House Democrats say Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook enjoy ‘monopoly power’

After a 16-month antitrust investigation into competitive practices at Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust has released its findings and recommendations on how to reform laws to fit the digital age.

The report concludes that the four “Big Tech” companies enjoy monopoly power and suggest Congress take up changes to antitrust laws that could result in parts of their businesses being separated. Republicans have voiced objections to some of the bolder proposals in the report, like imposing structural separations.

Apple Park in Cupertino, California
Apple Park in Cupertino, California

Lauren Feiner for CNBC:

The recommendations from Democratic staff include:

• Imposing structural separations and prohibiting dominant platforms from entering adjacent lines of business. Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline, D-R.I. has previously referred to this method as a type of “Glass-Steagall” law for the internet, referring to the 1930s era law that separated commercial from investment banking.

• Instructing antitrust agencies to presume mergers by dominant platforms to be anticompetitive, shifting the burden onto the merging parties to prove their deal would not harm competition, rather than making enforcers prove it would.

• Preventing dominant platforms from preferencing their own services, instead making them offer “equal terms for equal products and services.”

• Requiring dominant firms to make their services compatible with competitors and allow users to transfer their data.

• Overriding “problematic precedents” in antitrust case law.

• Requiring the Federal Trade Commission to regularly collect data on concentration.

• Increase budgets for the FTC and Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

• Strengthen private enforcement by eliminating forced arbitration clauses and limits on class action lawsuits.

The Democratic report found that the four tech companies enjoy monopoly power in the following areas:

• Alphabet/Google: online search.
• Amazon: most third-party sellers and many suppliers.
• Apple: distribution of software apps on iOS devices.
• Facebook: online advertising and social networking.

MacDailyNews Take: So, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are guilty of a monopoly on distribution of software apps on their consoles and devices, too. Ford, BMW, etc. are also guilty of having a monopoly on the distribution of software apps on Ford, BMW, etc. vehicles, respectively.

Apple should not be lumped in with the likes of Alphabet/Google which actually does have a monopoly (which is legal, by the way) and is very likely abusing it (which is subject to antitrust remedies).

The fact is that Apple has no monopoly in smartphones, so Apple is incapable of committing monopoly abuse.

Worldwide smartphone OS market share, September 2020:

• Android: 74.44%
• iOS: 24.98%

I don’t think anybody reasonable is going to come to the conclusion that Apple is a monopoly. Our share is much more modest. We don’t have a dominant position in any market… We are not a monopoly.Apple CEO Tim Cook, June 2019

As for Google, the biggest offender in “Big Tech,” impose any remedies that restore competition to online search and online advertising.

60 Comments

  1. Do Sony and Microsfot really have monopolies on apps for the PlayStation and X-Box? I don’t own either, but I always thought developers could sell their own titles directly to consumers. They can’t?

    1. I think that’s what he is saying. If these guys are monopolies than so are Sony et.al.

      Seems to me though that the iOS App Store is very much a monopoly.

      1. Yes the AppStore is the only store on iOS but so what? Google is only real store on Android and yes the likes of Samsung, Huawei etc have their own App Stores but most people use the Play Store even though Google is struggling to prevent malware getting into the Play Store while Apple doesn’t have that issue because Apple police’s their AppStore properly unlike Google. Google is the one they should be going after because the the Android platform is so dominant and very much a monopoly.

            1. Because, even so, access to Google Play is an unfair advantage. Amazon has their own store, or developers caan even email a program.

              On Apple it’s in or out. How commerically succesful are Apple rejected applications?

              What value does Apple provide Amazon, or MS, or the NY Times?
              Don’t say customers… that’s a market…

    2. Yes, and no. If you are looking at manufacturing the HW media that the software for the respective consoles (Sony, MS, Nintendo) are sold on, each have proprietary security measures to prevent easy duplication. So each does have a monopoly there. However if you are speaking of retail outlets from which you may purchase the software to run on Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo gaming consoles, it is pretty obvious there is no monopoly.

      Contrast now to Apple who is the sole purveyor of iOS Apps which is literally what the article states.

      1. In order to run any iOS app from whatever source, it needs to interface with iOS. You own your phone, but you only license the software running on it. You “open Apple” folks are expecting Apple to allow the use of their proprietary OS and its proprietary programming interfaces by people whose apps will not only not benefit Apple in any way, but will actually harm the platform by making it less safe.

        Isn’t there something somewhere that prohibits the Government from taking private property except for a public purpose, through due process, and after the payment of just compensation? Ah, yes, that would be the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution.

        1. A) MS can say the same thing and the same logic applies to the Mac..
          B) The user has license to use their copy on their device. As you put it, license that binds them to one store. That’s anticompetitive and harms the user.

          Can I make a guitar and dictate to the buyer what it’s allowed to play?

  2. the big break up is coming!!! Big Tech has empowered the demise of BigTech.

    CCP is a monopoly of all monopolies. I bet Dems will continue to support the CCP and their practices of slave labor, forced transfer of technology, no regulations, and massive government subsides.

    Dems gonna crush they economy. Sale big Tech now. Go short on USA currency.

    CCP cries foul on USA banning TikTok when TikTok, Face book, google, Youtube, WhatsAPP, and SnapChat are all banned in CCP. ITs a double standard that the Dems love. Dems theory lets help CCP take over the world and establish Marxist world domination by crushing USA’s greatest companies.

    1. You really think Democrats want to crush America to help establish a world-wide Marxist state??

      Next you’re going to want me to believe that a satanic pedophile ring is operating out of Warren Buffet’s garage… Jeez, the whole “Marxist paradise” clap trap is soooo 1963. Try and keep up with this century, would ya?

  3. seems to me you have other options. You don’t have to buy and agree to IOS terms of services.

    Some of us choose the security and stability of Apple’s walled garden. For others the android jungle is open for business.

    wonder what Tim is thinking now

      1. right ! Jail break is an option.

        And maybe Apple should make an official jail break to allow android install . But the enduser/developer has no right to force them to open up the IOS software/hardware combo and risk the user experience, security and dependability of the ecosystem.

        but somehow I don’t think that will satisfy you. Its really not about freedom for your hardware its really about hating apple

          1. So, if you liked 13-year-old porn stars or snuff films, would you protest that others limit your choices? Some things that a person might privately prefer constitute a danger to public health, safety, and welfare. Millions of Apple users chose that ecosystem because its security protects not only themselves but their tech-ignorant families and friends. Those who prefer a walled garden to the Wild West should have that choice. Congress should not be interfering with the free market that created Apple’s market niche.

            1. There is no contagion. Tell me an instance where jailbreaking hurt someone who didn’t jailbreak?

              I can tell you of scores upon scores, if not millions upon millions, of instances of those harmed by Apple’s censorship. You can only legitimately censor yourself (within the law).

          1. Endangered? No. Caused problems? Yes.

            An individual with a jail broken phone running an app that could play with the RF signals emitted by the iPhone was causing spurious IF and RF signals that nominally were outside FCC allowance. That person was near enough to me that it was interfering with my reception. Knowing about such things as I’ve worked in that world, I looked around and noticed this individual with his iPhone. I asked him what he was doing, and he stated that he was playing with an app on his jail broken iPhone. He thought it was a fun thing with which to experiment. He thought he was just having fun. He didn’t even know that it could cause problems with communications for others.

            I got him to turn off his iPhone, and immediately the issues I was having with my iPhone’s connections went away. Just to verify, I had him turn his phone back o and then back off and see if the issue was reproducible. It was.

            So… Endangered? In my case, no. Could he have been in such a situation? Yes. Think of him playing with that non Apple approved app in a hospital. There are a lot of wirelessly connected, life critical devices there.

        1. Apple has never gone after individuals who jail break an iPhone. The risk of jail brnreaking bricking the phone and/or side loaded apps on a jail broken phone doing something nefarious is 100% on the user.

          People who complain about not being able to side load apps not in the Apple iOS App Store should stop complaining, get their phone jail broken, and load whatever they want.

          1. I don’t want to be bound to an Apple business relationship other than my warranty.
            Apple did petition the LOC under the DMCA to make jailbreaking illegal. It eventually failed.

        2. I agree! When you buy your iPhone, and hit the Hello screen, you could get the option to install Android and download all the crap you want, or IOS which you accept will be controlled by Apple. And Apple can provide switcher software that goes both ways. Idiot legislators, and “it’s MY device” whiners can do what they want, and IOS is a choice. Or else they will have to say they can force Wal-mart to carry shit they don’t want to sell at prices set by legislation?

          1. Doubt Apple would agree to switcher software.

            As for your forcing Wal-mart to sell stuff they don’t want to, no one is suggesting anything like that for Apple. The suggestion is to allow 3rd party stores that allow sales of Apps including those Apple doesn’t want in their store for reasons outside of Security or Privacy.

  4. Once again Congress proves their ineptitude on matters of technology. None of these companies operate under a monopoly since there is a comparable company in every sector of business. I really don’t believe many of these proposals will ever reach written legislation, much less gain enough votes for consideration. What’s next, forcing Burger King to make Big Macs available on their menu?

          1. Not really. What you pathetic analogy illustrates is that a user can manipulate their device after purchasing it. Congratulations. You just played yourself again with another shitpost. So fun to watch you wiggle your way through words you hardly understand.

  5. crush big Tech.
    Increase capital gains to 40%
    increase rate of unfunded debt spending
    increase rate currency printing
    USA debt 27,019,270,300,000 trillion and counting.
    Government debt liability for each USA citizen is $468,678.00

    https://www.usdebtclock.org

    and whats the dems plan; Free healthcare, free education, free housing for everyone on the planet that can make it here.

    Imagine your husband or wife ran up your credit card to a 466,000 balance. You sit down with him/her and say we need to work on this issue. They replay ok I have a plan lets increase spending and scare all job prospects.

    ———————-\
    ———————-\

    for all the people long on AAPL get out now!

    sale while you can! Here is your next move on the great USA stock market fire sale.

    ForEx = foreign exchange currencies. billions will be made as the great exodus of USA currency value heads for safer spaces. Its sad we have to make money off USA demise but all the hip kids in Hong Kong are making a killing.

    https://www.metatrader5.com/en

  6. You don’t have to buy an iPhone or any Apple products if you don’t want to… People buy them because they work and work better than the alternative. Not a Monopoly if you still have options.

            1. That of course, is nonsense. This is about vertical integration and the delivery of goods and services within a single platform. Nowhere in the developer terms I signed does it say I can’t publish an app on a different app store LOL. Walmart provides goods from developers they’ve contracted with. The same with the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, etc. Of course a developer is free to publish on another store. Doesn’t sound like you’re in the business.

            2. For someone in the business you sure don’t sound like you know the difficulty of publishing an App on multiple platforms. The code base may share common code over the platforms but any percentage less than a 100 is a ‘different’ product.

              Try not to be obtuse. The very fact that Apple doesn’t allow 3rd party App stores obviates the explicit statement of terms to say you can’t publish at other iOS App Stores.

  7. Xennex1170, There clearly aren’t any barriers for a developer publishing their app across a variety of platforms, other than their will to do so. This is a fact. Yet you continue to push the false narrative that Google, Apple, Amazon, or whoever precludes the publishing of an app on another store’s platform. The lack of a store within a store (a dumb idea) has nothing to do the conversation. You’re really making a fool of yourself. Please, continue.

    1. You appear to be intentionally misunderstanding. I never claimed there was a barrier to publishing an App across platforms. I’m saying Apple has a barrier to publishing iOS Apps anywhere but in their App Store. That is the ‘distribution’ problem within a single platform that the article is talking about. I also never mentioned a ‘store within a store’ which for apps I agree may not be an intelligent idea. Much as Amazon serves as a 3rd party Android App store a 3rd party iOS App Store would not be a ‘store within a store’.

      1. You’re double-speaking. You’re saying you didn’t claim there was a barrier to publishing cross-platform, but then immediately saying there is a barrier to publishing apps anywhere but the iOS App Store. That’s completely false. What else could you be proposing other that stores with the App Store? Jailbreaking has existed since the first iPhone. Users are able to modify their devices as they see fit if they want to. There really isn’t an argument that favors the government’s nonsensical report today, since none of these companies are monopolies, and users have such a wide variety of technological choices. Your point about Amazon only supports platform independence, which can be applied across such a variety of business sectors that what congress is suggesting should happen with legislation is absolutely absurd.

  8. The only thing that should be done is Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook should only be allowed web address access in a browser, no direct apps on iOS or payments for default sweet heart positions within iOS.

    Force those four freeloader companies to actually work…

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