With U.S. regulators and lawmakers stepping up their focus and rhetoric on curbing the power of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, Apple CEO Tim Cook insisted “we are not a monopoly” and rejected calls to break up the iPhone maker.
Cook, in an interview Tuesday with CBS News at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, came amid media reports that the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are mulling antitrust probes into Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“With size, I think scrutiny is fair. I think we should be scrutinized,” he told CBS News. “But if you look at… any kind of measure about is Apple a monopoly or not, I don’t think anybody reasonable is gonna come to the conclusion that Apple’s a monopoly.”
Cook was interviewed by Norah O’Donnell, incoming anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News,” who noted that Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has said Apple (and other tech giants) should be broken up — and specifically that Apple should be forced to divest the App Store.
“I strongly disagree with that,” Cook said. “I think some people would argue, if you are selling a good, then you can’t have a product that competes with that good.” But that’s akin to saying Walmart shouldn’t be allowed to sell its own house brand, he said.
Apple’s iPhone had 13.4% share of the global smartphone market in 2018, according to research firm Gartner. That said, Apple is the target of a class-action lawsuit alleging the App Store unlawfully monopolizes the aftermarket for iPhone apps. The Supreme Court allowed the case to proceed in a ruling last month.
In the CBS News interview, Cook also discussed Apple’s emphasis on privacy controls. On Tuesday at WWDC, Apple announced a new feature of the forthcoming iOS 13 called “Sign In with Apple” that will let customers use their Apple ID to log in to apps and websites — but allow them to keep their email address private by generating a unique, random email address instead.
Asked by O’Donnell whether Apple’s new sign-in was a shot at Facebook and Google, Cook responded, “We’re not really taking a shot at anybody… The user wants the ability to go across numerous properties on the web without being under surveillance.”
CBS News plans to air more excerpts from Cook’s interview on the “CBS Evening News” Wednesday evening.