Microsoft has never been happy about paying 15-30% of their Microsoft 365 subscription revenue to Apple when users sign up via the App Store, an issue which delayed the arrival of Office for iPad for some years, until Microsoft finally gave in to the inevitable and paid the toll.
Today The Information reports that Microsoft President and chief legal officer Brad Smith had the opportunity to complain directly to the United States House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee who is currently investigating competition in digital markets.
Tim Cook and other tech CEOS are set to testify in antitrust hearing on Monday, July 27, and the Subcommittee wanted to “provide Microsoft’s perspective as a big tech company” who had previously been involved in antitrust regulation over Windows, but Smith also managed to air his grievances about Apple’s App Store.
Smith had expressed unhappiness about Apple’s App Store rules, including the revenue cut and the requirement for iOS users to make purchases via the App Store before, saying:
“They impose requirements that increasingly say there is only one way to get on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created. In some cases they create a very high price per toll — in some cases 30% of your revenue has to go to the toll keeper. The time has come – whether we are talking about D.C. or Brussels – for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created.”
It seems likely, given Microsoft’s influence, Smith’s views will go a long way into shaping the Subcommittee’s approach when Apple CEO Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai, and Mark Zuckerberg testify in front of Congress next week.
It is also somewhat ironic that 20 years after its own antitrust case, Microsoft will be complaining to Congress about Apple being a monopoly, but it seems if there is one constant in technology it is change.