Tech Giants Google and Apple May Face Breakups as Global Regulators Ramp Up Scrutiny

Big Tech in Hot Water: Antitrust Regulators Threaten Break-ups for Apple and Google

By Foo Yun Chee and Supantha Mukherjee

In a dramatic turn of events, Big Tech giants Apple and Google are facing their biggest challenge in decades as antitrust regulators on both sides of the Atlantic crack down on alleged anti-competitive practices. This crackdown could potentially result in break-up orders for these tech behemoths, marking a first for the industry.

The wave of regulatory action is not just limited to the EU and the U.S., as more and more countries are launching antitrust probes following the opening of cases in these key markets. This heightened scrutiny comes at a time when regulators are questioning the impenetrable ecosystems created by companies like Apple and Google, which allegedly make it difficult for consumers to switch to rival services. This phenomenon has led to the emergence of the term “walled gardens” to describe these closed-off ecosystems.

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The U.S. Department of Justice recently warned Apple, a $2.7 trillion company, that a break-up order is on the table as a potential remedy for restoring competition in the smartphone market. Similarly, regulators in Europe are gearing up to investigate Apple, Meta Platforms, and Alphabet for potential violations of the Digital Markets Act, with hefty fines and break-up orders looming as possible consequences.

While the possibility of break-up orders looms large, it is important to note that such drastic measures are far from certain. Legal experts suggest that the case against Apple, inspired by the 1998 case against Microsoft, may be more complex this time around. Factors such as the highly integrated nature of Apple’s system and the lack of a tradition in the EU for breaking up companies make the path forward uncertain.

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Ultimately, any decision to impose structural remedies like break-ups will be tested in courts, presenting formidable legal challenges. As the regulatory landscape evolves, one thing is clear: Big Tech is facing a reckoning, and the outcome of these antitrust battles will have far-reaching implications for the industry.

Despite the uncertainty and complexity surrounding these cases, one thing is certain: the era of unchecked dominance by Big Tech may be coming to an end. As regulators around the world step up their scrutiny and enforcement actions, the tech industry is on the brink of a major transformation. Stay tuned as this saga unfolds, and watch for the potential ripple effects on the global tech landscape.

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