Apple CEO Tim Cook says monopolies aren't bad if they aren't abused

REUTERS/Kevin LamarqueApple CEO Tim Cook.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended the existence of monopolies in business, saying “a monopoly by itself isn’t bad if it’s not abused.”
  • Cook made the remark in a wide-ranging interview with Nikkei Asian Review on Wednesday, at the same time denying that Apple had a monopoly in any sector.
  • Apple has faced several complaints about how its App Store treats app providers that compete with Apple services. This includes one by the music-streaming firm Spotify, which filed an antitrust complaint with European regulators in March.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended the existence of monopolies in business while also denying that Apple has a monopoly in any sector.

In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review in Tokyo on Wednesday, during which Cook discussed a range of topics including Apple’s treatment of competitors, he said a monopoly “by itself isn’t bad if it’s not abused.”

“The question for those companies is, do they abuse it?” he said. “And that is for regulators to decide, not for me to decide.”

Cook insisted Apple was not a monopoly – a line he has maintained for the duration of his tenure, despite Apple having faced multiple complaints of anticompetitive behaviour from app providers that compete with its services.

One such accusation came from the music-streaming service Spotify, which filed a legal complaint with the European Commission in March.

Spotify iphone appReutersBack in 2015, Spotify was a lucrative revenue source for Apple, when it billed every premium subscriber through iTunes.

Spotify was unhappy with the 30% fee that Apple charges on App Store subscriptions, arguing that as Apple makes it difficult for services that try to avoid that fee, Spotify would have to raise its prices to account for the levy.

In turn, that would make Spotify more expensive than Apple’s in-house streaming service, Apple Music, which doesn’t have to pay the same 30% levy. Cook’s reaction to the complaint was to insist that “no reasonable person” would call Apple a monopoly.

In Wednesday’s Nikkei interview, Cook also said big tech firms were not “monolithic” and attempted to distance Apple from companies like Facebook and Google, which have been accused of accumulating consumer data to create near-monopolies.

“You’re not our product – that’s very clear in our minds,” Cook said. “We don’t believe in trafficking your data.”

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