Parliamentarians heard companies complaining about the market practices of technology giants.
A panel of US senators questioned Apple and Google executives last Wednesday about the dominance of their app stores and whether companies abuse their powers at the expense of smaller competitors.
Amy Klobuchar, the top Democratic senator on antitrust issues, said Apple and Google could use their powers to “exclude or suppress applications that are competing with their own products” and “charge excessive fees that affect competition in the app store industry”.
The hearing came a day after Apple said it would start selling AirTags – which can be applied to items like car keys to help users find them if they are lost.
The product competes directly with Tile, a company that has sold a similar tracking device for more than a decade.
Before the hearing, Klobuchar told Reuters that the announcement is the type of conduct the panel planned to discuss.
Apple says its AirTags are a consequence of its “Find” application, which is used to locate lost Apple devices and share users’ locations.
Last month, Apple opened its operating system to other item tracking services and said Chipolo, a startup that competes with both Tile and Apple’s new AirTags, is using the system.
Apple’s chief compliance officer, Kyle Andeer, testified at the hearing as did Kirsten Daru, Tile’s general counsel.
Daru said that Apple’s “Find” program is installed as a standard part of the operating system on all Apple phones, and cannot be deleted.
“Apple once again exploited its power and market dominance to condition our consumers ‘access to data and effectively disrupt our users’ experience by directing them to FindMy,” she said.
Others on the witness list include Google’s senior director of Government Affairs, Wilson White, Spotify’s chief legal officer, Horacio Gutierrez, and Match’s chief legal officer, Jared Sine.
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Application developers such as Spotify and the matchmaking service Match, owner of Tinder, have long complained that mandatory revenue sharing and strict inclusion rules set by the Apple App Store for iPhones and iPads, in addition to Google Play requirements for Android devices, are anti-competitive behavior.
Match’s Sine said that Google and Apple charge 30% of any digital transaction, raising prices for consumers.
Match pays the app store about $ 500 million in fees annually, the company’s largest one-time expense.
Apple’s antitrust trial in May
Epic Games Chief Executive Tim Sweeney will appear at the trial of an antitrust lawsuit against Apple, while the iPhone maker’s director of App Store, Phil Schiller, will also be present, lawyers for both companies said on Wednesday.
No cameras will be allowed in the trial that begins May 3 in Oakland, Calif., Between game creator “Fortnite” and Apple, US judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers said at a pre-trial conference.
Epic last year implemented its own in-app payment system on iPhones to avoid Apple’s fees, a violation of Apple’s app store rules.
Apple then removed Epic apps from its store, including Fortnite. After that, Epic filed an antitrust lawsuit alleging that Apple abuses its dominance in the mobile app market.
An audio broadcast will be made available to the public, who will have access to the exhibits presented during the trial, the magistrate said. Only a member of the press will be able to monitor the court’s judgment.