The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is conducting an investigation into Apple over potential antitrust practices, and on Friday (Sep. 13) it requested information about the issues directly from Apple.
Reuters is reporting that the committee sent a letter to Chief Executive Tim Cook for information about Apple’s App Store, which is the only way customers can put apps on an iPhone.
Apple takes a piece of what every developer earns on the App Store. However, part of the contention is that Apple also makes its own apps, sometimes competing with similar apps.
For example, Apple Music competes directly with Spotify, and Spotify has complained about how it is treated by Apple. Spotify alleges that the iPhone maker intentionally makes it harder for them to compete.
Meanwhile, other apps that are not perceived to be in competition with Apple, like Uber, are allowed to take money in-app without paying Apple a cut.
Apple has repeatedly said it is strictly focused on providing users with a better experience.
Specifically, the committee wants to know why Apple removed parental control apps Qustodio, Freedom, Kidslox, Mobicip and OurPact. It is also asking how the App Store search algorithm works, and whether Apple’s apps have the most visibility. In addition, the committee is requesting information on the policies controlling which apps must use Apple’s payment system and which are exempt, and whether apps can include links to other payment systems. Spotify complained that Apple is hurting its business by not allowing it to do so.
The committee also asked Apple for information on how it decides how much revenue it takes from app developers. For example, Apple takes between 15 and 30 percent from digital goods, but no fees from physical goods. Because of this, Amazon won’t sell e-books on any Apple devices.