- REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
- Apple CEO Tim Cook told German magazine Stern that “no reasonable person would ever call Apple a monopolist.”
- Apple is fighting an antitrust complaint in the EU from music streaming service Spotify. Spotify says that Apple’s position operating the App Store while also putting out its own apps is anti-competitive.
- Cook compared the App Store to a supermarket carrying own-brand merchandise.
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While on tour in Germany, Tim Cook pushed back on accusations that Apple abuses its monopoly.
“No reasonable person would ever call Apple a monopolist,” Cook told German magazine Stern. Cook’s remarks were reported in German, and Business Insider has translated his remarks.
Cook’s comments come as Apple stands accused of anti-competitive practices but a major music streaming rival, Spotify.
Spotify filed a complaint against Apple with the EU in March, arguing that by operating the App Store while also promoting its own music streaming service Apple Music, Apple was acting as “both a player and referee.” It specifically took issue with the 30% tax Apple levies on purchases made through its payment system, which impacts Spotify subscriptions.
Apple shot back with an acerbic response at the time, accusing Spotify of profiting off the exploitation of artists’ work.
Speaking to Stern, Cook took a slightly less aggressive tack. “We only have have 30 to 40 apps compared to two million others,” he said. He then compared the App Store to a supermarket which sells both goods from third-party brands as well as own-brand items.
“The likelihood of [a supermarket] having own-brand products is very high. And who benefits from another product being on the shelf? The customer, and that’s a good thing,” he said.
The Financial Times reported in May that the EU was due to launch a full investigation into Spotify’s complaint but nothing has been announced.
Europe isn’t the only place where Apple faces antitrust rumblings.
US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren says she wants to break up Apple, along with Facebook, Google, and Amazon. Meanwhile the Trump administration has opened a sweeping antitrust investigation into big tech, the FTC is investigating Facebook, and state attorneys general are launching their own investigations into Facebook and Google. Thus far Apple has not had any formal investigations aimed at it.
“I’m the first to say the big companies should be thoroughly investigated. I have absolutely no problem with that,” Cook told Stern. “I just hope people don’t lump all the big tech companies together.”