Apple has slammed the claims of Tile, Spotify, and Match in a letter sent to a Senate subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights.
Shared by 9to5Mac, the letter is from Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer who states:
The developers who testified at the hearing were among some of the largest and most successful on the App Store, and their testimony was focused more on grievances related to business disputes with Apple than on competition concerns with the App Store. To ensure an accurate and complete record, I am writing to address some of the particular accusations and arguments that were levied against Apple by other witnesses during the hearing. Rather than demonstrating a problem with competition, these witnesses—representing companies that have thrived in Apple’s ecosystem—showcased how Apple and the iOS ecosystem foster competition.
Andeer testified at a hearing on the matter in April, and this letter is a follow-up to that testimony.
In the letter, Andeer addresses each company in turn and their grievances. Andeer states that Spotify pays commission to Apple on less than one percent of its premium subscribers and that this rate of commission is just 15%. Apple also states its rate of competition “meets or beats” competitive competition elsewhere. The letter also states that “Apple consistently has, since the launch of the App Store, distinguished between (a)
digital goods/services and (b) physical goods/services, a distinction that applies equally to all developers and reflects the added value enjoyed by sellers of digital goods/services.”
Addressing one key issue of the Epic Games vs Apple antitrust trial, the fact that developers aren’t allowed to tell customers they can buy their goods elsewhere (possibly at a cheaper price), Apple states:
Apple does not prohibit developers from communicating with their customers; Apple simply says that developers cannot redirect customers who are in the App Store to leave the App Store and go elsewhere—just as Apple cannot put a sign in the Verizon store, telling customers to buy iPhones directly from Apple instead.
Addressing Match and Tinder, Andeer stated that customers have lots of choices for accessing digital content including the open internet, that its commission “reflects the value of the powerful technology platform, tools, software, curated marketplace, and intellectual property that allows developers to create and distribute apps” and that Apple puts “enormous effort” into communications with developers to help them get their apps into the App Store.
Finally, Andeer addressed the complaints of Tile, whose grievances have been amplified in recent weeks with the release of Apple’s own AirTag tracking device, which competes directly with Tile’s own trackers, some of the best Bluetooth trackers around.
The letter states that Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right, that it makes features, functionalities, and APIs available to third parties for their own development, and that Apple did not have information about Tile’s sales that would give it an advantage. In fact, the letter states “Years ago, Apple had some information about how Tile products sold in Apple’s retail store. It did not sell well.”