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Microsoft president raised concerns about Apple App Store in House antitrust meeting

Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith reportedly expressed concerns about the Apple App Store in a meeting with the U.S. House antitrust committee investigating dominant tech companies.

The meeting came a few weeks before the House's Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee is set to grill prominent tech executives like Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Alphabet and Google CEO Sundai Pichai.

Amid the ongoing antitrust probe, the committee met with Smith via videoconference earlier in the summer, The Information reported. According to sources familiar with the meeting, the primary goal was to get Microsoft's perspective as a major technology company that has faced past antitrust regulation.

But The Information notes that Smith also discussed some of Microsoft's "concerns" about how Apple operates its App Store — an issue at the forefront of the House committee's investigation.

Specifically, the concerns centered on the "arbitrariness of Apple's practices around approving apps, while also criticizing Apple's requirement that developers use the company's payment mechanism through their apps." Smith did not levy any criticisms against other tech companies, sources claimed.

Spotify, Basecamp and other companies have complained about Apple's 15% to 30% cut of in-app purchases made through its payment system. In June, the House antitrust chairperson called the fees "highway robbery."

Apple, for its part, says that those fees are meant to ensure consistency across the App Store — not to generate excess profits.

The House launched their bipartisan probe investigating "weak" antitrust enforcement of technology companies in 2019. The same year, the U.S. Department of Justice also launched a massive antitrust investigation.

At a Politico event in June, Microsoft's Smith chimed in on antitrust probes, stating that it's past time for regulators to examine Apple's practices.

In addition to antitrust scrutiny in the U.S., Apple is also in the spotlight elsewhere in the world. In June, the European Commission launched their own probe investigation alleged anticompetitive practices on both the App Store and Apple Pay.