Massachusetts Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren made waves yesterday when she outlined her plan for breaking up big tech companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook. Now, The Verge reports Warren also wants to break up Apple. This, of course, makes sense given that Apple falls into the bucket of a platform utility with more than $25 billion in global annual revenues.
Specifically, Warren believes Apple should not be able to both run the Apple App Store and distribute apps in it.
“It’s got to be one or the other,” Warren told The Verge. “Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time.”
Warren’s proposal includes passing legislation to designate companies that offer marketplaces, exchanges or platforms for connecting third-parties with annual global revenues of more than $25 billion as “platform utilities.”
“These companies would be prohibited from owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform,” Warren wrote on Medium yesterday. “Platform utilities would be required to meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users. Platform utilities would not be allowed to transfer or share data with third parties.”
That would mean Amazon, for example, would not be able to sell its Amazon Basics line of products on its marketplace. Same goes for Apple, under Warren’s proposal.
“If you run a platform where others come to sell, then you don’t get to sell your own items on the platform because you have two comparative advantages,” Warren said. “One, you’ve sucked up information about every buyer and every seller before you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to sell. And second, you have the capacity — because you run the platform — to prefer your product over anyone else’s product. It gives an enormous comparative advantage to the platform.”
In a comment to TechCrunch, a spokesperson for Warren confirmed that Apple is indeed covered by her policy.
“They are above $25 billion in revenue and so they would have to structurally separate – choosing between, for example, running the App Store or offering their own apps,” the spokesperson said.