Category: antitrust

June 5, 2019 Off

Google appeals $1.7BN EU AdSense antitrust fine

By Jill T Frey

Like clockwork, Google has filed a legal appeal against the €1.49 billion ($1.7BN) antitrust penalty the European Commission slapped on its search ad brokering business three months ago.

The Telegraph reported late yesterday that the appeal had been lodged in the General Court of the European Union in Brussels.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the appeal has been filed but declined to comment further.

Reached for comment, a Commission spokesperson told us: “The Commission will defend its decision in Court.”

The AdSense antitrust decision is the third fine for Google under the Commission’s current antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager — who also issued a $5BN penalty for anti-competitive behaviors attached to Android last summer; following a $2.7BN fine for Google Shopping antitrust violations, in mid 2017.

Google is appealing both earlier penalties but has also made changes to how it operates Google Shopping and Android in Europe in the … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Aptoide, a Play Store rival, cries antitrust foul over Google hiding its app

By Jill T Frey

As US regulators gear up to launch another antitrust probe of Google’s business, an alternative Android app store is dialling up its long time complaint of anti-competitive behavior against the search and smartphone OS giant.

Portugal-based Aptoide is launching a campaign website to press its case and call for Google to “Play Fair” — accusing Mountain View of squeezing consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their preferred app store”.

Aptoide filed its first EU antitrust complaint against Google all the way back in 2014, joining a bunch of other complainants crying foul over how Google was operating Android.

And while the European Commission did eventually step in, slapping Google with a $5BN penalty for antitrust abuses last summer after a multi-year investigation, rivals continue to complain the Android maker still isn’t playing fair.

In the case of Aptoide, the alternative Android app store says Google has … Read the rest

May 29, 2019 Off

Apple’s new App Store website takes aim at antitrust, anti-competitive claims

By Jill T Frey

Just ahead of WWDC, Apple has launched a new App Store website in the hopes of better defending itself against recent antitrust and anti-competitive accusations. The website details how Apple runs its App Store, including how apps are curated and reviewed, and what business models are available to developers. It also features a section entitled “A Store that welcomes competition,” where Apple makes the case for a marketplace where its own apps live alongside those from third-party developers.

For example, it showcases how Apple’s own Messages app competes with Messenger, Slack, Snapchat and Viber; Apple’s Mail competes with Gmail, Outlook, Spark and Yahoo Mail; Maps competes with Google Maps, Citymapper, MAPS.ME and Waze; and so on.

Spotify, naturally, is listed among the competitors for both Apple’s Music and Podcasts apps.

That’s not a surprise, given that Spotify has recently been making the case that Apple operates an anti-competitive environment. … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

CFIUS Cometh: What this obscure agency does and why it matters to your fund or startup

By Jill T Frey

On January 12, 2016, Grindr announced it had sold a 60% controlling stake in the company to Beijing Kunlun Tech, a Chinese gaming firm, valuing the company at $155 million. Champagne bottles were surely popped at the small-ish firm.

Though not at a unicorn-level valuation, the 9-figure exit was still respectable and signaled a bright future for the gay hookup app. Indeed, two years later, Kunlun bought the rest of the firm at more than double the valuation and was planning a public offering for Grindr.

On March 27, 2019, it all fell apart. Kunlun was putting Grindr up Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

Supreme Court rules against Apple, allows an App Store antitrust case to proceed

By Jill T Frey

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against Apple on Monday on a case involving whether or not a group of iPhone users will be allowed to bring an antitrust lawsuit against the company regarding its App Store practices. The iPhone owners allege that Apple’s 30% commission on App Store sales is passed along to users, representing an unlawful and unfair use of Apple’s monopoly power.

Apple had moved to have the case dismissed, arguing that consumers were buying their apps from the developers — not from Apple. And it was the developers who were setting the prices. The court disagreed, saying that Apple contracts with the third-party developers to sell the 2 million apps that are live today on its App Store, keeping its 30% commission on every sale along the way.

In addition, the court ruled in favor of the iPhone owners’ lawsuit proceeding for several other reasons. It … Read the rest

April 27, 2019 Off

How a blockchain startup with 1M users is working to break your Google habit

By Jill T Frey

The antitrust argument that says big tech needs breaking up to stop platforms abusing competition and consumers in a two-faced role as seller and (manipulative) marketplace may only just be getting going on a mainstream political stage — but startups have been at the coal face of the fight against crushing platform power for years.

Presearch, a 2017-founded, pro-privacy blockchain-based startup that’s using cryptocurrency tokens as an incentive to decentralize search — and thereby (it hopes) loosen Google’s grip on what Internet users find and experience — was born out of the frustration, almost a decade before, of trying to build a local listing business only to have its efforts downranked by Google.

That business, Silicon Valley-based ShopCity.com, was founded in 2008 and offers local business search on Google’s home turf — operating sites like ShopPaloAlto.com and ShopMountainView.com — intended to promote local businesses by making them easier to … Read the rest