Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for July 30th, 2013

Operation Ghostfruit

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What if Google and Apple waged war at each other?

I mean real war, not patent war.

In one of the best tech columns of the year, F. Manjoo and M. Yglesias (Slate) take a try at wargaming.

Manjoo plays Google. Yglesias plays Apple. And the outcome is spectacular. A must read.

The story has several antitrust angles:

  • Google’s “operation ghostfruit” shares analogies with the Commission’s “search bias” theory of harm;
  • Google’s dominance is certainly undisputable in the narrow, antitrust sense. But it is far less clear from a business perspective. If anything, the story shows that a company deemed dominant by antitrust standards – i.e. in a given relevant market – can be seriously threatened by a company active in a wholly distinct market. Put simply, the battlefield in the high tech sector is not an antitrust relevant market. It is the sector as a whole. And companies that sell distinct unsubstitutable products may well – and do – engage in competition. A further reason to abandon market definition in high tech industries, and switch to novel concepts (the “relevant sector”)?;
  • Dominant firms may rationally try to exclude non competing firms;
  • Antitrust agencies (and governments) are instrumentalised by dominant firms to exclude other companies;
  • Microsoft is no longer a player

Written by Nicolas Petit

30 July 2013 at 9:07 pm