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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Apple is swatting down criticisms about how it runs its App Store, arguing its policies are just like those of its peers, in a new letter to senators today.

Between the lines: Apple is making similar arguments to Congress to the ones in its defense in the Epic Games lawsuit — namely, that it has the right to run its marketplace as it sees fit, and that companies and consumers that don't like it have alternatives.

The letter, addressed to the members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee that held a contentious hearing on app stores last month, contends that Spotify, Tile and Match Group misstated Apple's policies and are actually examples of companies that have been successful on iOS.

"Rather than demonstrating a problem with competition, these witnesses — representing companies that have thrived in Apple's ecosystem — showcased how Apple and the iOS ecosystem foster competition."

— Apple chief compliance officer Kyle Andeer, in the letter to Congress

Yes, but: At points, Apple appears to overstate its case.

  • In one part, it writes that Spotify is wrong to suggest that developers can't communicate with customers about alternate purchase options, saying "Apple simply says that developers cannot redirect customers who are in the App Store to leave the App Store and go elsewhere."
  • However, this restriction doesn't just apply in the App Store, but anywhere within an iOS app.
  • Apple says that's what it means by "in the App Store" but it's doubtful the average consumer (or senator) will see things that way.

Meanwhile, when addressing Tile's concerns Apple reiterates that it has had a "Find My" feature since 2009, before Tile was founded. That's true, but until just recently that was only for finding Apple devices, not other products.

My thought bubble: Apple has a decent case to make, but by stretching the truth, it risks undermining its credibility. The better argument, which Apple also makes, is that companies are free to sell digital goods or subscriptions elsewhere that can be used within an iOS app.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
May 13, 2021 - Technology

Apple parts ways with employee amid backlash

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Apple has severed ties with recent hire Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook employee and author of the book "Chaos Monkeys," Axios has learned, following an uproar from employees upset over García Martínez' past writings demeaning women and others.

Why it matters: Employees had circulated a petition Wednesday calling for Apple to explain its hiring of García Martínez. While petitions aren't uncommon at Google and some other companies, it is rare for Apple employees to organize publicly on any issue, let alone an individual hiring.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First fatality confirmed in downtown Austin mass shooting

Police barricades near the scene of a shooting in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

A 25-year-old man died Sunday of injuries sustained in a mass shooting that wounded 13 other people in downtown Austin, Texas, the previous day, police confirmed.

Driving the news: Austin police named the victim as Douglas John Kantor, as they continued to search for one of two suspects. One suspect was taken into custody on Saturday following the shooting on 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants.

Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an event San Francisco, California, on Friday. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Bash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

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