US senators ask questions about Apple, Google Shares

Amy Klobuchar told Apple, Google can “exclude or remove applications that compete with its own products.”

A group of US senators on Wednesday questioned officials at Google Apple and Alphabet Inc. about the dominance of their mobile app stores and whether companies are abusing their power to the detriment of smaller competitors.

Amy Klobuchar, the Senate’s top Democrat on antitrust issues, said Apple and Google could use their power to “exclude or suppress applications that compete with their products” and “levy excessive taxes that affect competition.”

Manufacturers of apps such as the music streaming service Spotify Technology SA and the dating service giant Match Group, which owns the Tinder app, have long complained about the mandatory distribution of revenue from sales of digital goods and the strict inclusion rules set by The Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad, along with the Google Store for Android devices, is anti-competitive behavior.

Representatives of Apple and Google told senators that strict control of companies over their stores and the associated revenue distribution requirements are necessary to implement and pay for security measures to protect consumers from harmful applications and practices.

But when asked by Senator Josh Hawley, Kyle Andeer, Apple’s compliance director, would not commit to spending all the mandatory security fees.

Explanations from Andeer and Wilson White, Google’s senior director of government affairs, about why corporate taxes do not apply to Uber Technologies Inc. and applications that sell physical goods failed to satisfy senators.

“I feel like an unfrozen caveman lawyer,” said Sen. Mike Lee. – I don’t catch her.

Senator Richard Blumenthal has expressed concern over a Match call he said he received late Tuesday from his business counterpart at Google.

The legal director of the match, Jared Sine, said that Google wants to know why Sine’s planned testimony, which has just been launched, deviated from previous comments made by the dating company.

“It looks like a threat, it speaks like a threat, it’s a threat,” Blumenthal said of the appeal, vowing to further investigate Google’s action.

Google’s White said the call reflects an effort to ask an honest question, and the company will never threaten its partners.

In its testimony, Match’s Sine claimed that both Google and Apple charge a onerous percentage of 30% of any digital transaction, increasing prices for consumers.

Match pays fees of nearly $ 500 million annually to app stores, the company’s largest expense, Sine said.

Spotify and Match said the Apple app review process was opaque. He said Apple has blocked a security update to the Tinder app to warn LGBTQ + users if they travel to a country where it could be dangerous to expose their identity, as Apple said the update violates the “spirit” of a new rules.

But Apple would not explain how to solve the problem, Sine said. He said that Apple approved the update two months later, only after the then leaders of the parent company, IAC / Interactivecorp, raised the issue with Apple’s top leaders.

The hearing came a day after Apple said it would start selling AirTags – which can be attached to items such as car keys to help users find them when they’re lost – in direct competition with Tile, which sold a similar tracking device for more than a decade.

Apple said its AirTags are an addition to its FindMy app, which is used to locate lost Apple devices and share user locations, and was introduced in 2010, before Tile was established. Apple last month opened its operating system for alternative tracking of articles and said that Chipolo, a startup that competes with Tile and AirTags, uses the system.

Kirsten Daru, the general counsel for the tiles, confessed that the Apple FindMy program is installed by default on Apple phones and cannot be deleted.

“Apple has once again harnessed its power and market dominance to condition our customers’ access to data by effectively disrupting our user experience and directing users to FindMy,” she said.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is published in a syndicated stream.)