A panel of U.S. senators questioned officials from Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Wednesday about the dominance of their mobile app stores and whether the companies abuse their power at the expense of smaller competitors.
Amy Klobuchar, the top Senate Democrat on antitrust issues, said Apple and Google can use their power to “exclude or suppress apps that compete with their own products” and “charge excessive fees that affect competition.”
App makers like music streaming service Spotify Technology SA and dating services giant Match Group, which owns the Tinder app, have long complained that mandatory revenue sharing for sales of digital goods and strict inclusion rules set by Apple’s App Store for iPhones and iPads, along with Google’s Play store for Android devices, amount to anticompetitive behavior.
Representatives for Apple and Google told senators that the companies’ tight control over their stores and the associated revenue-sharing requirements are needed to enforce and pay for security measures to protect consumers from harmful apps and practices.
But when asked by Senator Josh Hawley, Apple’s Chief Compliance Officer Kyle Andeer would not commit to spending all of the mandatory fees on security.
Explanations from Andeer and Google’s Wilson White, senior director for government affairs, about why the companies’ fees do not apply to Uber Technologies Inc and apps that sell physical goods also failed to satisfy senators.
“I feel like unfrozen caveman lawyer,” Senator Mike Lee said. “I’m not grasping it.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal expressed concern about a call Match said it received late on Tuesday from its business counterpart at Google.
Match’s Chief Legal Officer Jared Sine said Google wanted to know why Sine’s planned testimony, which had just been released, deviated from previous comments the dating company had made.
“It looks like a threat, it talks like a threat, it’s a threat,” Blumenthal said of the call, vowing to investigate Google’s action further.
In his testimony, Match’s Sine argued that Google and Apple both exact an onerous 30% of any…