Apple's Cook addresses App Store monopoly, Apple TV+ launch, iPhone 11 in interview

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Apple CEO Tim Cook continued his annual European press tour this week with a visit to Berlin, where he met app developers, visited local Apple stores and discussed a range of pressing topics in an interview with a local journalist.

Cook Blinkist
Source: Stern


German language magazine Stern caught up with Cook at the headquarters of Blinkist, a startup whose eponymous iOS app compresses non-fiction books into short, easily digestible audio and text snippets dubbed "blinks."

After rubbing elbows with Blinkist's founders and employees, who presented a history of their business and asked Cook for advice on potential app features, the Apple chief sat down with reporter Christoph Frhlich for a brief interview. An App Store monopoly lawsuit, iPhone 11 pricing and Apple TV+ were broached during the session.

On the App Store, Cook addressed allegations that Apple has created a monopoly with its curated app portal.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed an 8-year-old anti-competition case to move forward in lower court. Plaintiffs assert Apple's decision to restrict iOS device users to a single first-party store grants a monopoly through which the company can apply a mandatory 30% cut of most purchases, thus leading to artificially inflated prices. Complainants argue for access to third-party app stores or the ability directly purchase apps from developers.

The Supreme Court decision opened the door to additional antitrust lawsuits targeting Apple's walled garden approach to apps. Others sued over the tech giant's developer fees.

Cook addressed the matter, saying, "No reasonable person would ever call Apple a monopolist." (Machine translation)

The quote appears to be a dig at Spotify, which in March did just that in response to Apple's official statement on an antitrust complaint the streaming service lodged with the European Commission.

But Apple's tight control of the App Store and the wider iOS ecosystem is an advantage, according to Cook.

"Customers buy an experience from us, and this experience includes a trustworthy place to buy apps in which we curate and check all applications," Cook told Stern, noting Apple filters out unseemly apps like those bearing pornographic material. "Anyone can take their iPhone and access that content in the browser, but we do not offer it ourselves."

Another bone of contention is Apple's increasing large App Store presence. With products like the iWork suite and a variety of free apps, the company is not only a software distributor, but for some a competitor.

"We have 30 to 40 apps, versus more than two million others," Cook said. He compares the App Store to a supermarket, saying, "The likelihood that it has its own brand is very high, and who benefits from having another product on the shelf? The customer. And that's a good thing."

The executive went on to discuss Apple TV+, Apple's first foray into subscription video streaming. Unlike most competitors, Apple TV+ will be available for a relatively low monthly fee of $4.99 when it goes live on Nov. 1. Further, customers who buy eligible hardware like iPhone and iPad get a year of service for free as part of limited time promotion.

When asked whether he believes the aggressive pricing has rattled industry stalwarts like Netflix, Cook demurs.

"I do not think the competition is afraid of us, the video segment works differently: it's not whether Netflix wins and we lose, or we win and they win," Cook said. "Many people use multiple services and we are now trying to become one of them."

Finally, Cook fielded a question about iPhone 11, which sells for $50 less than its iPhone XR predecessor.

"We always try to keep our prices as low as possible and fortunately we were able to lower the price of the iPhone this year," he said.

Over the past few days, Cook met with developers, visited Apple's Bavarian Design Center and stopped in at various Apple stores in Munich, Berlin and Paris, France. On Tuesday, he dropped in on a Today at Apple session at Apple Champs-lysees.

Cook's European tour has become something of a fall tradition over the past two years. In October 2017, the Apple head traveled to the UK and Sweden, while a 2018 trip included a stop in Spain.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    kevin keekevin kee Posts: 1,291member
    Interesting read and the fact Tim Cook himself doing all the promotion is pretty cool.
    15ngcs1watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 40
    revenantrevenant Posts: 620member
    I wonder (and fully understand it is not a direct parallel) but could Mercedes-Benz be sued for not allowing another type of engine control computer management system in their automotive ecosystem or infotainment? if someone wanted to make their own and install it, why is Mercedes allowed to void all warranties (and making it near impossible to install that software anyways)? I would suppose because Mercedes is making sure that they are delivering a computer system in their cars that does the job correctly and quickly with an overall experience that customers would enjoy (even if they do not know how much of their car is controlled by computer management). I see apple the same way--they know exactly what is under the hood, they are making their systems work flawlessly so that users have an effortless and pleasurable experience.

    Mercedes does not let anyone make software for their instrument clusters or infotainment system (not when I was working for them--last year in 2012). There are other cars to choose from, just like there are other phones. Mercedes is protecting their product and how people view their products by not letting in just any old software, same with apple. No one is forcing developers to write for apple. 

    I believe the more valid complaints are about the developers' fees and perhaps apple's 30% cut. But without apple making the developer's job easier with swift, and the app playground, and advertising and hosting the app on their servers, allowing users the ability to access that app with ease and a system to review it--it is hard to take all of that complaint seriously. How much did small app makers make before?
    edited October 2019 AppleExposedlolliverurahara2old4funmike1gilly33cornchipwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 40
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,394moderator
    Like the local mall where the floor space is the property of the mall and vendors pay rent, or the lobby and screening rooms a movie theater owns,  iOS remains the property of Apple.  

    You own your iPhone and can do what you want with the hardware; toss it off a roof if you like in some extreme drop test.

    But you have only a license to use the operating system and all it’s libraries that software makes calls to.  That’s the space Apple rents to developers, and the price is a percentage of the take.  

    You can shop outside the mall, you can watch movies outside the theater, and you can run apps on other operating systems.  In all cases the world outside these venues is far bigger than inside.  No monopoly involved.  


    AppleExposedlolliveruraharagilly33StrangeDayswatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 40
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    "We always try to keep our prices as low as possible and fortunately we were able to lower the price of the iPhone this year," he said."

    Why do iHaters have an excruciatingly tough time understanding this?
    lollivercornchipcat52watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 40
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    revenant said:
    How much did small app makers make before?

    $0 if they didn't lose money on cancelled projects.

    If Apple hadn't invented iPhone, most apps and developers wouldn't exist.
    cy_starkmanlolliveruraharagilly33watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 6 of 40
    honestly, there are plenty dodgy apps in the appstore, that don’t do what they advertise, or do it really badly.

    that said, if apple is forced to allow other appstores or direct sales from devs, i would not buy.

    happy to take the very occasional risk on my mac, but there is no way i would risk infecting my phone - i like how it is closer to bulletproof.
    lollivergilly33watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 40
    mobirdmobird Posts: 620member
    revenant said:
    Mercedes does not let anyone make software for their instrument clusters or infotainment system (not when I was working for them--last year in 2012). There are other cars to choose from, just like there are other phones. Mercedes is protecting their product and how people view their products by not letting in just any old software, same with apple. No one is forcing developers to write for apple.
    Checking my calendar, it shows that we are currently in the year 2019 and last year was 2018.
    Did you cut, copy, and paste?
    cornchip
  • Reply 8 of 40
    "We always try to keep our prices as low as possible and fortunately we were able to lower the price of the iPhone this year," he said."

    Why do iHaters have an excruciatingly tough time understanding this?
    I’m not a iHater and I call B.S on "We always try to keep our prices as low as possible”.

    You set the price at what the market can bare and within an overall strategy.  This year Apple felt pricing pressure and reduced prices to match, in a way that maintained market share.  Apple historically had very high margins and that gave them some flexibility to adjust prices.  They also saw some backlash from the previous generation iPhones that resulted in the popularity of the XR model.  

    Apple analyzed everything and made adjustments.  I think the lack of 5G influenced pricing (premium perception).  Also, users aren’t noticing a “real life” difference in functionality as a result of Apples hardware improvements (as they did in the past)...with the camera being the exception.

    It’s interesting to note Apple has gotten more aggressive on laptop pricing.  Hopefully this is representative of a strategy shift (that will continue) at Apple benefiting consumers.  It will be interesting to see if Apple is capturing market share in hardware...which should result in higher services revenue.  If it does, expect Apple to continue to be aggressive in bringing new users into its ecosystem.

    On a side note, Metro by T-mobile is offering the iPhone 7 for $50.  Now that’s aggressive pricing...
    (for all those still with a 6/6s the 7 was a major upgrade in performance)
    chemengin1
  • Reply 9 of 40
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,896member
    Cook didn't deal with the App Store monopoly issue. He skirted it.

    The question is not that Apple offers this or that and users can get content that Apple doesn't offer via a web browser.

    The question is that there is no other App Store and Apple is therefore the only one taking a cut, deciding what the cut is and deciding what is allowed and what isn't. On top of that, it is competing in the store with its own apps. The proportion of those apps is irrelevant.

    Maybe he had a beer too many but if these are his arguments, they don't hold much water.
    chemengin1muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 10 of 40
    mygigmygig Posts: 35member
    So can he explain why the iPhone 11 is 50$ cheaper in US and barely cheaper in EU or more specifically, 7€ cheaper in Slovenia?
  • Reply 11 of 40
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,394moderator
    revenant said:
    I wonder (and fully understand it is not a direct parallel) but could Mercedes-Benz be sued for not allowing another type of engine control computer management system in their automotive ecosystem or infotainment? if someone wanted to make their own and install it, why is Mercedes allowed to void all warranties (and making it near impossible to install that software anyways)? I would suppose because Mercedes is making sure that they are delivering a computer system in their cars that does the job correctly and quickly with an overall experience that customers would enjoy (even if they do not know how much of their car is controlled by computer management). I see apple the same way--they know exactly what is under the hood, they are making their systems work flawlessly so that users have an effortless and pleasurable experience.

    Mercedes does not let anyone make software for their instrument clusters or infotainment system (not when I was working for them--last year in 2012). There are other cars to choose from, just like there are other phones. Mercedes is protecting their product and how people view their products by not letting in just any old software, same with apple. No one is forcing developers to write for apple. 

    I believe the more valid complaints are about the developers' fees and perhaps apple's 30% cut. But without apple making the developer's job easier with swift, and the app playground, and advertising and hosting the app on their servers, allowing users the ability to access that app with ease and a system to review it--it is hard to take all of that complaint seriously. How much did small app makers make before?

     Back in the 1980's Robert's Replica's was in the business of manufacturing fiberglass kits that replicated the exterior features of Ferrari's Daytona Spyder and Testarossa automobiles. Roberts' copies were called the Miami Spyder and the Miami Coupe, respectively.  Ferrari brought suit against Roberts in March 1988 alleging trademark infringement. 

    Here's what this case was about:  After Ferrari vehicles have been on the market for a number of years, the design of those vehicles acquires what's called "secondary meaning", a concept at the heart of trademark law.  Secondary meaning refers to an association of a design, like the design of a Ferrari vehicle, with quality and craftsmanship or other positive attributes one might associate with the Ferrari brand.  After a design has acquired secondary meaning, trademark law can be applied to protect the company from those who would copy its designs and use them to promote their own products.  Robert's copying of Ferrari's iconic designs could confuse the public and dilute the strength of Ferrari's brand.  Just the presence of large numbers of replicas would dilute Ferrari's image of exclusivity, causing financial harm to Ferrari.  Trademark law, under the concept of secondary meaning, protected Ferrari.  The courts ruled in favor of Ferrari in this case and enjoined Roberts from producing the Miami Spyder and the Miami Coupe.

    Mercedes, and Apple with its prohibition on competinhnapp stores is protecting its good name.  Who is responsible if some third party sells an engine control computer for a Mercedes vehicle and the engine dies a premature death.  Or the owner gets killed by a runaway engine?  This would certainly impact the good and hard earned reputation of Mercedes vehicles.  I’m in favor of these restrictions.  I think any reasonable person who understands fully the reasons behind them would also agree.  Do what you want, mod your car in your own garage, install some unapproved components or software.  It’s on you after that.  Goodbye to the remainder of your warranty.  

    uraharawatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 12 of 40
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,896member
    "We always try to keep our prices as low as possible and fortunately we were able to lower the price of the iPhone this year," he said."

    Why do iHaters have an excruciatingly tough time understanding this?
    Because it doesn't mean anything. There is no qualifier in there.

    In the absence of that you can't know what he meant beyond a very bland open statement.

    It is corporate speak. A soundbite. And just like with any corporate statement of this kind, follow up questions are frowned upon or outright banned from the outset.

    Sit Cook down with me for a real interview and we'll see how far he gets on all manner of subjects. Not only me but any interviewer willing to dig under the empty phrases and soundbites.

    When was the last time you saw Tim Cook in an interview of that kind?

    Even Gruber bottled it when he had Phil Schiller for the taking!

    Don't get me wrong. A corporate world means corporate speak but you should be able to see through it not take it at face value.


    chemengin1muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 40
    croprcropr Posts: 1,050member
    revenant said:
    How much did small app makers make before?

    $0 if they didn't lose money on cancelled projects.

    If Apple hadn't invented iPhone, most apps and developers wouldn't exist.
    As an app developer I can say this Is BS.  Prior to the app store, I developed a lot of web applications and made a lot of money.  The App Store ecosystem just raised the expectations of the customers.  They are requesting, next to the web client for PC and Macs, a nice iOS app. 

    And in the 7 years I make iOS apps, the iOS business line is the least profitable one.   Not only do I lose the 30% cut, which is non existing for a web client, but the development and approval of an iOS app costs me roughly 2 to 3 times more than a plain web client.  
    uraharachemengin1muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 14 of 40
    revenantrevenant Posts: 620member
    mobird said:
    revenant said:
    Mercedes does not let anyone make software for their instrument clusters or infotainment system (not when I was working for them--last year in 2012). There are other cars to choose from, just like there are other phones. Mercedes is protecting their product and how people view their products by not letting in just any old software, same with apple. No one is forcing developers to write for apple.
    Checking my calendar, it shows that we are currently in the year 2019 and last year was 2018.
    Did you cut, copy, and paste?
    “When I was working for them” the “last year in 2012” past tense; I have moved on from that company. One could not install their own software the without voiding everything then, one cannot do it now. This is normal English, though I suppose I could have been a little more clearer I did not see this as being vague as I make it clear “then” and “now”. 
    edited October 2019 lolliverchemengin1cornchipwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 15 of 40
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,728member
    As a developer myself, it just irks me how other app developers are whining about Apple's curated App Store.  Look at the cesspool that is Android and it's easy to see why Apple has NOT adopted such an open model.  I find it hard to believe that any app developer worth their weight would complain about Apple's App Store and its policies.  They were probably still in diapers when the "old" way of marketing one's own software independently and hoping that marketing would be enough to actually sell it, and in any decent quantity to make a profit.

    Apple makes a lot of money for developers.  If you're not making much - or any - money, it probably has something to do with your app being crap, and not Apple.  The ability to make an app and have it available to hundreds of millions of people with little to no effort by the developer still amazes me to this day.  There is no way I would ever want to go back to the "old days" of going to CompUSA and buying software in big boxes.

    Whiners should just go to Android if they want the Wild West.  I'm happy Apple keeps the store to themselves.  To open it up to 3rd party stores would open the iPhone to the limitless security problems that is Android.

    No thank you.
    revenantlolliveruraharamike1StrangeDayscornchipwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 16 of 40
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 5,896member
    sflocal said:
    As a developer myself, it just irks me how other app developers are whining about Apple's curated App Store.  Look at the cesspool that is Android and it's easy to see why Apple has NOT adopted such an open model.  I find it hard to believe that any app developer worth their weight would complain about Apple's App Store and its policies.  They were probably still in diapers when the "old" way of marketing one's own software independently and hoping that marketing would be enough to actually sell it, and in any decent quantity to make a profit.

    Apple makes a lot of money for developers.  If you're not making much - or any - money, it probably has something to do with your app being crap, and not Apple.  The ability to make an app and have it available to hundreds of millions of people with little to no effort by the developer still amazes me to this day.  There is no way I would ever want to go back to the "old days" of going to CompUSA and buying software in big boxes.

    Whiners should just go to Android if they want the Wild West.  I'm happy Apple keeps the store to themselves.  To open it up to 3rd party stores would open the iPhone to the limitless security problems that is Android.

    No thank you.
    The issue is not a curated app store. Apple can have that without question from anyone.

    The issue is if Apple's store should be the only store on iOS devices.

    We'll see how the different investigations come down on that question. It isn't a given that they will rule against Apple but the question needs to be asked and answered at a 'competition' level.
    chemengin1muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 40
    uraharaurahara Posts: 585member
    avon b7 said:
    sflocal said:
    As a developer myself, it just irks me how other app developers are whining about Apple's curated App Store.  Look at the cesspool that is Android and it's easy to see why Apple has NOT adopted such an open model.  I find it hard to believe that any app developer worth their weight would complain about Apple's App Store and its policies.  They were probably still in diapers when the "old" way of marketing one's own software independently and hoping that marketing would be enough to actually sell it, and in any decent quantity to make a profit.

    Apple makes a lot of money for developers.  If you're not making much - or any - money, it probably has something to do with your app being crap, and not Apple.  The ability to make an app and have it available to hundreds of millions of people with little to no effort by the developer still amazes me to this day.  There is no way I would ever want to go back to the "old days" of going to CompUSA and buying software in big boxes.

    Whiners should just go to Android if they want the Wild West.  I'm happy Apple keeps the store to themselves.  To open it up to 3rd party stores would open the iPhone to the limitless security problems that is Android.

    No thank you.
    The issue is not a curated app store. Apple can have that without question from anyone.

    The issue is if Apple's store should be the only store on iOS devices.

    We'll see how the different investigations come down on that question. It isn't a given that they will rule against Apple but the question needs to be asked and answered at a 'competition' level.
    And what versions of the apps will those stores sell?
    Who would check and make sure that those apps are secure and have e.g. no viruses?
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 40
    avon b7 said:
    sflocal said:
    As a developer myself, it just irks me how other app developers are whining about Apple's curated App Store.  Look at the cesspool that is Android and it's easy to see why Apple has NOT adopted such an open model.  I find it hard to believe that any app developer worth their weight would complain about Apple's App Store and its policies.  They were probably still in diapers when the "old" way of marketing one's own software independently and hoping that marketing would be enough to actually sell it, and in any decent quantity to make a profit.

    Apple makes a lot of money for developers.  If you're not making much - or any - money, it probably has something to do with your app being crap, and not Apple.  The ability to make an app and have it available to hundreds of millions of people with little to no effort by the developer still amazes me to this day.  There is no way I would ever want to go back to the "old days" of going to CompUSA and buying software in big boxes.

    Whiners should just go to Android if they want the Wild West.  I'm happy Apple keeps the store to themselves.  To open it up to 3rd party stores would open the iPhone to the limitless security problems that is Android.

    No thank you.
    The issue is not a curated app store. Apple can have that without question from anyone.

    The issue is if Apple's store should be the only store on iOS devices.

    We'll see how the different investigations come down on that question. It isn't a given that they will rule against Apple but the question needs to be asked and answered at a 'competition' level.
    So if there were other app stores who would oversee them and maintain quality? Would the apps there be following the same developer guidelines and using the same API’s as Apple’s App Store? Would developers be selling apps in both stores? Do Google and Microsoft allow other stores on their platforms? Or is the other store the ability to download directly from the web?

    Apple just announced they’re going to allow competing messaging apps to be the default with Siri. I suspect that will happen with audio apps soon too. And I’ll bet within the next year or two Apple will allow users to set default apps. If they do all that I think the complaints about the App Store will fade away. 
    tmaywatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 19 of 40
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,439member
    Like the local mall where the floor space is the property of the mall and vendors pay rent, or the lobby and screening rooms a movie theater owns,  iOS remains the property of Apple.  

    You own your iPhone and can do what you want with the hardware; toss it off a roof if you like in some extreme drop test.

    But you have only a license to use the operating system and all it’s libraries that software makes calls to.  That’s the space Apple rents to developers, and the price is a percentage of the take.  

    You can shop outside the mall, you can watch movies outside the theater, and you can run apps on other operating systems.  In all cases the world outside these venues is far bigger than inside.  No monopoly involved.  


     I see everyone is looking for a somewhat comparable example here to explain how iOS and the App Store is like a grocery store, a shopping mall etc....  however those examples are not even close. Apple is the biggest corporation in the world. Apple's iPhone may not be by market share the biggest seller but it is by far the most appealing phone to develop software for due to the potential of sales and profits. Apple welds a lot of power in this industry and can call the shots and terms when collaboration with outside vendors such as app developers. In a capitalist based economies where companies merge, acquire more market share and control over their competition the natural result for this system is for it to end in a monopoly. Many could argue that Apple has or will soon reach that point. If you are an app developer and want to market you app in the largest App Store you will need to develop for that tightly controlled iOS ecosystem and agree to Apple's terms which many find unacceptable. Western governments have learned this past century to prevent and if necessary stop companies from such dominance for many reasons. Industries die when monopolies are born since development stalls or halts, competition is snuffed out and consumers get less options and will pay higher prices. This has happened many time before and the warning signs are obvious to anyone paying attention. Has Apple reached that point yet? I cannot answer since my education is not in economics or law but some governments are on alert. I enjoy Apples products as much as anyone here so please don't go into attack mode but instead take a rational look at this from the viewpoint of the developers and put yourself in their situation. 


  • Reply 20 of 40
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,738member
    revenant said:
    I wonder (and fully understand it is not a direct parallel) but could Mercedes-Benz be sued for not allowing another type of engine control computer management system in their automotive ecosystem or infotainment? if someone wanted to make their own and install it, why is Mercedes allowed to void all warranties (and making it near impossible to install that software anyways)? I would suppose because Mercedes is making sure that they are delivering a computer system in their cars that does the job correctly and quickly with an overall experience that customers would enjoy (even if they do not know how much of their car is controlled by computer management). I see apple the same way--they know exactly what is under the hood, they are making their systems work flawlessly so that users have an effortless and pleasurable experience.

    Mercedes does not let anyone make software for their instrument clusters or infotainment system (not when I was working for them--last year in 2012). There are other cars to choose from, just like there are other phones. Mercedes is protecting their product and how people view their products by not letting in just any old software, same with apple. No one is forcing developers to write for apple. 

    I believe the more valid complaints are about the developers' fees and perhaps apple's 30% cut. But without apple making the developer's job easier with swift, and the app playground, and advertising and hosting the app on their servers, allowing users the ability to access that app with ease and a system to review it--it is hard to take all of that complaint seriously. How much did small app makers make before?
    Actually that is an excellent analogy.
    tmaywatto_cobrajony0
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