Microsoft’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith, believes antitrust regulators should fully investigate Apple’s App Store. Smith spoke about the App Store and its walled garden nature in an interview with Politico earlier this week.
“If you look at the industry today, I think what you’ll find is increasingly you’re seeing app stores that have created higher walls and far more formidable gates to access other applications than anything that existed in the industry 20 years ago,” Smith says of the App Store, adding, “They impose requirements that increasingly say there’s only one way to get onto our platform, and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created. In some cases they create a very high price for a toll, in some cases 30 percent of all your revenue has to go to the toll keeper if you will.”
Smith does not state that the app store he’s referring to is Apple’s, but Bloomberg confirms that he as referring to the Apple App Store, as clarified by a Microsoft spokesperson.
Smith also states, “I do believe the time has come, whether we are talking about Washington DC or Brussels, for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and tools that are being extracted, and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created.”
Apple’s App Store has been in the spotlight recently. The EU announced a formal antitrust investigation of the App Store and Apple Pay earlier this week. Additionally, Apple’s decision to reject the email app “Hey” has caused tension (via The Verge).
The United States House antitrust subcommittee is also looking into Apple’s App Store policies in a probe. Rep. David Cicilline spoke about the App Store on The Vergecast, stating, “Because of the market power that Apple has, it is charging exorbitant rents — highway robbery, basically — bullying people to pay 30 percent or denying access to their market,” adding, “It’s crushing small developers who simply can’t survive with those kinds of payments. If there were real competition in this marketplace, this wouldn’t happen.”
Any legal battles regarding the App Store are in their early stages. At this point, we’ll have to see what the EU and House antitrust committee state regarding the policies.