Apple cannot stay out of trouble. If it’s not being hounded by patent trolls, in court against intellectual property thieves (Samsung, I’m looking at you!), being chased by government lawyers for price fixing, fending off the tax man’s changing rules, Apple is being investigated by the feds for monopolistic abuse.
Way back when, back when co-founder Steve Jobs was running Apple, the company decided Amazon’s e-Book monopoly over book publishers could use some competition. iBook took it to Amazon with a better pricing mechanism, and government lawyers, being what they are, listened to Amazon’s dog whistles and decided to take Apple to the cleaners. In the end, competition went away and so did $400-million of Apple’s money, while Amazon remained a monopolistic abuser.
Wait. There’s more.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into Apple for anti-trust violations. Yes, poor old Apple, with 10-percent of the personal computer business, and 15-percent of the smartphone business is accused of monopolistic abuse. In its own store.
When an app is sold in the App Store, Apple gets a cut. When an app sells a subscription model, Apple also gets a cut. Music giant Spotify– which has an app in the App Store– doesn’t like that and for a variety of reasons.
#1 – Spotify doesn’t make any money, and with the App Store fee to Apple it makes even less money (which is another way of saying it loses even more money)
#2 – Apple gets a cut of what Spotify sells
#3 – Spotify doesn’t like that because Apple doesn’t have to charge itself the same, which puts Spotify at a disadvantage against Apple’s own Apple Music app and subscription service.
Cry me a river.
It seems hard to argue monopolistic abuse here because Apple’s Apple Music service is much smaller than Spotify, and Spotify is free to sell a subscription online (but if they do it within the app, it must give a percentage to Apple for using the App Store). Oh, and iPhone has only 15-percent of the smartphone market because Android.
To be honest about it, Apple does put up roadblocks to Spotify but it’s all about competition, not abuse. For example, Siri works with Apple Music and third party app developers, but not with Spotify. Is that abuse? Spotify thinks so. Government lawyers think it might be. Could Spotify customers simply use a web browser interface to access their accounts? Sure. But that’s lame.
Apple has plenty of competitors in the App Store, but gets a cut of their revenue. If there is any. Google has a dozen or two apps in the App Store. They’re free. What does Apple get for allowing that kind of competition into their own store?
Walmart sells products in their stores. A major peanut butter brand also sells peanut butter to Walmart, but Walmart has other brands available to buyers, and Walmart controls the pricing. Walmart also sells a house brand of peanut butter called Great Value, which is priced lower than Skippy, Peter Pan, Planters, Jif, and Smuckers. Why isn’t Walmart’s discount on their own peanut butter, and price fixing on branded peanut butter a case of monopolistic abuse?
Apple’s pockets are too deep and their ecosystem too tightly wound to give it a break with the government. See? That’s what you get when you don’t donate campaign money to the right politicians.