- The head of antitrust at the Department of Justice said Tuesday that officials will be scrutinizing big tech companies looking for anticompetitive behavior.
- Interestingly, several top tech companies actually have significant market share in areas that you might not expect.
- Their command of so many markets could give federal investigators a lot of things to look at, should they want to peer deeply into these company’s businesses.
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The head of antitrust at the Department of Justice said Tuesday that officials will scrutinize big tech companies in search of evidence of anticompetitive behavior.
The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have already agreed to divvy up responsibility for the fresh burst of oversight, with the DOJ looking at Google and Apple, and the FTC looking at Amazon and Facebook, according to recent news reports.
On Tuesday, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim explained, in a video speech to a conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, the kinds of behavior and market conditions the DOJ will look for. On his radar: higher prices, loss of consumer privacy, exclusive deals and mergers designed to protect a monopoly or harm a competitor.
Read: Breaking up Facebook would make Instagram less safe for people, executive says
For the big tech companies that now have targets on their backs, there’s a lot of risk: Google, Amazon, and Apple each command a giant swath of various tech markets. Here are some of the biggest markets dominated by the Big Tech threesome, according to market research firm Gartner, which could attract the attention of regulators.
- Amazon is a giant in ecommerce sales, the No. 1 online retailer, based on US total sales, with an estimated more than 100 million paid Prime members.
- But it is also the No. 1 — by a mile — cloud computer provider, too, based on revenue. Interestingly, its size has meant that it is the only meaningful challenger to Google in its core market of online product searches.
- Gartner estimates that 55% of product searches start on Amazon.com, signaling a shift away from traditional search engines.
- Apple commands only about 14% of the worldwide smartphone market, which makes it the No. 2 player behind Samsung for 2017 and 2018.
- Apple is the No. 4 player in the PC market behind Lenovo, HP and Dell with almost 7% share in the first quarter of 2019. (Data does not include iPads.)
- Because Apple makes its own chips for use in its products, its semiconductor business is huge, too. In 2018, it commanded a nearly 9% share of the market, Gartner says, which amounts to being in second place in terms of market share behind Samsung.
That kind of buying power on electronics materials gives Apple a lot clout. And its clout could rise higher if Apple ever moves away from Intel chips for its PCs, switching to its own design, as it’s been rumored to be working on for years and reportedly could do next year. For now, its still using Intel, including its brand new, high end, $6,000 Mac Pro
- Google is the internet search advertising leader by a mile. Google has been in antitrust hot water in Europe for years, including billions of dollars in fines involving its search and Android businesses.
- But Google is also the No. 3 cloud provider behind Amazon and Microsoft, Gartner points out.
- When it comes to online advertising, Google and Facebook combined control 75% of the market. They are often referred to as the duopoly.
SEE ALSO: Amazon consumer CEO Jeff Wilke says that he’s okay with government scrutiny but that the company shouldn’t be broken up
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