Japan joins US and European regulators to scrutinize Apple and other tech giants

Apple is facing several anti-trust investigations by the United States and international regulatory bodies. Recently, Reuters reported that now Japan has now joined regulators in for an international joint anti-trust investigation of Apple and other tech giants.

The Cupertino tech giant is criticized by developers over its App Store policies and business practices. On the complaints of disgruntled business partners like Spotify, Epic, and others, federal authorities are probing the company’s digital marketplace and its impact on competition in the EU, Italy, RussiaJapan, and the United States.

Japan forms international collision to combat anti-competitive behavior by Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon

As per the report, the chairman of Japan’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC), Kazuyuki Furuya has taken a strong stand against the anti-competitive behavior of tech giants with an overwhelming global presence: Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

Commenting on the possible merger of a small activity tracking company, Fitbit, Furuya said,

“If the size of any merger or business-tie up is big, we can launch an anti-monopoly investigation into the buyer’s process of acquiring a start-up (like Fitbit). We’re closely watching developments including in Europe.”

“We’ll work closely with our U.S. and European counterparts, and respond if to any moves that hamper competition.”

The U.S. investigator saw an “acquire-and-kill” strategy in the business model of the under probe multi-national companies like the Facebook acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp. However, in an interview to CNBC, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook distanced his company from the perceived accusation by explaining that,

“If you look at the things behind the investigation, the things are acquisitions, and if you noticed, we didn’t get any questions on acquisitions because our approach on acquisitions has been to buy companies where we have challenges, and IP, and then make them a feature of the phone.”

The determined FTC chairman said that he is keeping a close watch on anti-competitor behavior and is “ready to open probes if digital platformers abuse their dominant market positions against consumers.” Particularly in Japan, with the government’s support, he hopes to regulate big platforms with help of crucial “global coordination”. Furuya said,

“If there’s a policy priority for the government, there’s no doubt the FTC should think about what it can do on that front. By participating in the government’s debate on policy issues, we have been reflecting our thinking in the process. This is something our organisation should do.

Multi-national companies like GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) have similar business practices across the globe, which makes global coordination crucial.”

The U.S. House Judiciary Anti-trust Subcommittee concluded its investigation in the aforementioned companies and concluded that the tech giants have established “kinds of monopolies like the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” The Democratic members of the committee suggested separating Apple and App Store into independent bodies and Apple strongly objected to the suggestion.

Apple commented,

“We have always said that scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate but we vehemently disagree with the conclusions reached in this staff report with respect to Apple. Our company does not have a dominant market share in any category where we do business. From its beginnings 12 years ago with just 500 apps, we’ve built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for users to discover and download apps and a supportive way for developers to create and sell apps globally.

Previously, CEO Tim Cook shared his views on scrutiny and where his company stands in another interview with Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic Festival. He said,

“Big companies deserve scrutiny, I not only thing that fair but important for the system that we have in America. I have no issue at all in Apple being put under microscope and people looking into and probing. My hope is that as people heard our story and as the continue to hear our story it will become as apparent to them as it is to us that we have no monopoly, there is no monopoly here.”

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