Tim CookSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • A high-profile investor has warned Apple it should compromise with antitrust regulators.
  • Roger McNamee says Apple should rethink its approach before lawmakers step in and undermine its security and privacy.

Silicon Valley investor and commentator Roger McNamee has warned Apple it should compromise with antitrust regulators before they step in and undermine the company's security and privacy advantage.

Writing in Time McNamee stated:

Unless Apple rethinks its approach, regulators will likely have no choice but to undermine its advantage in privacy and security. As a customer, that will piss me off. As an activist trying to reform the tech industry, it will leave me wondering what might have been. I would like to suggest a path to a better outcome.

McNamee says that Apple is an "easy target" for regulators because of its size and the public attention it has received in recent months. McNamee says that regulators want to reduce fees and eliminate anticompetitive behavior, but can't do this without collateral damage by enabling competing app stores causing "irreparable harm to the security and privacy that are Apple's core differentiation."

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McNamee claims the solution for Apple is to reach out to regulators, helping differentiate itself from Amazon, Google, and Facebook which are much bigger threats, according to him. By making small concessions not to favor its own apps and by ending bundling, it could retain some control and leverage:

I do not recommend that Apple offer these changes unilaterally, but should reach out to House Antitrust Subcommittee Chair David Cicilline and perhaps the top antitrust people at the FTC and DOJ to see if they are open to compromise; a deal with U.S. regulators could even be sold to European counterparts. More importantly, a cooperative Apple would be a friend to regulators, who would benefit from support from a tech leader.

Apple faces antitrust battles on multiple fronts over its App Store, including its in-app purchase structure, rate of commission, and the terms applied to its developers as part of agreements.