Antitrust Rep. ducks NYT’s question about Apple Music

From Kara Swisher’s interview with David Cicilline on Thursday’s Sway podcast:

Q: …the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, which would impact whether companies can own another line of business that’s in conflict of interest. So it could hugely impact the way Amazon does business, could also impact Apple and their App Store… So Apple couldn’t be in Apple music, for example — correct? Or they have to separate it somehow?

A: Yeah, I mean, that would obviously be a determination made by the enforcement agencies. But if they met the three requirements [>$600B market cap, etc.] and there was an inherent conflict because they were selling their own goods and services, they would have to not do that, they would have to separate out that business.

Cue the podcast: “Is This the Big Tech Breakup We’ve Been Waiting For?” and the transcript.

My take: In hiring Swisher, the Times snagged one of tech journalism’s best interviewers. By taking the job, Swisher got access to some of the most powerful sources.

22 Comments

  1. Jonny T said:
    Are all politicians this stupid?

    2
    June 17, 2021
    • David Emery said:
      A lot of legislation is drafted by lobbyists, fed to Congressional Staffers, before it makes to some Congrescritter’s desk.

      The ‘core competency’ of Congresscritters is getting funded to get elected. And that means they cater to the political base and to the associated big donor funders.

      7
      June 17, 2021
    • Roger Schutte said:
      Most people are smart enough to know they don’t want the job.

      1
      June 17, 2021
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        Most people are smart enough to know they don’t want the job.

        Of those that do, I’m convinced the majority think primarily of Congress as two things (closely related):
        A. The absolute best way to enhance a resume for post Congress employment.
        B. The absolute best way to enhance earnings during their Congressional employment, legally of course (who am I kidding?).

        2
        June 17, 2021
      • David Emery said:
        Actually, I’d take the job itself (Congressperson). It’s what you have to do to get the job that I couldn’t tolerate. (As a result, I’d be a 1-term Congressman.)

        0
        June 17, 2021
  2. “Kara Swisher: So essentially, everybody doesn’t like tech, so why not?
    David Cicilline: Everyone’s motivated. Everyone understands — it’s not a question of not liking them. We love tech. You can love the companies, just don’t like their business practices.”
    Those practices that make it easier & fun to communicate? Or those practices that are profitable? How about the practices that benefit app developer communities, authors and musicians? What about those revolutionary Supply Chain and retail sales practices that end up creating reliable, long-term investments for mostly retired blokes like me?
    I understand Amazon devours some of their retailers with popular products, Google sucks up and digests our search requests and Apple complies with court orders, in every nation where it does business. Are these now crimes for select culprits because you need to fine and tax somebody, somehow? This means we should mince every firm that makes over $x dollars? Tell me then why Blackstone, Fidelity, Wal-Mart and Citigroup are not on the chopping block? Is it inherent faults in what appear to the markets as very successful business models or the quality of their lobbyists and size of their campaign contributions?
    Note: Kara Swisher is the most informed tech industry correspondent I can find out there.

    10
    June 17, 2021
  3. Dave Ryder said:
    Look at all the store-branded items in any grocery store. Or at Wal-Mart. Etc.

    6
    June 17, 2021
  4. Fred Stein said:
    I upvoted Thomas and Jeff.

    My guess: Cicillini sees the concentration of wealth and power in “big tech” as being wrong. Then he (or staffers or lobbyists) create laws to redress this.

    In the case of Apple his proposed laws can only harm consumers, i.e. voters.

    4
    June 17, 2021
  5. Daniel Epstein said:
    I would say one of the interesting questions involved in this is changing or writing the rules after the marketplace has already been created. Much clearer when it is is safety issues or criminal activity. If you are writing new laws to control the activities of a small number of companies that have reached a threshold of size legally and continue to operate legally under the old laws you are probably trying to replace the marketplace’s judgement with your’s. Very presumptuous and with little legal or economic basis. Trying to handicap Apple in the software space because they created the hardware and system as well likely damages everyone for little or no benefit. Personally there have been times when buying the integrated solution as opposed to the separate components solution has been of great benefit.

    5
    June 17, 2021
  6. Thomas Larkin said:
    Too many politicians (both sides of the aisle) open their mouths before they have any real understanding of all the relevant facts. They are played by donors/special interests, failing to fully inform themselves or even try to get a global and balanced perspective. Apple users care about privacy and security, the importance of which is becoming glaringly obvious with all the recent data breaches, large and small. A few adjustments, sure. But the comments here point out how absurd and brain dead some of these proposals have gotten. Big tech is a big part of American’s retirement, and our Country’s economic strength. When it comes to American companies, these idiots should also be fighting the ongoing overreach by Ms. Vestager.

    4
    June 17, 2021
  7. Timothy Smith said:
    Apple: The best technology comes from the deep integration of hardware and software.
    Government: You are correct. How can we stop that?

    6
    June 17, 2021
  8. Robert Stack said:
    PED’s take: “In hiring Swisher, the Times snagged one of tech journalism’s best interviewers. By taking the job, Swisher got access to some of the most powerful sources.”
    Thomas’ take: “Kara Swisher is the most informed tech industry correspondent I can find out there.”
    This is why, unlike many here on this site with whom I have to respectfully disagree with on occasion, I don’t bash the NYT when one of their lesser qualified “journalists” (e.g. Shira Ovide or Brian Chen) writes yet another ill-informed piece of crap about Apple. There are good journalists at nearly every media org, even Fox News – thinking here of Mike Wallace and Shepard Smith (now an ex-employee).

    0
    June 17, 2021
  9. Another piece of legislation proposed is an investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing. It was mentioned in a WH or Congressional press conference, including the fact foreign & domestic chip manufacturers can submit proposals. Bosch, an Apple supplier, was invited to build a car chip fab. TSM, ironically up almost the exact same percentage as AAPL today. I see Taiwan Semi building an M2 fab outside Austin or Boston.
    NOTE: I stream C-SPAN radio quietly in my studio. Not always sure who’s yapping but C-SPAN was a horrific thriller on Jan. 6.

    2
    June 17, 2021
  10. Steven Noyes said:
    Reading the transcript reminds me why Kara Swisher is among the worst tech “journalists” out there. She poses no difficult questions because she is ideologically motivated and leads David to the answers she wants (like the winners/losers discussion).

    Not once did she actually ask about what the fall out of some of these atrocities of legislations would be.

    Make no mistake, these laws would make using tech painful at best.

    1
    June 18, 2021
  11. “In a time of increased global competition, antitrust populism will cause lasting self-inflicted damage that benefits foreign, less meritorious rivals.” – Information Technology and Innovation Foundation regarding appointment of Lena Khan as FTC chairman.
    I don’t usually line up with paid advocacy groups like ITIF but I do agree on this issue. Korea is not about to fracture their largest chaebol, Samsung. China appears to be taking over Alibaba.

    0
    June 18, 2021

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