WARREN: Companies like Apple ‘snuff out competition,’ and that ‘threatens our democracy’
Elizabeth Warren has hit out at the tech industry in a new speech railing against consolidation and concentration in the American economy.
The Democratic senator from Massachusetts singled out Apple, Google, and Amazon by name in the speech given in Washington on Wednesday, arguing that they are abusing their power to unfairly block new entrants to the market.
“The decline in competition should cause concern [because] big guys can lock out smaller guys and newer guys,” Warren said. “Take a look at the technology sector — specifically, the battle between large platforms and small tech companies.
“Google, Apple, and Amazon provide platforms that lots of other companies depend on for survival. But Google, Apple, and Amazon also, in many cases, compete with those same small companies, so that the platform can become a tool to snuff out competition.”
(You can read the entire speech below.)
Apple, Amazon, and Google are in the firing line
The 67-year-old Massachusetts resident called out Apple Music, Apple’s music-streaming service, as an offender. “While Apple Music is easily available on the iPhone, Apple has placed conditions on its rivals that make it difficult for them to offer competitive streaming services,” she said.
Amazon also came under fire by Warren over the accusations levelled at it by authors that it “uses its position as the dominant bookseller to steer consumers to books published by Amazon to the detriment of other publishers,” as did Google over a claim by the Federal Trade Commission that it “was using its dominant search engine to harm rivals.”
Warren did say that Google, Apple, and Amazon had “created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and every day they deliver enormously valuable products.”
“They deserve to be highly profitable and successful,” she continued. “But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.”
‘Today, in America, competition is dying’
This attack on consolidation in the tech sector was tied into a broader critique of the American economy. Whether airlines or banks, telecoms or health insurance, competition is dropping — and Warren argued that this harms consumers.
“Anyone who loves markets knows that for markets to work, there has to be competition,” she said. “But today, in America, competition is dying. Consolidation and concentration are on the rise in sector after sector. Concentration threatens our markets, threatens our economy, and threatens our democracy.”
This concentration could destroy startups, she said in her speech — the small-business dream that drives the tech sector — and “pervert” democracy itself. Here’s a key part of her speech (emphasis ours):
“And who gets a shot at their own dream? When big business can shut out competition, entrepreneurs and small businesses are denied their shot at building something new and exciting.
“Left unchecked, concentration will destroy innovation. Left unchecked,concentration will destroy more small companies and startups. Left unchecked, concentration will suck the last vestiges of economic security out of the middle class. Left unchecked, concentration will pervert our democracy into one more rigged game.”
Representatives for Apple, Google, and Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.