they could sell at a loss), hell, we could just turn iOS and integrated apps into a Windows Office 365 subscription model and make iPhones even more costly while forcing more money to Apple.

    “Forgive them (the politicians), they do not know what they do”.

    1
    June 17, 2021
  11. Michael Goldfeder said:
    Everyone wants to tap into the Apple ecosystem of users that are very happy having their privacy protected. Nobody in government, whether Cicillini, Vestager, or the next flavor of the month seems to care that more than a billion consumers are doing just fine and like the integrated platform system being provided by Apple.

    Let’s just see what happens once the Federal Judge issues her ruling in the groundless antitrust case against Apple. These free riding train hobos masquerading as downtrodden App developers ought to be exposed for what they really are in that ruling.

    2
    June 17, 2021
  12. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    Should any entity be denied creating appropriate software for consumers?
    How would that be some “beneficial” grant shoved down the consumer’s collective throats?

    I listen to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of blogs about tech and Apple and quite often a very common complaint (going back to the advent of the App Store) is that Apple’s own apps aren’t capably “good enough” in many respects and many developers promote and advertise that their honed apps are better, which is to say, let Apple create whatever they want, we can make competitive apps that can out-shine Apple’s. A scenario much like Apple puts up their apps and we simply use them as our dartboard.

    This garden of competition then flourishes. Now THAT’S good for the consumer.

    2
    June 17, 2021
  13. Gary Morton said:
    I do not agree with any of these antitrust proposals, and the ones that will genuinely piss off consumers have little chance of passing. It is, however, interesting to look at some history from an investor’s perspective. When the government broke up Standard Oil, JD Rockefeller’s net worth soared. In that case the sum of the parts was worth more than the whole. Nonetheless, as an Apple user who appreciates the elegance and simplicity of the hardware and software integration, I hate these bills.

    4
    June 17, 2021
  14. John Konopka said:
    Presumably this would only affect US customers. The other ~60% of users would not be disadvantaged and would enjoy the full protection of Apple’s efforts.

    1
    June 17, 2021
    • John Konopka said:
      I guess Americans could go to Canada or Mexico to get a full version of an iPhone or iPad.

      2
      June 17, 2021

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