- European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said, “In some of the areas where we have had very preliminary investigations, we find that Apple is not a dominant company.”
- In the past, Vestager has fined Apple €13 billion ($US15 billion) for non-payment of taxes and fined Google €7 billion ($US8 billion) for anti-competition violations.
- Apple and its investors will thus be relieved they are no longer in her searchlight.
- She is near the end of her third investigation into Google, she said. That probe focuses on AdSense.
LISBON – The European Commission conducted “very preliminary investigations” into whether Apple might be so large that it had an anti-competitive effect in Europe, but quickly realised that the company was not “dominant” enough in its markets to warrant further action, the European Commissioner for Competition said Wednesday.
Margrethe Vestager, European Union’s anti-monopoly chief since 2014, was speaking at a press conference at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon. When asked whether she was concerned that Apple might be using apps like iMessage to lock other apps out of the messaging market, she replied that Apple simply wasn’t big enough to warrant regulatory action.
“We haven’t looked specifically into messengers,” she said.
“In some of the areas where we have had very preliminary investigations, we find that Apple is not a dominant company,” she said. “It’s a big company, but it does not hold a dominance as Google does in some of its markets, and that would be the background of that.”
Vestager has previously ordered a €13 billion ($US15 billion) fine against Apple for its use of Irish tax laws to reduce its corporate tax. That was the biggest fine in tax history. She has also ordered fines of €2.7 billion and €4.3 billion against Google for abusing its dominance of search to favour its own comparison shopping services, and for requiring phone manufacturers who use the Android operating system to also use Google’s apps and to exclude competing apps.
She also drew a comparison between Google and Apple based on their size, and the effect of that size on competition.
“Google in the legal term of dominance is a dominant company because they are dominant in search,” she said. “The bigger you get the more responsibility you get. So if you are a dominant company, you also have a special responsibility because competition is weakened in the market that you’re in. This is why we have the Google case. This is the legal basis of the Google case. And if a company is not dominant it can do all the things that a dominant company can do, and in some of the areas where we have had very preliminary investigations, we find that Apple is not a dominant company. It’s a big company but it does not hold a dominance as Google does in some of its markets, and that would be the background of that.”
Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS, has a little more than one third market share in the UK versus Google’s Android operating system. In some European countries, like Spain, Android has as much as 90% market share.
Vestager’s office still has one more ongoing investigation into Google, on the question of whether the search giant uses its Adsense advertising product to reduce competition. “We are approaching the end also of that investigation,” she said.