Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, speaking at SXSW on Saturday, confirmed Apple is a target in her big tech breakup plan, first announced on Friday.
The Senator called out Apple’s App Store as an example of what would need to be broken away from the company to comply with her radical plan.
“Apple, you’ve got to break it apart from their App Store. It’s got to be one or the other,” Warren said when specifically asked about Apple. “Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time. So it’s the same notion.
When reminded by The Verge’s Nilay Patel that Apple’s total control of the App Store is how Apple keeps the platform secure, Warren did her best to dodge the question.
Well, are they in competition with others who are developing the products? That’s the problem all the way through this, and it’s it’s what you have to keep looking for.
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. One, you’ve sucked up information about every buyer and every seller before you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to 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.
None of the tech firms targeted by Warren – which include Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon – have as yet commented on Warren’s plan. The Senator hasn’t announced whether she’ll introduce the regulatory changes in the Senate now, or whether it is something she’d push for after the 2020 election. She will likely continue to push the idea in speeches as long as it appears to appeal to her base.
Although Warren didn’t callout Apple by name in her initial floating of the big tech breakup plan, it was made clear that Apple would be included in the scheme. CNBC confirmed that Warren is also looking to split Apple into pieces. Warren’s targets are companies with annual revenue in excess of $25 billion. Apple easily surpasses that amount each year.
Warren’s strong language will likely be toned down if she does grab her party’s nomination and she’ll need to appeal to middle-of-the-road voters. The plans will also become even more watered down once it comes time to try to pass the legislation.
Warren will likely not be the only candidate in the next two years to make Silicon Valley tech firms a target as they attempt to sway voters. Some “political leaders” are already referring to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and other tech firms as “Silicon Valley abusers.”