Microsoft Calls For Apple Antitrust Probe
|Microsoft President Brad Smith.
Photo credit: UN Photo / Elma Okic, under Creative Commons license
At a Thursday event hosted by media firm Politico, Microsoft president Brad Smith called upon antitrust regulators in the U.S. and Europe to debate tactics used by app stores to take advantage of app developers seeking to distribute their software. Citing a Microsoft spokesperson, a report from Bloomberg noted that Smith’s remarks were particularly targeted at the Apple App Store, which right now is caught up in a heated controversy for repeatedly declining update approvals for a new e-mail app from software company Basecamp. The repeated denials center on Basecamp’s email app, named Hey, not having an in-app purchase option for its annual subscription. Usually, iPhone app subscriptions are made in-app and with Apple taking a significant cut (up to 30%) of revenues. Basecamp tried to circumvent this by making the subscription processes web-only and Apple is apparently not having it.
“They impose requirements that increasingly say there is only one way to get on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created,” Microsoft’s Brad Smith said at the Thursday event. “In some cases they create a very high price per toll — in some cases 30% of your revenue has to go to the toll keeper,” he said, obviously referring to Apple.
“The time has come — whether we are talking about D.C. 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 the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created,” Smith said.
Microsoft itself may not be having it with Apple’s significant revenue cuts on apps distributed on its app store, given the Seattle-based software giant distributes widely used apps on the store. For any subscription to Microsoft software made on an Apple device, the company has to give up between 15% to 30% of the purchase as a fee to Apple. Microsoft isn’t allowed to circumvent such rule, as proven by Basecamp’s case.
Microsoft isn’t the only major tech company to have accused Apple of not playing fair. Music streaming service Spotify also did so last year, having even lodged a formal complaint against the company. Likewise, Epic Games, the gaming studio behind Fornite, and dating empire Match Group have also rallied behind Spotify. Also, the European Union (EU) has opened up a fresh formal antitrust investigation as regards Apple’s App Store rules.