Store wars: When tech companies grouse about each other

Microsoft complains about Apple but maybe isn’t that wrong.


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Tech companies can really be the worst kind of people sometimes.

Here we are in the middle of a global pandemic and they’re snipping at each other.

“Microsoft told antitrust committee that Apple’s App Store is anticompetitive.”

Which is funny to those familiar with pots and kettles because Internet Explorer. But you don’t need to go back to the Bush administration to find antitrust complaints about Microsoft.

You just need to go back to Wednesday.

“Slack files competition complaint against Microsoft in the EU.”

While Slack has long claimed that Microsoft Teams isn’t one of its competitors, it now says:

“Microsoft is reverting to past behavior,” claims David Schellhase, general counsel at Slack. “They created a weak, copycat product and tied it to their dominant Office product, force installing it and blocking its removal…”

That certainly sounds like Microsoft but, as Ben Thompson points out (subscription), Slack is better at chat and Teams is better at integration (albeit integrating with Microsoft stuff). So they’re kinda both wrong.

The Macalope recently praised Microsoft for not trying to copy Apple and recognizing that it didn’t need to be in retail anymore. Then last week, just hours after Apple announced it would be carbon-neutral by 2030, Microsoft rushed to announce that it would be carbon-negative by 2030. So, there. And, also, its Canadian girlfriend who you haven’t met but totally exists, said it was the best kisser ever, better than Apple.

The Macalope gives it a day before Google says it’s going to be carbon impossible by 2030.

Now, nobody likes a snitch, but the Macalope actually thinks Microsoft is more right about Apple and the App Store than it is wrong.

Apple, doth protesting too much, hired some economists to say the App Store isn’t anti-competitive. That’s always a good sign, right? When you hire some economists? The Macalope can’t get through a Tuesday without hiring four or five economists just to validate that everything is going super great.

Say, friends, would you be surprised to learn that consignment stores often charge between 50 and 75 percent?! That’s significantly more than the App Store charges and is a real thing that’s mentioned in the paper produced by Apple’s hired economic guns. The Macalope thinks maybe they left something on the table by not mentioning the rates charged by mob-backed loan sharks. That’s gotta make the App Store seem good.

For some reason all this made the horny one think of other things Apple has published. Back in 2007, Steve Jobs wrote “Thoughts on Music”, in which he defended Apple’s refusal to license FairPlay to other companies but also said:

Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat.

While others did not, the Macalope believed him and it turned out to be true. Apple did ditch DRM for purchased songs. And then, of course, the whole argument was obviated when we all went back to DRM so we could just stream everything.

Humans! So dumb.

But the point is, Jobs wanted to do what was obviously the right thing. Apple should be leading like this again instead of defending the status quo. As the richest company in forever, it can afford to be just slightly less the richest.

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