Analysts: Apple likely to duck U.S. antitrust bullets, but every case increases its risk

“Absent a ‘smoking gun,’ neither the Federal Trade Commission nor the Department of Justice is likely to take Apple to court for antitrust violations, according to a note to clients issued Friday by Stifel Nicolas’s Rebecca Arbogast and George Askew,” Phillip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune.

“Apple has credible justifications, they write, for both complaints that have been lodged against it: its decision to exclude Adobe Flash from its mobile devices and, just this week, the change in its developers agreement that effectively restricts Google’s AdMob from advertising on Apple’s new ad platform,” P.E.D. reports.

But Arbogast and Askew argue that even if they go nowhere, government inquiries like these are a “negative” for Apple for three reasons:

1. Every time a company comes before DOJ or the FTC, staff get to ‘peek under the hood’ and acquire information that they can later connect with additional information to develop a theory of harm.

2. Apple will likely engage in additional [merger and acquisition] activity, which will require DOJ or FTC approval. This provides an opportunity for the government to shape conditions to address behavior that they might find problematic but that falls short of the basis for an antitrust suit.

3. The existence of an inquiry or investigation can lead to a company modifying (or “clarifying”) their practices to deflect the government (and any negative press).”

Read more in the full article here.

37 Comments

  1. Yes MadMac you should. Your continuos posting about these suits seem to me to be without merit. It does not seem that Apple is worried in the least, as they continue to try to make the users experience better.

  2. @MadMac
    You may have been correct in predicting that a probe would occur, but that means nothing. The allegations have no merit and the investigations will find no wrong doing. There is simply a group in Washington DC right now that has the initial belief that Success is something that is “gamed”, and that if you achieve it, you must be cheating or breaking some law. Apple’s meteoric rise in prominence and success has some people suspicious, but tough shit. Apple is breaking no laws. They are simply out maneuvering their competition, and those whiners are bitching to any politician to whose campaign they’ve ever made a donation. Mark my words: nothing is going to happen to Apple over anything done to date.

  3. It is not illegal to possess a monopoly. What is illegal is using monopoly power as a weapon for unfair or predatory behavior against competition.

    Of course microsoft’s history is full of such behavior, most of which has gone unpunished. So far Apple has not behaved criminally. Google says do no evil, but their intent is as obvious as the Iranian nuclear program.

  4. @ m159,

    Apple is not being accused of monopolistic actions here, they don’t have such a market position. What they are being investigated for (exclude the silly Adobe thing) and, in my opinion lose, is their practice of exclusion in a market that results in RESTRAINT OF TRADE.

    @ Spark and others,

    I hope like hell I’m wrong. As an Apple devotee and a significant shareholder, I want them to succeed in what they are trying to do. I am, however, just speaking my mind that I don’t think they can get away with what they are doing in the mobile ad space.

    Just trying to walk the walk and not be a blind follower who thinks that everything Apple does is pure. I’m willing to be wrong, but never willing to be intellectually dishonest.

  5. The complacent Old Guard believe that Apple was never going to surpass Microsoft in Market Cap.
    But it happened.

    Then, Apple’s value was supposed to yo-yo 1-2, 1-2, with Microsoft for a while, so Microsoft could claim “rounding errors”, or hope that it’s early (if temporary) resumption of the #1 position, with accompanying sycophantic fanfare, would result as the lasting meme.

    But that didn’t happen.
    Apple’s market cap appears that it will continue to climb past Microsoft’s, at a healthy pace.

    The Old Guards’ tactic now, is to try to drive Apple’s stock value down with rumours, lies, and innuendo.

    Arbogast and Askew, and others such as Mad(at)Mac here, will continuously post “theories” (fiction), alluding to imaginary investigations and fictional, potential charges against Apple.
    They will also continuously cite “unnamed sources”.

    These whisper campaigns are in response to nothing more than Apple’s success, based on Apple selling quality products.

    Consumer awareness of Apple quality is threatening to bring down the Microsoft-built house of cards that was founded on selling absolute crap to the naive consumer.

    The Old Guard will stop at nothing to try to halt Apple’s success.

    Expect the FUD to continue to flow, and to pile very, very high.

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