Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Apple Antitrust Probe – Responses to Congress [pdf] (house.gov)
108 points by feross 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments



Apple's answers repeatedly suggest that the reason they require third-party browsers to use WebKit and JavaScriptCore is for privacy and security:

> It is not our experience that competing web browsers have typically offered enhanced privacy or security that would protect users as adequately as our WebKit protections.

Google pioneered the out-of-process architecture that Safari now uses, developed the Safe Browsing program that Safari also uses, drove the adoption of HTTPS, put pressure on misbehaving certificate authorities and shepherded certificate pinning and then Certificate Transparency, and found many vulnerabilities in WebKit through security research that Apple was not itself doing.

Moreover, on the desktop, Chrome and Firefox both have automatic update channels that allow them to push out security fixes much more rapidly than Apple's heavy OS updates. (On iOS, they would be limited by Apple's App Store approval process.)

All this to say, I'm skeptical of the suggestion that a Blink-powered Chrome for iOS would not "protect users as adequately as our WebKit protections."

One thing to note: JavaScriptCore has special powers on iOS in that it can allocate new blocks of executable memory during just-in-time compilation, greatly improving its performance. A third-party JavaScript engine would be much slower without this ability, but granting the capability to third-party engines would jeopardize the security architecture of iOS.


Apple is plainly saying that they are best positioned to protect iOS users privacy and security. One way they do that is by not allowing any app to use anything other than WebKit. If there's a flaw in some alternative browser that iOS app developers now have a dependency on, Apple would be unable to do anything about it other than wait for that other browser vendor to ship an update.

>All this to say, I'm skeptical of the suggestion that a Blink-powered Chrome for iOS would not "protect users as adequately as our WebKit protections."

Maybe Google is excellent at updating their browser to address security issues, but Apple's concern isn't purely security. It's also privacy. And Safari's track record on privacy technologies is longer and better than everyone.

Furthermore, Apple sells integrated products. They don't sell operating systems, browsers, app stores, and NFC chips. They sell a finished good that incorporates all of those things and more. They take end to end responsibility for their products and it would be frankly uncharacteristic of Apple to have any other position than extreme self-reliance.


> Apple sells integrated products. They don't sell operating systems, browsers, app stores, and NFC chips. They sell a finished good

Microsoft didn't sell IE either, it too was once part of a package called Windows.


There's an important distinction though. Windows is a de facto monopoly in the sense that almost every PC built has Windows installed on it, but not all PCs built are by Microsoft.

Apple has always maintained that the physical object is tied to its software and vice versa, on the other hand. They have no interest in running on the vast majority of mobile devices (android handsets control the majority of smartphone market share by a wide margin). The only exception to this is when Apple is selling services, in which case they let you run iTunes on Windows and Apple Music on Android. It's not like you can install macOS or iOS in any supported method on a non-Apple product.


This is an irrelevant argument in a perspective of monopoly and its market definition. Even Apple itself gives a list of competing web browsers in the iOS ecosystem to refute App Store monopoly arguments, but this also strongly suggests that iOS and Safari are separate products and browsers in iOS itself is a competing market.

The only possible argument is that iOS is not in a dominant position in the smartphone market thus Apple cannot exercise monopolistic powers. But people doesn't change their phone because of web browser engine since its prohibitively expensive for this purpose. The result is that an Android phone doesn't work as an alternative for iPhone, thus iOS can be defined as a sole market for browser products (in terms of monopoly of course). This could've been solved if Apple allowed installation of other OS in iPhone, but they've made their choice a long time ago.


The key difference being that Microsoft was found to have market dominance and using that position anticompetitvely.


This. It wasn’t Microsoft having a “monopoly” (quotes because they weren’t by definition a monopoly), but then being anticompetitive.


> Furthermore, Apple sells integrated products. They don't sell operating systems, browsers, app stores, and NFC chips.

Well, yes, that is the battlefield here: should the market in software, services, and media exist, or should consumers have to pick which vertical silo to use and then be unable to switch without prohibitive re-purchasing and setup costs?


The iPhone is a PDA is a toaster. Splitting the software from the hardware is like splitting the coils from the chrome.

The consumer just wants perfectly consistently browned toast, while not dying from electrical shock or setting her house on fire. She’s not really buying a toaster, she’s buying no-hassle toast.

If you allow that’s what an iPhone is, rather than a general personal computing device, Apple’s stance makes more sense.


> The iPhone is a PDA is a toaster. Splitting the software from the hardware is like splitting the coils from the chrome. The consumer just wants perfectly consistently browned toast, while not dying from electrical shock or setting her house on fire. She’s not really buying a toaster, she’s buying no-hassle toast.

> If you allow that’s what an iPhone is, rather than a general personal computing device, Apple’s stance makes more sense.

But the iPhone is _not_ a toaster. To characterize the consumer wants around an iPhone and its variable uses as akin to the near uniform customer expectation to have a toaster that doesn't burn their house down while doing its job is hard for me to accept.

If a customer is really seeking "no hassle toast" when buying a toaster, what is the customer buying in an iPhone? No-hassle phone?

If so, are we construing "giving the consumer the option of installing software on their own device" as a hassle? With something like a phone, I believe users have come to expect the ability to install software of their choosing on the device, which is very different from expectations of software installation for something like a toaster.


User experience is vastly better in the vertical silo of Apple for 99% of my family members, especially the older ones and those who aren’t as versed in English or messing with their devices.

I have a mid 90s uneducated great grandmother who grew up and still is in a rural village in a poor country able to contact all of her great grandchildren and video chat with them for the past 7 years.


> If there's a flaw in some alternative browser that iOS app developers now have a dependency on, Apple would be unable to do anything about it other than wait for that other browser vendor to ship an update.

they could fix the bug iOS that allowed an app to escape it's sandbox. Exactly the same as every other OS including MacOS

one interpretation is they are claiming the are incompetent at securing iOS but somehow competent at securing Safari. Those seem like opposing statements. Either they are competent at both and so 3rd party browsers are fine or they are competent at neither and we need access to more competent browser teams.

I would like to believe they are competent and that their excuses are untrue. Otherwise we should go back to the world of no Firefox or Chrome because that same argument would apply to MacOS and Windows


> Safari's track record on privacy technologies is longer and better than everyone

Uhh... Mozilla Firefox anybody? If Apple cares about privacy so much then why don't they allow ad blockers on safari? I mean, even the Brave browser on iOS is better then Safari at blocking trackers and advertisements. Firefox also tells me how many trackers they have blocked and also give me the option to completely opt out of any telemetry data collection.


There is a content blocker API that has been available for a few years on both macOS and iOS, and there are third-party ad blockers that use it. 1Blocker is a popular one.

The design is more performant than holding each load up on a traditional browser extension's decision, and does not permit the content blocker to track your browsing history and then upload it somewhere.

It also conveniently allows Apple to get away with not providing a more flexible browser extension API while supporting the most common use case.

https://webkit.org/blog/3476/content-blockers-first-look/


Apple has had a content blocking framework on iOS for years that not only works with Safari, but also works with embedded web views that use the SafariViewController.


> why don't they allow ad blockers on safari?

They do. I am running Crystal right now on mobile Safari. I also have ad blockers on desktop Safari as well.


Safari has its problems: https://github.com/el1t/uBlock-Safari/issues/158

Though you can get some ad blockers which do less.


They do.


> Safari's track record on privacy technologies is longer and better than everyone.

Certainly I would say Apple is doing better on privacy than Google, but when it comes to the browser specifically, I don't think they're doing significantly better.

Google, for instance, pioneered Incognito mode (edit: nope, Safari beat them). They developed and deployed their privacy-preserving telemetry tool RAPPOR in Chrome a few years before Apple adopted the technology for anything. Chrome allowed you to configure DuckDuckGo as your default search engine pretty much from the beginning (as long as you did it manually), whereas Safari took years to allow it.

Safari has been slowly shutting out many forms of third-party extensions which are frequently for ad and tracker blocking. (To be fair Apple has a design that reduces the amount of trust you need to put in an ad blocker to see your browsing behavior, but it is far more limited, and likely sees far lower adoption.)

I do think Apple is prioritizing privacy-protecting features higher than Google is, so it would not surprise me to see Safari come ahead with features like Intelligent Tracking Prevention which conflict with Google's business interests.


I think there's an excellent case for Safari. It had private browsing in 2005, before Chrome even existed. It was the first to block third party cookies by default, and today only Chrome still allows them. It added DDG as an option in 2014, while Chrome added it only this year.


> It had private browsing in 2005

I stand corrected.

> It added DDG as an option in 2014, while Chrome added it only this year.

There's a nuance here. Apple's list of search engines comes from a cryptographically signed file which only they can modify. Chrome allowed you to manually configure DDG, but omitted it from the pre-configured list of search engines that included Bing and Yahoo!.


Interestingly, the ability to add a new search engine has been removed from Safari with the deprecation of legacy extensions.


It's true that you couldn't add it as an option to the fixed list, but in practice there were extensions that enabled it.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3770958 is a fun trip down memory lane.


>It was the first to block third party cookies by default

Which led to the FTC collecting a scalp for it.

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2012/08/googl...


Should mention that that’s Google paying a fine, not Apple. Your wording makes it sound like it’s the latter.


I agree that Chrome would protect users' security (privacy is a different issue). But that's one browser, not an arbitrary browser. Could you allow Chrome without allowing other browsers with lesser pedigree?

Keep in mind that several of Congress' questions are asking whether Apple provides privileged access to favored partners.


> Could you allow Chrome without allowing other browsers with lesser pedigree?

Sure, you could have security auditing standards required for apps with certain functionality, including browsers, and apply them in a neutral manner across vendors. That might structurally favor larger firms, but wouldn't favor partners.


I read Apple's responses as "We want to protect the reputation of a brand of device which is marketed as user friendly, secure and private". If they open up the device to allowing anyone to deploy buggy software on, there will be a greater incidence of headlines similar to "iPhones with XYZ browser can be hacked!!", impacting the overall brand reputation for Apple products.


It’s not like one of Chrome’s updates completely hosed Macs....

https://support.google.com/chrome/thread/15235262?hl=en


what is your point? Apple's own bugs deleted entire hard drives.

https://www.wired.com/2001/11/glitch-in-itunes-deletes-drive...


Wow. From 2001?


It hosed macs that had SIP disabled and /var world-writable. Not that that's an excuse, but few machines were affected by this.


The point being that users can’t just trust apps from reputable sources. Even if not being purposefully malicious, third parties get sloppy.


I'm fairly sure Apple's security spin comes exclusively from the fact that apps on the App Store cannot dynamically allocate executable memory.


I think you got that backwards.

apple is blocking exec flag on mmap'ed blocks because of security concerns.

Malware _relies_ on that ability to avoid static analysis.


Is that not what I said?


The way you phrased it can be interpreted as the inability to allocate executable memory is for unrelated reasons but is being “spun” as a security plus post-hoc, rather than the conscious consequence of a decision to prioritize security.

The block on allocating executing memory flows from the security concern, rather than security “spin” flowing from the allocation restriction.


The risk should be up to the consumer to take imho.


That worked so well for Android and Windows....


I mean, it did? Right now on Android or Windows, you have multiple different high-quality browsers you can pick from (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Brave, etc), and because they all have to compete with each other, they're continually improving the user experience. In particular, Firefox and Brave have been able to add improved privacy protections by modifying the rendering engine, which isn't possible on iOS.


I’m more replying to the entire notion that the user should be able to determine whether they are using secure software instead of the operating system enforcing it.

How will the user know whether software is secure?

But you actually trust Google to protect people’s privacy?


Seems to be working for MacOS


Only because hardly anyone bothers to write malware for the Mac.


This also renders iOS devices useless for even basic browsing after the OS updates ends. Where as, a 7 year old Android device which hasn't received any OS updates can still use latest Firefox with regular updates.


This is a outright lie by Apple. They know other entities are capable of browser security. See:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/google-iphone-hack-discovered-m...


How in the world can an opinion be a lie?

They didn't objectively state that other entities aren't capable of it. They literally said they felt those companies wouldn't protect their users as well as them.


> It is not our experience that competing web browsers have typically offered enhanced privacy or security that would protect users as adequately as our WebKit protections.

Per the article I shared, there ARE competitors to Apple that rival their privacy and security skills. Those competitors have helped Apple improve. It is an outright lie for Apple to say "it is not our experience..."

I get that my argument is mostly pedantic, but even as an "opinion" it only holds if Apple is delusional.


Google has proven that they cannot maintain even a MacOS browser by hosing Macs via their update mechanism.


> Why did Apple decide to build its own maps application rather than continue to use Google Maps to power the maps applications on iPhones?

I don't get it: why hassle them over their underdog competitor? Laud them for daring to compete against the market leader. Focus the argument about the walled garden and right-to-repair instead.

Apple and Google should license the ability to create third-party app stores, or be compelled to do so. Perhaps that could come with terms on auditing apps and a process for resolving differences of opinion on whether an app is legitimate/safe/acceptable (with a standard like "poses a risk to device or owner's privacy/data").


> I don't get it: why hassle them over their underdog competitor? Laud them for daring to compete against the market leader. Focus the argument about the walled garden and right-to-repair instead.

Because they gave themselves an edge when competing against Google by not allowing Maps all of the same capabilities from start. And to do that, they abused their OS and store to block GMaps from having same capabilities as AMaps. Even today, GMaps isn't allowed to be the default maps provider.

No customer wishing for a healthy free market should approve of this.


That’s not what happened. Google didn’t allow Apple to use turn by turn directions without Apple giving Google more telemetry from its users.


That's also not what happened. I was on the Google Maps team at the time and the issues were far deeper and more problematic than "not getting telemetry" which was at any rate, not an issue - what sort of "telemetry" do you think a Maps app could report that isn't search queries or tile requests? Maps apps are just rendering frontends for giant server farms after all. Claiming it's about telemetry is just Apple propaganda.

The real problem was that Apple wrote the Google Maps app, and wasn't willing to cooperate with Google on it at all. Literally, they demanded some basic protocol specs and then wrote the app themselves. This led to several problems:

1. They refused to tell Google what changes they were making to their app, which led to:

2. Repeatedly screwing up their implementation in ways that very seriously threatened the stability of the entire Google Maps services (think: slamming the servers with way more traffic than any reasonable implementation should).

Apple love to claim the best results arise from integrating hardware, software and services. Well, guess what, that logic works in both directions: by preventing even basic cooperation between the Apple team writing the GMaps app, and the rest of the GMaps team, they created massive problems. Especially because at this time Apple engineering had no serious experience with large online services ... MobileMe was a disaster ... and so they kept making basic mistakes no Google team would ever make. They also refused Google's help to stop making them.

3. The GMaps team was much larger and better funded than the iOS team, so iOS rapidly fell behind the featureset available on Android and the web. Google attempted to fix this by writing their own GMaps app, which Apple then blocked on the grounds it was competitive with their own (this was back when they had this policy).

Basically the relationship was antagonistic from the start from Apple's side, and rapidly spiralled downhill as Google's own services accelerated away from what Apple was capable of.

The whole Apple schtick that Google was desperate to violate privacy or get telemetry is just an advertising attack angle: it shouldn't work on the sort of people who read Hacker News. Apple Maps is architecturally identical to Google Maps, after all.


I happen to know the other side of this. I get the impression from your post that we were probably looking at the same thing, just from very different angles. I think there were aspects to it that you either weren’t privy to or just couldn’t see from where you sat.

I don’t think anyone involved in this from Apple still works there anymore, and it’s been 10-11 years now so probably not even Apple itself really knows all the details at this point. From what I’ve heard the same may be true at Google; these stories are basically folklore to the current crop of the Maps team there.

In any case, as I recall it, advertising data and location tracking absolutely were sticking points. It’s possible you weren’t part of those aspects or you just saw it differently than Apple did.

On the other hand, this was all before Apple had a public marketing campaign around user privacy. The antagonism in the relationship around Maps also predated any discussion with Google of location data or ads and it arose from Android. Jobs saw Android as an attempt to copy the iPhone, and this lead to mistrust of Google in all things.

With that perspective, maybe you can start to see the other side of it. Apple didn’t want to let slip any detail of upcoming iPhone features because the concern was about them being copied in Android. While the G Maps folks gave lip service initially to being separate from Android and the idea that features wouldn’t be held back from Apple to benefit Android (and this was true initially, eg with Street View), Apple folks didn’t believe that would last.

And I think it didn’t last. As time went on, the Apple perspective was that Google was asking for things that were anathema, just so Google could point to them and say this is why you aren’t getting vector data or nav, but only as a pretext in the larger war of being able to use Maps as a competitive advantage for Android.


Yes, that's all probably true. I didn't delve into the wider politics of the iPhone vs Android wars but that was certainly a part of the reason for Apple not working closer with the Maps team.

It's unfortunate that Android became something of a self-fulfilling prophecy in this regard. It was created largely because of the experience of Maps trying to make mobile clients in a fragmented space with poor APIs (J2ME, Symbian, etc). Then Apple effectively took over the frontends of Google's most important services and in many ways did it much worse than the Maps team themselves did, but the popularity of the iPhone rendered much of their work useless. Google didn't at that time care about phones with the same burning passion Jobs did: Android was first and foremost a strategic play. Many Googlers, even senior Googlers, were happy to be seen using and praising their iPhones. But the inverse was also true: Jobs didn't care about Maps with the same passion that Brin & Page did. It should have been possible to forge a genuine collaboration, there were certainly no technical barriers.

Unfortunately Jobs' bizarre and self-destructive belief that the iPhone should effectively never have serious competition put both companies on the path to ultimate divorce. Users are still feeling the effects of that today. His paranoia about other companies copying them was also misplaced: as far as Maps were concerned the problem was rather the opposite; Google wasn't copying Apple's features, Apple was copying Google's features, but only after much pressure and negotiation!

Apple also had a schizophrenic attitude to advertising: their total refusal to integrate ads into iOS Maps meant that Google was destined to bleed vast sums of money on mobile maps forever, and the more popular the iPhone became, the more money they'd bleed. This was no strong principle as Apple tried to launch its own ad network which sucked and was quickly forgotten about, so it looked a lot like some sort of psycho "revenge" for Android - a project which had been initiated before the iPhone project itself had. Jobs seemed to believe that the moment he announced the iPhone Android should have been cancelled and anyone not willing to pay his steep prices abandoned to J2ME feature phones for good.

Very, very few companies would be willing to tolerate another company totally controlling the entire user interface of their online service, blocking their only revenue stream and in an environment with almost no cooperation (i.e. Google would find out about what features Apple had added at about the same time everyone else did). Although it was understandable in the very first versions of their Maps app were written in house whilst the APIs and product were still baking, it became less and less tenable with time. Separate apps was the obvious way to resolve that problem, but Apple forbade that too.

If I recall correctly the straw that broke the camel's back was actually social. Google at the time was desperately concerned about Facebook. They worried that Facebook was an existential threat to the popularity of their services because Facebook had social features and Google didn't. So it tried to add social stuff to everything. This wasn't about Apple at all, it was all about Facebook, but Apple point-blank refused to add any social features to their app. I don't know why not, probably they felt it was a poor use of resources (which it would have been), but that was what triggered Google to write their own frontend app which then got banned.

Up until that point Android had been seen to a large extent as a way to drag the rest of the phone industry into the post-iPhone age, rather than something specifically designed to go after Apple. There was no shame in senior Googler executives using iPhones. But Google saw the fate of Maps as a sign of the dystopian future awaiting them, in a world where Jobs controlled access to users with an iron fist. After that Android was ramped up significantly. It was in my view a huge strategic error by Jobs. Very few companies were able to make software competitive with theirs: Google was basically the only one. If Apple hadn't blocked Google from upgrading its services, it's very plausible Android would have pivoted more strongly into the budget/low end space Apple didn't care about anyway. Social-in-maps put paid to that idea and resulted in Android becoming an OS that is a match for iOS in every respect.


their total refusal to integrate ads into iOS Maps meant that Google was destined to bleed vast sums of money on mobile maps forever, and the more popular the iPhone became, the more money they'd bleed.

Google wasn’t giving Apple access to the Maps data for free. They were paying for it.

If Apple hadn't blocked Google from upgrading its services, it's very plausible Android would have pivoted more strongly into the budget/low end space Apple didn't care about anyway.

Android is in the budget/low end space. The average selling price of an Android phone is about 1/3 of an iPhone and Apple makes about 80% of the profit in mobile.

but that was what triggered Google to write their own frontend app which then got banned.

Google’s app was never “banned”. There were plenty of third party map apps when iOS 6 was introduced. iOS 6 was introduced in September 2012. Google Maps for iOS was released in December of 2012. Are you saying that Google wanted to release a separate maps app when Apple was still using Google maps before iOS 6?


Android is in the budget/low end space.

Yes, and it's also in the high end iPhone competing space. We're not talking about prices here, we're talking about whether the devices have competitive specs and functionality.

Android dominates globally, even in the USA and on the top-end devices where Apple is strongest.

Are you saying that Google wanted to release a separate maps app when Apple was still using Google maps before iOS 6?

Yes, long before. We're going way back here.


We're not talking about prices here, we're talking about whether the devices have competitive specs and functionality.

Not really, the majority of Android phones are slower than iPhones. In fact, it wasn’t until 2018 that high end Samsung phones were faster in single core performance than the 2015 6S.

Android definitely doesn’t “dominate” on the top end by any definition - sales or profits.

Isn’t it a Pyrrhic victory to sell millions of devices and make no money from them? Of course we have no way of knowing how the Chinese brands are doing.

Yes, long before. We're going way back here.

There is an existence proof that this wasn’t true. It wasn’t until the 3GS/iOS 3 that Apple allowed any app to have real time turn by turn directions. There were plenty of third party Maps apps that had turn by turn directions by iOS 4 in 2010. So Apple explicitly banned Google but allowed other Maps apps?


You are incredibly sure you know more about this than me, despite the fact that I was there and saw it all unfold from the inside. Yes, Apple blocked Google's maps app. That's why when Latitude launched, it launched as a web app on iOS despite having a much inferior user experience to a native app.

As for people making no money off of Android phones, come on, are you serious? That's completely delusional iOS fandom: Samsung alone makes around $2.5 billion a quarter off of their mobile division. The idea that Apple is the only one making mobile profits is bizarre and wrong, but also strange for another reason: why would customers want Apple to make huge profits? That's good only for Apple shareholders and bad for iPhone users, who have (as far as I recall) never seen prices fall despite the actual hardware becoming massively cheaper. Someone is a sucker here, but it isn't anyone buying or selling Android phones!


The GMaps team was much larger and better funded than the iOS team, so iOS rapidly fell behind the featureset available on Android and the web. Google attempted to fix this by writing their own GMaps app, which Apple then blocked on the grounds it was competitive with their own (this was back when they had this policy)

Since the integrated map apps didn’t have turn by turn directions, there were plenty of 3rd party apps that were in the App Store. I used MapQuest. This was during the iOS 4 era.

Apple had a policy that no maps app could use turn by turn directions until iOS 3 or 4.

I’m of course in no position to know the technical details of the Apple Maps/Google Maps spat. But the negotiations as far as licensing wasn’t happening on the engineering level - it was happening on much higher levels of the org chart. Are you sure you had the entire political picture?


But now Apple is disadvantages competing maps apps by making all maps links open in Apple Maps. It sucks. As a Google Maps user I have tons of labels and bookmarks in Google Maps. When I click a maps link in any iOS app I get shuffled over to Apple Maps and then have to try to find a way to manually copy the address over to Google Maps so I can add a bookmark and access it in other places.


The healthy free market can choose Android if they want.


> Apple and Google should license the ability to create third-party app stores...

I though Google already allows third-party app stores?


Yes, but they can't auto update without root. A feature that's virtually essential when you're managing a ton of apps.


A fair platform provider would not compete with the businesses on its platform, they would be an unbiased referee. Platform providers are able to snoop on the behavior of their users, unlike any other businesses. So they have an unfair advantage when they compete. If we continue to allow platform providers to publish products on their own platforms we are moving away from fair market competition. Business platforms, like investment exchanges, should be regulated.


So Apple should develop the OS with no experience at all of developing applications?

That simply won’t work.


Interesting non-answer:

>29. For each year since 2009, what is the total amount that Apple has accepted from Google for the right to be the default search engine in Safari and in any other Apple products or services? Please identify the amount accepted from Google in total and broken down by each Apple product.

>Apple’s search agreement with Google generates revenue based on referral traffic through the URL/search box on Apple’s Safari browser. Although Google search is set as the default, this can be changed in settings on iPhone to another search engine, such as Yahoo!, Microsoft Bing and DuckDuckGo. Consumers may also conduct searches on search apps available through the App Store, searches performed on the web (through the search engine’s web portal), or through virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana or Alexa that are available to users on our platform.


It's possible they gave different answers privately and requested for exact numbers not to be released publicly. Seems likely based on reading Amazon's reply to the same committee, which also didn't give specific numbers to some questions requesting specifics.


I'd imagine there's some complicated SEC-related reason why they can't provide specific numbers w.r.t revenue


That would be fine as far as it goes, but stuffing unrelated information in the answer is weasely.


How can they so blatantly not answer the question even a little and get away with it?


They sort of do answer the question, they aren't accepting money from Google for the right to be the default search engine. They are accepting a portion of search revenue for searches made through Google via Safari. This incentivises them to make Google the homepage even if it is not an explicit requirement of the deal.

Definitely a sneaky way to do it but it could be completely true.


The question could've been better phrased; something like "what is the total amount that Apple has accepted from Google for a traffic acquisition purpose?"


> users have many alternative third-party browsers they can download from the App Store.

This answer is misleading at best, bordering on lying. I define "browser" as inclusive of the engine used to render web pages.


To Apple's credit, they do talk about Webkit being the only engine a few questions later.


Only when forced in response to some very pointed questions. That doesn't make the first answer true if you understand that the engine is a vital part of a web browser and a source of competitive advantage.


> Only when forced to in response to some very pointed questions.

They weren't asked these questions one at a time.


They weren't, but they answered as if they were, not considering the obvious implications of the fourth question when answering the first.


No. Your definition of a browser is wrong, and is what leads to your conclusions.


+1. They bend this definition so much.

When it comes to uninstalling, they're talking about the engine, calling it a "core part of iOS".

When it comes to browsers, then yeah, the shell around the engine IS the browser.


I had the same reaction! And the ones asking the question, seems to already have known the answer, because there is a more fleshed out question and answer later in the document (question 4).


This is incorrect [1] - they block questions on independent repair from Apple forums.

> Does Apple take any actions to block consumers from seeking out or using repair shops that offer a broader range of repairs than those offered by authorized technicians? If yes, describe each action that Apple takes and the reason for doing so.

Apple does not take any actions to block consumers from seeking out or using repair shops that offer a broader range of repairs than those offered by Apple’s authorized technicians. Customers are free to obtain repairs from any repair shop of their choice.

[1] https://www.cultofmac.com/620124/apple-support-forum-jessa-j...


Just a couple of months ago I called Apple to get my 2012 MacBook Air repaired. Apple wouldn't touch it because of its age, but gave me a list of independent repair shops in my area that would fix it.

If Apple blocks people from getting independent repairs, when why are there Apple authorized repair third-party repair shops?


Did you read the link in the comment you're replying to?


Interesting that it starts off with the advantages Apple gives Safari, as similar browser issues were a focus of the antitrust proceedings against Microsoft.


In Microsoft's case, the free and privileged position of IE was specifically chosen to prevent the success of a competitor (Netscape) whose product created the potential for cross-platform applications (enterprise, early web applications). IE deliberately implemented some things counter to the specifications in order to be incompatible with the spec (and thus spec-conformant browsers) forcing developers to select their target platform. IE's substantial market position meant that more people supported it (thus all the sites that were IE-only, and some still are because banks and governments suck at IT). MS spent hundreds of millions (if not over a billion, it's been a while since I read the reports on the subject) to give away a product that would cripple a competitor's position. Netscape, though, wasn't the only target of MS's action. By doing this, they helped ensure Windows dominance would continue. Enterprises considering, or using, other operating systems but wanting to advance the state of their IT systems (that is, adopting web-based solutions) would find themselves in the same conundrum. Implement to the standards and use any OS, or implement to IE and support one OS that was already dominant within the corporation.

This worked to effectively reduce the potential market position (in businesses and for consumers) of alternate OSes to Windows.

Of course, that's not the only thing MS did. The full report of the anti-trust case was pretty interesting. There were many things MS did beyond just the browser. They favored OEMs who exclusively sold Windows-based computers with lower OEM pricing, but if they attempted to use another OS then they were threatened with increased licensing costs (this was a large part of what killed BeOS's momentum).

While many people remember and focus on the browser, it was only one piece of the whole case. To draw a comparison, you'd need to demonstrate that Apple's Safari-only (or really Safari + limited WebKit-only) policy is taking advantage of its substantial market share (currently iOS is sitting at something like 55-57% market share in the US, so it isn't actually that substantial a lead) to harm its competitors. And you'd have to place that in the context of other abuses of market share position.


Forcing WebKit-only enables Apple to selectively disable key features in all browsers on iOS, preventing web apps from competing against FaceTime (WebRTC, Fullscreen API) or iMessages (Service Workers).

Instead they need to go through the App Store, driving up development costs (the Swift learning and/or contractors) and decreasing potential competition.


> For each year since 2009, the costs of providing repair services has exceeded the revenue generated by repairs.

Huh, that one kinda surprised me.


2009 - 2012 would be the period where nVidia had badly-soldered GPUs affecting everyone's laptops, this was an expensive repair period for many manufacturers. Air bubbles in the solder would eventually disrupt the electrical flow, I think it was just the one year of devices but a year or so passed before anyone was affected.

https://codingfreak.blogspot.com/2009/04/beware-of-nvidia-gr...

Then in 2013 Apple started soldering/joining everything which made all the repairs more expensive.

Then in 2016 Apple had to start paying for the artificially expensive repairs themselves because of the butterfly keyboard fiasco, popping speakers, broken display cables etc.

They probably really have lost money but they don't mention it's their own fault and at this point it's really just tied to the free keyboard replacement program which ends in 1 - 2 years for the worst-affected models.


It wasn't just Nvidia GPUs. The early 2011 MBP failures all had ATI GPUs.


Do their "costs" include warranty repairs?


Do their “costs” include overpriced parts destined to move money offshore? For example in the film industry, it is common to promise actors a share of benefits, then create a subsidiary for the movie, charge it insane amounts for the producing company’s services (brand, distribution), so that the movie may be a loss even if its revenue is 3 times the production costs. Of course the head company deserves to be paid, but discussing how much a service or a part is worth, beyond its marginal manufacturing price, is the whole question.


At our office all of the macbooks have had to go back multiple times this year because of broken keyboards. And because of the way apple designs their laptops this means binning most of the laptop to fix a faulty key.


They are probably losing money on the services provided by Apple Care, but making money on regular repairs.


Honest question as an owner of a current iPad with an active Apple Care subscription on it. What services do you actually get from Apple Care? My last Macbook did not have apple care and was like 6 years old, and I would still go into the Apple store and they would reinstall my OS from scratch for free. The only real perks I see from Apple Care is that it only costs you like $70 to get a broken part repaired instead of like $500 in the case of the screen/digitizer.


AppleCare+ now covers accidental damage. It's very expensive, but repairs without it are even more so.

My wife's 13" MBP was destroyed by a 6oz coffee (while closed). That was a $3k mistake. If I had AppleCare+, it would have been 'repaired' for a total cost of $700.


Apple should be punished for their nasty monopolistic behavior with banning competing browsers. MS didn't get away with doing even less than that in the past, so Apple for sure shouldn't either. They were running amok with this garbage for too long.

By banning competing browsers, Apple also has leverage on broader adoption of JavaScript features and related technologies which they oppose. For example they refuse to implement Media Source Extensions, which allows them to sabotage wider usage of DASH, because they are pushing their own HLS. If that's not an anti-competitive behavior punishable by anti-trust, what is?


> WebKit is an open-source web engine that allows Apple to enable improvements contributed by third parties. Instead of having to supply an entirely separate browser engine (with the significant privacy and security issues this creates), third parties can contribute relevant changes to the WebKit project for incorporation into the WebKit engine.

All other big browser engines are open-source too, but let's not mention that bit.


Apple seems to have given non-answers, or entirely avoided, several questions on here. Is this par for the course on probes, was information redacted, or are there going to be consequences for Apple here?


To my knowledge, this is Congress asking questions, not sending a subpeona. Participation at this stage is still voluntary, and mostly consists of political posturing.

If Congress wishes to pursue it, they have legal tools where cooperation is non-optional. The current conversation is part of the song-and-dance where Apple tries to avoid that by offering something resembling cooperation, but on their own terms. Many of the questions are meant to answer the question "if we conduct a probe for realsies, who will be the winner?" rather than the question-as-asked.


Compare to Amazon's at https://docs.house.gov/meetings/JU/JU05/20190716/109793/HHRG...

My guess is for questions asking for a specific number and that wasn't given, the details were submitted privately, but the ones that are just spinning an answer did not have private submissions.


It is interesting to see Apple use the exact same line of defense that Microsoft did with IE back in the day: the browser is an integral part of the OS (leading to the infamous 'Ham Sandwich' quote [1]). Note also that Microsoft did allow full-stack competing browsers, whereas Apple does not.

[1] http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=199...


> iPhone users cannot set another browser as the default browser. Safari is one of the apps that Apple believes defines the core user experience on iOS, with industry-leading security and privacy features. As noted in response to Question 1, Safari is an “operating system app,” like the Phone, Camera and iMessage, which are designed to work together.

The third sentence does not follow from the first two, and does not answer the question.

> For each year since 2009, what is the total amount that Apple has accepted from Google for the right to be the default search engine in Safari and in any other Apple products or services? Please identify the amount accepted from Google in total and broken down by each Apple product.

> Apple’s search agreement with Google generates revenue based on referral traffic through the URL/search box on Apple’s Safari browser. Although Google search is set as the default, this can be changed in settings on iPhone to another search engine, such as Yahoo!, Microsoft Bing and DuckDuckGo. Consumers may also conduct searches on search apps available through the App Store, searches performed on the web (through the search engine’s web portal), or through virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana or Alexa that are available to users on our platform.

I like how Apple answered exactly zero parts of this question :/


> Safari is one of the apps that Apple believes defines the core user experience on iOS...

Is this not the same argument Microsoft made about Internet Explorer?


Well, I’d answer so much yes, but if we condemn them to the same penalty as Microsoft, it’s gonna be 0.00.

Penalties were dropped I think in the wake of September 11, 2001.


> I like how Apple answered exactly zero parts of this question :/

I think they did—at least, they answered the letter of the question, not the spirit of the question.

Q: what is the total amount that Apple has accepted from Google for the right to be the default search engine in Safari

A: $0, since Google doesn't pay Apple to be the default search engine. Instead, Safari "generates revenue based on referral traffic through the URL/search box on Apple’s Safari browser". So Apple gets a cut of Google's revenue, not a payment for being the default search engine.

Of course, that leaves open the possibility that Apple's cut of the revenue depends on whether they're the default search engine or not. I would guess it does.


Of course: they are trying to set the narrative on this. They are trying to make the argument that Safari is like the other "operating system apps" that they don't allow you to change. I don't like that they're doing it, but it's less about answering the questions and more about framing it as though they aren't engaging in anti-competitive practices.


I'm currently dealing with the insanity of thinking about deploying my app on the app store.

The biggest challenge I have is the fact that I can't put a PWA (progress web app) in the app store.

Google allows you to do it in the play store. They even have a library (trusted web application) that you can use to bridge your web app to an android app and distribute it into the app store.

I DO appreciate that there are technical reasons why Apple and users would find this less than ideal but this is 90% due to apple being non-competitive.

I could even understand and have sympathy for Apple had a way to side-load 3rd party apps.

... but you can't even do that. Users have NO control over their phone and Apple has completely locked down the ecosystem.

They need to be broken up...


Don't really wanna bite, but you got me.

How would you even break up apple?


Why? People can just buy Android.


#7 is a little off IMO. Perhaps Apple does not earn revenue from the app itself, but it still earns revenue from the developer in the form of Dev License(s).


$99/year is not even a rounding error on their balance sheet though


But in the latest WWDC they announced they have 20 million licensed developer, 20.000.000 x 99 = 1.980.000.000 license fee.

ref : https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/04/app-store-hits-20m-registe...


Anyone can register an account on developer.apple.com, for free. I doubt there are 20 mil paid accounts for the developer portal.


I have to say I'm quite impressed by the quality and precision of the questions in this document. Who in Congress wrote this questionnaire?


As someone with a business idea that is DOA on mobile without a browser extension (or ability to change OS default https handler to an extension-supporting browser), I really hope something comes of this.


No employee non-compete? I'm surprised.


Non-compete is illegal in California.


Well, non-enforceable.


It's a relevant distinction. You're still allowed to put non-compete clauses into your contracts, even though they don't do anything. Many companies put such clauses in their contracts, either because they have a nation-wide template, or because the threat of litigation is valuable to them.


Apple's closed and exclusive ecosystem is a product in itself.

As long as users can choose different computers (PCs) and phones (Android) there is no monopoly problem.


You’re right about the first. The argument can be made for the second, but many reasonable people disagree about bundling/preferential treatment being anticompetitive.


tldr; Apple does everything it does in the name of Privacy and Security, because users can only trust Apple and everything that's not Apple is a potential vector of attack.




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: