Congressman says antitrust hearing confirmed Apple's 'deeply disturbing' behavior

Posted:
in General Discussion edited August 2020
Rep. David Cicilline, chair of the U.S. house antitrust committee, in an interview Wednesday said a recent antitrust hearing involving the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google confirmed suspicions that all four companies participate in anticompetitive behavior.

Rep. David Cicilline


Speaking with Bloomberg, Cicilline suggested an ongoing antitrust probe into big tech will result in changes to existing antitrust laws.

"All of these companies engage in behavior which is deeply disturbing and requires Congress to take action," Cicilline said. "The kind of common theme is the abuse of their market power to maintain their market dominance, to crush competitors, to exclude folks from their platform and to earn monopoly rents."

The House panel is wrapping up a year-long investigation that in July culminated with a hearing at which Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were peppered with questions about their respective businesses. While most of the discussion centered on issues relating to Amazon, Facebook and Google, Cook was grilled on Apple's App Store policies including a 30% cut of in-app transactions, the app review process, borrowing features for first-party apps and consumer privacy.

Cicilline in today's interview declined to deliver specifics on the panel's recommendations, though he did offer potential solutions Congress might take to remedy the alleged anticompetitive behavior. One option could be a law styled after the Glass-Steagall act, the report said.

A Depression-era law that stood until it was repealed during the Clinton administration, Glass-Steagall separated commercial and investment banking, and afforded the federal government greater control over retail banks. In addition to creating the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the act mandated that investment banks were prohibited from owning a controlling interest in retail banks. If applied to tech, a Glass-Steagall type stipulation would disallow a company like Apple from competing on a platform it runs.

"That's a big idea," Cicilline said about separation. "It would be one way to try to separate out what is a relationship fraught with conflicts that I think is promoting tremendous market dominance and bullying behavior by Amazon, as an example."

What, exactly, that would mean for Apple is unclear. An obvious modification in current business practices would be the removal of first-party apps on the App Store. To what extent such a law would impact Apple's stewardship of its flagship iOS platform remains unclear, though it might force the company to amend App Store restrictions that prohibit third-party app stores.

The Democrat said the bipartisan committee's report will focus on four areas including making changes to existing antitrust laws that date back more than a century, passing reforms that deal specifically with the tech sector, strengthening private antitrust litigation, and bolstering antitrust divisions at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, the report said.

A finalized report could arrive as soon as September, Cicilline said, in which case recommendations would be passed on to the current session of Congress.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 68
    Yes, let’s allow them to make laws about technology they don’t understand and barely use correctly. Not a year goes by that one of these imbeciles  “lose” a laptop with sensitive data or accidentally tweet some social media hoe publicly. 
    edited August 2020 dhawkins541iOS_Guy80JFC_PAnapoleon_phoneapartrob53jony0Anilu_777mwhiteRayz2016fotoformat
  • Reply 2 of 68
    Ready, set, fail…
    doozydozenmike1killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 68
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,811member
    Certainly odd that MSFT isn't on that list...
    Anilu_777pscooter63killroydysamoriamagman1979Grayeaglewatto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 4 of 68
    It’s just a matter of time before the hammer drops. About time too. 
    john_t
  • Reply 5 of 68
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 813member
    Apple’s market share is in the low teens for smartphones. “Monopoly”? Hardly. 
    macseekerrob53jony0Anilu_777doozydozenkillroymagman1979Grayeaglewatto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 6 of 68
    “If applied to tech, a Glass-Steagall type stipulation would disallow a company like Apple from competing on a platform it runs.”

     Wouldn’t that apply towards other platform App stores like Valve’s steam, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and if they want to start reaching, big box stores that sell products and have their own brands that compete with others they sell?

    Plus, what happens to the cost of maintaining the servers for the App Store and other costs that Apple pays for as part of the 30%? 

    From seeing what has happened in the past when the government gets involved with your business and breaks it up, the customer still gets F’d. It’s just rather than one large member cornholing you, it’s a bunch of small ones. To the customer it still is painful.  
    Anilu_777h4y3spscooter63doozydozenmariowincodewmeaderutterkillroymagman1979wvdirk
  • Reply 7 of 68
    Well if it is as I understand Apple representing it is about ensuring a positive customer experience, I ask if both app and non app store options might coexist, and the free market can decide?

    Those wanting to play it safe and finding value in a 30% 'insurance' premium and convenience have the Apple option, and those who prefer direct sales and in fact not wanting to give more data points to Apple about their every online move also have that choice...

    I for one with what I know would prefer non T2 storage, easily upgradable ram, and a right to repair, either OEM at a premium for quality assurance and speed, or DIY if I feel I have skills, time, inclination and in some cases faster than a repair shop queue...
    edited August 2020 dantheman827elijahgmariowinco
  • Reply 8 of 68
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,794member

    These politicians have screwed American companies in the name of anti-trust while Chinese companies are growing leaps and bounds because Chinese government helps in whatever ways necessary. American politicians are the real problems for hindering the success of American ingenuity. There is no American national strategy like China on how to help companies to succeed in global environment. Most of there success is their own and not from Government. Get rid of uninformed, moron politicians and America will be much better.

    Anilu_777pichaeldewmeaderutterkillroymagman1979gilly33watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 68
    JFC_PA said:
    Apple’s market share is in the low teens for smartphones. “Monopoly”? Hardly. 
    In the US where this investigation is taking place Apple has over 50% in both phone and tablet, so yes...



    The numbers for vendor market share are also majority Apple


    edited August 2020 muthuk_vanalingamIreneWtokyojimujohn_t
  • Reply 10 of 68
    GabyGaby Posts: 184member
    No I’m sorry but this is simply wrong. The investigation in general may have uncovered or confirmed “disturbing behaviour” (not that we got to learn anything we didn’t already know) but the hearing itself was nothing more than an absolute farce and mise en scène for Grandstanding by politicians. They didn’t even allow anyone to answer a question before skipping on to their next remark. 
    aderutterkillroymagman1979Dogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 68
    Epic, thru Fortnite, made approx $1.5B last year selling to teens, pre-teens, the digital equivalent of the paper cut-out clothes, costumes, dolls, etc,  that used to be included for free in Sunday newspapers — And that, as far as I can tell, no one but Epic can create and sell - and somehow Apple is overcharging and is the bad guy?  Lol

    And given Epic‘s recent claims in its court filings about its importance to the world community as a communications platform, it seems fortnite is becoming a platform...albeit a virtual one.  Perhaps they shouldn’t be allowed to compete on their platform either?

    Anytime I’ve bought something “in-app” that was pricey, it wasn’t Apples 30% I was rolling my eyes over, it was that net 70% on something that has a marginal cost of near zero to produce the +1 unit that I bought.  Useless items  like skins and game packs especially so. 

     
    h4y3spichaeldewmeaderutterkillroydysamoriamagman1979watto_cobraGaby
  • Reply 12 of 68
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,057member
    Well if it is as I understand Apple representing it is about ensuring a positive customer experience, I ask if both app and non app store options might coexist, and the free market can decide?

    Those wanting to play it safe and finding value in a 30% 'insurance' premium and convenience have the Apple option, and those who prefer direct sales and in fact not wanting to give more data points to Apple about their every online move also have that choice...

    I for one with what I know would prefer non T2 storage, easily upgradable ram, and a right to repair, either OEM at a premium for quality assurance and speed, or DIY if I feel I have skills, time, inclination and in some cases faster than a repair shop queue...
    Sorry, but you don't get to determine how a product is made, that's up to the company making it. If they want to sell their product with proprietary components, that's fine. Either you buy their product or you don't. There's no law that says a product has to be made in a certain way, it only has to conform to certain manufacturing rules but that's it. As for a computer being upgradeable, show me a law that requires computer manufacturers to do this. There isn't one. Again, it's a choice made by the manufacturer. 

    As for the app store, I still have problems with politicians and certain users trying to force a company to open up their platform to others. Apple is not a monopoly, they just have great products that people want to buy and I say 99.999% of these people are fine with there being only one Apple App Store. That way, we/they know what they're getting instead of having to worry about someone selling they crap like on the many android app stores. Remember 30% is not a premium. Google charges that and let's not even forget that that's a low overhead cost for most companies selling anything. I want to see a chart showing overhead operational costs for clothing manufacturers, especially show companies, pharmaceuticals and oil companies.
    h4y3smwhitemcdavepscooter63dewmemike1aderutterkillroymacxpressmagman1979
  • Reply 13 of 68
    How did the hearing confirm deeply disturbing behavior if they didn’t let ANYONE fully answer any of the questions? As for Apple, I still can’t understand how they can be considered a monopoly if they don’t control the smartphone market? Or how charging 30% is being abusive, when servers, bandwidth, development, et al, costs money, plus any company is trying to make money out of their products. Is there a company out there that sells a product and foregoes absolutely all profits? I doubt it. And if there’s one or some, I doubt they survive for long.
    macxpressDogpersonwatto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 14 of 68
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 1,018member
    Of course he declines to give specifics bcoz it’s fucking bullshit. 
    pichaeldewmekillroylarryjwmacxpressmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 68
    How did the hearing confirm deeply disturbing behavior if they didn’t let ANYONE fully answer any of the questions? As for Apple, I still can’t understand how they can be considered a monopoly if they don’t control the smartphone market? Or how charging 30% is being abusive, when servers, bandwidth, development, et al, costs money, plus any company is trying to make money out of their products. Is there a company out there that sells a product and foregoes absolutely all profits? I doubt it. And if there’s one or some, I doubt they survive for long.
    Apple has 58.78% of the mobile market in the USA
    edited August 2020 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 68
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,919member
    tmay said:
    Certainly odd that MSFT isn't on that list...
    If they “disallow a company like Apple from competing on a platform it runs” then Microsoft needs to choose between Office & Windows!
    Rayz2016jdb8167dysamoriathtmagman1979watto_cobraStrangeDays
  • Reply 17 of 68
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,919member
    “If applied to tech, a Glass-Steagall type stipulation would disallow a company like Apple from competing on a platform it runs.”

     Wouldn’t that apply towards other platform App stores like Valve’s steam, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and if they want to start reaching, big box stores that sell products and have their own brands that compete with others they sell?
    Don’t forget Epic’s store. If you press the question, you’d better be ready to take the answer!
    jdb8167dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 68
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 1,919member

    Well if it is as I understand Apple representing it is about ensuring a positive customer experience, I ask if both app and non app store options might coexist, and the free market can decide?

    Those wanting to play it safe and finding value in a 30% 'insurance' premium and convenience have the Apple option, and those who prefer direct sales and in fact not wanting to give more data points to Apple about their every online move also have that choice...

    I for one with what I know would prefer non T2 storage, easily upgradable ram, and a right to repair, either OEM at a premium for quality assurance and speed, or DIY if I feel I have skills, time, inclination and in some cases faster than a repair shop queue...
    This is not why we buy Apple, we understand the benefits of concession. Other platforms provide what you’d looking for and all the nastiness it creates.
    jdb8167GabyDogpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 68
    tshapitshapi Posts: 358member

    JFC_PA said:
    Apple’s market share is in the low teens for smartphones. “Monopoly”? Hardly. 
    They only care about apples App Store and it’s policies.  They do have a monopoly on there App Store, since they completely control who can be on it. Take the latest issue with epic as an example. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 68
    tshapitshapi Posts: 358member
    “If applied to tech, a Glass-Steagall type stipulation would disallow a company like Apple from competing on a platform it runs.”

     Wouldn’t that apply towards other platform App stores like Valve’s steam, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and if they want to start reaching, big box stores that sell products and have their own brands that compete with others they sell?

    Plus, what happens to the cost of maintaining the servers for the App Store and other costs that Apple pays for as part of the 30%? 

    From seeing what has happened in the past when the government gets involved with your business and breaks it up, the customer still gets F’d. It’s just rather than one large member cornholing you, it’s a bunch of small ones. To the customer it still is painful.  
    At some point Apple will have to break down the costs and present a defense for why they charge a 30% fee.  The judge in the epic Injunction yesterday asked the same question, so I imagine that the cost breakdown and rational for 30% will come out at that trial. 
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