US DOJ targets Apple for potential antitrust probe



  • Reply 21 of 25
    normmnormm Posts: 653member
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    So being vocal means it's true? 
    Google and Facebook make their money selling your privacy.  Apple makes money selling hardware and services.  Much more money.

  • Reply 22 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,354member
    Amazon and Facebook will be overseen by the FTC where it appears to me commerce and privacy are the major issues.

    Google and Apple will fall under the eye of the Department of Justice. There it seems as tho it may be control of consumer technologies thru possible anti-competitive actions ie buying up other companies who have valuable tech and using it to control innovation outside of their own ecosystems, using various means to deny competition to their platforms, or to unfairly stifle success of smaller companies using IP and undue market power. At least that's the inference I'm getting. 
  • Reply 23 of 25
    If the app store is seen as being a monopoly then we could see a move on music and TV as benefiting from an unfair marketplace.
    I'm trying to understand the argument that the App Store is a monopoly and/or unfair marketplace.

    Let's take the example of Music. Apple sells music for download or streaming via iTunes on the Mac (until they re-brand that as Apple Music) and via the iTunes Store app on iOS. Both apps are free, and Apple allows apps from other developers to be free on the App Store. Both apps are also part of the default set of apps that Apple includes with the operating system, which Apple doesn't provide as a service other developers - and this, to me, is fine. The counter example here is Windows, where Microsoft licenses the OS to OEMs, who can modify it to suit their purpose (on the low end of town, this involves installing "crapware", at the high end such as with HP, the value of additional features is somewhat higher). However, with this counter example, you buy the device from, say, HP and your first port of call for support is HP. Microsoft can rightly refuse to support the parts of Windows that they don't control themselves. Microsoft was also under no obligation to license their operating system to anyone else, they chose that course of action of their own free will and reaped the benefits of supplying what the market demanded (subsequent actions are beyond the scope of my investigation here).

    Apple is likewise under no obligation to license their OS to other manufacturers, nor to license their hardware to third party software vendors who may wish to write an operating system for it. An individual user, I believe, may do as they wish to the hardware they purchased, but Apple is within their rights to design their hardware, firmware and other software in such a manner as to make it nearly impossible to change - with the proviso that such an attitude is clearly communicated to the potential purchaser BEFORE a sale is made. I see clear evidence that Apple does indeed endeavour to make sure the entire market knows what they do in this regard; when your detractors proclaim it at every opportunity then there is no rational argument to be made that Apple is misleading its customers.

    So, Apple is protecting their device and its operating system. It outlines to its potential customers the reasons why it does this, and those who make a purchase do so with an informed decision. Part of the protection mechanism is the vetting of third party apps, apps that comply with the rules are offered through the App Store at a price the developer chooses to set. Apple, as a business, gets to choose whether it recoups these costs indirectly (as overhead that gets apportioned to various organisational units) or directly by setting up an internal structure to manage that segmented activity. Apple has chosen a more direct model, and charges developers a percentage fee for the apps that are sold upfront - if the developers choose to "sell" an app for zero remuneration, Apple's fee is therefore also zero.

    It doesn't take much reasoning to deduce that developers could simply sell their apps for nothing and Apple would then be forced to treat all the App Store costs as overhead. Developers could also entice the "purchasers" of their apps to then spend money within the app and thus make some money themselves.

    At this point in my thinking I reach what seems to be the crux of the argument that Apple is anti-competitive: Apple wants to charge developers a percentage of any money the developer can coax from a "customer" from within the app. It's a murky situation: did the developer, entirely through their own efforts, make the sale to the customer? Or did the fact that Apple provided a mechanism for the sale to take place grant them a right to a percentage? If the developer processed the payment through Apple, then, sure, Apple should get a fee for providing that functionality. Is Apple due a percentage because the customer only discovered the app because of the App Store? Well... probably, I guess. Should the developer be able to set up their own payment processor and deny Apple that chance to earn a fee? Gosh, that's a hard one - how many security holes does that open up? Where does culpability lie in cases of fraud or other nefarious actions by the app developer, the payment processor, or a completely unrelated third party?

    Ultimately, I come down on the side of Apple still having the right to set the rules of the marketplace. It's a close run thing, but Apple will be held responsible for everything that happens in the market and therefore they have earned some right to decide what happens where the law is not clear.

    The follow-up argument, as made by Spotify, is that Apple don't charge a percentage for their own apps, or digital services provided within an app. Frankly, this is ludicrous - whether or not Apple's internal accounting practices clearly allocate the revenue to one part of the business and the cost to another is irrelevant to the parent organisation. Apple can simply say that they charge the fee to their own apps as well and this argument disappears.

    Am I overlooking anything that could bring me to reach a different conclusion?
  • Reply 24 of 25
    wizard69 said:
    mjtomlin said:
    Pretty silly that Apple is included here. Especially since this about the practices of handling user data. It's understandable that they want to know how Apple handles the data, but Apple's been pretty vocal about security and privacy, and have taken many measures to combat misuse of it.
    This is about being a monopoly, not privacy. This is where it is fortunate that Apple is not the biggest player in any market. Android is bigger than iOS, Windows is bigger than MacOS, Spotify is bigger than Apple Music, a half dozen players will be bigger than AppleTV+, CDs sell better than songs from the iTunes store, Amazon sells more eBooks, there is no competitor for the App store. The question will be if they leverage their position in an anticompetitive way. It will also be a question of whether or not keeping the Apple ecosystem closed is anticompetitive.
    There are many issues with practices at Apple that are not precisely an issue of being a monopoly.  . Their resistance to traditional rights of the user base like the right to repair is an issue that needs to be addressed.   The App Store for iOS devices is another area where the force of law may need to be applied.  The reality is one doesn’t need to be a monopoly to engage in illegal or anti competitive activities.   Frankly Apple has really gone evil over the last decade or so, they have really pissed many people off so I can imagine there is a growing pressure in Washington to do something.  
    True, but there are plenty of reviews of products that will tell you there are other products that are cheaper and better than Apple's products. And, there are more of those than there are of Apple's. So the customer has chosen to be in the ecosystem with very viable, easily purchased, alternatives. To choose an iPhone over a Pixel and then to complain about the app store is questionable. I prefer the safety of the app store to the wild west of the Android options so I pick the app store. Without the app store I would look more seriously at Android. Right to repair is a much more complicated one and goes far beyond Apple all the way to John Deere tractors. I don't know a whole lot about the right to repair issues with Apple but from the little that I know, it sounds like I wouldn't be able to repair, or upgrade, the new computers the way I have Macs in the past. And if that's the case I may be more likely to look at other options besides Macs. And there is the question again, do I have options, and the answer is absolutely.
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