Hours ahead of a historic antitrust hearing in the United States (US), big tech CEOs are preparing to argue that they face growing competition in the market, according to written testimonies filed by the companies. The testimonies were filed by the companies on behalf of Sundar Pichai, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, chief executive officers (CEOs) of Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, respectively.
The four CEOs are going to appear in front of a Congressional subcommittee that was setup to address rising concerns about the dominance of these tech giants. Between them, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon have all faced antitrust allegations in various states and countries around the world. The hearing is called Online Platforms and Market Power Pa 6: Examining the Dominance of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
According to the written testimonies, all four CEOs seem to be arguing that they face lots of competition in the market, other than reiterating how their products have contributed to the growth of other industries and businesses. “Google operates in highly competitive and dynamic global markets, in which prices are free or falling, and products are constantly improving. Today’s competitive landscape looks nothing like it did 5 years ago, let alone 21 years ago, when Google launched its first product, Google Search," said Pichai’s written testimony.
Pichai also brings up Amazon’s Alexa, which can answer questions from users, and says people often find news via Twitter or “ask friends for information" via WhatsApp. He also mentions Snapchat, Pinterest and other platforms as services people use for various kinds of searches on the Internet.
The CEO’s effort, unsurprisingly, seems to be to downplay Google’s Search’s importance in how people discover websites and other things on the Internet. The company has faced antitrust allegations in Europe earlier, for abusing its dominance with Search. The company also faced its third antitrust allegation in India recently, and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) is looking into allegations that it abuses its market position to promote its own payments apps.
On the other hand, Facebook’s argument is that its size doesn’t guarantee success, and the company has to continue building good products and services in order to maintain its advantage in the market. “We started with nothing and provided better products that people find valuable. As I understand our laws, companies aren’t bad just because they are big. Many large companies that fail to compete cease to exist," the statement from Mark Zuckerberg reads.
Amazon’s Bezos’ statement is on similar lines as Zuckerberg’s. He argues that the world needs big businesses. “Just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones. There are things small companies simply can’t do," Bezos says in his statement. “I don’t care how good an entrepreneur you are, you’re not going to build an all-fiber Boeing 787 in your garage," he adds.
Similarly, Apple, which has faced widespread criticism for charging 30% commission to developers on the App Store, is arguing that its commissions are “comparable or lower than" what its competitors charge. Cook’s statement even says that the App Store commissions are lower than the 50 to 70 percent software developers paid before the App Store came into existence. Cook also claims that the iPhone faces competition from Google, Samsung, Huawei and many more and doesn’t dominate the smartphone market.
According to a Q4, 2019 report from Canalys, Apple was the top smartphone vendor in the world by shipments, owning 21.3% of the market share. Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi followed with 19.2%, 15.2% and 9% market shares, respectively.