Google fined $5 Billion by EU over Android antitrust violations 4 replies

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FileTrekker Über Admin

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#1 4 months ago

So Google has been hit with a huge huge fine over antitrust issues with it's Android mobile operating system, and I'm glad to see it honestly because not since Microsoft was hit with similar fines due to the Internet Explorer controversy have we seen anything like this, and lets be honest, the Google situation is much more severe given they entrench all their services or penalize you.

The EU’s decision argues that Google behaved illegally by leveraging its market power to encourage handset makers to pre-install those apps and services on their devices. At issue are several types of agreements that Google imposes on phone makers and telecommunications companies if they want to sell Android-based devices to their users—conditions that applied to handset makers even though Google provides the operating system to manufacturers free of charge.

Of course this differs from an ecosystem like Apple, where only their apps and services can be the default because they are a self contained hardware and software ecosystem. So is it fair to persue Google over this purely because it is their business model?


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Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#2 4 months ago

My business model can be to sell recreational pharmaceuticals, but that doesn't make it okay. Fair doesn't have reference to whether it's your business model or not. Like, that's not a trump card. If the answer to 'You can't do this unfair thing' is 'You go out of business' then, all else being equal, that's what ought to happen.




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#3 4 months ago
Posted by Nemmerle

If the answer to 'You can't do this unfair thing' is 'You go out of business' then, all else being equal, that's what ought to happen.

Tell that to General Motors and Goldman Sachs et al.


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FileTrekker Über Admin

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#4 4 months ago

But Apple do the same thing, simply by preventing anyone other than themselves from creating their own phones and using the OS, does that make it okay for them to not allow, for example, another browser to be the default?


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#5 4 months ago
Posted by FileTrekker

But Apple do the same thing, simply by preventing anyone other than themselves from creating their own phones and using the OS, does that make it okay for them to not allow, for example, another browser to be the default?

Hmm. It's a tricky question.

I'm generally in favour of there being sensible defaults in products. You don't buy a phone and want to have to set up a billion different defaults. First it's that the search engine has to be set up when you buy a device, then it's that you need to choose from a dozen different photoapps, then it's that you need to choose from a dozen different calendar aps. If you're not going to allow defaults, when does it end? Imposing the exercise of choice on users, although the option should be readily available if they want to chose, is an anti-pattern.

Apple isn't imposing an action on other companies by means of its market position, which I take to be what got Google into trouble. More generally, I suppose the question is whether you have a right to modify things that you buy, and whether companies have a duty to not alter the things that they produce in ways that make that difficult or impossible. Something similar to the right to repair - the right to alter, if you will.

And if we assume that someone does have the right to alter things that they buy, then where does the company's duty to avoid making that difficult end? Where does the company's duty to fractionate out what they sell end? If I make an OS to be used with hardware that I design, it seems clear enough that I shouldn't design the hardware to only run my OS - insofar as I can reasonably avoid that - but do I have to go to incredible expense of setting that hardware up to be easy for other people to program for? If I sell my OS with the hardware that I design, do I have to hold the license to the hardware and the software as separate things - and if I do, to what extent do I have to make the OS function on other hardware?

I think imposing a positive duty on companies such as Google and Apple in this regard to make their systems interoperable goes too far - it's a liability that never ends. Imposing a negative duty; that they shouldn't go out of their way to stop people modifying things; seems fair enough though.

Making it specific then: Google's in trouble for using its market position to stop people making changes to the products they bought / licensed, whereas Apple - at least currently - just doesn't help people to do so. (At least in this regard.) Granted there's a bunch of stuff that IMO Apple should be pulled up on where they do seem to intentionally make it hard to modify their products.

It's the difference between saying 'I'm not selling you this' and 'I'll sell you this, but only with this list of conditions.' I don't think that the list of conditions should be something that companies can agree on in licensing or sales any more than you can sign a contract that would be held valid in court to commit an illegal act. The set of permissible constraints on licensing and sales should be determined in statute.