With Apple legal focused on the trial with Epic Games in May, Apple shies away from testifying at a Senate Subcommittee hearing on Mobile App Stores
Yesterday Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple and Epic Games have Filed "Findings of Fact & Conclusion of Law" Documents with the Court Prior to the May 3, 2021 Trial." Apple's 310 page document laid out their position. The Apple legal team and CEO Tim Cook are likely preparing for the trial where Cook is to be grilled for up to 2 hours and 10 minutes. The last thing that Apple and team want to do is attend a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on "competiton issues" related to their App Store prior to the trial in May. Negative grilling by the Senators would give Epic possible ammunition for the trial.
The Senators should have known better than to put Apple in a tough position time wise prior to the trial with Epic Games. Apple apparently doesn't even want to respond to the letter, should something be misinterpreted in a bad light.
With that context in mind, it's now being reported by Reuters that "Apple Inc is refusing to testify at an upcoming U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on competition issues related to mobile app stores, the bipartisan leaders of the panel said on Friday. They added that Google had agreed to testify at the subcommittee hearing, a spokeswoman for Klobuchar said.
App makers long have accused Apple’s App Store for iPhones and iPads, along with Google’s Play store for Android devices, of engaging in anticompetitive behavior by requiring certain revenue sharing payments and setting strict inclusion rules. A subcommittee hearing was being planned for late April but no date has been set yet.
Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, and Mike Lee, a Republican, said they wrote to Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook on Friday urging the company to reconsider.
The letter said: "A little more than two weeks before the planned hearing, Apple abruptly declared that it would not provide any witness. Apple’s sudden change in course to refuse to provide a witness to testify...is unacceptable." For more on this, read the full Reuters report.
High profile Senate hearings usually turn into a media circus with Senators on both sides of the aisle trying to score points to make headlines. The subcommittee should have understood the situation that Apple is in at present and try to work with them on a timeline after a verdict is rendered in the Epic Games v. Apple trial. If they're already playing up the drama, one could only imagine what would happen at the hearing.