Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 21st Feb 2018 23:06 UTC
In the News

In other words, it's very likely you love Google, or are at least fond of Google, or hardly think about Google, the same way you hardly think about water systems or traffic lights or any of the other things you rely on every day. Therefore you might have been surprised when headlines began appearing last year suggesting that Google and its fellow tech giants were threatening everything from our economy to democracy itself. Lawmakers have accused Google of creating an automated advertising system so vast and subtle that hardly anyone noticed when Russian saboteurs co-opted it in the last election. Critics say Facebook exploits our addictive impulses and silos us in ideological echo chambers. Amazon’s reach is blamed for spurring a retail meltdown; Apple's economic impact is so profound it can cause market-wide gyrations. These controversies point to the growing anxiety that a small number of technology companies are now such powerful entities that they can destroy entire industries or social norms with just a few lines of computer code. Those four companies, plus Microsoft, make up America's largest sources of aggregated news, advertising, online shopping, digital entertainment and the tools of business and communication. They're also among the world's most valuable firms, with combined annual revenues of more than half a trillion dollars.

The recent focus on technology companies when it comes to corporate power is definitely warranted, but I do find it a little peculiar that it, at the same time, draws attention away from other sectors where giant corporations are possibly doing even more damage to society, like large oil companies and the environment, or the concentration of media companies.

One has to wonder if the recent aggressive focus on tech companies isn't entirely natural.

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RE[6]: Google is not a monpoly
by jonsmirl on Thu 22nd Feb 2018 16:38 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Google is not a monpoly"
jonsmirl
Member since:
2005-07-06


Another detail is that the USA is mostly concerned with protecting companies from other companies while the EU is more concerned with protecting consumers from companies.


I believe it is the opposite of this. That was a main point in the original article -- it is difficult to accuse Google of anti-trust in the US if you can't demonstrate consumers are being harmed.

Note -- in the Microsoft case it was utterly obvious that consumers were being harmed. At one point I had 32 unwanted copies of Windows that I had been forced to buy with PCs that were used for other operating systems. I refused to agree to the EULA on all of them but of course Microsoft would not give a refund. At that point in time the only way to get a refund was to take Microsoft to small claims court.

The EU action against Google was the opposite of this. There was no evidence of consumer harm, consumer prices were actually lower on Google shopping. This was 100% about Google's impact on other companies.

And as to that impact, I think the EU's first made the decision to extract a few billion out of Google and then made up some flimsy arguments to support that preordained decision. It it total manure that they defined the market to exclude Ebay and Amazon from the competitive analysis.

Edited 2018-02-22 16:44 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 0

RE[7]: Google is not a monpoly
by avgalen on Fri 23rd Feb 2018 00:14 in reply to "RE[6]: Google is not a monpoly"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

"
Another detail is that the USA is mostly concerned with protecting companies from other companies while the EU is more concerned with protecting consumers from companies.


I believe it is the opposite of this. That was a main point in the original article -- it is difficult to accuse Google of anti-trust in the US if you can't demonstrate consumers are being harmed.

Note -- in the Microsoft case it was utterly obvious that consumers were being harmed. At one point I had 32 unwanted copies of Windows that I had been forced to buy with PCs that were used for other operating systems. I refused to agree to the EULA on all of them but of course Microsoft would not give a refund. At that point in time the only way to get a refund was to take Microsoft to small claims court.
"
Doesn't your Microsoft example prove exactly that USA doesn't do anything when consumers are being harmed while the EU did? In the EU consumers could just refuse the EULA and get their money back and Microsoft was forced to include Browser-choice screens and have "N" versions while the USA just let Microsoft do whatever they wanted because no other OS-company was getting hurt (there were none).

When Google included the "All or nothing" Android clauses* the EU stepped in again while the USA didn't do anything

(* from memory about those all or nothing Android clauses)
* If an OEM puts Android on some of their phones they have to put it on all of their phones
* If an OEM wants to include 1 Google PlayStore App they have to include all PlayStore Apps

Of course the EU and the USA also have protectionist measures to protect the market in its entirety and that is why Google got punished by the EU in the shopping example.

Now that I look at all these examples, it just looks like it is just the EU fining USA-companies but that isn't the case. The EU also fines EU-companies and sometimes the USA actually fines a USA-company (or bans a Chinese company)

Reply Parent Score: 4

jonsmirl Member since:
2005-07-06

Microsoft was found guilty of anti-trust. They used their immense power to buy off part of the government and arranged to get no penalty for being found guilty. That is not how things were supposed to work.

Your memory is not quite right on the Android thing. First there are no restrictions on shipping Android. Android is open source and anyone can ship it that follows the open source licenses (like GPL and Apache). Samsung ships both Android and Tizen. Amazon ships FireOS which is Android renamed.

What is licensed is Google Play services(GPS). GPS is not required to make Android run, it is an apk install. For example FireOS does not use GPS.

GPS is an all or nothing deal. If you are going to license it (License is free) you have to ship all of it. So location services, google pay, play store, gmail, etc. But... a GPS license does not prevent you from installing your own versions of the GPS apps too. The GPS license just prevents you from removing the Google versions. Samsung ships parallel versions of almost every app in their phones.

There is a current anti-trust action in the EU saying that forcing all pieces of GPS to be installed is anticompetitive. The poster child for this is a company that makes location services and wants to replace the location service inside GPS. That may sound like a reasonable thing, but it is a legal strawman hiding the real motivation of the companies pushing this anti-trust case.

Their true motivation is to get a ruling saying that pieces of GPS can be replaced. Then they intend to set up competing app stores (filled by copying all of the apps in Google's store). This will allow them to capture all of the app store revenue from those phones. Similarly they want to replace the advertising engine inside of Android so that all of the advertisements come from their ad network.

So you can see the problem here. These actors want to steal all of the revenue out of an Android phone while leaving Google with the expense of building the entire ecosystem.

There is a fair way to do this, one which Amazon followed with FireOS. Amazon has their own play store and their own GPS equivalent. Amazon has to bear the burden of supporting this whole ecosystem, but they also get the revenue from it. Note that there is nothing stopping anyone in the EU from pursuing this route.

If the EU anti-trust against Android prevails, I don't know what will happen to Android in Europe. Likely it will descend into a bloated, chaotic, non-functioning mess where everyone complains to Google about problems that Google did not cause. It is extremely unlikely that consumers will benefit from this ruling even if the EU claims that they will.

Reply Parent Score: 1