Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are accused of yet another anti-competition behavior, the ‘copy-acquire-kill’ strategy. The allegation has surfaced at a time when four CEOs of Silicon Valley tech giants are hours away from appearing before the US congress antitrust committee investigating the companies’ monopolization of the digital market by anticompetitive behavior.
Representative Pramila Jayapal says that she has seen evidence with “very specific language from top-level executives” on using the dubious strategy to strangle the competition or rivals. She asserted that “we need to move very quickly, as a Congress, to reassert our authority into regulation of these tech companies and [their] anticompetitive practices.”
On Wednesday, the leader of the four tech companies will be questioned by the committee over video link due to imposed COVID-19 precautionary measures of social distancing.
The Copy-Acquire-Kill Strategy
The strategy refers to the business model of firstly copying a rival’s product, then using money and power to acquire it and in the end, results in the shut down of the original creator. These kinds of practices put emerging businesses at risk of survival and consumers are deprived of variety or options.
Over the years, consumers have witnessed Facebook acquire Instagram and WhatsApp, copy Snapchat’s Stories feature, and now have introduced Instagram Reels which is a copy of TikTok, a very popular social app. Therefore, for the healthy growth of the tech industry, congress members are determined to hold tech giants accountable and regulate the sector.
US Antitrust Investigation
In June, the congressional committee sent letters to all four CEOs to appear it for the hearing on anticompetitive practices like user data for targeted ads, 30% cut in apps’ revenues, and others.
- Apple- Tim Cook
- Alphabet/Google- Sundar Pichai
- Facebook- Mark Zuckerberg
- Amazon-Jeff Bezos
Representative David N.Cicilline said,
“It’s very clear to me there are very serious problems that must be addressed, and it’s very clear to me these large technology platforms are not going to regulate themselves. The responsibility falls to Congress to do that.”
Apple and Google Under Scrutiny
Recently, Apple and Google are under a string of investigations and facing lawsuits in different parts of the world over their practices and policies:
- Apple under scrutiny for restrictions placed on third-party developers
- Apple under Antitrust investigation by EU for Apple Pay and iOS App Store
- Apple faces another antitrust probe over price-fixing agreement with Amazon
- Apple facing 11-count class-action lawsuit over refusal to help iTunes gift card scam victims
- Google accused of misleading consumers by Australian regulator
- Google faces $5 billion lawsuit for tracking users in Chrome Incognito Mode