The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced a comprehensive anti-trust audit of "market-leading online platforms", suggesting that finally-anticipated action can be taken against some of the world's largest companies.
But the confirmation of the investigation is scanty on details, and only reveals that the review "will take into account the widespread concerns expressed by consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs for search, social media and some online retail services."
Who Can They talk about? What concerns can people express? It is not difficult to read between the lines: here it is who will look over the shoulder in the coming months.
Google's parent company dominates several sectors: online advertising, where and Facebook is known as "duopoly", online search and YouTube, and also has a significant amount of marketing power in the field of mapping (Google Maps), webmail services (Gmail) and mobile phone operating systems (Android)
Google has a strong defense on search: unlike many other businesses being discussed, "competition is just a click away", as Google's founder Larry Page expressed it in 2012, When the company first became nervous about antitrust, changing operating systems is a difficult task, changing social networks almost impossible, but all you have to do to stop being a Google searcher is to write ddg.gg in the address bar and you're done
Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group, believes the advertising market will ultimately be the tough fight for Google to win. "These companies ultimately make money on advertising revenue. oblem, because the money does not necessarily flow to the people who produce the content.
"It's clearly a result of market dominance: Google, Facebook, and IAB partners eat all the revenue. It looks kind of violent to anyone with common sense."
Amazon is apparently the "retail service provider" "As DoJ investigates. The US Secretary of State, Steve Mnuchin, said on Wednesday that Amazon has" destroyed "the US retail and that its success has" limited competition. "Amazon says the market power in the sector is far from absolute: it takes about half of all dollars Used online and only 5% of US retail sales, Walmart's revenue in 2018 was twice the Amazon, and the strategies that earned Amazon criticism, from proprietary brands to paid marketing, are the norm across retail.
But the question is Amazon's dominance of the ebook industry is almost complete, for example, the power of printing is not far away, and so is Amazon Web Services. Barely known outside the IT industry, providing technical infrastructure for a significant part of the web, even in the face of competition from Google and Microsoft.  Apple
The United States is Apple's strongest market. But even there, it is difficult to argue that it has a monopoly on some of its flagship products: it is the second mobile operating system, the other is the desktop operating system and second-class music streaming service. It leads the market in smart watches and tablets, but the success of the iPad and Apple Watch is only relative to the competitor's fault.
Instead, the question for DoJ is whether Apple's power is being abused in the markets that it has created. The company may have only half the smartphone market, but it has 100% of the market for iOS app stores. When the market, which Apple proudly points out, is worth the $ 300m day, the company still exerts a tremendous power – as Spotify has complained loudly to the European Commission.
Facebook has a monopoly, and it's a big one: thanks to Facebook itself, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, the company owns the largest social networks in the United States. Mark Zuckerberg's response in response has been that there is still competition in the broader field the company is operating in, and told US lawmakers last year that "the average American … uses eight different communications and social apps". But if half of these apps are made by Facebook, and the other half includes email, text messaging, and business communication services, it's hard to take it as a reason to go easy on the company.
Unpleasant for Zuckerberg, Facebook also has the most compelling action: the two biggest acquisitions, Instagram and WhatsApp, remain relatively separate, and it is technologically feasible to spin them. Technology analyst Ben Thompson argues that the acquisition of Instagram is "the biggest regulatory failure over the last decade", in part because of the damage it did to Snapchat's ability to compete on an equal footing.
DoJ would be forgiving if it left its requests to only the largest companies, Killock argues. Everywhere in the technology sector, he says, "you have a series of small monopolistic practices." From Netflix in streaming video, to Uber in car sharing and enterprise offerings such as Cloudflares' demand management website or Stripe's payment processing, the goal is to build platforms that crush the competition.
"The underlying problem is that the industry works like this: people are built into specific layers. DoJ needs to look at the basics of the IT sector and ask yourself what the drivers are for that behavior, then start thinking about more general questions about how to ensure a reasonable level of competition.
"There are partial ownership, partial capital accumulation, partial intangible property, and partial interoperability: how well can you replace services like that?"