Google’s chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, Reuters reported on Monday. On June 24th, Google announced that the Federal Trade Commission would be reviewing its business practices. The search giant said it was “still unclear” as to what the FTC’s concerns were but that it would cooperate fully with the investigation. Watchdog groups such as Fairsearch.org have repeatedly accused Google of eangaging in anti-competitive behavior. “I look forward to discussing a number of important issues relating to Google and Internet search competition,” Senator Mike Lee, the lead Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s anti-trust subcommittee said. More →
Google officially announced on Friday that it received word on Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission will begin reviewing its business. Google said that “it’s still unclear what the FTC’s concerns are,” but early reports have suggested the complaints involve the Internet giant’s search and online advertising businesses. Google said that it will continue to follow its five pillars: “do what’s best for the user,” “provide the most relevant answers as quickly as possible,” “label advertisements clearly,” “be transparent,” and “loyalty, not lock-in.” “These are the principles that guide us, and we know they’ll stand up to scrutiny. We’re committed to giving you choices, ensuring that businesses can grow and create jobs, and, ultimately, fostering an Internet that benefits us all,” Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow, wrote on the company blog Friday. There are, however, some groups that are concerned Google is becoming a monopoly. Read on for more background. More →
The Federal Communications Commission may subpoena Google during the next five days as part of an anti-trust investigation related to the company’s search and web advertising practices. According to The Wall Street Journal, it is only illegal to purchase or abuse a monopoly, and so a subpoena and an investigation aren’t particularly damning to Google. Reportedly, investigators will examine if the search giant has purposely pushed users towards using its own services, as opposed to those offered by its rivals, using its own online advertising and search network. “Google engages in anticompetitive behavior…that harms consumers by restricting the ability of other companies to compete to put the best products and services in front of Internet users, who should be allowed to pick winners and losers online, not Google,” Fairsearch.org said. The watchdog group is representing a number of Google competitors Expedia, Kayak, Sabre Holdings, and Microsoft. Google faced a similar threat from the Justice Department in April when it proposed buying ITA software, but it settled by allowing the government body to examine some of its practices. The WSJ said a subpoena and an investigation could take a year to wrap-up, and it’s entirely possible nothing will change. More →
The Department of Justice will perform an “in-depth” investigation of AT&T’s proposition to acquire T-Mobile USA, Reuters is reporting. Such an investigation comes as no surprise, as one FCC official assured the public on April 14th that the acquisition would get a thorough review from government antitrust and communications officials. Bloomberg says that the DoJ can issue a decision in as little as 30 days, however, a “second request,” could mean that the investigation will take longer. AT&T announced its plan to purchase T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion on March 20th. Despite Sprint’s claims that the acquisition will stifle competition in the U.S. wireless market, AT&T has argued that the deal will fuel economic growth and create new jobs. More →
The nation’s third largest wireless provider, Sprint Nextel, has issued a statement to voice its concerns over the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger. “The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, if approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), would alter dramatically the structure of the communications industry,” writes Sprint. “AT&T and Verizon are already by far the largest wireless providers. A combined AT&T and T-Mobile would be almost three times the size of Sprint, the third largest wireless competitor.” The company went on to say that the merged GSM carriers, along with Verizon Wireless, would control nearly 80% of the postpaid wireless market in the United States. AT&T’s CEO, Ralph de la Vega, has said that the deal should be approved by both government bodies based on historical precedence. “I think if the criteria that has been used in the past is used against this merger, I think the appropriate authorities will find there will still be plenty of competition left,” said de la Vega in a statement to Mobilized. Should the merger fall through, AT&T could owe Deutsche Telekom as much as $3 billion. More →
Nokia Siemens Networks is trying to renegotiate a $1.2 billion network infrastructure assets purchase from Motorola, according to sources speaking to Bloomberg. In an effort to please Chinese authorities, which have delayed the purchase due to antitrust concerns, Nokia Siemens Networks is seeking to leave Motorola Solutions’ GSM unit out of the purchase, and adjust the deal accordingly. Chinese authorities began investigating the purchase after Huawei filed a lawsuit against Motorola in January — accusing Motorola of giving its intellectual property to Nokia Siemens. It’s unclear what the new purchase price will be with the GSM unit out of the equation. More →
Qualcomm is now at the center of a European Commission antitrust investigation, it was revealed on Thursday. Stemming from a complaint from rival chipmaker Icera, the Wall Street Journal is claiming that “the main issue appears to be over the way Qualcomm links the patents from other companies to its own patent offering to bolster its chip sales.” For its part, Qualcomm says that the new allegations are more or less the same as previous antitrust case it fended off in 2005 in which six major competitors alleged the chipmaking giant was charging too much in royalty fees and making it difficult for new entrants to break into the mobile chipset market. More →
According to a new report, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have come to an agreement that the latter will open a formal investigation into Apple’s iPhone policies. The investigation will look into whether or not Apple’s prohibiting developers from using cross-compilers is anti-competitive. It is unclear whether or not the FTC will also look at Apple’s ban of Adobe Flash on iOS devices as well as section 3.3.9 of the iOS developers agreement which blocks Google’s AdMob from serving ads on the iPhone and iPad. The Department of Justice is said to be in the preliminary stages of an investigation into whether or not Apple has an unfair advantage in digital music distribution. But for the matter at hand, the FTC faces a tough challenge with its investigation. Apple claims it is essential that iOS applications are natively developed to ensure quality and compatibility. Previous experiments with cross-compilers led to what Apple claims were inferior applications, something it fears could damage the platforms reputation for quality applications. On the other hand, many believe that Apple enjoys far too much control over its products and this creates a lack of competition which does nothing but hurt developers and consumers alike. Neither Apple nor the FTC have commented on the matter. More →
Surprise! The U.S. government is once again going to throw Apple under the microscope and investi alleged anti-competitive practices, this time for the new language Apple is using in section 3.3.9 of its developers agreement which appears to be directed straight at Google’s AdMob. This information comes to us by way of The Financial Times. This would mark the second time that federal regulators have looked at Apple relating to mobile ads and one of many other preliminary investigations. It was just yesterday that AdMob broke its silence on the matter and went on the offensive saying that Apple is putting up “artificial barriers to competition” which will only serve to “hurt users and developers and, in the long run, stall technological progress.” The question in this case appears to be whether or not Apple’s fiercely competitive tactics with iOS advertising are legal or warrant anti-trust action. More →
And it has happened once again. The New York Times published an interesting article this evening which alleges that the U.S. Department of Justice has kicked off another anti-trust investigation that focuses in on Apple. Unlike the other two ongoing investigations which deal with Apple’s lockout of Flash in the iPhone OS and its upcoming iAd service, this time around its Apple’s strangle-hold grip on the digital music marketplace that’s getting all of the attention. Here specifically is what the NYT said triggered the investigation.
In March, Billboard magazine reported that Amazon.com was asking music labels to give it the exclusive right to sell certain soon-to-be-released songs for one day before the songs go on sale more widely. In exchange, Amazon promised to include those songs in a promotion on Amazon’s Web site called “MP3 Daily Deal.”
Representatives from Apple’s music service, iTunes, were asking the labels not to take part in Amazon’s promotion, and Apple punished those that did by later withdrawing marketing support for those songs on iTunes, the magazine reported.
So far the Department of Justice has not proceeded past the inquiry stage, but it doesn’t exactly reflect well upon Apple that this is the third time this month the agency has poked its nose in Apple’s affairs. More →
The EU, and various other stakeholders, *cough* Mozilla and Opera *cough*, filed suit against Microsoft in 2007, alleging that the act of only having Internet Explorer installed on the Windows operating system by default was an anti-competitive business move that violated EU antitrust laws. The suit proved effective, as European regulators and Microsoft executives have reached an agreement on how to move forward without the “help” of the courts. Microsoft has consented to a five year contract that requires all copies of Windows in the EU to present the end-user with a “Choice-Screen” that presents an option of 12-browsers to have install. Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, AOL, and Flock all made the short list along with a few lesser known browsers. Microsoft, which has already paid around $1.7 billion in EU fines due to the IE debacle, will face additional penalties if they decide not to honor the five year deal. Microsoft estimates that 100 million current Windows users will be presented with the pop-up while another 30 million will see it as a result of new hardware or software purchases. The “Choice Screen” will be presented to users running Windows 7, Vista, or XP, and will begin showing up next year. More →