The legislative challenges to big tech, including Apple, are beginning:
A House panel pushed ahead Wednesday with ambitious legislation that could curb the market power of tech giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple and force them to sever their dominant platforms from their other lines of business. Conservative Republican lawmakers haggled over legislative language and pushed concerns of perceived anti-conservative bias in online platforms but couldn’t halt the bipartisan momentum behind the package.
I share John Gruber’s view on how unnecessary this whole thing is. As Gruber put it:
What’s weirdest about Apple’s antitrust and PR problems related to the App Store is that the App Store is a side hustle for Apple. Yes it’s earning Apple $10+ billion a year, and even for Apple that’s significant. But it’s not Apple’s main business by a longshot. To my knowledge no company in history has ever gotten into antitrust hot water over a side business so comparatively small to its overall business. Apple doesn’t need this.
The downside of Apple opening up parts of the App Store, including its payment system, is arguably negligible. Apple would lose some revenue, but not all of it. And to Gruber’s point, the App Store is not Apple’s core business.
But some of the proposed legislation in Congress would be no less than an existential threat to Apple as we know it. All of the company’s strength in integrating hardware, software, and services would be put under scrutiny. Why risk everything that makes your company and its products unique and successful for chump change?
It’s never too late, but it sure feels like Apple is playing a spectacularly dangerous game of chicken and time is running short.