Following last week’s U.S. Senate antitrust hearing attended by Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has appeared on The Verge’s Decoder with Nilay Patel podcast. In the interview, Klobuchar discusses antitrust actions against “Big Tech,” including Apple’s App Store.
My guest today is Senator Amy Klobuchar, the Democrat from Minnesota who has taken up the role of antitrust enforcer in the Senate… as chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights. In that role, she held a hearing last week focused on the power and control Apple and Google — but especially Apple — wield with their app stores.
Patel: Where do you think we are in the antitrust reform conversation right now?
Klobuchar: Okay. We’re in a place of mounting political interest, which is where you want to be when you want to have momentum, but where we’re not is actually getting things done yet… We found out how Apple, they’ve been charging 30 percent to companies like Spotify, but not to Uber. And the reason given to [Sen.] Mike Lee was, “Well, that’s because that’s cars and rides.” So, I think there’s some real problems in this because of monopoly power.
Patel: People write to me and they say, “Stop trying to ruin my Apple stuff. I want Apple to be in control of this ecosystem because I trust them and I pay a premium for it.” Do you think that this kind of antitrust enforcement will harm that? Do you think it will help it? What is the mechanism by which it will actually make the products better?
Klobuchar: I don’t think it’ll harm it one bit. You’re still holding them accountable for all kinds of things on the iPhone, in the product, to make sure it works. They’re making a lot of money off of other stuff and they’re always adding different things. Okay, that’s all good.
But the point is, that we have gotten to this point when they control this whole app market; So basically, you used to go to websites for everything. Everyone has a website, they mostly do now. But as the Match people described, the app stores have basically taken over the internet in a lot of ways. People are spending an average of four hours a day in the app stores. You could still have a successful Apple, but still demand more consumer protections to make it easier for people to compete…
Why are we doing this hearing? Clearly, some antitrust subcommittee hearings might not get all this attention… That’s why Mike Lee and I came out of that saying, okay, we can do a sweeping thing. We can maybe do [the] app store thing. States can do it, but we’ve got to start moving. So out of that comes action. We’re not just going to have these hearings just to have hearings.
Patel: For people who are paying attention to this, a lot of tech executives, policy people listen to the show, what should they be looking for next? What’s the next turn?
Klobuchar: Realize what’s coming here. Well, maybe they can adjust their app store terms.
Patel: Would that stop it? This is a real thing. People say even the threat of regulation causes better conduct. Would that stop it if Apple said, it’s 15 percent?
Klobuchar: I would just like to point out — they’ve been super arrogant about some of this stuff. Right? You can see it in the emails, you can see it in how they treat companies… But they should really look at some of the fiscal terms and what they’re doing. So that’s what I would suggest… And do not rule out or refuse to give a witness and then Mike Lee and I spend three days learning all about this, because we’ve got to write a letter to Tim Cook. That didn’t work very well for them.
MacDailyNews Take: People spend an average of four hours a day in the App Store. M’kay. (sigh)
The rest of her pitifully clueless twaddle made even less sense.
By they way, here’s the Worldwide Mobile Operating System Market Share breakdown (StatCounter, March 2021):
• Android – 71.83%
• iOS – 27.41%
I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market… We are not a monopoly. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2019
See also: Apple cuts App Store fees in half for most developers – November 20, 2020