Anti-competitive call from Spotify, Tile, and Match Group Apple at Senate hearing

Representatives from Spotify, Match Group and Tinder testified against Apple in a Senate hearing on Wednesday, accusing the Cupertino company of anti-competitive conduct.

The Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights of the US Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing focused on app markets such as the App Store and Google Play on Wednesday. He called witnesses from several companies who have accused Apple of abusing its market power.

“Apple abuses its dominant position as the gatekeeper of the App Store to insulate itself from competition and put rival services like Spotify at a disadvantage,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify’s chief legal officer.

Gutiérrez went on to say that third-party developers are what make the iPhone successful, adding that Apple has a long history of “using App Store policies to harm Spotify and benefit Apple Music.”

Match’s legal representative, Jared Sine, told a story of how Apple allegedly rejected an update to the Tinder app that contained features intended to improve user safety.

When Sine contacted an Apple executive, the executive “disagreed with our assessment of how to run our business and keep our users safe.” Sine added that the person told him that Match Group “should be glad that Apple is not taking all of Match’s revenue.”

Tile’s Kirsten Daru went after AppleFind My network and the recently announced AirTags. She characterized those systems as an attempt by Apple to “get into the market” and “take over.” Daru also cited the “magical onboarding flow” of Apple accessories as proof of the company’s anti-competitive behavior.

Kyle Andeer, Apple’s chief compliance officer, also testified at the hearing. For his part, he said that the App Store revolutionized software distribution.

Apple also reiterated the position that App Store fees are much lower than historical rates for software distribution, and that its strict controls are aimed at ensuring quality, security, and user privacy.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), chair of the antitrust subcommittee, compared Apple and Google to gatekeepers who have the power to decide whether third-party apps can actually be distributed to iPhone or Android users. She says that becomes a problem when Apple and Google also make competing software products.

“Capitalism has to do with competition. It is about the emergence of new products. It is about the emergence of new competitors. This situation, for me, does not seem to be happening when there are two companies that really dominate in different areas, “said Klobuchar.

This is not the first time Apple has been the center of attention for antitrust concerns. Apple CEO Tim Cook testified before a U.S. House of Representatives antitrust committee in 2020 as part of a broader investigation into tech companies. That investigation concluded that Apple and other tech giants enjoy monopoly power over their respective markets.