Microsoft president Brad Smith said this week that Apple’s antitrust abuses should be punished by regulators in both the United States and Europe. His voice is just one of many in a rising sea of complaints, but this one is particularly interesting given Microsoft’s antitrust troubles two decades ago.
“[Apple] 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,” Smith told Bloomberg. “In some cases, they create a very high price per toll, in some cases 30 percent of your revenue has to go to the toll keeper.”
“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,” he added.
Microsoft is just one of many companies that run afoul of Apple’s brutal fees and policies that prevent it from communicating to its own users that they can sign-up and pay for Microsoft products and services on the web. But you can see the harm: If a user signs up for Microsoft 365 Family using an app on iOS, it loses 30 percent of the $100 annual fee, or $30, to Apple that first year. And when they renew in subsequent years, Apple gets 15 percent, or $15, for literally doing nothing.
As bad, Apple’s onerous and in this case secret policies have prevented Microsoft from expanding its Project xCloud service past a single game on iOS and iPadOS. On Android, gamers have dozens of games from which to choose. But the reasoning, which is not written into any rules that Apple delivers to app makers, is clear enough: Apple has its own gaming service, and Project xCloud is the competition.
The good news? Apple is under antitrust investigation for these very issues in both the United States and the EU, and given how obvious the abuses are, it’s probable it will be held accountable in both locales.