Microsoft President Brad Smith wants more scrutiny on app store policies imposed by its competitors such as Apple and Google.
In an interview with Politico on Thursday, Smith did not name Apple and Google specifically, though he noted the 30% revenue cut that the companies typically take from app subscription payments.
“They impose requirements that increasingly say there’s only one way to get on to our platform, and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created,” Smith said. “In some cases, they create a very high price or toll — 30% of all of your revenue has to go to the tollkeeper, if you will.”
His comments come just as the European Union launched an investigation this week into Apple and how it controls its digital store.
“I do believe the time has come, whether we’re talking about Washington D.C. or Brussels, for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and tolls that are being extracted, and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created,” Smith said.
Microsoft would likely welcome changes to the revenue-sharing model, given that it is forced to pay Apple for subscription purchases made via its iOS apps such as Microsoft Outlook. The company has also had issues with Apple’s restrictions for game services, Bloomberg reported.
The Redmond, Wash.-based tech giant can relate to Apple’s position, given its antitrust battle nearly two decades ago that investigated how the company bundled Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system.
But Smith said today’s smartphone app stores are different.
“Increasingly you’re seeing app stores that have created higher walls and far more formidable gates to access to other applications than anything that existed in the industry 20 years ago,” said Smith, who joined Microsoft in 1993.
Those comments elicited reaction on Twitter from former Windows exec Steven Sinofsky.
This makes me sad. https://t.co/DGUDnoGuPR
— Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) June 18, 2020
Apple, meanwhile, is embroiled in a controversy with Basecamp and its new email app Hey. Apple is preventing the app from going live in its App Store, citing rules around how Hey subscriptions are offered.
Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hansson gave a shout-out to Microsoft and its app store regulations.
Speaking of shouting out to @microsoft. Kudos for running an App Store that does not bully or abuse you into using a shake-down priced billing system. Things really have changed at Microsoft ❤️ https://t.co/96RB5pQ4fe
— DHH (@dhh) June 15, 2020