Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer, Brad Smith, has recently pointed out Apple’s walled garden approach to its App Store and how it is affecting competition. The company believes it is high time some regulators investigate Apple’s App Store, as discussed in a Politico interview.
Smith from Microsoft also says that if one were to look at the industry today, it could be seen that they have created higher walls and formidable gates to access other applications, including something that might have existed years ago on the platform. Constant requirements have been imposed on users if they wish to get onto the platform, which is why they eventually have to go through the gate that has been created by companies like Apple themselves.
Even though Brad doesn’t mention Apple directly, it has been confirmed that he was speaking of Apple while explaining these things. He also happens to mention that in some cases, the gates community approach also requires users to pay a high price for the toll to pass through.
Smith’s statement also highlights another turning point that the Apple App Store is going through as the company is debating over the addition of the Hey email app onto the platform. It was earlier decided that the app would be added to the App Store, but it was later discovered that it broke some store rules. The same decision has led to Apple being accused of being a monopolist and a bully, by the chairman of the House antitrust committee.
Apple’s decision to reject the Hey email app has put a significant amount of spotlight on the company when the European Commission has already announced a formal antitrust investigation into the Apple App Store and Apple Pay. Apple’s annual WWDC conference is also on the way to host an event to entice developers to develop apps for their platform. Still, the speculative events have put the company in a very awkward position now.
Brad Smith also adds that it is time for a focused conversation on the nature of app stores, the rules that they are governed upon, the prices being charged from users, and the tools being used as well. He also questions the justification of antitrust law here. Microsoft has been very familiar with antitrust laws given how it was under the radar for a monopoly of abuses related to its building of Internet Explorer nearly 20 years ago.
Back in the day when Microsoft was under scrutiny for Internet Explorer being so exclusive, the company was eventually forced to open it to third-party developers. The company has faced more criticism over the following years. European commission even asked the company to develop another version of windows without certain features.
The EU’s looking into the App store soon and the investigation is still at an early stage, but Microsoft will certainly be on the sidelines while encouraging action in the case. Even though there have been numerous clashes between Apple and Microsoft, the App store opening up to them would only result in more revenue in the future.
As much as Apple is going down on protecting its policies, it is also clear the many are asking for a change. Significant companies like Spotify are leading the antitrust complaint, and it won’t be long before the EU’s investigation goes down with full force.
Image source: TheVerge