The two web giants took a strong stance this week against an antitrust bill soon to be passed by the US Senate.
Google and Apple are not happy. As the US Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to adopt a new antitrust bill, the two web giants have each issued a long open letter to publicly oppose the future decision of the Biden government. A response that specifically cites two very specific texts: the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which aims to prevent big companies from favoring their own services to the detriment of other companies, but also the Open App Markets Act, which aims to promote free competition in online stores.
Apple fears for its safety (and that of others)
Already supported by many small businesses in the country, these two bills will thus aim to promote competition on online download platforms, but above all to regulate more strictly the way in which GAFAMs often favor their applications and services. within their own platforms. A decision that could make Apple and Google lose big. In a letter reported by Bloomberg, Apple’s senior director of government affairs, Tim Powderly, is particularly concerned that the passage of the Open App Markets Act could make the sideloading, the practice of downloading software or an application outside the official stores.
Already deprived of its single payment system in some countries, Apple could quickly lose its hegemony if the new antitrust bill is adopted. Which, according to the company, would pose serious security and privacy issues for users. “After a tumultuous year marked by multiple controversies regarding social media (…), it would be ironic if Congress reacted by making it much more difficult to protect the privacy and security of Americans’ personal devices”, now believes Tim Powderly. A speech that is not new, since already last year, the CEO of the company Tim Cook had warned that sideloading “would destroy iPhone security and many of the privacy initiatives we’ve built into the App Store.”
For Google, its services are the best
Another open letter, another argument, this time from Google. If the web giant has always been more flexible than Apple on the subject of sideloading, the adoption of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act could well prevent it from systematically prioritize the services of its ecosystem, especially on Android. A problem, believes the company, which would no longer be able to offer the best possible service to consumers. Indeed, the latter could quickly be tempted to opt for the competition, whose products would not be – logically – not as good as those offered by Google.
In his open letter, Kent Walker, President of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer of Google and Alphabet even appeals to Senate patriotism, saying that the new antitrust law “would eliminate useful features, expose people to new privacy and security risks, and weaken America’s technology leadership.” Just that.
Remember that in the case of Google as in that of Apple, these security considerations regarding the new antitrust law are also accompanied by a significant financial concern. By officially authorizing sideloading, the US government would legally allow developers who so wish to free themselves from official stores, and thus circumvent the commissions charged by GAFAM for each in-app purchase. A tax that neither Google nor Apple are ready to give up.