Time To Upset The Apple Cart?

Time To Upset The Apple Cart?

Tech companies have grown to such proportions that many behave like monopolies. We look at how Americans feel about this development and what is likely in store for the tech giants starting with Apple, Inc.

Anjali Krishnan
Anjali Krishnan

A handful of companies hold the lion’s share of the market when it comes to certain technologies. As governments across the globe scamper to moderate their monopolistic tendencies and draft new regulations for fair practices, we found that the American people are well aware of the issue and have strong opinions on the subject.

In a TIPP Poll conducted in April, we asked whether Americans supported or opposed the breaking up of the four Big Tech companies to prevent them from becoming a potential monopoly.

Fifty percent and more said they supported the move.

When it comes to the ‘Apple’ of the tech world, half were in favor of breaking up the company to prevent it from becoming a monopoly. Almost a third, 30%, were opposed to the move, and the rest were not sure.

While Apple’s hardware continues to hold sway among gadget lovers, its ‘walled garden’ approach has often drawn criticism. The almost seamless connection between its devices and the advantage of interoperability, while enhancing user experience, subtly ties customers down to its own products and excludes its competitors.

Besides tying in Apple devices, the company is accused of choking competition on its App Store. Entities that do business with the tech giant, like third-party app developers, are forced to agree to Apple’s overbearing terms or risk being shut off from the platform, thus losing a chunk of potential customers.

The company makes up to a thirty percent cut on all purchases made through its app. By forcing vendors to use its payment processing systems, Apple keeps a tight rein on all facets of the business.

It’s not just the small, indie developers who are at a disadvantage.  Music streaming platform Spotify’s complaint, a few months back, has resulted in an official antitrust probe by the European Commission. The executive vice-president at the European Commission noted, “Apple has a monopoly in the Apple App Store.”

Such monopoly/market dominance would likely lead to short-changing the customer.  Apple can get away with charging higher prices while keeping the customers in the dark regarding cheaper options. What is on offer and what is not falls to the sole discretion of the company. Inflated commissions and harsh rules for conducting business with Apple would keep many small-time businesses and nascent tech companies away from its ecosystem and thus the iOS users.

The TIPP Poll found that consumers are informed and concerned about the risks.

  • 71% are concerned that they will pay higher prices for the services
  • 66% are worried that they will have fewer choices
  • 73% are concerned that smaller businesses will be at a disadvantage

What’s In Store?

Apple has been battling antitrust litigations, investigation, and class action suits on various counts. The lawsuit brought by Epic Games against the company is just the latest one to challenge the way the company operates and conducts business.

While governments play catch up to the tech titans with updated laws and new regulations, we may see a vastly different tech ecosystem in the future. A company may no longer be allowed to run the tech platform and participate or sell on it. Apple may have to completely change its business model, i.e., separate its hardware arm from its iOS. A more equitable ground that does not shut out competitors, benefits customers, and businesses like app developers is likely to emerge.

The internet exploded more than a decade ago; our laws are just catching up. It’s unfair to solely blame the tech companies for making the most of the ambiguities and loopholes in the current system.

No one wants to see the innovative giant stymied. Americans want to see it grow into a monopoly even less.


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