When presidential hopeful and Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren first launched her campaign aimed at containing the market influence of Big Tech by breaking these companies up, she left Apple out – either by omission or on purpose.
But she then quickly included Apple, too, when quizzed by journalists shortly after publishing her manifesto, that goes after tech giants on antitrust grounds.
The gist of Warren's proposal is to declare any company making more than $25 billion a year a platform utility that would not be able to sell its own services and products on that platform.
Thus Facebook would have to spin off Instagram and WhatsApp, while Google would have to say goodbye to showing Google products in search.
As for Apple, she said the company would have to choose between running its App Store – “and playing in the store.”
Warren has now revisited this point, accusing Apple of undermining competition thanks to the power it wields in the App Store. The senator linked to a New York Times article about Apple's App Store practices and said she has a plan to break up big tech.
Apple's App Store is one of the dominant platforms for app makers, and they've got too much power to stifle competition and promote their own products. That's not right—and it's why I've got a plan to #BreakUpBigTech. https://t.co/C6zVSgTzSt
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 10, 2019
The jury's still out on whether Warren has a viable plan, and how successful it might be, or if the whole thing is just a case of campaign rhetoric. But Warren she has been gunning for Apple before – specifically in 2016, when she criticized the company for anti-competitive behavior, again tied to its App Store.
However, this might be a much better time to pile on, as Big Tech is struggling with a deteriorating image and facing a multitude of probes launched by regulators not only in the US but also in the EU and Russia. What they have in common is focusing on the antitrust element of these companies' problematic practices.
The New York Time piece also notes that Apple's store saw sales worth over $50 billion in 2018, and that, as the company has become “one of the largest competitors on a platform that it controls” there are now fears it might be favoring its own product.
But Apple denies this, promising even to rig its App Store algorithm “to handicap its own apps versus those of the competition.”