FTC investigating Google-Apple ties

FTC investigating Google-Apple ties

Summary: It was back in 2006 that Google CEO Eric Schmidt joined Apple's board at Steve Jobs' behest. At the time, the pundits were full of speculation about the meaning of this appointment.

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It was back in 2006 that Google CEO Eric Schmidt joined Apple's board at Steve Jobs' behest. At the time, the pundits were full of speculation about the meaning of this appointment.

The speculation ranged from some sort of integration between advertising and iTunes to Apple buying Sun. The notion of the Apple-Google alliance against Microsoft made sense but somehow the attacks on Microsoft were never aligned. (Google really wants to cruch MSFT; Apple doesn't.)

To this day, no one knows what, if anything, Schmidt and Jobs could be cooking up during the Google CEO's visits to Cupertino. But, the New York Times reports, the Federal Trade Commission has become quite interested.

The FTC is looking at the relatively rarely used Section 8 of the Clayton Act, the Times reported, which governs "interlocking directorates." These are generally not considered a problem unless the revenue from competing products is more than 2 percent of sales.

Obvious problem area: Google Android and Apple iPhone. While Android is not a product per se, it is a platform and the iPhone is clearly a platform. The iPhone is clearly more than 2 percent of Apple sales and while Android is not, the potential is clearly there. And Android may be used on netbooks, while Apple is said to be considering a netbook, too.

“Government actions under Section 8 are rare, but they are brought under circumstances when the presence of a common director on competing boards is likely to be anticompetitive,” said Andrew I. Gavil, an antitrust expert and a professor at the Howard University School of Law.

Whatever's going on with this investigation, one thing is clear. Schmidt's work for the Obama campaign is not protecting him from very aggressive attention from the Obama administration. The Journal offered this assessment:

"It appears that Google is now in the sights of the antitrust enforcers," said Samuel Miller, an antitrust lawyer who is a partner at Sidley Austin in San Francisco. "Given its recognized dominance, it is going to be subject to greater scrutiny."

It's not just Google, a former Justice Dept. official told the Times.

“I expect the administration to be aggressive, generally, on antitrust enforcement,” said Sanford Litvack, a partner at Hogan & Hartson. Last year, while working for the Justice Department, Mr. Litvack built a case to block a prominent advertising partnership between Google and Yahoo. “I don’t expect Google to either be singled out or to receive a free pass because of Schmidt’s relationship with the administration,” he said.

Topics: Google, Apple, Enterprise Software, Security

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9 comments
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  • Why so against Microsoft?

    Why guys like you are so against a software company? People always attack the biggest until they become the biggest? And then so what? Microsoft ties up with Apple to fight against Google?
    Cut the crap. Just delivery your product and let the customers make their choices.
    Gladiatorcn
    • Microsoft is not a software company

      They are a acquisition and destroy company. They buy a company and then systematically destroy any product the company had that might hinder MS's utter domination if the entire market.

      "Cut the Crap"..???? You couldn't budge Microsoft's crap with a Russian nuclear icebreaker, wake up and smell the aroma.. it's not roses, it's your "crap" oozing from every door and window at Microsoft, Your choice in the matter? Crap or nothing that works.
      Reality Bites
    • That is easy

      Now in the US if you are too good at what you do. you are attacked for it.. Nothing more than that.
      rparker009
  • hmmm...

    what connection the agrement not to use multi-touch on android, or am I remembering correctly?
    eggmanbubbagee@...
    • RE hmm

      What are you saying?
      Col Mustard
  • RE: FTC investigating Google-Apple ties

    You print: "Whatever?s going on with this investigation, one thing is clear. Schmidt?s work for the Obama campaign is not protecting him from very aggressive attention from the Obama administration."
    Right; and a lot of Obama's staff might be in prison for tax evasion if they were ordinary citizens.... So a little investigation here where nothing will be found and all is ok.
    Col Mustard
  • RE: FTC investigating Google-Apple ties

    Um, would someone care to explain to me how a product that is free can ever be 2% of sales?

    The other issue I've considered before. Google most likely would need to buy or use open source copyrights to do anything with touch. There is no reason to think that it has a single in house patent relating to touch controls.

    Trying to defend copyrights they don't own may not seem all that attractive to them.


    If I were google and plam went under I'd try to by the patents because palm does have some. I know for a fact that you can control a trio using a finger if you don't have a stylus.
    deowll
  • RE: FTC investigating Google-Apple ties

    I think creating an environment where collaboration
    across these businesses is hindered is
    counterproductive for the consumer. If Google and
    Apple find areas where they can collaborate to provide
    a superior iPhone, Netbook or Android OS then the
    consumer benefits. Too much paranoia by the antitrust
    agencies only creates an environment where new
    technology takes too long to get to market.
    muchirinyaggah
  • RE: FTC investigating Google-Apple ties

    I know this subject is not about the topic, but I am disgusted with people that write for a living that are incapable of, or unwilling to proof their own work.
    Good god man, USE A SPELL CHECKER! Grammar is subjective so there is no point in going after that, but seriously Mr. Koman, show your readers that you actually care about what you write and let?s eliminate STUPID spelling errors.

    Lawyer and technology writer....makes sense somehow.
    kzot