Google and Apple attack app store “monopoly”


Google's Sundar Pichai (left) and Apple's Tim Cook (right)

Google’s Sundar Pichai and Apple’s Tim Cook

Senators have burned Apple and Google in Washington about “anti-competitive” behavior related to their app store.

Representatives from Tile, Spotify, and Match also provided evidence, accusing the two tech companies of charging exorbitant fees and copying their ideas.

Both Apple and Google’s app stores charge up to 30% commission on in-app purchases.

The two companies said the charges were justified to provide security to users.

The House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Committee has focused on claims that Apple’s App Store and Google’s Google Play are anti-competitive.

Senator Amy Klobuchar said Apple’s App Store is a “literal monopoly.”

She said both stores “exclude or curb apps that compete with their products” and “charge excessive fees that affect the competition in the app store economy.”

Google Play and the App Store are where most of the apps around the world are downloaded.

Developers claim that Apple and Google can charge exorbitant fees because there is no competition.

There were also claims that Apple used the App Store to unfairly compete with its rivals.

The hearing took place the day after Apple launched its new AirTags product. These can be attached to items such as car keys to make them easier for users to find.

This product is very similar to the tiles already on the market.

Tile locator disc

Tile locator disc

“Competition is welcome, but it must be fair, and Apple’s idea of ‚Äč‚Äčcompetition is clearly unfair,” said Kirsten Daru, Tile’s legal adviser.

She also accused Apple of preventing Tile from using the technology behind Apple’s Find My feature and giving AirTags an unfair advantage.

Apple said the product was different. “We didn’t copy Tile’s product … it’s very different from the others on the market,” said Kyle Andeer, Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer.

Spotify also accused Apple of using the App Store to charge unfair charges. This is what Spotify’s Head of Global Affairs, Horacio Gutierrez, calls it “Apple Tax.”

Undercut us

He also said that Apple is in direct competition with Spotify and Apple Music, and in-app purchases have made Spotify less competitive.

“They are below our price,” he said.

He also criticized Apple’s rule that if it buys from the App Store, it can’t tell its customers that the service is cheap.

Apple said Spotify was “incredibly active in dealing with artists and creators, and driving fierce negotiations.”

“Less than 1% of Spotify users pay Apple a fee,” Andeer said.

Match, which owns Tinder, also criticized the fees Apple and Google had to pay.

Tekken monopoly

“It’s Tekken’s exclusive control,” said Jared Cine of Match General Counsel.

“If an industry player has the power to determine how an app works, how much the app is forced to pay, and often if the app can survive, it’s a monopoly.”

Both Apple and Google rejected the idea that their app store was monopoly and said the rates were fair.

On May 3, the makers of the popular game Fortnite, Apple and Epic Games, will begin a proceeding in a proceeding over App Store fees.

James Clayton is the BBC’s North American Technology Reporter based in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @ jamesclayton5..