How Apple’s Anti-Competitive Behavior is Affecting Me and My Children
A true test of our American justice system and its ability to combat monopolistic practices is currently underway. And really parents, we should care.
Nearly overnight, Apple has squashed at least 11 of the best third-party parental control apps by revoking their rights to distribute their apps in the App Store. Citing privacy concerns, Apple’s latest actions effectively cripple those businesses whose parental control solutions millions of parents have come to rely on.
When bewildered parents found themselves in the unfamiliar and unchartered role of screen time referee, they relied on these companies to help them end the screen time battles and tug-of-war over devices. These companies were the heroes who jumped in to offer parents some means of control when Apple offered no alternatives for setting time limits and locking devices.
And Apple profited handsomely off these companies, taking its standard 30% cut of revenue for subscription services. Over the last four years, Apple has reviewed and approved dozens of versions of these apps, and given the persuasive rebuttals from two of these affected companies, OurPact and Mobicip to Apple’s stated privacy concerns, Apple’s timing with its aggressive actions this spring, seems more than a little suspect.
Remember that back in January, for the first time in nearly 17 years, Apple issued a warning to shareholders to expect a massive miss on revenue targets. Among the many reasons, Apple cited ”iPhone upgrades were weaker than expected” as one explanation. In one day, Apple lost $75 billion in market value, and so the imperative to coerce upgrades and stir up sales was ever-urgent.
In the systematic and swift dismantling of the third-party parental control market that is now underway, Apple achieves these objectives, but it comes at a major cost to consumers, namely parents and children. As someone who has made it her mission to help parents manage in their role as Chief Technology Officer for their families, I can tell you the impact is real.
Parents are now being forced to use Apple’s Screen Time, which was only released last September in response to outcry from investors and concerned parents like me. While it does allow parents to manage their kids devices, the setup for families continues to be a labyrinthine maze, includes several design flaws that renders it useless for wily kids, and lacks key convenience features.
Emily Martin in referring to the Screen Time setup, said “I have my law degree–I can usually figure things out, but Apple has become the bane of my existence.”
The mistrust and ill will towards Apple continues to build:
Caroline Kesmodel, a long-time OurPact customer says, “I trust companies like OurPact to help me more than I trust Apple. I know they’re well-intentioned and our incentives are aligned, whereas Apple has ulterior motives. It’s completely counterintuitive to Apple’s business model for them to want me to use my phone less. They should not be the ones to arbitrate screen time parental control choices for my family.”
The very definition of anti-competitive practices is when consumers’ choices are limited by one company with market dominance, and that’s exactly what’s happening. While there may be still be a plurality in the worldwide smartphone market, 82% of teens in the United States have iPhones, and we as parents, have literally helped Apple to build their pipeline of future customers. And thus, it is astonishing that Apple continues to disregard the plight of families and the tremendous burden that digital parenting is today.
We are the ones who should be making decisions on behalf for our children, not Apple. And parents, our voice does matter and deserves to be heard.
Founder, Heard It From A Friend