anti trust

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I just wanted to ask a question I remember in the 90s everyone concerned about Microsoft antitrust and putting Netscape out business and having control over industry and possibly putting Citrix out business.

But yet Google is the only game in search except for a few small players why don’t we here much about antitrust they are in the same position of power that Microsoft was in during the 90s if not more so just wondering what everyone thought and what might happen.

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30 responses to “anti trust”

  1. Avatar

    provision l-3

    Being a monopoly in and of itself is not illegal. The problem is when you use that position to harm others. For Google to run into any sort of anti-trust action it would have to be shown that they used their position as a search monopoly to in some way harm their competition.


    It's also worth pointing out that Google has run into several antitrust issues in the EU.


    Note: Before someone gets all upset and argues that Google is in fact abusing their place as the largest search engine, I am not saying one way or another if Google is actually abusing their power.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to provision l-3:

      The problem is, they are an advertising monopoly, a search monopoly, a smartphone OS monopoly, and they are leveraging thos positions to cross-promote other products, such as News, Shopping etc. or putting unfair restrictions on the use of their products - E.g. if somebody makes Android handsets, they have to decide, whether they want "official" Google Android or AOSP, if they put Google Android on one handset, they cannot sell any other non-Google Android (i.e. Android Open Source Project) powered devices. They are also forced to pre-install a whole range of Google products on the devices, whether the manufacturer has their own equivalents or whether the consumer wants those apps or not - a lot of them cannot be uninstalled.

  2. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    Nobody forces you to use Google search. You can call up other search engines in Chrome, and set them as default. MS make Bing the default engine in Win10 for search/Cortana, and you can't change those, so I don't think there's any anti-trust issues there. Yes, Google want you use their search, just like MS want you to use Bing, and both will nudge you in that direction, but ultimately, the user has a choice. Google have just become synonymous with search though - purely by being the best at it.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Over here, Bing only has around 5% market share, at most, whilst Google has between 85 and 95% market share, so that is why it isn't an issue for Microsoft. On the other hand with around 90% search (taking the average of the estimates for the last 5 years) and 84% of the smartphone market, that certainly makes it fall under the purview of anti-trust commission, to see whether Google is abusing that position - having that market share, as I've said elsewhere isn't the problem, the problem is if they abuse their position to promote other non-related services to the detriment of competition.

  3. Avatar

    nfeed2000t

    Unless you have a patentable protocol like CDMA, most software is reproducible. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it is hard to reproduce. Unfortunately for Netscape, Netscape came at a time when Bill Gates was still engaged and had a Michael Jordan level competitiveness.  Of course Windows should have a bundled browser.

  4. Avatar

    helix2301

    I have ofter speculated that someone in DC had a stake in Netscape when it was worth billions and did not want to loose what they had invested

  5. Avatar

    cadrethree

    Microsoft made made a lot of mistakes at the height of it's monopoly days. As other people have said not paying the men in D.C., and the arrogance they displayed was bad. What really did in Microsoft was their "Perception" in industry and with their customers. They were perceived to have a grip on your throat while reaching into to your pockets. Most companies and normal customers hated Microsoft and their products. Google now is seen as a company that sells your information, but gives away Android and most of their services to the average man. Most people are happy with Google and their products. Do you really think anyone is going to raise a stink to punish Google? Probably not.


    Google exists as the behemoth it is today because of government intervention against Microsoft, not likely they'll go back and say we made a mistake. They'll say Bing exists and it's funded by one of the largest companies on earth so we have healthy competition in the industry. Even though everyone understands that they are giving away Android to extend their monopoly in search and extinguish competition in both OS's, phones, and search. When Google finally kills Windows, and extends it's market share in both phones and search will anyone notice. Besides Nadella and Microsoft holding hands with Google, it's biggest threat to its existence not making a peep? Why would anyone else say boo to Googgle? Now FB, everyone hates that company. :)

    • Avatar

      locust infested orchard inc

      Quote by cadrethree, "Most people are happy with Google and their products. Do you really think anyone is going to raise a stink to punish Google? Probably not.":


      I most certainly despise the belligerent attitude of Google and their business model. For a mega-corporation, their products are fairly unspectacular, with some of their products engaging in Chrime.


      If I were in a position of considerable legal power, I would ensure Google would be brought to book, "raising a stink to punish Google" for its devious business practices, and giving the impression to be offering free services in return for displaying ads and data-siphoning.

    • Avatar

      skane2600

      In reply to cadrethree:

      I think a significant percentage of tech-savvy people hated Microsoft, but I don't believe that the average person had that attitude. Jealousy in that group was certainly a factor. I recall how it bugged me that Bill Gates, a guy that was primarily a software developer like me was the richest man in the world. Of course it was more complicated than that but that was my emotional reaction at the time. That was also period when many Open Source folks hated all things proprietary and MS was the biggest symbol of that (ignoring the fact that key elements of today's technology were born in proprietary monopolies like AT&T, Xerox, and IBM).

      • Avatar

        cadrethree

        In reply to skane2600:


        Most of the people at that time in my group used the term "hated". Now most were older than me so it's possible they were experiencing frustration with using technology they didn't grow up with (PC's). But at that time you had constant news reports of viruses in Windows and the general nature of their buggy software. The only good press Microsoft got was backhanded complinents. Ultimately, what people wanted is Windows to function like Apple without the their "tax". I remember starting to hate using Microsoft and looked into other software like Linux and Staroffice among others to get away from them. Honestly they seem to be going down the same path with constant updating and general complexity of their current software stacks. It's also not a good sign that the future hopes (Online Services) of the entire company is in the news for repeatedly going down, just like the 90's. I'm hopeful for the future with Windows Lite, guess we will have to see. The one thing I hope Microsoft takes from Apple is less is more. Genius is taking the most complex technology in world and making it simple enough for 90 percent of the rest of the world to use. Microsoft seems to think that to be more high tech, they need to add complexity to already existing products. Or even worse come up with stuff so cutting edge that people are turned off from their products. So brilliant, but oh so thick. They are like a favored son that constantly screws up!




        • Avatar

          skane2600

          In reply to cadrethree:

          I don't recall a lot of bugs in Microsoft software, but it's true that prior to Windows NT the existence of real mode code meant that software bugs in applications could fairly easily crash Windows. I worked at a company that used ccMail and it crashed people's PCs all the time but since my group was using NT, it only crashed itself and we just kept on working.


          In those days the vast majority of Windows users had never used the Mac so they would have no basis for wanting Windows to function like it.


          While a bad implementation can add complexity, most complexity comes directly from functionality. I'm not sure if offering simplistic capabilities to an unsophisticated audience qualifies as genius.

          • Avatar

            wright_is

            In reply to skane2600:

            I was on MSDN and Technet when NT 4, Windows 95 and 98 were released. The bug tracking database that you got on the CDs every quarter listed tens of thousands of unfixed bugs on Microsoft products, and they were just the new ones or the low priority ones that hadn't been fixed.

            Then there were the problems with Windows XP, which famously delayed the release of Longhorn, because XP was so insecure that they dropped everything they were doing and worked on getting XP into a fit state to exposed to the Internet - and that occurred with XP SP2. That is why Vista took so long to appear and why people were so reluctant to upgrade after XP - instead of an annual or biannual update, they suddenly had been using the same software for over half a decade and had gotten out of the habit of having to upgrade.

            Like any other big software project, Microsoft's code is full of bugs, some major, some minor. That is why Windows and Office, along with GNU/Linux, LibreOffice and pretty much any other software with more than a couple of dozen lines of code needs regular security and quality updates.

            Why do you think Windows gets the quality and security updates every month? Bugs, that's why!

            • Avatar

              skane2600

              In reply to wright_is:

              All significant software has bugs but remember that this sub-thread is singling-out Microsoft. Did Apple even publish a bug tracking database for its products so people could compare? When I said "I don't remember a lot of bugs" I meant exactly that. For most people the only bugs that matter are those they encounter that create a problem for them. Prior to NT, the most common problem people encountered was badly written third-party applications crashing Windows.

  6. Avatar

    Darekmeridian

    Having a monopoly is not illegal or grounds for an anti-trust case. Using a monopoly to shut out other competitors is where you get into DOJ problems. So far in the US Google may have a near monopoly on search, and maybe a case for manipulating advertising thru their search service (most of what the EU is hot under the collar about) but they are still on the right side of the line in the sand.


    A lot of the time we get lines crossed in what's immoral, or crappy business practices and what's illegal.



  7. Avatar

    Bob Nelson

    The antitrust case against Microsoft was pushed hard because MS wouldn't share the wealth with the corrupt swamp creatures in Washington DC.


    Gates thought he was far enough removed from DC that he didn't need to donate (bribe) to those swine.


    He learned his lesson fast though. Before the dust cleared from the settlement, MS had established a lobbying presence in DC.


    They've pretty much left MS alone ever since.


    And the rest of the tech industry was paying attention, and started sending their bag men out to stave off any further trouble.


  8. Avatar

    Chris_Kez

    I think you'll hear increasing noise about Google and Facebook and maybe Amazon* , but legislators here in the US barely understand how these companies work. It will be years before there is any framework in the US for actually doing anything. Someone else mentioned Ben Thompson's work at stratechery.com ; I recommend reading his pieces on aggregation theory to understand why it will be so hard to do anything about these companies.

    *Amazon is huge in multiple areas but would not be considered a monopoly in any of them

    • Avatar

      locust infested orchard inc

      In reply to Chris_Kez:

      I concur with your opinion. When Zuckerberg took a two-day trip to Capitol Hill for a congressional grilling back in April 2018, it was made evidently clear that the lawmakers do not have a grasp as to how Fakebook makes money or works.


      By the time the US government understands how social media companies operate in manifesting their mega profits, these here-today, gone-tommorrow tech companies shall either no longer be around, or be a shadow of their former selves.


      The only saving grace is the EU who are prepared to take a stand against these tech titans.


      As for the US, well there's more constructive things to be doing, and literally so as the US-Mexico wall is priority number one for the lampooned commander-in-chief.


      Regarding Amazon, well it would appear it has a monopoly over ecommerce, selling just about anything and everything – but only in the West. In India they have Flipkart, and in August 2018 Walmart completed its $16 billion acquisition (Amazon lost out to Walmart in their bid for Flipkart).


      China too have their own Amazon equivalents, with Taobao (owned by Alibaba) and JD.com (Tencent have a 20% stake).


      So on the global scale of things, Amazon is competing for supremacy against its eastern counterparts, ensuring Bezos has plenty to keep him busy over the next decade or three.

  9. Avatar

    minke

    I have wondered about this issue with all of the major tech companies. Look at Facebook's domination of social networking. Between FB and Google there is not much business left in the online advertising space. Or, how about Apple and Samsung in smartphones? The problem I see in calling them monopolies is that there are actually many competitors in each area. There are tons of search engines out there, even if Google has 99% of the market. There are hundreds of alternative social networking platforms, even though Facebook dominates. Are these truly monopolies? As wright_is points out, it is how these companies use their vast power and wealth that could fall afoul of laws in the EU and in the USA. Do they use their power to squash the competition? Obviously, they do that to some extent, but that doesn't seem to stop an endless stream of competitors from trying. Look at all the email providers out there, with some seeming to make a decent go of it, despite the dominance of Gmail of Outlook.

    • Avatar

      wright_is

      In reply to Minke:

      But it is the market share that is important. If there are lots of competitors and none of them is dominant, then the market is working fine. If one company has a huge majority of the market space, that can be a problem and that is why companies that have such a large market share are subject to extra restrictions, so they cannot abuse their position, for example from advertising to break into smartphones or being a shopping platform etc. the domination in one market gives them an unfair advantage in those other markets.

      And that is the accusation that Google currently faces, not that it dominates advertising (and search) and smartphones, but that it is using that position to squeeze competitors out of other markets.

  10. Avatar

    wright_is

    There are several (dozens) of investigations about various parts of Google under way outside of America, especially in Europe, where Google, probably the biggest advert brocker in the world, also has over 90% search market share and around 84% smartphone market share (with Android, not just Pixel).

    They have been investigated and fined for misusing their advertising platform to prefer their own products (other comparison engines were shoved off the first page, because they were not relevant, only Google's comparisons were deemed relevant. The same for shopping results.

    They are being investigated for cross-promotion and the forced bundling of Google applications on Android and forcing the use of Google's Android, instead of the open source version - basically, if you want to manufacturer a phone with Google Android, you are forbidden to also produce an open source Android device; even for third parties. This is why Amazon can't use manufacturers who specialise in Android devices, they have to find a manufacturer who doesn't make licensed Google Android devices for themselves or other customers.

    The EU commission says that if somebody wants to buy a Samsung or Hauwei device with AOSP instead of Google Android, there should be nothing to stop them doing so, but, currently, Google won't let the manufacturers have a free hand.

    There are also several investigations into Google Shopping and Google News and AdWords.

  11. Avatar

    karlinhigh

    See Ben Thompson's work, stratechery.com


    He says USA antitrust is mainly concerned about harm to consumers. If consumer harm can't be shown, there's little to be done.

    • Avatar

      MikeGalos

      In reply to karlinhigh:

      Actually, that is the OLD interpretation of anti-trust law. That changed with DOJ v. Microsoft where consumer harm was not considered a requirement.


      As an example, Microsoft had an option in their OEM contract that gave a discount to OEMs who didn't ship more than a minimum of "shovelware" with their PCs. You know, things like trial versions of multiple anti-virus packages and evaluation copies of shareware. It was one way OEMs got any profit at the low end. Microsoft's discount was designed to minimize that so the consumer would have a better experience rather than spending hours removing garbage the OEM got paid to install. It didn't pay as well as the shovelware but it helped.


      That was ruled abuse of monopoly power because it harmed the shovelware vendors. Nobody in the trial even bothered to claim there was ANY consumer harm from Microsoft's actions and the basis of the claim was purely on harm to the shovelware vendors. (And, yes, I read all 7,000+ pages of the transcripts)

  12. Avatar

    simont

    Nothing much. Current American politics has no problems with monopolies.

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