The House Antitrust Committee has published a report on big tech companies and monopolies. In the report, the Committee says Apple enjoys "monopoly power" over software and app distribution on iOS devices.
What does the House Antitrust Committee report mean for Apple?
Epic Games will be watching this development with particular interest, as the gaming giant has previously alleged that Apple monopolizes distribution on iOS, going so far as to file a lawsuit to that effect. As per BBC News tech reporter James Clayton on Twitter, the report states Apple has "gatekeeper power" over iOS distribution. This will no doubt be solid ammunition in Epic Games' ongoing legal battle, which began when Epic attempted to bypass Apple's payment mechanisms by offering direct payments within Fortnite on iOS. Apple responded by forcing Epic to take the game down, which then prompted Epic to file a lawsuit alleging Apple's monopoly over iOS distribution.
It's worth noting that the House Antitrust Committee's report isn't legally binding in and of itself. As per BBC tech reporter James Clayton on Twitter, the report recommends limiting companies' powers to enter adjacent businesses, i.e. Facebook buying up Instagram or Google purchasing YouTube. However, these recommendations don't have to be taken on board by the US political and legal system. The House Antitrust Committee is Democrat-led, so there could be clashes between Democrats and Republicans over recommendations made by the report. If you'd like to read the report in full, you can do so right here. Be warned: it's rather long and full of jargon.
What are the wider ramifications of this report?
This news comes as part of a larger report concerning not just Apple but also other big tech companies like Amazon and Google. The report claims that Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google all enjoy monopoly power in their respective industries. In Apple's case, it's iOS software distribution. Amazon's monopoly concerns third-party sales, Facebook's relates to online advertising and social networks, and Google's monopoly is over the online search industry. The report says that companies that were once "scrappy underdog startups" have grown to the kind of size last seen in "the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons".
It's not clear exactly what this report means for the companies it names, nor is it clear how Epic Games will use this report in its ongoing battle with Tim Cook's software and hardware giant. We've reached out to Epic for comment on this story and will bring you more on this as soon as we get it.
How do you feel about the House Antitrust Committee's report? Let us know in the comments below!