28 Jul Read how Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google plan to defend themselves to Congress – TechCrunch
With their big day before lawmakers just around the corner, previews of Google (well, Alphabet), Facebook, Amazon and Apple’s opening statements are now available on the House Judiciary Committee’s site. On Wednesday, the CEOs of each company will appear in an unusually executive-packed Congressional hearing focused on antitrust concerns over the business practices.
While the opening statements are just a glimpse of the hearing’s potential topics, they do provide a useful outline for the strategy each company will use to fend off accusations that their businesses have grown on such an enormous scale due to anticompetitive behavior. In recent hearings, tech executives have mostly managed to stick to safe, well-rehearsed lines, so if any moments deviate from these scripts those will likely be the most interesting or useful bits of testimony.
In their opening statements, the chief executives of each company make some similar arguments–for example, all four claim that their companies still face intense competition, especially in global markets. Amazon and Apple also say that their ecosystems have created millions of job for third-party businesses that use their platforms.
But the CEOs also take slightly different approaches to how they present their opening statements. For example, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive officer, and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Alphabet and Google, go into their personal backgrounds in detail. Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg focus on the fact that their companies are based in the United States: Cook calls Apple an “uniquely American company,” and Zuckerberg says that Facebook is a “proudly American company.”
Though Amazon is the largest online retailer in America, Bezos will argue in his opening statement that it is a small player in the global retail market, with Amazon accounting for “less than 1% of the $25 trillion global retail market and less than 4% of retail in the U.S.” Among domestic competitors, Bezos focuses on Walmart, stating that it is “a company more than twice Amazon’s size,” and also names newer competitors like Shopify and Instacart.
Bezos’ opening statement also dwells on the small- and medium-sized retailers that sell products on Amazon’s platform, estimating that third-party businesses on Amazon have created over 2.2 million new jobs around the world.
Cook says that the “smartphone market is fiercely competitive,” with rivals like Samsung, LG, Huawei and Google, and that all of Apple’s product categories, including the iPhone, do not have a dominant market share in any of the markets where it does business.
Like Bezos, Cook’s statement also argues that Apple’s ecosystem has helped create jobs. He says that the App Store now hosting more than 1.7 million apps, only 60 of which were developed by Apple, and “more than 1.9 million American jobs in all 50 states are attributable to Apple.”
Even though Google Search is the dominant search engine in the U.S., Pichai will claim that is facing down a large roster of rivals, including services that aren’t specifically search engines. For example, he cites Amazon’s Alexa, Twitter, WhatsApp, SnapChat, and Pinterest as alternative sources of information and says most people turn to e-commerce sites like Amazon, eBay and Walmart for information about products.
Google’s ad business is also expected to be in the spotlight during the hearings. Pichai’s opening statement argues that advertisers have “an enormous amount of choice” for platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Comcast and others, that means advertising costs have lowered by 40% over the last decade.
Zuckerberg also argues that Facebook still faces intense competition, especially in other countries. Though Zuckerberg doesn’t reference any specific company or app, he highlights competition from the Chinese tech industry, telling lawmakers that “China is building its own version of the internet focused on on very different ideas, and they are exporiting their vision to other countries.”
While Facebook has been criticized for acquiring companies like Instagram and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg argues that those services improved under his company’s ownership.
The big tech hearing with the House Judiciary’s Antitrust Subcommittee will begin Wednesday at 12PM ET and we’ll be following along over the course of the day so check back for coverage of the most noteworthy moments. For reference, the full opening statements can be found below.