Big tech is currently in the crosshairs of antitrust legislators in the US who want to break up the largest companies. Now, regulators in the European Union are working up a list of 20 large companies — including Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google — that they wish to subject to new rules that will limit the market power of the big firms.
The Financial Times says that the proposed rules are based on criteria including the number of users a company has, as well as the company’s market share in terms of revenues. Expected rules could force the companies to share data with competitors and be more transparent about information gathered.
The moves are nothing new; EU regulators led by Danish social liberal politician Margrethe Vestager have been adding new police powers that allow Brussels to stifle corporate market power without full investigations or even finding the companies guilty of violating existing antitrust laws.
Vestager and her cronies want to go beyond fines, and like a number of liberal antitrust legislators in the US, seek to break up large tech companies. IBM appears to be reading the writing on the wall, announcing last week that it will split into two public companies, with one of the companies being focused solely on cloud computing.
How could this affect Apple? If the anti-capitalists have their way, the company could be forced to split into a number of smaller, more focused companies — perhaps one for hardware and operating systems, another for services, another for wearables. Whatever the final outcome, it would impact Apple’s largely vertical approach of being a one-stop shop for consumers.