On Friday, the head of an ongoing antitrust investigation in the U.S. Congress said Apple CEO Tim Cook would be summoned to testify before the House Judiciary Committee if he refuses to voluntarily participate in an ongoing antitrust investigation. In an interview with Bloomberg, David Cicilline, chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee, said executives at Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook were expected to testify voluntarily in the antitrust investigation. An official letter sent last week asked them to attend such an investigation hearing.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, pledged in a letter to the antitrust subcommittee this week that they would attend the hearing, but whether or not to testify voluntarily would depend on the conduct of other company executives. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, signaled Monday that he would be willing to testify, while Apple has not yet agreed to let Cook testify.
While Mr. Siclin believes all four executives will testify as they wish, he said the House antitrust subcommittee will issue subpoenas to obtain the necessary information for a decision. For example, Bezos was threatened with subpoenas before Amazon sent a message of willingness to testify.
“In order to complete the antitrust investigation, we will have the required documents and witnesses. “I hope it will happen voluntarily, but the antitrust subcommittee has always intended that if it doesn’t happen voluntarily, we’re going to take mandatory procedures,” Mr. Siclin said on Friday, referring to Mr. Cook’s testimony. “
Last year, the House Antitrust Subcommittee announced a bipartisan investigation into “platform gatekeepers” and “monopolistic” technology companies. Apple is under scrutiny for its App Store business, so-called third-party apps “Sherlocking” and the system’s removal of parental control apps.
This week, Apple refused to update Basecamp’s new Hey email app on the grounds that it failed to offer in-app purchase options. Basecamp founders David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried later publicly objected to Apple’s decision by tweeting on Twitter, giving media interviews and posting posts on Hey’s website.
Speaking on a podcast with Hansen this week, Mr Siclin said the Apple App Store charge was a “roadblock.” That sentiment was echoed in an interview on Friday.
“It’s very worrying that the App Store works, and you know that developers who are in a start-up are basically forced to pay a 30% commission or they’re being denied access to that market. “And, you know, by coincidence, Google and Apple are doing the same thing, and that’s a third of their profits. For a developer, this puts them at a disadvantage, either paying a commission to them, going bankrupt, or developing an application that is not successful. This is the perfect example of abuse of market position to bully and solicit unfair profits. “
Apple says the App Store’s guidelines are designed to foster a consistent consumer experience, not to generate high profits. Critics, including some developers, argue that Apple’s refusal to update Basecamp’s new Hey email app suggests that it is chasing a share of the 15 to 30 percent App Store deals it is accustomed to.
Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of global marketing, said Thursday that in-app purchase requirements are designed to increase user satisfaction.
But Basecamp founder Fried hit back at the idea in a blog post Friday. He argues that the in-app purchase requirement creates a false barrier between app developers and users and hurts consumer relationships.
Mr Schiller said Apple had not considered a rule change or exemption for Hey, despite differences of opinion. It remains to be seen whether this position will loosen in the coming days. Apple plans to hold its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week, which is generally seen as a celebration of apple’s relationship with third-party developers.