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United States Senators blasted the officials from Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on April 21 over the dominance of their mobile app stores and whether both the companies abuse their power at the cost of the smaller competitors. As per reports, the top Senate Democrat, Amy Klobuchar said that Apple ad Google can use their power to “exclude or suppress apps that compete with their own products" and "charge excessive fees that affect competition."
She took Twitter to post updates of the Senate Committee hearing on Wednesday and said that music streaming service Spotify Technology SA and dating service applications like Tinder app have complained that the mandatory revenue sharing for its sales of digital goods and strict inclusion set by both Apple and Google’s App store lead to anti-competitive behaviour.
“Spotify just testified at our antitrust hearing that Apple has threatened to take them off their App Store and stop promoting them after they spoke out about Apple’s monopoly behaviour and high fees,” Klobuchar wrote on Twitter. Meanwhile, Senator Richard Blumenthal also expressed concerns over a call dating services giant Match Group said it received on April 20 from Google’s counterpart. Match’s Chief Legal Officer Jared Sine said that Alphabet Inc’s Google wanted to know why Sine’s planned testimony deviated from the previous remarks the dating firm had made.
"It looks like a threat, it talks like a threat, it's a threat," Blumenthal said of the call to Match while pledging to investigate Google’s future actions.
Reportedly, Apple and Google’s representatives touted their revenue-sharing requirements as essential to pay for security measures and to safeguard its consumers from harmful applications as well as practices. However, Senators reportedly failed to buy Apple's Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer and Google's senior director for government affairs, Wilson White’s explanation about why the companies’ fees do not apply to Uber technologies Inc and apps that sell physical goods. Senator Mike Lee reportedly said, “I feel like unfrozen caveman lawyer...I’m not grasping it.”
Basically, US Senators cornered Apple and Google over their policies surrounding the in-app payments and app updates that allow both tech giants to dismiss competitors while also engaging in retaliation when app developers refuse to comply. Most of the hearing, as per CNN report, closed into to Apple’s treatment of app workers because the tech giant closed its ecosystem that prevents the installation of iOS apps from anywhere but the Apple app store.
Criticism against Apple further intensified as other witnesses blasted Apple’s practice of charging providers of digital goods and other services a 30% commission on in-app transactions. Sine also flagged that company’s single largest expense is now the app store fees that amount to nearly $500 million every year. He said, "That's $500 million that could be going back into the pockets of everyday consumers or deployed to hire employees or invested in new innovations.”
Meanwhile, White also rejected US Senator viewing Google’s call to Match as a “threat.” White said, “I respectfully don't view that as a threat, and we would never threaten our partners.” Apple also later rejected Spotify’s claims with Andeer saying, “We've been supporting these businesses...There’s no evidence of retaliation.”