A judiciary committee in July asked questions surrounding antitrust and competition concerns of big tech. The documentation from those hearings have now been released.
Apple addressed its policies on the App Store, competition in markets where Apple offers first-party apps, disallowing alternative browser engines, among other topics. On the subject of Apple’s role in the repair industry, the company said that the ‘cost of providing repair services has exceeded the revenue generated by repairs’, implying it does not tightly control repairs for financial gain.
As always, the detail of questioning is much more intricate and nuanced than a one-sentence answer.
It’s not clear if the repair business would be profitable if not for ‘free’ warranty repairs, for instance. Presumably, Apple makes money on selling AppleCare extended warranties (otherwise they wouldn’t offer them).
Apple has made several moves in the last few years to dissuade governments from imposing legislation on repair practices, including the launch of the Independent Repair Program.
Regarding the rule that third-party browsers must use the WebKit rendering engine, Apple says it enforces that rule for security reasons.
By requiring apps to use WebKit, Apple can rapidly and accurately address exploits across our entire user base and most effectively secure their privacy and security. Also, allowing other web browser engines could put users at risk if developers abandon their apps or fail to address a security flaw quickly. By requiring use of WebKit, Apple can provide security updates to all our users quickly and accurately, no matter which browser they decide to download from the App Store.
In questions about Apple’s relationship with Google, Apple says that Google Maps and Waze have been downloaded hundreds of millions of times over the last five years suggesting the introduction of Apple’s own Maps app did not automatically bless it with monopolistic power.
The committee also asked about the business relationship that places Google Search as the default search engine in Safari on iPhones, iPads and Macs. Apple did not disclose monetary figures but said “Apple’s search agreement with Google generates revenue based on referral traffic through the URL/search box on Apple’s Safari browser”. It stressed that users can freely change the default search engine to Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGo at any time. Financial analysts have previously valued the Google search engine deal in the range of $5-10 billion.
Check out the full document to see Apple’s full responses to the committee questioning.