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Just because Apple can do as they please, doesn't mean they ought to be allowed to.

Antitrust is a useful tool for when players end up controlling monopolies and using them in anti-competitive ways.






There's an interesting philosophical question there. Can a vendor who has 15% marketshare really be called a monopoly?

Sure, they have complete control over who publishes on their own platform, but that sort of thing happens all the time without anyone batting an eyelash at it: The major console vendors do this, as did all cell phone vendors in the pre-smartphone era. My digital camera does this.

That leaves me thinking there's no real ground for invoking antitrust laws on this issue. Though there's still plenty of room to say that these policies are consumer-hostile and not in the public interest, and therefore there ought to be a law against it.


> There's an interesting philosophical question there. Can a vendor who has 15% marketshare really be called a monopoly?

Philosophically interesting perhaps, but legally irrelevant. EU competition law is primarily concerned with dominant market positions and the abuse of that dominance. As the junior partner in a duopoly, Apple are inarguably powerful enough to substantially manipulate the market.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_competition_law...


The EU competition commission would be very unlikely to place restrictions on allowable behavior until you reach a 40% market share.

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/antitrust/procedures_102_en....

40% share is certainly a much lower bar than in the US, but would still not apply to Apple's share of EU smartphones.

Smart watches, on the other hand…


40% share is a general principle, but it isn't absolute. Apple have a ~27% market share for smartphone sales, but they have a considerably larger share of the overall mobile app market and the App Store obviously has a 100% monopoly on iOS apps. They're in an effective duopoly with Google, which considerably reduces the competitiveness of the market and therefore the threshold for market dominance. It's also worth bearing in mind the serious concerns within the EU about the hegemony of major tech companies.

From your source:

>The Commission also takes other factors into account in its assessment of dominance, including the ease with which other companies can enter the market – whether there are any barriers to this; the existence of countervailing buyer power; the overall size and strength of the company and its resources and the extent to which it is present at several levels of the supply chain (vertical integration).

Apple clearly score very highly on most of these points.


and phones have [some fraction] marketshare on overall devices people buy, what's your point?

the argument is markets within the ios ecosystem, of which there's effectively one, and how it affects developers' ability to build on that ecosystem.


That's great to hear, and makes me feel a lot more confident that something will actually happen.

My mistake, I was thinking of this in terms of US law, which is much less effective on these sorts of issues.


you're comparing different markets. that's like saying Earth has 1/8th the marketshare on planets therefore nothing that happens here can be called monopolistic.

Antitrust would not apply here as Apple's share of the smartphone market is less than monopolistic.

There is a stronger case against Amazon for selling Amazon-branded, well-moving products like batteries and diapers, even though they don't stifle the other brands.


> Antitrust would not apply here as Apple's share of the smartphone market is less than monopolistic.

Having had to take antitrust training at my company in the past few weeks, I can say that you are very mistaken if you think antitrust only kicks in when the company is a monopoly.


Can you elaborate on why I am mistaken?

Antitrust covers in general anticompetitive practices, and has done so since the original Sherman Antitrust Act. So, for example, colluding with another business to fix prices is covered under antitrust, even if the sum of the businesses concerned do not constitute a monopolistic power in the industry. The other common category is the various rules around the preference of a company's other product lines over competitors--the line between "legal" and "illegal" is a little more blurry here.

You can fall afoul of these conditions if you have "sufficient market power", which is a substantially broader claim than "monopoly power." I don't think there's any lawyer that would try to claim that Apple doesn't have "market power"--note that the smartphone market, from an OS perspective, is basically a duopoly.


You _might_ have an argument here: "The other common category is the various rules around the preference of a company's other product lines over competitors". We'll see what the courts decide

You can just look at the case history.

https://www.justice.gov/atr/antitrust-case-filings


If we make this about phone sales, sure. If the market is mobile app purchases, Apple’s platform and store is absolutely the dominant player.

Apple/Google is pretty much a duopoly. Which can be as bad.

In a more fitting analogy, Amazon is actually a model citizen compared to Apple.

Both Hulu and Netflix compete directly with Prime Video, and both 1) are available as free apps for Kindle and the Amazon Fire Stick TV and 2) literally rely on Amazon hardware to run through AWS.


no reason not to go after both. "Two wrongs" and all.

It’s important to define exactly what is “anti-competitive.” If Apple banned Spotify or Deezer, that could be considered anti-competitive. But they aren’t. Netflix has original programming, is that anti-competitive? Don’t Netflix originals compete against non-Netflix shows for streaming revenue? Are there alternatives to Netflix? Yes. Are there alternatives to the App Store? Yes: Spotify could, for example be web-only if they wanted to. Spotify also could sell on macOS, Windows, Chrome, Android, and Linux. “Having an app” isn’t a particular right, but even a requirement for reaching users. Also, they don’t have to sell their subscriptions via in-app purchase; that can be done via web without paying Apple’s commission.

Microsoft got busted for undercutting Netscape with their own product in a way Netscape is incapable of competing with.

On the other hand, you say Apple is free and clear for undercutting Spotify with their own product in a way that Spotify is incapable of competing with.




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