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Elizabeth Warren Says Apple, Amazon and Google Are Trying to ‘Lock Out’ the Competition

Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:

Warren had different beefs with Google, Apple and Amazon, but the common thread was that she accused each one of using its powerful platforms to “lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” including some that compete with Google, Apple and Amazon.

Google, she said, uses “its dominant search engine to harm rivals of its Google Plus user review feature;” Apple “has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services” that compete with Apple Music; and Amazon “uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other publishers.”

Shockingly, Spotify agreed:

But Spotify, which has complained about the fee Apple charges music services — and other services — that sign up subscribers using its iOS platform, was happy to comment. Here’s Jonathan Prince, who runs communications and public policy for the streaming music company:

“Apple has long used its control of iOS to squash competition in music, driving up the prices of its competitors, inappropriately forbidding us from telling our customers about lower prices, and giving itself unfair advantages across its platform through everything from the lock screen to Siri. You know there’s something wrong when Apple makes more off a Spotify subscription than it does off an Apple Music subscription and doesn’t share any of that with the music industry. They want to have their cake and eat everyone else’s too.”

A few quick thoughts:

  • This is why America needs a sane, moderate, pro-business Republican Party. I love Elizabeth Warren, I really do, but as a staunch capitalist these remarks give me pause. These remarks sound more like something from a leader in the European Union, not the United States.

  • It’s hilarious that she cites Amazon’s dominance of the e-books market, but it’s Apple that is paying out a $400 million settlement. To me that’s a perfect example where government oversight power was turned into a political weapon.

  • How strange is it to the ears of anyone who lived through the 1990s that there’s a discussion of tech companies abusing their positions of power, and Microsoft is not even mentioned? Microsoft’s fall from dominance is evidence that competition works — it just takes a long time for big shifts to come into focus.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016