FTC chairman says he’s willing to break up Big Tech companies

David McLaughlin for Bloomberg:

The head of the US Federal Trade Commission said he’s prepared to break up major technology platforms if necessary by undoing their past mergers as his agency investigates whether companies including Facebook Inc are harming competition.

FTC chairman Joe Simons, who is leading a broad review of the technology sector, said in an interview Tuesday that breaking up a company is challenging, but could be the right remedy to rein in dominant companies and restore competition. “If you have to, you do it,” Simons said about breaking up tech companies. “It’s not ideal because it’s very messy. But if you have to you have to.”

MacDailyNews Take: Facebook certainly deserves scrutiny, but Alphabet Inc. is rather clear cut:

No company should have control of 92.19% of web searches.

StatCounter’s Search Engine Market Share Worldwide, July 2019:

  1. Google – 92.19%
  2. Bing – 2.61%
  3. Yahoo – 1.85%
  4. Baidu – 1.21%
  5. YANDEX RU – 0.55%
  6. DuckDuckGo – 0.54%

This is exactly the type of situation for which antitrust laws were designed. The U.S. and other governments should apply their antitrust laws and allow competition to drive the Web once again.

This ‘don’t be evil’ mantra: It’s bullshit.Steve Jobs, 2010

22 Comments

    1. Like I said before that’s only valid if you think iPhone is the ONLY phone available to consumers.
      Fact is consumers can choose hundreds of other phones besides the iPhone.

      And these phones can do calls, text, email, 911, web , apps etc like the iPhone. So consumers are not denied services or access.

      Breaking Apple would be like breaking up Kentucky Fried Chicken because by the ‘break apple logic’ KFC is a monopoly (!) because it’s the ONLY one using that ‘special bland of spices’ ignoring the hundreds of other chicken places (just like ignoring hundreds of other phones besides iPhone).

      What I mean is that you narrow the definition iPhone is different from other phones, you open a can of worms, KFC is a monopoly, Dr Scholls shoes are a monopoly (it’s the only one with preinstalled special insoles ! ), Tesla is a monopoly as it’s battery systems are different from other cars etc.

      If you consider all phones iPhone has 20% market share.

      Developers can write for other phones, major apps like Facebook, Google etc are available on other platforms as are games. Some are also available on other platforms like PCs, tablets, set up TV boxes, Game consoles etc.

      Consumers like yourself who are not happy with Apple can go buy from hundreds of Android and other phones.

      By law and history retailers have been allowed ‘house brands’ and setting up the rules of their own market.
      Wallmart decides on what it sells, what rates and has house brands (like Apple has it’s own apps). Manufacturers not happy with Walmart can go elsewhere just like app developers can go elsewhere because Apple UNLIKE Google, Facebook etc does NOT have a monopoly ( just 20% marketshare)

      Apple has pointed out that in the vast majority of apps Apple makes nothing. Apple does not take a cut of in app ads and does not take a cut of placeholder apps like Kindle if consumers buy their books etc online etc,

      1. If I’m an iOS App customer or an iOS App developer, I am better served, or can better served the iOS App market with choice of channel.

        Apple does not own either my device or my IP in either case. If they did, you would have a point.

  1. I like a curated app store.

    Apple vets the apps. It even stopped Facebook recently for violating rules and using its app to track teenagers.

    Imagine if there were third party app stores and the apps you use move out of Apple and can only be got on those outside stores. What’s to stop them adding trackers and other malware?
    If there were outside stores Even Facebook can move out and load all kinds of stuff now not allowed by Apple (see above example). And some people like businesses need Facebook.

    I don’t want Apple to turn into what ZDNet calls Android: ‘A toxic hellstew of malware’

    1. It’s not a binary choice. The Mac doesn’t have a runaway malware problem and Apple, thankfully, still allows users and developers the freedom to install their own software without Apple’s iOS style handholding. iOS completely sucks in comparison, “curated” or not.

      Haven’t heard a rational argument yet why Apple must be awarded permanent monopoly power for 3rd party app distribution for iOS. It’s like entering into an eating contest where the sizes of the pies were “verified” by your competitor, who just so happens to be the owner of the bakery and cousin of the contest official. How would you ever expect to have any fair competition?

      Apple gets to review and appropriate every bit of code that gets submitted, and has final pricing control, as well as obvious promotional monopoly. Who do small innovative software developers turn to when they discover Apple unveils an iOS feature that directly rips off your software and puts you out of business?

      The FTC, that’s who. If only they weren’t spineless patsies owned by the biggest corporations. The existence of 30 cheap flashlight apps that are merely disguised marketing beacons that track your gps whenever you use them is NOT evidence of competition in the app distribution marketplace.

      1. don’t like iOS move to 80% of the market which is android
        nobody is stopping you since you think the ‘open’ system is so great.

        There are powerful Android phones with good screens, cameras .

        but you want to stick to Apple because you think it’s ‘better’ and the better comes from Apple’s integration of hardware, software and Apps. And a big part of that is having a curated app store.
        Destroy that and you move iOS closer to shiteous Android.

        Why turn iOS into a lookalike Android Hellstew of Malware?

        (if you are right opening up the app store doesn’t cause issue then why is there so much more Android malware? )

        DO YOU WORK FOR XIAOMI or HUAWEI or maybe SAMSUNG?
        hoping that Apple will do what you’re saying and lose its biggest advantage? A relatively safe seamless system

        (note that most developers make way more money from IOS. one big reason is that the CURATED APP STORE REDUCES PIRACY. some android apps have 80-90% piracy rates as apps can be got from anywhere. Don’t believe me go search the issue yourself. Note also that apple says it makes no money from most apps like those with internal ad revenue)

      2. saying that there is no need for curation is just stupid

        Apple has already suspended or corrected thousands of apps which were trying to install malware, trackers etc.. Like I said Apple even found giant companies like Facebook secretly putting trackers in violation of their user disclosures.

        There’s been massive , millions downloads malware outbreaks, on Google Playstore which forced Google to repeatedly beef up it’s security.

        There’s huge money harvesting money nowadays with sophisticated techniques that didn’t exist earlier with PC platforms. And even with PCs nowadays you have to install virus detectors etc.

          1. like i said suppose apps you need move off the App store and can ONLY be got outside ? Like supposing my business clients require me to use an app and now it only exists outside? How do I know now it’s not putting tracker etc. Like I said even Facebook was violating user agreements until Apple stopped them

            Note there’s no successful malware checker even on Android)

            Article 2019:
            “In the most recent report from AV-Comparatives, we learned that most of the antivirus apps on Android don’t even do anything to check apps for malicious behavior. They just use white/blacklists to flag apps, which is ineffective and makes them little more than advertising platforms ”

            AVG.com:
            “Android malware comes in many forms, ranging from spyware, which gathers your personal data for third parties (often advertisers), to mobile ransomware, which holds your files hostage and demands a ransom in order for you to retrieve them. The story for iPhones is a bit different. Unlike Android, iPhone and iPad apps can only be downloaded through the official App Store. This prevents malicious software from infecting your device via fake apps.”

            and like I said both developers and consumers like yourself have a choice: Move to the hundreds of phones out there. IPhone has only 20% market share.

            1. You should have the choice to take the risk, or to delegate another party of your choosing.

              It not as if people trackers don’t make it through on the App Store. There’s even a reference to it on MDN.

          2. “In a democracy it’s the owner of the device.”

            many many products and services have limitations even if you’re the ‘owner’.

            For example Go read the typical license agreement of a Software you’ve bought for a PC. You have all kinds of limitations.

            Another example own a normal DVD, you can’t make copies to sell or even give to friends, you can’t show it on screen and sell tickets, you can’t take snippets of the DVD you ‘own’ and put it into your own garage band music video etc

            ! ! ! ! !
            THIS IS THE FIRST LINE OF THE IPHONE LEGAL AGREEMENT;

            “Apps made available through the App Store are licensed, not sold, to you. ”

            ——

  2. EULAs are debatably enforceable, but to the extent that they are, it’s the law, not corporate policy that enforces them. It’s also the reason jailbreaking remains legal despite Apple’s past efforts to criminalize it.

    DVDs can be legally ripped under ‘Fair Use’. Again, the law, not Hollywood.

    1. “DVDs can be legally ripped under ‘Fair Use’.” Not if you use the ripped stuff for sale. You can only use snippets for ‘reviews’ etc.

      Secondly not everything is in ‘the law’ , their things called legal contracts.

      I’ve been looking for land to buy and I found that some lots on sale you have to sign a contract to build with ‘their’ contractor, others limit you to even what sidings, roofing, etc you can use on ‘your’ house. The even give you a ‘minimum’ size you can build so that their contractors max out. Others forbid you to landscape like cut down certain trees on ‘your’ land to protect the ‘look’ so they can sell more land. What you can do on ‘your’ property again is limited to all kinds of conditions on the agreement. Many even stop you from parking your car in front of your house (has to be in a garage) or hanging laundry out to dry !

      Tell me how many of these are in state or Federal laws.

      These conditions are not enforceable by law i.e you can’t get the police to arrest the dudes for breaking them but the developer can sue the owner in court for contravening the signed agreement. This is the typical for most commercial contracts. ( For example if your business supplier doesn’t deliver on time per his contract the police won’t get involved, but you can sue the supplier ),

      1. The reasons for that are indeed you are buying from a corporation. That corporation must abide by the laws of the land in that it can’t discriminate, for instance. You are really buying shares more than you are land.

        Here we have the Apple store impeding commerce by blocking developers from selling to who they wish, as they wish. Also blocks device owners from buying from where they wish as they wish. These devices are truly physical property of the respective owners, unlike, say, cable boxes. If they were licensed for use only, you would be correct.

        EULAS are unilateral unnegotiated contracts, not exactly the strongest Agreements in the world.

        1. Apple.com:


          Unauthorized modifications to iOS (also known as “jailbreaking”) bypass security features …

          is also important to note that unauthorized modification of iOS is a violation of the iOS end-user software license agreement and because of this, Apple may deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software.”

          iPhone users agreed to the contract.
          Developers agreed to abide by Apple’s rules.

          like I said don’t like Apple’s agreements then go the hundreds of other phones.

          You guys keep talking about your rights what about my rights? i’m a iPhone user too and I don’t want my iPhone experience to turn into a toxic hell stew of malware like android (see above thread).

          change Apple’s walled garden and I lose my only option while you guys have hundreds of other ‘open’ phones to choose from

          1. Bypassing security features is a choice of the owner of the device.

            EULAs are not necessarily binding.

            iPhone users and developers have no choice but to abide. But they still are entitled to sovereignty over their property.

            No one forces you to do any of these things, so your rights are completely unimpacted.

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