American tech giants under EU cosh

A European Commission anti-trust probe was opened in April 2015 into whether Google gives unfair prominence to its own Android a
A European Commission anti-trust probe was opened in April 2015 into whether Google gives unfair prominence to its own Android apps with mobile manufacturers

US technology giants Google, Amazon, Apple, Intel and Microsoft have all come under the often costly scrutiny of European Union (EU) authorities in Brussels:


A European Commission anti-trust probe was opened in April 2015 into whether Google gives unfair prominence to its own Android apps such as maps or music streaming in deals with mobile manufacturers such as Samsung or Huawei.

The Android operating system captures over 80 percent of the world market for mobile phones, far ahead of its closest rival Apple.

The EU a year ago formally charged Google with abusing its dominance in Europe and a decision could come later this year. In both cases, Google risks a fine of 10 percent of worldwide global sales for one year.


In June 2015 the EU's anti-trust watchdog opened a formal investigation into the Seattle-based online retail titan's e-book distribution.

The European Commission is probing clauses Amazon has with publishers which may shield the company from competitors, including an obligation to be informed of more favourable terms being offered by rivals.

Brussels is already conducting a separate investigation into Amazon's tax arrangements over its tax deals in Luxembourg, one of a series of such probes targeting major global firms, including Apple, Starbucks and Fiat.


In a historic case in March 2013, the European Commission fined US giant Microsoft 561 million euros ($638 million) for failing to provide clients with a choice of Internet browser for Windows 7, as it had promised to do.

In 2009, the Commission required Microsoft to offer clients a choice of web browser through to 2014 after complaints that it was restricting them to its own product, Internet Explorer.

The EU has had several disputes with Microsoft, fining the company 899 million euros in 2008, subsequently reduced to 860 million euros, for failing to comply with an order to share product information with rivals so that their software could work with Windows.

That came on top of a then-record fine of 497 million euros in 2004 for violating EU competition rules.


In September 2014, the European Union said that Apple's sweetheart tax deals with Ireland breached rules on receiving state aid, in a case which could cost the US tech giant billions if it is found to be at fault.


INTEL, the world's biggest chipmaker, was in May 2009 fined a record 1.06 billion euros. The EU says it abused its stranglehold on the semiconductor market to crush its main rival, AMD.

The European Commission accused Intel of using illegal loyalty rebates to squeeze rivals out of the market for central processing units (CPUs)—the brains inside personal computers.

INTEL held a 70-percent share of the 22-billion-euro market during the more than five years it was accused of the breaches.

© 2016 AFP

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