Russell Grandinetti, Amazon’s vice president for Kindle content, in federal court when asked about a meeting that took place at Jeff Bezos’ Seattle boathouse on Sunday Jan. 24, 2010.
That was a few days before the initial iPad announcement — where, of course, iBooks was also unveiled, kicking off the eBooks situation for which Apple is now on trial.
One important thing noted by Philip Elmer-DeWitt:
Several readers have asked how a witness under oath could get away with not answering a direct question. You’d be amazed at how much evidence in this case has been redacted because it contained trade secrets, business data, privileged conversations with attorneys etc.. Apparently Apple’s lawyer had been told in advance that there were Amazon lawyers present at the meeting in the boathouse, and he backed off as soon as Grandinetti declined to discuss what was said there.
If Grandinetti won’t talk about it because lawyers were present in the boathouse, that’s just about the worst way possible to phrase that.
I feel like your take on the Apple anti-trust situation misses the point. Having a monopoly is never itself a crime. Apple formed a collusive trust with the intent of disadvantaging consumers. Amazon may have a virtual monopoly, but it has only ever abused that position in a way that disadvantages itself (by selling books below cost) in order to benefit consumers (in the short run). Maybe predatory pricing like that should be illegal, but colluding to raise consumer prices is far, far worse.
Asked by smullllllllen
All very fair points — if Apple is found to have colluded here.
And, just to be clear, I don’t disagree — I simply meant to point out what a strange antitrust trial this would be, given where the monopoly resides in this case.
A year in the making, one of the stranger antitrust cases you’re likely to see (because the defendant, Apple, doesn’t have anything close to a monopoly in the industry in question, eBooks — while the company that stands to gain the most from an Apple defeat, Amazon, basically does).
This all plays out starting tomorrow.
Update: For a little more clarity.
Compelling stuff from Tony Romm for Politico:
To start, Google quickly hired 12 lobbying firms, a decision that contributed to the estimated $25 million the company, along with its purchased subsidiary, Motorola Mobility, accumulated to influence Washington decision makers over the life of the FTC’s probe.
I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but I’m mainly on Google’s side here and I think the FTC was right not to go down the antitrust road — at least not yet. Google wins search because it’s the best at it. I think companies like Yelp have some legitimate gripes. But others like Microsoft, which has its own search engine, should compete by making a better product, not by hoping the government goes after Google.
Also, this is hardly the last we’re going to hear of this. Just because the FTC isn’t pursuing antitrust action against Google right now, it doesn’t mean they can’t in six months or a year or two years. This will all be looked into again and again and again. And it should be, as Google keeps getting into more and more businesses. Their search monopoly is legit, but it shouldn’t be allowed to unnaturally bolster other products that aren’t worthy — cough Google+ cough.
Sara Forden for Bloomberg:
Google Inc. should be sued by the Federal Trade Commission for trying to block competitors’ access to key smartphone-technology patents in violation of antitrust law, the agency’s staff told commissioners in a formal recommendation, according to four people familiar with the matter.
In making excuses for the ridiculous $13 billion Motorola deal, many are quick to point out all the valuable patents Google obtained. Sure. And now those very patents are pushing them towards an antitrust case with the U.S. government. This deal is the gift that keeps on giving.
Sara Forden for Bloomberg:
Plans for the depositions come as the Federal Trade Commission speeds up its antitrust probe of operator of the world’s most popular Internet search engine. Jon Leibowitz, the agency’s chairman, said June 6 that he expects to complete the investigation by the end of the year. The FTC will then decide whether to sue Google.
As I said earlier, this is going to be the new norm for Google.
Some people seem a little confused as to what the big deal is about Search+. This post by Danny Sullivan highlights exactly what the big deal is.
Google is using Google Search, a property with which they have a (natural) monopoly, to heavily juice Google+, a property which is late to the social game and has many prominent rivals, notably Facebook and Twitter.
Google is trying to spin it that they don’t have access to Facebook and Twitter data, but that’s not exactly true. They have all they need to populate the Google+ Juice Box (the People and Pages box situated in the right column of Search+). But they’re not doing it.
And this affects by logged in and logged out users. What’s insane is that Google apparently thinks this is fine.