Microsoft points to Apple as proof competition exists in EU monopoly abuse appeal

“In his opening remarks to the European Union’s Court of First Instance – where appeals to decisions made by the European Commission are heard first – Jean-François Bellis, counsel for Microsoft, is quoted by news services as having strayed from what Microsoft’s press sources say was supposed to be his script. Apparently speaking a bit less gently than Microsoft suggests, Bellis accused the EC of ‘fundamental errors of fact and reasoning’ in having decided in March 2004 that the company’s bundling of Windows Media Player with its operating system constituted an illegal attempt to leverage its monopoly power,” Scott M. Fulton, III reports for TG Daily.

“In its defense, Bellis pointed to the existence of Apple’s iTunes, and its apparent monopoly or near-monopoly presence in the European and world digital music markets, as proof that Microsoft does not have – and quite possibly may never have – a dominating presence in that field. As part of the company’s opening statements, according to the Associated Press, David S. Evans, an economist with Cambridge-based National Economics Research Associates, was permitted to enter into evidence that over 87% of computer users now play multimedia files, including MP3s, using software other than Microsoft’s,” Fulton reports. “If Microsoft truly had such a dominating presence in multimedia, Bellis reportedly said, Apple could not possibly have achieved its monumental market share… The ECIS is expected to demonstrate that, whatever success or failure Microsoft may have had, it did make the attempt – and an illegal one, under EU law – to leverage its undisputed monopoly in operating systems, to gain a lock on a new market in multimedia.”

Full article here.

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29 Comments

  1. Let them bundle their bloated, slow, ugly, confusing, useless media player with Windows Frankenstein. It’n not like anybody’s going to fall victim to it except a few hapless grandmothers whose grandsons don’t love them enough to get them a Mac.

  2. This is not monopoly.

    Simply because;
    1) It support both systems.
    2) People are wise too choose
    3) Other competitors are not creative. They have no taste, absolutely no taste.
    4) Easy to use, simple design, intuitive design. Straight to the point
    5) Developers developers developers developers……. still shouting on the other side.

  3. I will give Microsoft credit. This argument worked in 97 with Internet Explorer (more people used Netscape) so why not try it again. Hopefully the same results don’t occur.

    Microsoft didn’t get this big by accident.

  4. Wait, wait wait! MS is accused of abusing monopoly power LONG before iTMS ever came on to the market (esp. the cross-platform version)! This is a specious argument, as their attempt to squelsh competition was a, built into the system itself (and supposedly unremovable), and b, happened in the late 90s and early 2000s.

    What a load of BS this argument is!! The EC should make them pay even more for such a bogus argument!

  5. MS, you sly dog you! We’re not buying it. Your argument works only if you’re saying that 87% of ALL Windows users are using iPod/ITMS and thus QuickTime. Apple may have 87% of the “media” market, but that may only involve 10% (for example) of the pc users that use iTunes. Just look at the number of video clips on the net that aren’t in QT format, and or how much audio is in WAV and it’s very clear what media player monopolizes the field.

    If 87% of pc user also used iTunes/iPods, then yes I’d agree with MS’ argument. But that’s not the case and is evident by the fact that we have to screw around with running Flip4Mac far too much.

  6. Monopoly is not a crime, abuse of a monopoly is. When Apple threatens partners against using competitors products or prevents resellers from removing components then it will be in trouble. Until that day it doesn’t matter if it hass 100% market share or how many businesses fold up under it’s weight.

  7. Do Microsoft not understand? With WMP it’s not that they have a monopoly – like they say iTunes does – it’s that they’re trying to use the monopoly Windows has to leverage a monopoly for other software they produce. Any microsoft product like; IE, WMP etc could be in single digit percentages of use but as long as they include them by default on their windows system then they’re abusing their monopoly. Of course Apple do the same thing but they don’t have a monopoly when it comes to the OS and as such it can be deemed that since people have made a decision to us it (OS X/a Mac) then they can make the decision to use other software.

    Some people say that by making the iPod/iTunes reliant on each other it’s abusing their monopoly, however Personally I think that’s different. Apple purposely market them as a combined solution, like a dvd player playing only dvd’s, that it doesn’t allow vhs is not the point – it wasn’t built for that. The fact that you can only use the iTunes music store is perhaps more of a grey area – or will be.

  8. Apple/iTunes success is irrelevant. Whether they succeeded or failed, the question is whether MS ATTEMPTED to use their monopoly power over the desktop environment to create a monopoly in multimedia file playback.

    That Apple succeeded is not proof that MS is innocent. Just that MS did not succeed.

    When you rob a bank, the question is not “Did he get away with a lot of money”, the question is “DID HE TRY TO ROB A BANK”!

  9. Simply including WMP or any other software with Windows OS is NOT an abuse of monopoly market position. If M$ (as they have done in the past) forces consumers to use their other software to the exclusion of alternatives on Windows, strangling consumer choices and killing off competitors (a la Netscape), THAT is an abuse of monopoly power. Of course they should be allowed to present their software, and even bundle it with Windows, as long as informed consumers have a legitimate choice.

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