Tag: monopoly

South Korea prosecutors expand charges against Samsung boss

South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office has expanded charges against Samsung boss Jay Lee to include hiding the proceeds of a criminal act.

Prosecutors are seeking a warrant to arrest Lee as part of the President Park Sang-jin bribery scandal.

Lee and the Samsung have denied doing anything wrong and President Park was already bribed when they got there.

A Seoul court said on Tuesday it would hold a hearing to decide on the prosecution’s request for warrants to arrest Jay Y. Lee and Samsung and other charges.

This is a second go for the prosecutors to arrest Lee as so far there had not been enough to have him arrested. South Korea is always reluctant to arrest the bosses of its super companies claiming that there was an economic impact from locking up CEO’s.

Jay’s old man was convicted and imprisoned for a while on similar charges until he was officially pardoned so that he could go back and make lots of money for Samsung and South Korea.  It is fairly likely that Jay will get an automatic get out of jail free card even if he is convicted.

Google’s Euro fine likely to be $3.4 billion

monopoly (1)The European Commission is likely to fine the search engine outfit Google about $3.4 billion.

British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph appears to have found a deep throat who is prepared to tell hacks how much cash Google is expected to pay out.

The European Union has accused Google of promoting its shopping service in internet searches at the expense of rival services in a case that has dragged on since late 2010.

Google now had no plans to try to settle the allegations unless the EU watchdog changed its stance. That stance apparently means that Google’s no compromise position is going to cost it cash.

The announcement is expected next month. It might even go a bit higher as there are still some numbers to be added in.

Google will also be banned from continuing to manipulate search results to favour itself and harm rivals, the newspaper said.

The Commission can fine firms up to 10 percent of their annual sales, which in Google’s case would be a maximum possible sanction of more than 6 billion euros. The biggest antitrust fine to date was a 1.1 billion-euro fine imposed on Chipzilla in 2009.

Senator calls for Apple Music antitrust investigation

monopoly (1)A US Senator has called on two federal agencies to look into whether Apple is playing monopoly with its music streaming services.

Democratic Senator Al Franken is concerned that some Apple practices could limit choices and raise prices for consumers. He has written to the attorney general Loretta Lynch and Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

The FTC is looking into complaints about Apple’s rules governing app developers but has not opened a formal investigation.

The complaints focus on how Apple plays two roles in music streaming. It provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and takes a 30 per cent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods. Now it has its own streaming service.

Apple bans streaming companies from putting in their app advertisement that customers can pay less if they download the app from a website instead of the Apple platform. They are also blocked from advertising discounts.

“These types of restrictions seem to offer no competitive benefit and may undermine the competitive process, to the detriment of consumers, who may end up paying substantially more than the current market price point,” Franken wrote in his note.

He is not the only one complaining about Apple’s alleged antitrust antics. The consumer watchdog accused Apple of forcing the three big music labels to give exclusive rights to artists to wipe out free ad-supported music services.

“The FTC and Justice Department can ensure that Apple does not dominate the market and eliminate the free music sector by prohibiting it from entering into agreements with clauses that will give it market dominance,” the group said in its letter.

Apple’s streaming music could be illegal

Old Apple logo - Wikimedia CommonsApple’s music streaming business has attracted the attention of the anti-trust watchdogs in the US.

Jobs’ Mob, which has previous form for playing monopoly, is accused of treating rival streaming music apps illegally.

Apple Music provides the App Store platform for competing streaming services including Jango, Spotify, Rhapsody and others and takes a 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases for digital goods, such as music streaming subscriptions and games, sold on its platform.

However Apple appears to have managed it so that its rivals have to charge more in the App Store than they do on other platforms or erode their profit margins.

The Federal Trade Commission is looking at the problem but has not begun a formal investigation, said the three industry sources, who requested anonymity. The agency has had meetings with multiple concerned parties, one source said.

Apple arrived fashionably late on the streaming digital music scene and there were a number of rivals.

Streaming services’ chief grievances with Apple stem from the company’s 30 percent cut. To avoid it, customers can sign up for a streaming service through their Web browser, but the streaming industry sources argue that many consumers do not realize that is an option.

Google also offers a music subscription service and charges a 30 percent transaction fee in its app store, its policies for app sales have drawn less ire from rival streaming services. Industry sources say this is because the search engine places fewer restrictions on those transactions.

Apple’s critics are complaining under Section Five of the FTC Act, which prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” to pursue Apple.

Italy worried about Google media monopoly

Italy is starting to worry about the power of Google, which some corners of the country are seeing as getting as bad as the hold that Berlusconi has over the media here.

Indeed, the only reason that Berlusconi has not faced anti-trust convictions here is because he is Italian and his lawyers know how to slow up a court case until it is ruled “out of time”.

Google has not been so lucky and has already fallen foul of the Italian court system.  

As a court case between YouTube for using stolen Berlusconi telly content is dragging on, it seems that Italian anti-trust regulators want to snap at Google’s rump.

Italy’s antitrust chief Giovanni Pitruzzella says that he is worried that Google risks becoming a publishing monopoly within a few years. That would not be a problem but as it is antitrust law does not seem to apply to Google or Facebook.

He wants to change the law here so that social networks should be subject to antitrust limits and he can salvage the Italian debt crisis by fining Google lots of dosh.

According to Republica, Pitruzzella told Italy’s lower house of parliament that antitrust regulation should extend to internet media including social networks.

He argued that social networks were competing with traditional publishing companies for advertising revenues. If Google takes too much control then the newspapers which Italy knows and loves will be toast.

That means the ancient tradition of writing copy on behalf of the major political parties will end and they will no longer be able to be used to knife rivals by providing them with leaked documents about alleged corruption.

However, Pitruzzella thinks that it remains essential to open competition in those areas the greater the potential for growth.

He thinks there are a lack of proper rules dealing with e-commerce and this is likely to marginalise the publishing industry. The local press has been flat out trying to build multimedia operations but is finding itself stymied by Google.

The Italian digital advertising market is limited by competition from large international players in the web.

Pitruzzella thinks control of Google and other social media monopolies such as Facebook should be included in any Integrated Communications System.

Franco Bernabe, president of Telecom Italy, told parliament that he was pleased that there is finally a recognition that there individuals working in the internet that have assumed such that pose considerable risks to competition. 

Ed Vaizey ready to turn on Google

Minister Ed Vaizey is predicted to u-turn on his position towards Google in an upcoming European Commission antitrust ruling. He is minister for practically everything, with so many remits, that, like an ivy, he creeps into every nook and cranny of the Whitehall wall.

Our source, who wishes to remain anonymous, said ministers such as Ed Vaizey are now on the side of European businesses who feel they have been trampled on by Google’s alleged monopolising. 

Vaizey heard concerns from British companies earlier this year, though at the time he brushed them aside. “It is open to the consumer to choose the product that best suits them, but it is also open to individual companies to partner with whichever companies they choose,” he said. 

Now, it’s expected that he will rally behind a collective of independent European businesses to approach Google over its stronghold on the web search market.

Our source believes that, having reviewed more of the evidence against Google, Vaizey has changed his mind.

TSMC just won't drop its prices

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) won’t be lowering prices any time soon. Instead it will capitalise on its leading position and will dictate how the market operates.

There were reports in Taiwan’s Economic Daily suggesting the company has been in talks with clients to lower prices by three to five percent in the third quarter.

But it doesn’t make sense, according to industry analyst at Future Horizons Malcolm Penn. The company, really, has a monopoly on the industry – and given the time of the year and the health of the markets, TSMC will do no such thing. 

“Now is a good time for the industry, demand is high and the Japanese earthquake has affected supply, meaning prices should be going up, something TSMC knows,” Penn told TechEye.

He pointed out that TSMC has such a huge grasp on the market that “if it was to reduce or up prices the industry would be affected.”

“There would be no reason for the company to reduce their prices,” said Penn.

He reckons clients wouldn’t buy from the company “without first agreeing a fixed price, as they don’t want any surprises when they get their supply.”

“The fact is that TSMC is a major player in the market, it sets the bar for the industry with the exception of Apple,” he said.

“Take out the big ones and the world is TSMC’s. It says jump, we say, how high?”

Google needs to be sued for playing monopoly

A new study suggests that Google is playing monopoly, stifling competition in many industries, and has an adverse impact on the economy and the job market.

The report penned by Scott Cleland, President of Precursor, a tech communications research and consulting firm, calls for the search engine outfit to be dragged before some judges before it is too late.

Cleland’s report, which has the catchy title “Googleopoly VI Seeing the Big Picture: How Google is Monopolizing Consumer Internet Media & Threatening a Price Deflationary Spiral & Job Losses in a $Trillion Sector”, says  that Google is responsible for a lot of economic woes.

He said that there was no net-economic growth or job creation from Google’s “free” internet sector model.

All it creates is a deflationary price spiral, negative growth, property devaluation, and hundreds of thousands of job losses in over 20 industries.

Cleland claims that consumers don’t win long term from a monopoly-gatekeeper of “free” information access and distribution.

He blames lax antitrust merger enforcement for the reason that Google is being tipped into a monopoly.

If antitrust authorities don’t do something then a trillion dollar sector with millions of jobs will suffer the same fate as the music and newspaper industries.

He is worried that when Google rebrands its current YouTube-Double-Click video advertising business as “Google TV“, it already will own an internet video-streaming monopoly with 80 percent of the Internet audience, almost a billion viewers, 2 billion daily monetised views, and 45 billion ads served daily.

Cleland said that Google was a vastly more serious antitrust threat to consumers and the economy than Microsoft ever was, because the DOJ blocked Microsoft from extending its monopoly vertically into the broader economy.

However antitrust authorities have unwittingly aided and abetted Google’s vertical monopolisation of vast parts of the broader economy, he said.

The report says that the DOJ has to deal with the rise of Google differently than the rise of Microsoft. Cleland said that Google’s access to the data on the internet poses a variety of security and privacy concerns. 

We expose Steve Ballmer's great big bloomers

The local media over here is already trumpeting that Steve Ballmer will head South – the way of the penguins – and arrive in Buenos Aires today to give a speech at a local university. We can assure you in advance that he will get mostly softball questions from the mainstream press.

The local media presents Ballmer as a “renowned executive” and says he’ll speak to “students and businessmen” at the local management school of private university UADE. While we don’t know yet if we’ll be able to speak face to face with the head of the Microsoft juggernaut, this is a good opportunity to remind everyone of previous remarks by the alleged chair-chucking specialist.

Here is our Steve Ballmer Hall of Shame:

2000 – Ballmer: Linux is communism”


2001 – Ballmer “Linux is a cancer”


2004 – Ballmer: “Windows is more secure and cheaper than its open source rival

CassiaNote: This must be why almost all of the major e-book readers run on Linux and Google’s own Chrome OS is based on it, while the Windows Mobile market share is shrinking rapidly – see “Windows Mobile market share drops like a rock” here.

2004 – “Ballmer doesn’t get patents”

2004 – Ballmer: “OpenOffice infringes 45 of our patents”

2007 – Ballmer: “Linux violates 235 of our patents”

2007 – Ubuntu, Red Hat rejects Microsoft patent deal

2007 – Ballmer: “Vista is great for consumers

2007 – Ballmer: “Vista is selling well”

2007 – Ballmer blames piracy for poor Vista sales

2008 – Ballmer thinks consumers don’t want Windows XP

2008 – Ballmer: “Vista needs a bigger marketing budget

2009 – Ballmer: “Vista licence allows a downgrade to XP

2009 – Ballmer: “Microsoft never recovered from Vista blow

2009 – Ballmer blames security features for Vista’s failure

CassiaNote: From his original “cancer” and “communism” remarks, it only took Ballmer 9 years to finally admit the obvious:

2009 – Ballmer: “Linux is a bigger competitor than Apple

CassiaNote: But wait, there’s more.

2009 – Windows Mobile Doing better than the iPhone

CassiaNote: The following cannot be attributed to Steve himself, but come from key Microsoft executives, who also get a free pass and softball questions from the mainstream press:

Kevin Turner, MSFT COO: “Vista is the most secure OS on the planet”

2006 – MSFT Jim Allchin: “Vista so secure, it doesn’t need an anti-virus”

CassiaNote: Three years later:

2009 – Microsoft’s new free antivirus hits the streets

Will anyone in the mainstream press put Ballmer in the hot seat today over his dismal predictive track record? It’s funny how Microsoft executives can say almost anything, with very few reporters following up years down the line and asking about their failed predictions or outright lies proved wrong. Politicians by comparison, rarely get the same privilege.

Would anyone in the mainstream press ask him today about the firm’s patent trolling, for instance?  Don’t hold your breath.