Microsoft isn’t the only company in the technology industry with a monopoly. Its partner in crime, Intel, has often been accused of monopoly abuse as well, and is currently under scrutiny by the same European Commission who fined Microsoft. Sources have told eWeek (which generally has a good track record) that Intel will indeed be found guilty this week of abusing its monopoly position to stifle the competition.
According to eWeek’s source, Intel will be found guilty of two violations in which it abused its dominant position in the CPU market to stifle the competition, which mainly comes down to AMD. The violations sound eerily similar to what that other company used to do.
Intel is said to have given rebates to computer makers to restrict the use of chips from its main rival AMD, or not to use them at all. In a similar manner, the chip giant also coerced retailers to only sell machines with Intel chips in them. Both of these actions are illegal in the EU. On top of that, Intel paid PC makers to delay or eliminate products with AMD chips in them. The source says the EC will characterise these as “naked restrictions” to the competition.
There are even some tantalising figures, as Intel told the PC makers what percentage of their machines could carry AMD chips. NEC was allowed to ship 20% of their machines with AMD chips, while Lenovo notebooks and Dell products had to be 100% Intel. HP had to produce 95% of its business desktops with Intel processors.
eWeek is generally pretty accurate with its sources, so it’s quite safe to assume this story is correct. This is exactly what I want the EU to do: make sure there is a level playing field in the EU market. If you want to sell your products within the EU, you had better follow the rules to be sure it’s a fair game.