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Apple Inc.: The biggest economical dictator of all?

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.” I happened to come across this famous quote by Rob Siltanen, director of Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign (1997). The ‘you’ in the quote is referring to Apple, the – market value speaking – largest company in the world. When this ‘Think Different’ campaign, that was centered around this quote, was being held in 1997, a lot of people started to associate Apple as being one big dictatorship, since they stated that they are the ones who change things. Now, in 2019, Apple might actually truly be the economical dictator people associated them with.

Tension between Apple and other big companies

Spotify, currently the biggest company in the music streaming industry, accused Apple for ‘discriminatory, unfair business practices’. They have filed a complaint with the European Union, stating that Apple has policies in their ‘App store’ that violate competition laws. Spotify says that Apple created certain policies in such a way that they can squash companies that try to compete with their services, in this case Apple music. According to the European antitrust laws, this is not allowed. Spotify is not the only company that heavily disagrees with the policies of Apple.

Fees

The main problem of the companies that offer products through Apple’s App store is that Apple takes a massive cut of the earnings made with these products. For example, Spotify offers a premium subscription on their app, which allows users to have a better music listening experience. According to Spotify, per premium subscription that a customer buys on an Apple device, Apple takes 30% (!) of the total earnings. Spotify might be able to financially manage this, but for smaller companies this can be a very big problem. Therefore, they say that something needs to change, so that companies like Apple can’t control the entire market and limit other companies chances.

Apple’s position-abuse

One question that might arise is that why these companies don’t just stop offering their products through Apple’s services. The answer to this is simple: financially, they can’t. Apple has millions of users and thus millions of potential customers for these companies. According to Spotify, Apple knows this and abuses this on a level that is non-acceptable. Senator Elizabeth Warren states that Spotify’s complaint is just the latest example of what can happen when these enormous companies abuse their power to undermine competition. She pledges for a separation between app stores and companies that use these app stores on their software.

Dictatorship on the work floor

Apple is not only known for it’s debatable economical position. Many ex-Apple workers say that the work floor of Apple can also be compared with a dictatorship. They state that the management of several departments within Apple demanded ridiculous things that weren’t described in their contract. Some examples are disrespect, constant tension, extreme work pressure and unpaid extra hours. The most famous in regards to the constant tension on the work floor is the ‘don’t get in the elevator with Steve Jobs’ story: whenever you’d meet Steve Jobs in the elevator and told something he completely disliked, you would be fired. This was never actually proven, but because of this rumor Apple workers started to prepare questions just in case they’d meet Steve Jobs in the elevator. This just shows how much the workers looked up against their ‘great leader’.

Do keep in mind that none of the things stated above about Apple’s ‘dictatorship’ on the work floor has actually been proven true. Apple has very strict rules when it comes to bringing out information from inside. They state that they do this to so that other companies can’t copy their ‘magical way of working’, but ex-Apple workers say they have it to prevent their ridiculous working conditions from being released to the public.

Conclusion

Apple most certainly has typical ‘dictatorish’ aspects, but because of their strict rules it’s very hard to determine whether they’re actually true or not. What is true is that Spotify made a legal complaint against Apple for showing economical behavior that goes out of bounds. From my position, I do understand why Apple exploits their economical position: they are the market leader and thus the decision maker. I can also understand why you wouldn’t agree with this way of acting, since then other companies don’t stand a chance. What do you think: is Apple going too far?

Sources:

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/03/addressing-spotifys-claims/

https://www.engadget.com/2019/03/13/spotify-apple-complaint-eu-app-store/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2017/04/26/apple-appstore-guidelines-iphone-ios/


Dit artikel is geschreven door Lars Beute

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