U.S. tech giants in the EU antitrust crosshairs

Apple was charged by EU antitrust regulators on Friday of abusing its dominance in the music streaming market via restrictive rules in response to a complaint brought by Spotify Technology

The case is one of four brought by the European Commission into the iPad maker and could lead to a fine of as much as 10% of Apple’s global turnover as well as changes to its lucrative business model.

Apple is not the only U.S. tech giant in the EU antitrust crosshairs. The following companies, in alphabetical order, have been penalised or face ongoing investigations into their business practices, triggered in many cases by complaints from U.S. rivals:

  • Alphabet’s Google:

The world’s most popular internet search engine has been hit with total fines of 8.25 billion euros ($10 billion) in more than a decade of battles with the Commission over its shopping service, Android mobile operating system and online advertising practices. The first fine came in 2010.

Its regulatory woes however are not over, with ongoing investigations into its data and how it uses it, on top of complaints about its local search and mapping services that may lead to investigations.

  • Amazon:

The Commission in November last year charged the online retailer with damaging retail competition, alleging that it uses its size, power and data to gain an unfair advantage over smaller merchants that sell on its online platform.

There is another investigation into possible preferential treatment of its own retail offers and those of marketplace sellers that use Amazon’s logistics and delivery services.

  • Facebook:

The social media company is the target of an EU investigation opened in late 2019 into how it collects and monetizes its data. A second investigation focuses on its online marketplace.

  • Intel:

The U.S. chipmaker was fined 1.06 billion euros in 2009 for thwarting British rival Advanced Micro Devices by giving rebates to PC makers.

  • Microsoft:

The U.S. software maker’s decade-long battle with the EU competition enforcer over its alleged abuse of its dominance of PC operating systems to crush rivals and other illegal practices ended in 2008 and resulted in total fines of 2.16 billion euros.

  • Qualcomm:
  • The U.S. chipmaker’s run-ins with the Commission have seen it slapped with total fines of 1.2 billion euros in two cases for using its market power to thwart rivals including Intel. The investigations kicked off in 2015.

The EU antitrust watchdog is also investigating possible anti-competitive behaviour by the company in leveraging its market position in 5G modem chips in the radio frequency chip market, Qualcomm said in a 2019 regulatory filing.