The Antitrust Committee denounces Apple App Store prices

The Antitrust Committee chairman Congressman David Cicilline denounces Apple App Store prices.

denounces apple app store prices
Apple demanding higher prices on its App Store. PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK

The Antitrust Committee denounces Apple App Store prices: Apple has come under fire this week for demanding higher prices on its App Store. Now, some are accusing the technology agent of monopoly power in the mobile app game.

Congress is sceptical

This week, Congressman David Cicilline, chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee, spoke with The Verge about Apple. He refused the company’s treatment of app developers. “Because of the market power that Apple has, it is the high rents – highway robbery, basically – that bully people to pay 30 per cent or deny them access to their market,” Cicilline said.

Rhode Island Democrats have accused Apple of “crushing small developers” who can’t pay Apple’s unreasonable price. “If there’s real competition in this market, this won’t happen.”

He noted that his team had heard from countless app developers who were “afraid of economic retaliation” if they spoke against Apple. He said the group would investigate the technology company for antitrust violations.

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Monopoly game

Apple products are ubiquitous at the moment, and the iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world. If users want to download an app on their phone, they have no choice but to use the App Store.

As a result of the closed market in Apple, app developers have no option but to offer their products via the App Store. Their gatekeeper status was used by Apple. Since app makers have no choice, it charges developers more than they need.

For small applications, the cost is very high. The steep Apple App Store prices may prevent them from growing or entering the market first. Any practice that reduces the number of players allowed in the market is by definition anti-competitive. Suppressing competition is a clear violation of the antitrust law.

Calls for action

In a politico interview, Microsoft’s chief legal officer Brad Smith denounced Apple’s conduct of developers. Smith says it’s time for Apple to account for its exploitation practices.

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Smith said, “I believe the time has come. Whether we are talking about Washington DC or Brussels, they are tucked away in a conversation that focuses on the nature of the app stores, the prevailing rules, prices and tools. There is a justification in the antitrust law for everything created.”

Mind you, Microsoft is not simply trying to inject its main competitor. 20 years ago, Microsoft faced its allegations of violating antitrust laws. Microsoft has forced its Windows operating system to open to third-party developers. Since then, the company has been careful not to violate antitrust rules and wants Apple to remain the same.

But officials in the United States are not only demanding accountability from Apple. Looking at the House of Representatives, the European Union announced its pessimistic inquiry against the technical colossus. Music streamer Spotify has also launched a no-confidence lawsuit against Apple.

Meanwhile, Apple has defended its practices. “We want to maintain a level playing field where anyone can succeed with determination and a great idea,” a spokesman told The Verge.

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