European computer makers appear to be somewhat indifferent to the supposed threat Intel Corp poses by behaving as a monopoly and thereby reducing the choice of chips they can build into their PCs. Following the announcement that the US Federal Trade Commission will go ahead with its antitrust lawsuit against the chip giant (CI No […]
European computer makers appear to be somewhat indifferent to the supposed threat Intel Corp poses by behaving as a monopoly and thereby reducing the choice of chips they can build into their PCs. Following the announcement that the US Federal Trade Commission will go ahead with its antitrust lawsuit against the chip giant (CI No 3,427), the European Union competition commission says it has to date not received a single complaint about Intel. When asked about what impact Intel’s monopolistic behavior, and the pending law suit would have on European businesses, Europeans seemed unnervingly relaxed about the situation. Fujitsu/ICL said that while smaller companies may have succumbed to Intel’s demands and anti-competitive behavior, parent company Fujitsu Ltd is big enough and has enough of its own patents and technology to not be pushed around by Intel. ICL said it didn’t believe Intel could push the likes of IBM and Hewlett-Packard around either. Siemens Nixdorf was equally sanguine, and said it believed the impact was far greater in the US than in Europe. Intel would-be competitor Advanced Micro Devices Inc thinks the European companies ‘would say that’. AMD’s Klaus Bergland says undoubtedly computer companies would benefit from having true choice in supply, without the pressures of a monolithic player in the market. Bergland questions whether European companies, or indeed the likes of Compaq, Intergraph and Digital really have choice at the moment. AMD is currently selling some 10 million chips a year, but mainly in point solutions, Bergland says. It has capacity to produce some 20% of the world’s chips, and is gearing up to be able to provide 30% by the middle of 2000. Earlier this week, the European Union signed an agreement with the US competition regulators, under which both parties can ask the other to act against anti-competitive behavior in their respective territories. Once either party is taking action, the other will defer its enforcement activities if the opposite number is better placed to deal with the alleged infringement. In the case of Intel, EU spokesperson Stefan Rating says Intel and the companies bringing the complaint about its anti-competitive behavior, Intergraph Inc, Compaq Computer Corp and Dell Computer Corp, are all US companies, and for this reason alone the US is far better placed to deal with the case. Also, from a legal standpoint, US law enables the government to impose fines for breach of a consent decree, such as the one prohibiting Microsoft to bundle a web browser with Windows 95 in 1995, whereas in Europe the commission could only begin a lengthy legal process. The legal consequences would therefore be more immediate in the US, Rating says.