FTC Investigating Apple and Google Antitrust Issues

The New York Times (via Daring Fireball) reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking into whether the ties between Apple and Google's respective Boards of Directors violate Section 8 of the Clayton Antitrust Act.

The provision is designed to prevent two rival companies from acting in concert to reduce competition. While Google and Apple have rival mobile phone platforms and cloud services, iPhone vs. Android and Gmail (etc.) vs. MobileMe, Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt is on Apple's board of directors and the iPhone makes use of Google technology such as the built-in Google Maps, Google Search, etc.

According to the NYT, however:

Antitrust experts say that investigations of interlocking directorates rarely lead to major confrontations between companies and the government. Executives typically choose to resign from the board of a competitor if it poses a problem rather than face a lengthy investigation or a bruising legal fight.

The article also points out the "closeness" of Google to the Obama administration, and how that "closeness" doesn't seem to offer Google any insulation from the FTC.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • And the damaged party is who? Without an answer to that question then there is no case.
  • Technically the plaintive would be the U.S. Government in any potential case. But everyone else competeing in the same space would be the damaged parties; RIM, Microsoft, Nokia (if you look at the mobile OS side of it). And then Mozilla and Microsoft in the browser space. Reading the entire article though it isn't really that big a deal since they are allowed to cooperate to compete against a competitor.
    And also like it's mentioned the board member in question would most likely just resign from the board of one company if the FTC said they would file charges against them.
    Nothing will come of this.
  • I think the allegedly damaged party here would be rival search engines which are at a distinct disadvantage in taking some of the massive mobile web traffic produced on iPhone. I could be wrong on that but it seems similar to the monopoly accusation brought on microsoft for preinstalling Internet explorer and effectively driving Netscape and similar browsers out of business because of how difficult it was for those browsers to compete.
  • If I was apple and or steve jobs I would not trust google because apple is nice and has a google app,google search tool on iphone and google creates a G1 forget google remove all there things on iphone.
  • Derrick, business is about making money, period! They know what they're doing.