Big tech blows a collective raspberry at the House's antitrust report
Big Tech responded to the mammoth antitrust report by the Justice Committee of the US House of Representatives yesterday with blanket rejections. There is monopoly behavior or competitive imbalances here.
Below is a brief overview of the refutations from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.
The committee's (many) recommendations include structural separations and bans on certain dominant platforms from operating in related business areas. Requirements for interoperability and data portability; Non-discrimination requirements and a ban on self-preference; and improve merger and monopoly enforcement and better administration of antitrust laws.
In a lengthy but expressive blog post by the e-commerce giant brands, the committee's views on antitrust "marginal terms" and "regulatory spitballing" - on terrible predictions of doom for small businesses and multitudes of overpriced consumers, should be lawmakers' opinion to condescend to all "misguided interventions".
The flawed thinking would primarily result in millions of independent retailers being driven out of online stores, depriving these small businesses of one of the fastest, most profitable ways to reach customers. For consumers, the result would be less choice and higher prices. Far from enhancing competition, these uninformed terms would instead reduce it.
At the heart of Amazon's argument against the need for antitrust intervention is its claim that retail is "thriving and extremely competitive" - the tech giant says it makes up a tiny fraction of global retail and is not even the largest US retailer after Sales (that's Walmart). Amazon's competitors include Best Buy, Costco, Facebook, Kroger, Google Shopping, Home Depot, Shopify, and Target. (Whole Foods is not mentioned as this competitor has already been consumed.)
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The strategy here is to claim that online and offline retail are just one huge market - because when lawmakers cut through online retail alone, Amazon's oversized blow is undeniable.
Another part of the rebuttal speaks out against a "false narrative" that its own interests are inconsistent with "the thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that thrive as sellers in our business."
"The opposite is the case: Amazon and seller complement each other, and together we create a better customer experience than either of them could create alone," it pouts before SMB sales account for around 60% of all physical products sold on its marketplace, and that it "usually" gets the same or higher revenue from third-party sales - defeating the idea that there might even be a conflict of interest from Amazon, which sells competing products of its own brand in the same marketplace where only Amazon is available an overview of the dealer data.
NB: European regulators are not that convinced of the lack of competition risks on bilateral platforms.
Europe is currently officially investigating Amazon's use of merchant data
When Apple was asked for its response to the committee's report, it sent us a statement in the file stating that it "strongly" disagrees with the conclusions - and added the phrase to "regarding Apple" nice kicker. Epic trolling Tim.
It also said it would issue a "wider rebuttal" of allegations made against its business in the coming days.
Here is the rest of his statement:
Our company does not have a dominant market share in any category in which we do business. Since its inception 12 years ago with only 500 apps, we've set up the App Store as a safe and trusted place for users to discover and download apps, and as a supportive way for developers to create and sell apps worldwide. The App Store, which today hosts almost two million apps, has kept this promise and met the highest standards for data protection, security and quality. The App Store has enabled new markets, new services, and new products that were unimaginable a dozen years ago, and developers have been the main beneficiaries of this ecosystem. In the United States alone, the App Store enabled $ 138 billion worth of trade last year, with over 85% of that amount going exclusively to third-party developers. Apple's commission rates are firmly anchored in the mainstream of commission rates in other app stores and gaming marketplaces. Competition drives innovation, and innovation has always defined us at Apple. We work tirelessly to deliver the best products to our customers, with security and privacy at the center, and we will continue to do so.
In further background comments, the core of Apple's line of argument runs on "Don't mess with a good cause".
Aka billions of users in 175 countries can't be wrong or unhappy - and neither can the millions of developers who make goods for their kit, for example when you consider how many (1.8 million) apps are now in the App Store . (Of course, developers whose apps are banned are probably not that lucky.)
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It also defends the 30% commission on app sales - also known as the "Apple Tax" - citing a recent study by Analysis Group that the structure is "in size similar to other app stores and digital marketplaces Content is similar ". - and also note that for in-app subscriptions the tax drops to 15% after the first year.
Finally, it makes reference to privacy and advises that by reviewing apps and curating users' access to third-party software, it can protect you from surveillance and keep things clean by rejecting offensive, harmful, unsafe, and illegal content . (But even the Apple gods can't always do that.)
In a brief account of the record-breaking statement - presumably while preparing the next few chapters of his never-ending series of lobbyist literature "tough questions" - the social media giant attempted to paint its business success as American as apple pie or ahem. the free, unrestricted market.
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Here's what it told us in full, with comments attributed to a faceless "Facebook spokesperson":
Facebook is an American success story. We compete in a variety of services with the millions, even billions of people who use them. Acquisitions are part of every industry and just one way to innovate new technologies to bring more value to people. Instagram and WhatsApp have hit new heights because Facebook has invested billions in these companies. At the time of both acquisitions, there was a highly competitive landscape that still exists today. The regulators have thoroughly examined every transaction and rightly saw no reason to stop them.
So overall there is absolutely nothing to see here, but successful! Business! how! usually! is the wafer-thin claim of Facebook. Sure, it has bought and assimilated competing social media companies that could have gained enough market share to question their dominance in the category, but that's just great business too! Furthermore, Facebook's purchase of these really successful rivals made them even more awesome and successful! But not so great and successful that there is no "strong" competition in the area that Facebook has dominated for more than 15 years through its sheer power of business success.
Of course, Facebook's statement doesn't mention Onavo: a VPN app that was acquired and used to spy on competing apps to find out which apps to buy or destroy by cloning their innovations - but that's another entirely History of Facebook is not at all interested in talking about it for some reason. The same goes for all of the paying teenagers who spy on them.
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In any case, according to the social media giant, it's regulators who really screwed it up here for not stopping buying Instagram and WhatsApp when they could have. So ya! Boo! sucks! It's too late, sucker! (we rewrite).
We also reached out to Google for a response on the antitrust report. The adtech giant came up with an explanation - one that first emphasized how much value its "free" products are pumping into the economy (not to mention the "billions" it puts into research and development) before blaming policymakers Make "outdated and inaccurate allegations".
The statement also reveals what has become a talking point for tech giants as antitrust law has risen on the political agenda in recent years - which is the claim that breaking internet giants wouldn't actually fix anything.
Rather, Google (like Amazon) warns of the economic ruin that awaits the US economy - even due to a "minor" intervention to tinker with the sacred protective measures anchored in Section 230 - and of the geopolitical decline of American technology leadership (revenue ) a similar approach to Facebook). Or in other words, cut off Google and American bleeding. But also no, we are not a monopoly, damn no! We are just a very fast fleet operator in a "highly competitive industry". So, um, what is it?
Interestingly, Google is the only tech giant to include a soft soap for lawmakers in this first response to the Antitrust Committee report. He writes that he "supports Congress, which is focusing on areas where clearer laws would help consumers". (Translation: Stick to the little things and leave the important things of making money to big technology.)
Interoperability is called here (because which technology solution manager does not love a technology solution for a monopoly problem); as well as alleged support for the passage of "comprehensive federal privacy laws". (Because a weaker federal framework is the only way to overturn state-level privacy laws with teeth like CCPA).
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Here is the full explanation from Google:
Google's free products like Search, Maps, and Gmail help millions of Americans, and we've invested billions of dollars in research and development to build and improve them. We compete fairly in a fast-paced and highly competitive industry. We disagree with today's reports that contain outdated and inaccurate allegations from commercial competitors about Search and other services.
Americans just don't want Congress to break Google's products or interfere with the free services they use on a daily basis. The aim of antitrust law is to protect consumers, not to help commercial competitors. Many of the proposals that have been reported in today's reports - whether it is company liquidation or going below Section 230 - would do real harm to consumers, America's technology leadership, and the US economy - all with no clear profit.
We support Congress by focusing on areas where clearer laws would help consumers. Some of these are mentioned in today's reports: Google has long advocated the importance of data portability and open mobile platforms. We’re arguing in the Supreme Court tomorrow over the important principle of software interoperability. and we have called on Congress to pass comprehensive federal law to protect privacy. We look forward to working with Congress on these and other issues.
TechCrunch's Taylor Hatmaker contributed to this report
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