Dark Clouds over Apple: Is the App Store Monopoly Falling?


U.S. lawmakers have pulled out heavy weapons these weeks to limit the power of the nation’s big tech companies. To this end, no less than five bills have been drafted. If adopted, Amazon, Facebook, Google and, quite deliberately, Apple would be put on a leash. These laws would make it difficult for tech giants to take over startups, for example. Above all, companies must be prevented from exploiting their strengths in one area to gain an advantage in another.

Attacks in the political arena are not a new experience for Apple. So far, however, they have mostly come from Europe, not the United States. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager attacked the iPhone maker five years ago and tried to have an opaque tax deal between Ireland and Apple declared null and void as state aid prohibited. After all, it was a $ 13 billion tax backlog from Apple. However, Apple has surprisingly found an ally with the General Court of the European Union (CGE). In July 2020, the EU court declared illegal at first instance the European Commission’s additional request of 2016. Vestager, however, does not want to accept this defeat and appealed to the highest legal authority in the EU , the European Court of Justice (CJEC).

In the past, Apple has always been able to count on the support of the White House in this transatlantic tax dispute. The administration of Barack Obama and that of his successor Donald Trump have sided with the iPhone company. Trump could then see it as a national political success when the company announced in 2018 that it would bring the majority of its huge cash reserves home and pay taxes there. About $ 250 billion has flowed from overseas Apple accounts to the United States. Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin welcomed an unprecedented $ 38 billion tax payment, while tax offices in Europe and other countries largely went hands-on empty.

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