Top antitrust U.S. senator says Apple’s AirTags news is “timely”

Apple introduced AirTag, in this photo from the introductory video of a special event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, released on April 20, 2021. Apple Inc./Handout via REUTERS.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Senate’s top Democratic party on antitrust issues, said Apple’s announcement to introduce an AirTag tracking device was “timely,” as it was a behavior her council planned to discuss at Wednesday’s hearing.

Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) announced on Tuesday that it will begin selling AirTags, which can be attached to items like car keys, to make them easier for users to find when they get lost. The move puts Apple in direct competition with Tile, which has been selling a similar tracking device for more than a decade. read more

Apple CEO Kyle Andeer will testify at the hearing, as will Kirsten Daru, general advisor to Tile.

“It’s timely, considering that we will discuss this type of behavior at the hearing,” Klobuchar said, adding that the criticism of Apple’s and Google’s app stores did not get the insight they deserved. “It focused on this a little less than I think it should have.”

Apple said its AirTags are an offshoot of its “FindMy” app, which is used to locate lost Apple devices and share user locations and was introduced in 2010, before Tile was founded. Apple opened its operating system to independent item finders last month and said Chipolo, a startup competing with Tile and Apple’s new AirTags, uses the system.

“We have always embraced competition as the best way to achieve great experiences for our customers, and we have worked hard to build a platform in iOS that allows independent developers to thrive,” Apple said in a statement.

Others on the witness list include senior Google government affairs director Wilson White, Spotify chief legal officer Horacio Gutierrez and Match Group chief legal officer Jared Sine. read more

App makers like music streaming service Spotify and app Match have long complained that the mandatory revenue sharing and strict inclusion rules set by the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPad, along with Google’s Play Store for Android devices, constitute uncompetitive behavior.

In its testimony, Match’s Sine is expected to claim that Google and Apple realize 30% of any digital transaction, raising prices for consumers.

Match pays the App Store nearly $ 500 million a year, which is the company’s largest single expense, Sine plans.

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