Elizabeth Warren calls for tech giant breakup, with Apple in the cross-hairs

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in General Discussion
On Friday, Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren advocated for breaking up major tech companies with large services, specifically naming Amazon, Facebook, and Google -- but Apple fits in the targeted category as well.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren


Warren's platform calls for "passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as 'Platform Utilities' and broken apart from any participant on that platform," according to a pitch for the idea on Medium.

"Platform utilities" subject to mandated break-up would be defined as "companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties." Such businesses would be prevented from "owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform" or sharing data with third parties. They would also have to "meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users."

Warren's post specifically targets Amazon, Facebook, and Google by name. Warren highlights Amazon's dominance in e-commerce and the fact that over 70 percent of all internet traffic passes through sites operated by Google or Facebook.

"As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people," she wrote. "To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it's time to break up our biggest tech companies."

By definition, Warren's proposed policies would also impact Apple. The company obviously exceeds $25 billion in annual revenue, qualifying it as a "Platform utility" for income. The App Store offers apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Netflix, but those are forced to compete with services like Apple Music and iTunes, which come pre-installed on every Apple device. Apple also claims a cut from every App Store transaction, even if it's merely a subscription to outside content.

The senator's proposal has long-running U.S. precedent. Warren pointed to Microsoft, which in the '90s was hit by an antitrust case that loosened its control on Web browsers. Going further back, the breakups of monopolies by AT&T, J.P. Morgan, and Standard Oil were instrumental in establishing the modern business landscape.

Apple has regularly been hit with antitrust actions, such as the one that penalized it $400 million for conspiring with book publishers, and another involving the App Store, which recently made an appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court. The company has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, even as judges, lawyers, and other critics point out that the App Store is the only sanctioned place iPhone and iPad owners can get software. Apple has said this ensures a base level of quality and safety.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 104
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,604administrator
    We're going to start with this open, as we have the last few. As of late, we've had a problem with forum-goer behavior towards each other, and in general, ad hominem attacks which has led to the closure of a few threads that I'd have rather kept open.

    Keep it civil, and it stays open. You know the rules.
    edited March 8 Roger_FingasSgt Storms(trooper)longpathmacseekerchian2itivguywilliamlondonwatto_cobrarepressthisJaiOh81
  • Reply 2 of 104
    The difference is, Apple isn’t sneaking into people’s lives the way Facebook, Google and Amazon are. Those three gather information/data for the sake of profit. Apple gathers anonymous info for the sake of better product/services development.
    cornchipwatto_cobrakudurepressthisapplesnorangesmagman1979jony0
  • Reply 3 of 104
    Apple has not the the market share the named companies have, they have no platform that brakes 25% of market share ... move on nothing to see here ...
    electrosoftwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 104
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,098member
    I’m not the least bit worried about Warren’s plan ever becoming law. She’s a radical with radical, untenable ideas, as is AOC.
    mike1macseekerchiaboltsfan17rosse59patchythepiratewilliamlondonspacekidcornchipred oak
  • Reply 5 of 104
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 598member
    not that this is applicable to the article, but how many of Apple's Products/Services as a stand-alone would break the 25 Billion mark?
    watto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 6 of 104
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,032member
    Apple is not mentioned in the Medium article, pitch for the idea, so I'm not sure why AI feels Apple would be targeted. I think you should have included this quote: "They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation." I don't see Apple doing any of this, at least not to the extent of the big three mentioned in the article. I hope people actually read the article instead of only reading AI's snippets. 
    n2itivguyyoyo2222AppleExposedboredumbwatto_cobrarandominternetpersonnetmagejony0
  • Reply 7 of 104
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 339member
    lkrupp said:
    I’m not the least bit worried about Warren’s plan ever becoming law. She’s a radical with radical, untenable ideas, as is AOC.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System

    1982… that was while Reagan was president…  ;)
    Roger_Fingaschiaforegoneconclusionyoyo2222leftoverbaconspliff monkeyfastasleepboredumbwatto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 8 of 104

    And like that her campaign is over.

    Move on, nothing more to see here!

    edited March 8 lkruppforgot usernamecornchipfirelockwatto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 9 of 104
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,604administrator
    rob53 said:
    Apple is not mentioned in the Medium article, pitch for the idea, so I'm not sure why AI feels Apple would be targeted. I think you should have included this quote: "They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation." I don't see Apple doing any of this, at least not to the extent of the big three mentioned in the article. I hope people actually read the article instead of only reading AI's snippets. 
    "Though Warren’s post did not mention Apple, her campaign said the plan would affect the tech behemoth. The company could have to choose between running its App Store or building its own apps, Warren spokeswoman Saloni Sharma said."

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/08/elizabeth-warren-pushes-to-break-up-companies-like-amazon-and-facebook.html

    ^ this tidbit was added to the CNBC report after initial publication, and after our assessment of the situation.
    edited March 8 gatorguybshankcornchipwatto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 10 of 104
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,886member
    Setting aside thoughts about any individual company that is supposedly being targeted and their business practices. This is a policy that penalizes success.
    entropysforgot usernamecornchipwatto_cobramagman1979
  • Reply 11 of 104
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 936unconfirmed, member
    temperor said:
    Apple has not the the market share the named companies have, they have no platform that brakes 25% of market share ... move on nothing to see here ...

    App Store
    iTunes
    Apple Music
    iOS
    WatchOS

    just off the top of my head.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 104
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 916member
    Antitrust policies aren't really high on the US government's list of priorities. See the recent AT&T - Time-Warner acquisition.
    I'm not sure how wanting to break up very large corporations because of the abuses such size allows/encourages, and wanting to grow the centralized federal government go together philosophically.
    boredumb
  • Reply 13 of 104
    zompzomp Posts: 53member
    I don't believe a breakup should ever happen and especially not with apple - I mean who decides which part is broken off? Every product apple designs is also a testing ground for future products like Cars. There is so much engineering going on that it would be criminal to breakup any tech company. Most people only see what is before their eyes - others see technology in it's infancy and know exactly where it could be used in future products. Apple thinks long term and tests current technology in consumer products and looking well into the future. hope i explained that somewhat right - I'm not a techie.
    randominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 104
    Not sure where this leaves me as regards my allegiance to any specific D. candidate - need to know more about this and what impact it'd have on any of the major players affected by this porposal. Though it's a long road to 2020, the field of likely candidates is sure to break down to (hopefully) the most electable - with the most enactable issues. After these last 2+ years there is SO much to fix, it could take decades, or we could be in for more of the same - which would certainly result in an extinction event in the not too distant future. Dramatic? NO!
    leftoverbaconforgot username
  • Reply 15 of 104
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 953member
    I notice the concept of Apple forcing Netflix and others to pay a portion of their subscriptions
    is brought up once again. Netflix like any other service has the ability to sign their own people and place an app on the App Store for no charge. Apple only gets a cut if the subscription comes from their marketing efforts. If it was Netflix’s marketing driving the customers to subscribe, they would be on Netflix’s website where they would signup then be directed to install the appropriate app.

    In fact, if their marketing was effective and did not need Apple’s influence, they would care because 80-90% of their new subscribers would come directly to them.   
    watto_cobranetmagekudurepressthismagman1979
  • Reply 16 of 104
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 953member
    On Friday, Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren advocated for breaking up major tech companies with large services, specifically naming Amazon, Facebook, and Google -- but Apple fits in the targeted category as well.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren


    Warren's platform calls for "passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as 'Platform Utilities' and broken apart from any participant on that platform," according to a pitch for the idea on Medium.

    "Platform utilities" subject to mandated break-up would be defined as "companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties." Such businesses would be prevented from "owning both the platform utility and any participants on that platform" or sharing data with third parties. They would also have to "meet a standard of fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory dealing with users."

    Warren's post specifically targets Amazon, Facebook, and Google by name. Warren highlights Amazon's dominance in e-commerce and the fact that over 70 percent of all internet traffic passes through sites operated by Google or Facebook.

    "As these companies have grown larger and more powerful, they have used their resources and control over the way we use the Internet to squash small businesses and innovation, and substitute their own financial interests for the broader interests of the American people," she wrote. "To restore the balance of power in our democracy, to promote competition, and to ensure that the next generation of technology innovation is as vibrant as the last, it's time to break up our biggest tech companies."

    By definition, Warren's proposed policies would also impact Apple. The company obviously exceeds $25 billion in annual revenue, qualifying it as a "Platform utility" for income. The App Store offers apps like Spotify, Pandora, and Netflix, but those are forced to compete with services like Apple Music and iTunes, which come pre-installed on every Apple device. Apple also claims a cut from every App Store transaction, even if it's merely a subscription to outside content.

    The senator's proposal has long-running U.S. precedent. Warren pointed to Microsoft, which in the '90s was hit by an antitrust case that loosened its control on Web browsers. Going further back, the breakups of monopolies by AT&T, J.P. Morgan, and Standard Oil were instrumental in establishing the modern business landscape.

    Apple has regularly been hit with antitrust actions, such as the one that penalized it $400 million for conspiring with book publishers, and another involving the App Store, which recently made an appearance at the U.S. Supreme Court. The company has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, even as judges, lawyers, and other critics point out that the App Store is the only sanctioned place iPhone and iPad owners can get software. Apple has said this ensures a base level of quality and safety.
    The book store issue was orchestrated by Amazon. They held a true monopoly and the model Apple was using stood to break that monopoly. Excellent lobbying by the corporate darling, loves because they gave other people’s property away and who was crushing creatives and publishers by devaluing their products. Why would the courts have a say in what kind of model any industry uses. It’s the quivalent of the courts blocking streaming because Apple complained about downloads loosing steam. 
    cornchipwatto_cobramagman1979badmonk
  • Reply 17 of 104
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,071member
    I wouldn’t draw any conclusions from what Warren is throwing out there for discussion. There’s always an underlying sentiment that is driving people seeking public office to take what seem like oddball and unpopular positions. We saw this with the wave of resentment that determined the outcome of the 2016 elections. There is a similar undercurrent today that the big tech players have gotten too big and too powerful and are running open loop. 

    I welcome these discussions and would would love to see the big tech players participate in the conversations that need to take place. Otherwise everyone is simply going to pick a side based on whatever information source they subscribe to and go on the attack against the other side, I.e., put the brain in neutral and blindly repeat whatever blather “their side” instructs them to spew. These techniques serve the needs of the politicians because they need to divide the vote to tally a winner. But they don’t serve the voters one bit. 

    Thinking for oneself and engaging with people with opinions that don’t match your’s is really hard. Politics plays on this weakness by giving you easy choices that you don’t have to think about. They’ll do the thinking for you, if that’s what you want. That’s how they own you. 
    roundaboutnowGeorgeBMacwatto_cobrapolina
  • Reply 18 of 104
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,579member
    On Friday, Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren advocated for breaking up major tech companies with large services, specifically naming Amazon, Facebook, and Google -- but Apple fits in the targeted category as well.

    [...]

    "Platform utilities" subject to mandated break-up would be defined as "companies with an annual global revenue of $25 billion or more and that offer to the public an online marketplace, an exchange, or a platform for connecting third parties."
    According to the Washington Post story on this, "Her plan primarily targets companies with annual revenue over $90 million," -- https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/03/08/sen-elizabeth-warren-unveils-plan-break-up-amazon-facebook-google-ambitious-campaign-pledge/ -- which is substantially less than $25 Billion. What source are you using for the $25 Billion figure?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 104
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,834member
    color said:
    This proposal would also apply to Walmart, Costco, Target, airlines,etc, etc, etc.  Any company of size that has an online presence that sells any product other than its own would have to either:

    not sell any of its own products on the site
    Or
    not have the site.

    Warren makes Trump look rational.

    Is that so unreasonable/irrational?

    running a platform where you sell other people’s products but also your own products presents an obvious conflict of interest. 
    AppleExposed
  • Reply 20 of 104
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,617member
    The difference is, Apple isn’t sneaking into people’s lives the way Facebook, Google and Amazon are. Those three gather information/data for the sake of profit. Apple gathers anonymous info for the sake of better product/services development.
    Which has what to do with the policy Warren is suggesting?
    Answer: Nothing
    muthuk_vanalingam
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