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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The tech crackdown

France fines Apple more than $1 billion:
France’s national competition regulator announced on Monday it has fined American tech giant Apple a record €1.1 billion ($1.23bn) for anti-competitive practices after nearly a decade of investigations. The decision comes over Apple’s alleged anti-competitive behavior in its distribution and sales networks.

The authority said that two of Apple’s wholesalers, Tech Data and Ingram Micro, were fined €63 million and €76 million respectively for unlawfully agreeing on prices.

According to the French regulator, “Apple and its two wholesalers have agreed not to compete with each other and to prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilising the wholesale market for Apple products.”
Expect other European countries to follow suit soon. Pretty much everyone around the world is utterly sick of the unethical and anti-competitive behavior of the US-based tech giants. Their rising competitors are going to clean their clocks over the next decade.

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33 Comments:

Blogger Chief_Tuscaloosa March 17, 2020 2:15 PM  

Fantastic news, but would like to know if the ROI for Apple engaging in this behavior is still to the good even after the fine. They made billions--hard to say how much of that was due to anti-competitive practices. Here's hoping the frogs go after AMZ, MSFT et al.

Blogger Mr. Naron March 17, 2020 2:16 PM  

Now do Google.

Blogger KPKinSunnyPhiladelphia March 17, 2020 2:17 PM  

Apple's approach to pricing, even from days of Steve Jobs running the show, inevitably has them run afoul of regulators. Their view has always been "Our products merit the highest prices possible and you other participants in the supply chain had better toe the line."

And it doesn't matter if Apple is a distributor, as it is with iTunes and Apps, or a manufacturer, as it is with devices, this way of operating is part of the company's cultural ecosytem.

Depending on your perspective, it's sleazily anti-competitive, or it's hard nosed business practice that allows consistent high gross margins and prevents price erosion and price erosion's accompanying problems.

So, yeah, I get it, it's not just a bad look, but it's also ethically troubling.

But I am not selling my Apple stock anytime soon. This fine, assuming they ever pay it, is a speed bump.



Blogger One Deplorable DT March 17, 2020 2:23 PM  

The only problem with this is that $1.23 billion is nothing to Apple. Fines need to scale with the value of the business being fined otherwise they become just another cost of doing business where the illegal behavior is more profitable than the fine.

Apple should have been hit harder, and that's coming from someone who has been a fan of many Apple products. (Still like macOS better than Windows or Linux, though it has been slipping as Apple hires more and more pajeets. Funny how that happens.)

Blogger Zander Stander March 17, 2020 2:27 PM  

One billion is a thousandth part of one trillion. If I grabbled one thousand dollars and get punished to the tune of one dollar, I win. We need more drastic measures. Maybe invol ing baying mobs, torches and freshly honed pitchforks.

Blogger Rakshasa March 17, 2020 2:28 PM  

Let's not lose sight of the fundamentals; all transnational entities above a certain size do the same.

It is just that the French, and the EU in earlier instances, realizing they can leech some money from these behemoth sources. Doesn't mean they're going to do any kind of reforms that might benefit the plebs, it's all just fights over resources at the upper levels.

Blogger OneWingedShark March 17, 2020 2:34 PM  

I wonder how long until we see US action against them: Anti-trust/-monopoly, employment-fraud (H1B scams), RICO… all of these could be applied to BigTech.

Blogger cecilhenry March 17, 2020 2:42 PM  

Interesting, but with a $16 billion dollar profit per quarter its a very minor slap on the wrist for 10 years.


It would have to be $20 billion to even cause a blink.

Its a start....


With regards to the ethical crises in Science™, this interview with a prominent Scientist is of note:

The Reproducibility Crisis

What is the reproducibility crisis?

How bad is it? (Its bad)

What can be done about it and what has been done about it?


(You'll note that the speaker is very concerned that this Science crisis not damage the credibility of many big science endeavors, like 'climate change'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v778svukrtU

Blogger kurt9 March 17, 2020 2:43 PM  

Good. Very good.

Blogger Nikolai Collushnikov March 17, 2020 2:45 PM  

Also, someone seems to have flipped Google. Search for "happy couple" or "European people" on Google Images, what do you notice? That's right.

Blogger Tom d March 17, 2020 3:09 PM  

Apple is also notorious in the Right To Repair movement, maintaining monopoly control of the repair market at outrageous markups. Apple and other tech giants use regulations to put up harsh barriers to entry for independent, 3rd party repair services and limit distribution of repair parts or hardware diagrams and schematics by falsely claiming IP or other patent protection.

Blogger J Van Stry March 17, 2020 3:18 PM  

I was hoping that when Obama left office, that the DOJ would go after a number of companies who are engaging in breaking the law here with these practices.
Sadly, either Trump doesn't care, or he didn't fire enough people. Because they keep looking the other way, even when several tech companies now have monopolies that they are abusing blatantly.

Blogger Rakshasa March 17, 2020 3:26 PM  

Did a "happy couple" search on google, and got something that didn't represent my reality: it was 90% a white guy with a girl.

Google Image search is clearly broken, I always assumed by what it showed me that only black guys could get girls.

Blogger swiftfoxmark2 March 17, 2020 3:35 PM  

Their company logo celebrates the Fall of Man.

Can we expect anything less?

Blogger Lim March 17, 2020 3:35 PM  

@Nikolai Collushnikov
Interesting development

Blogger Bernard Korzeniewicz March 17, 2020 3:42 PM  

You say Google is broken…
EU too. Just saw in Polish news. The Military on Polish-German border patrolling with combat gear. The Czech border too.
Also Poland closed borders for all non-citizens.
Also Polish national airlines are sending chartered planes for all Poles abroad from Bahama to Berlin. To board a plane one does not need papers. An old cell phone number registered in Poland is good enough.
WTFrak???

Blogger Zander Stander March 17, 2020 3:50 PM  

At least it was mostly cisgender heteronorm couples? Then google is clearly losing it big time.

Blogger Doug H March 17, 2020 3:52 PM  

Not to diminish the top tech firms (break them up like Ma Bell) practices; even without COVID-19, EU member states were on a money hunt. Since every Western country has rules and regulations so complex and cross-purpose to other rules and regulations that an audit of any company at any time can result in fines. An auditor could "choose" to classify some item/expense/rule another way than the company did and !voila! --> instant windfall.

I expect the hunt for revenue will get more intense as politicians have to be seen "doing something"-TM.

Blogger Brett baker March 17, 2020 4:07 PM  

Kinda like the US with banks.

Blogger Beans March 17, 2020 4:24 PM  

On the other hand, maybe if there was the ability to have tech giants in France, or Germany, or Norway, or Liechtenstein and the monopolies were in their countries, I'd bet they'd be quite happy in world domination of tech controlled by their people and laws and taxes.

Truck off, Europe.

If you can't develop a decent platform, shut up and pay the piper.

If you want control over a platform, shut up and develop your own and try to make people use it (didn't work for the French videophone computer system that the French developed and forced people to try to use it rather than the budding internet and cell systems.

Meh. As arrogant and outrageous as some of the big tech monopolies are, you have to admit they did a bang-up job getting to where they were.

Europeans are all for control of something, as long as they are in control of it. Once they aren't (like the travel ban enacted for Corona-Chan,) they will snivel and whine like the spoiled 3yoa or the 90yoa dementia patient they are.

Blogger Uncle John's Band March 17, 2020 4:38 PM  

Google is also running Trump's national Corona-chan software and was quick to slap down fake news reports that they weren't.

Too soon to say, but they may have accepted a new deal.

Blogger One Deplorable DT March 17, 2020 5:45 PM  

@21 - Too soon to say, but they may have accepted a new deal.

Perhaps Trump made them an offer they couldn't refuse.

Blogger Dire Badger March 17, 2020 5:49 PM  

It's about time. Do foreigners believe that we actually LIKE Faceborg, Apfel, Wal-Fart, Micro$oft, or MonSatano being the designated face of our country?

Blogger Damelon Brinn March 17, 2020 6:00 PM  

Google is also running Trump's national Corona-chan software

I thought that had to be a joke when I first saw it. There's no way Google would do anything to help Trump out, unless something big has changed.

Blogger KPKinSunnyPhiladelphia March 17, 2020 6:02 PM  

Tom d wrote:Apple is also notorious in the Right To Repair movement, maintaining monopoly control of the repair market at outrageous markups. Apple and other tech giants use regulations to put up harsh barriers to entry for independent, 3rd party repair services and limit distribution of repair parts or hardware diagrams and schematics by falsely claiming IP or other patent protection.

Right indeed, though some of Apple's complaints have held up.

Another part of company's business culture ecosystem.

On the other hand, they are mostly selling products, which in the end you can take or leave because there is other similar stuff out there. While in contrast, Google and Facebook are trying to control your mind, with Facebook trying to get everyone on the planet addicted.

It's a distinction with a difference. So while Apple is a bit sleazoid, Google and Facebook are evil.

Blogger Akulkis March 17, 2020 6:55 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Oswald March 17, 2020 6:57 PM  

Slowing down phones, definitely unethical. Making agreement with wholesalers to sell your products at the same price doesn't seem so on its face. I therefore must assume that Apple must have some arrangement with its wholesalers where Apple makes more money off per phone if the sales price stays high. Consequently, the reason they would attempt to fix the price.

Blogger Rek. March 17, 2020 7:04 PM  

Never go full retard.

Blogger urthshu March 17, 2020 7:15 PM  

>If you can't develop a decent platform, shut up and pay the piper.

They did. BeOS. Bought out and buried. Legendary system.

Blogger mrpinks March 17, 2020 7:16 PM  

Looking at how fake products can now enter legitimate distribution channels now, I would argue that the Apple distribution channel protection is a defense against the fake market.

Blogger Dyspeptic March 17, 2020 8:36 PM  

"Their rising competitors are going to clean their clocks over the next decade."

At which point these rising competitors will likely become that which they vanquished. It seems the only hope for us plebeians is to encourage government and big tech to fight each other tooth and claw and hope we don't get squashed during the battle of the malevolent titans.

Blogger Akulkis March 17, 2020 8:45 PM  

"(Still like macOS better than Windows or Linux, though it has been slipping as Apple hires more and more pajeets. Funny how that happens.)"

Pajeet don't hack!

[/LTC-Kilgore]

Blogger liberranter March 17, 2020 11:25 PM  

@4:

The only problem with this is that $1.23 billion is nothing to Apple. Fines need to scale with the value of the business being fined otherwise they become just another cost of doing business where the illegal behavior is more profitable than the fine.

Although I have no idea how the French government calculates such fines, especially for transnational corporations like Apple, it could be that they base them on a percentage of the gross revenue that the company earns in the French market. Thus while €1.1 billion is chump change to Apple as a whole, that figure might represent a significant percentage of its income from sales within France. In other words, if they're fined, say, the equivalent of 25 percent (just to pick a random significant figure) of the value of their revenue in France for a given year, it serves as a deterrent to repeats of the behavior when selling in France. Further steep fines would make operating there unprofitable and lead to loss of market share.

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