Google confirms antitrust investigation by DOJ

Posted:
in General Discussion
Google parent company Alphabet on Friday said it is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice over potential antitrust violations, confirming suspicions that it would be a target in the government's wide-roving review of tech companies.

PichaiGoogle CEO Sundar Pichai testifies in front of a U.S. congressional panel in 2018.


The internet search giant revealed the state of affairs in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, saying that it received a civil investigative demand from the DOJ for previous antitrust documentation in August, reports CNBC.

"On August 30, 2019, Alphabet received a civil investigative demand from the DOJ requesting information and documents relating to our prior antitrust investigations in the United States and elsewhere," Alphabet said in the filing. "We expect to receive in the future similar investigative demands from state attorneys general."

In July, the DOJ announced plans to conduct an antitrust review of major technology companies in the U.S., focusing on "the widespread concerns that consumers, businesses, and entrepreneurs have expressed about search, social media, and some retail services online."

According to a report in May, which first broached news of the now official antitrust probe, officials will review Google's internet search business and "other practices" that could potentially pose a threat to consumers. A follow-up report this week claimed more than 30 state attorneys general would be involved in the action.

News of the DOJ's request, which serves as confirmation of an antitrust review, into Alphabet's business practices arrives just hours after the New York State Attorney General announced a similar probe of Facebook.

Apple could also face scrutiny from either the DOJ or Federal Trade Commission, which are working on the effort in tandem, though official word of an investigation has yet break.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    My main concern is whether they are wittingly or unwittingly aiding one political party using their resources but not declaring them as political support if the law requires that all political support, financial or otherwise, be documented. 
    kestralcat52
  • Reply 2 of 23
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    pujones1Gabywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 23
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    Lack of free speech harms customers
    cat52
  • Reply 4 of 23
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    Lack of free speech harms customers
    I’m missing the connection between political speech and anti-trust, anti-competitive practices.  
    edited September 2019 pujones1
  • Reply 5 of 23
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    Lack of free speech harms customers
    If Apple suddenly becomes a government entity, we can concern ourselves with harm from freedom of speech being violated.  'Til then, let's focus on anti-trust and anti-competitive issues as possible problems.  
    pujones1
  • Reply 6 of 23
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    Lack of free speech harms customers

    What an utterly stupid comment.

    I’m Canadian, but it appears I know more about The First Amendment than you do.

    You have the right to free speech. You don’t have the right to force another to provide you with a platform for your speech.


    As to anti-trust issues, I don’t think Apple has much to worry about. Not compared to companies like Google or Facebook, anyway.
    edited September 2019 pujones1applejakesteejay2012GabyStrangeDaysbadmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
  • Reply 8 of 23
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    kestralStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,171member
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    Those would depend immensely on how the "market" is defined. By operating system would not seem to be the proper defining element IMO. 

    If by product it is in the realm of possibility Apple could absolutely be found to be in a position of monopoly in certain segments. For example no other company comes even close to the US share of smartphone sales held by Apple and remember this should be only about the US market.

    No other firm can approach Apple's supracompetitive pricing in US smartphones either, and sustainable for over a decade. That might cover the market force requirement. With both market force and having a position of monopoly found true the government's job would be to then prove is was an anticompetitive monopoly which would make it illegal.

    I would not underestimate the ability of the DoJ to make that leap if forces deem it necessary.
    edited September 2019 FileMakerFeller
  • Reply 10 of 23
    If Apple is subject to Anti-Trust then so should Amazon. If you go down the self publishing route with them they really, really want you to sign up for the 65/35 split. You get the 35%. If you go for the 70%/30% (you get the 70%) everything suddenly costs you a lot of money.
    They have a virtual monopoly on fiction book publishing and are IMHO ripe for the picking.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,466member
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    Lack of free speech harms customers
    Free speech relates only to the government. You are free to assemble and speak your mind on public property. Private property is another matter altogether. You can be and are often subject to censorship on private property, like tech blogs. The owners set the rules like banning trolls for example. People choose to buy Apple products. No one is twisting your arm. If you don’t like the walled garden don’t buy into it. There are plenty of alternatives. The fact that you may prefer Apple products has absolutely nothing to do with free speech when it comes to the App Store.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,466member

    Kuyangkoh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    Those who scream monopoly about Apple just don’t get it. Their argument relies on the false premise that the Apple ecosystem is a market within itself. Years ago they went on and on about how Mac clone makers had the right to compete against Apple and labeled the Mac a monopoly unto itself. Psystar found out the hard way that argument didn’t fly. Now those same arguments are being presented about the App Store. In a real monopoly (like the old AT&T) the consumer has no choice, there is no reasonable competition, and you deal with the only game in town. Nothing could be further from the truth in the mobile market. There are literally hundreds of options, providers, and hardware available to the consumer. Apple is not the only game in town. In fact it could be considered a minor player even with 1.4 billion units in use. People choose to buy Apple products not because they are the cheapest, far from it. They choose Apple because they have made a conscious decision that they WANT to buy Apple and are willing to pay the price. No consumer is “harmed” by choosing Apple because of the App Store. 
    FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 23
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,446member
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    Those would depend immensely on how the "market" is defined. By operating system would not seem to be the proper defining element IMO. 

    If by product it is in the realm of possibility Apple could absolutely be found to be in a position of monopoly in certain segments. For example no other company comes even close to the US share of smartphone sales held by Apple and remember this should be only about the US market.

    No other firm can approach Apple's supracompetitive pricing in US smartphones either, and sustainable for over a decade. That might cover the market force requirement. With both market force and having a position of monopoly found true the government's job would be to then prove is was an anticompetitive monopoly which would make it illegal.

    I would not underestimate the ability of the DoJ to make that leap if forces deem it necessary.

    In certain segments? Like smartphones with iOS or an Apple logo? True Apple does have a monopoly in those market “segments.”

    Having the highest share does not make you a monopoly. A monopoly is defined by virtually taking over the entire market, Google Search, Facebook, Windows, Android, etc. Because what these companies do basically affects the entire market, users and competitors.

    Product-wise, Apple has about 40% US marketshare, Samsung has 20%. Platform stats... iOS has 40% and Android 60%. Nothing in any of those statistics demonstrates a monopoly position in the US ANYWAY you try to realistically “segment” it.

    You could try to say they have a monopoly in the premium tier, but how can you argue there’s anyway possible that Apple competes unfairly in a market defined by people choosing to spend even more money in what has become a commoditized market? That’s just good branding.
    edited September 2019 StrangeDaysbadmonkwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 23
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,428member
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    Those would depend immensely on how the "market" is defined. By operating system would not seem to be the proper defining element IMO. 

    If by product it is in the realm of possibility Apple could absolutely be found to be in a position of monopoly in certain segments. For example no other company comes even close to the US share of smartphone sales held by Apple and remember this should be only about the US market.

    No other firm can approach Apple's supracompetitive pricing in US smartphones either, and sustainable for over a decade. That might cover the market force requirement. With both market force and having a position of monopoly found true the government's job would be to then prove is was an anticompetitive monopoly which would make it illegal.

    I would not underestimate the ability of the DoJ to make that leap if forces deem it necessary.
    I could make an easy case that Apple is so successful in the U.S. merely because they are better in almost all ways over the competition, except ironically, low device pricing, product diversity and selection., and the ability of the customer to customize their devices.

    Perhaps Apple's success is due to the 272 retail stores providing services that most other device makers have 3rd parties, like carriers, provide. Perhaps its because Apple controls all of the OS, API's, system and developer software, and updates. Mostly, it's due to the fact that Android OS devices, for the most part, aren't generating enough revenue and profit for the device makers to provide the services that help sell the devices to the customer.

    If there is a barrier to entry for Android OS device sales in the U.S., it is the Carriers who conduct the bulk of sales. Perhaps the DOJ should look into that first.

    When you start talking about the markets that Google controls, some really are large monopolies.
    edited September 2019 muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 23
    FolioFolio Posts: 698member
    Google and Facebook deserve top priority scrutiny. Amazon and Apple aren't a threat to valid elections. Irony is the former group superdominate largely due to approved acquisitions (youtube, doubleclick, instagram)
    cat52kestralwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 23
    Apple does actually have a monopoly:

    Flagship smartphones. They are easily over 50% worldwide for flagship device sales. Though I’m not sure you can build a case around that.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,171member
    mjtomlin said:
    gatorguy said:
    Kuyangkoh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    Those would depend immensely on how the "market" is defined. By operating system would not seem to be the proper defining element IMO. 

    If by product it is in the realm of possibility Apple could absolutely be found to be in a position of monopoly in certain segments. For example no other company comes even close to the US share of smartphone sales held by Apple and remember this should be only about the US market.

    No other firm can approach Apple's supracompetitive pricing in US smartphones either, and sustainable for over a decade. That might cover the market force requirement. With both market force and having a position of monopoly found true the government's job would be to then prove is was an anticompetitive monopoly which would make it illegal.

    I would not underestimate the ability of the DoJ to make that leap if forces deem it necessary.

    In certain segments? Like smartphones with iOS or an Apple logo? True Apple does have a monopoly in those market “segments.”

    Having the highest share does not make you a monopoly. 
    Correct it does not. There's  absolutely other factors involved too. as I originally alluded to. 
    Simply being the best at what you do and acquiring a commanding share, actually establishing a monopoly in a market, it not illegal and deserving of antitrust action either. 
     
    My opinion is based only on my reading of the DoJ's PDF on what could constitute uncompetitive behavior and the factors that weigh on it in determining whether antitrust action is warranted. I can see an argument for Apple also attracting their attention. If you read it you may too.

    If my reading of it is so far off base as you and a couple others are stating it is then the DoJ won't be investigating Apple, they would have no grounds to do so.

    The only opinions that would count right now are government ones. Later on it would be judicial ones.

    We can all play attorney and claim this or that, we just don't have the power to decide what happens.  We can read and research if it's interesting enough to do so, get a firmer basis for our opinions, but we cannot affect what the DoJ decides or what their arguments might be.

    My opinion is that if the DoJ decides that some action needs to be taken to rein Apple in with the rest of the big techs there's basis to do so even if it needs to be creatively. 
    edited September 2019
  • Reply 18 of 23
    I detest Google. 

    That said, I don’t see the monopoly or antitrust angle here. 

    Me what I do see is a dire need for modern laws to be written and enforced that protect Americans from predatory companies such as Google and Facebook  

    it it should not be legal for a company to harvest the kinds of data they and their partners do, regardless if the average unaware American or global citizen decides to use their services, no matter what the company policy is. 

    Such legal protection would force force these companies to dramatically shift their practices and make the pros and cons more obvious to the consumer. 

    These laws need to have built in, very real and swift repercussions for breaking. No more dragging it out for years in appeal until it doesn’t matter anymore. 

    Companies thst spy spy on their consumers need to be brought in line. It’s been a vampiric free for all for far too long. Just because the government was taken by surprise by the speed of tech doesn’t mean it can’t do something now. Better late than never. 
    cat52watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 23
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    Lack of free speech harms customers
    Says the guy posting comments on a moderated forum.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 23
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,048member
    lkrupp said:

    Kuyangkoh said:
    Rayz2016 said:
    LordeHawk said:
    It would be a very difficult for the government to prove Apple is harming customers with their App Store. As a generalization, most of the companies complaining owe a large part of their success if not all, to Apple.

    I would be interested in data to verify my assumption.


    This is not about proof. I’ve always said if they go after Google, then Apple will be next. 
    Apple has monopoly on??? Apps store? Nope. Search engine? Nope. Social media? Nope. Smartphones? Nope. Watch? Nope. Software? Nope. Laptops? Nope. Smart speakers? HUGE nope. 
    Those who scream monopoly about Apple just don’t get it. Their argument relies on the false premise that the Apple ecosystem is a market within itself. Years ago they went on and on about how Mac clone makers had the right to compete against Apple and labeled the Mac a monopoly unto itself. Psystar found out the hard way that argument didn’t fly. Now those same arguments are being presented about the App Store. In a real monopoly (like the old AT&T) the consumer has no choice, there is no reasonable competition, and you deal with the only game in town. Nothing could be further from the truth in the mobile market. There are literally hundreds of options, providers, and hardware available to the consumer. Apple is not the only game in town. In fact it could be considered a minor player even with 1.4 billion units in use. People choose to buy Apple products not because they are the cheapest, far from it. They choose Apple because they have made a conscious decision that they WANT to buy Apple and are willing to pay the price. No consumer is “harmed” by choosing Apple because of the App Store. 
    Elizabeth Warren is going to break them up.
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