The chief of the European anti-trust commission, Margrethe Vestager, wants Apple to allow alternate app stores to enable proper competition on its platforms.
The Epic versus Apple trial was not the end of scrutiny against Apple’s business practices on the iPhone. Margrethe Vestager, an EU antitrust regulator, hopes to push Apple and other tech companies to open up with new regulations.
In an interview with Kara Swisher on the “Sway” podcast, Vestager spoke about her battles against big tech and what is coming next. Most prominently, she wants legislation that will force “gatekeepers” to allow more competition on the platforms they have created, one being Apple.
“What we have tabled now as proposed legislation is to say, well, if you buy these objective criteria, qualitative and quantitative, will be designated as a gatekeeper, then from the very first day these are the things that you cannot do,” Vestager said while describing the Digital Markets Act. “These are the things that you have to do. Have to do could be make room for a second app store. Have to do could be share data.”
Vestager believes a lot of Epic’s complaints could be solved by allowing a second App Store. Apps on Apple’s platform have to be in the Apple-controlled store, use Apple-controlled payments, and engage with customers following Apple-controlled rules.
Swisher noted that Apple’s arguments for the single App Store and maintaining control of it, are to maintain privacy and security. Specifically, Swisher proposed that since Apple created the market, it should be able to control it.
It is these restrictions, and a single-party both creating and controlling the market that led to unfair competitive practices, according to Vestager. Apple doesn’t have to pay a fee for its digital sales to itself, she believes, therefore the company is competing with an advantage right out of the gate.
“Now, I think a second app store, that is in the future,” said Vestager. “That will take time, because it’s in a legislative proposal that we have tabled in front of the European Parliament. But I would hope that we could conclude this case in good time. And then we’d see how to remedy this. Depends, of course, very much on the Apple answer to our concerns.”
Vestager also discussed her involvement with the $15 billion Irish tax bill that the EU sided with Apple on. She believes her approach may have been too aggressive and could have damaged the authority of the European Commission.
Ultimately, Vestager believes that the short-term solution for companies like Apple is to pass regulations now and begin building for a bigger goal later. Get Apple to allow alternate app stores and pay fair taxes in the short term, and perhaps in the next 100 years, get some kind of global tax authority in place.
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