Microsoft survived its own antitrust battle with the U.S. government
The Microsoft executive was invited to share his experiences when Microsoft battled the U.S. government over antitrust related charges in the 1990s. At the time, the software giant was accused of making it difficult for consumers to install software on their computers that competed with Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer browser. Microsoft and the government agreed to a settlement and Microsoft signed a consent decree that has long since expired. Last month Smith said that regulators should investigate the rules used by various app stores that are available on different operating systems. While he didn’t mention Apple’s App Store specifically, a Microsoft spokesman later said that the iOS app storefront was exactly what he was referring to. He also said that what Apple is doing with the App Store has created a higher bar to fair competition than anything that Microsoft was accused of with Windows.
A hearing will take place next Monday with the CEOs of Apple (Tim Cook), Amazon (Jeff Bezos), Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), and Google parent Alphabet (Sundar Pichai) on the hot seat. The executives will be facing the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. Last month, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) accused Apple of committing “highway robbery.” He said, “Because of the market power that Apple has, it is charging exorbitant rents — highway robbery, basically — bullying people to pay 30 percent or denying access to their market. It’s crushing small developers who simply can’t survive with those kinds of payments. If there were real competition in this marketplace, this wouldn’t happen.” Rep. Cicilline also stated, “Many people have come forward to share their experiences, who are terrified of economic retaliation, who are afraid they can’t survive the economic retaliation that these large platforms can impose because of the power that they have, and we intend to pursue those allegations very seriously. This is a real problem in the marketplace. This is a direct consequence of enormous market power, the fact that Apple is the gatekeeper for these developers, and we have heard many, many examples.”