Monday, July 24, 2017

Public-interest statements by Apple, Intel, CCIA and ACT oppose Qualcomm's ITC complaint

Earlier this month, Qualcomm filed an ITC complaint in pursuit of a U.S. import ban against Apple's iPhones (except for iPhones coming with a Qualcomm baseband chipset). Last week, Apple, Intel and two industries groups (CCIA and ACT) filed public-interest statements seeking to dissuade the U.S. trade agency from granting Qualcomm its requested relief and proposing, at a minimum, that the public-interest aspects of this case be referred to an Administrative Law Judge.

An outright decision by the ITC not to investigate Qualcomm's complaint would be unusual and I wouldn't bet on this happening, but in this particular case there are reasons for which Qualcomm would probably be denied an import ban at the end of the proceedings even if it prevailed on the merits (if it came to worst, by a presidential veto).

Here are links to the different stakeholders' statements:

Qualcomm's decision to request an import ban that would force Apple to sell only Qualcomm-powered iPhones in the U.S. has raised huge concerns. It's a transparent attempt by Qualcomm to get rid of its only major competitor, Intel. With all that's going on in terms of antitrust investigations and lawsuits, such as the Federal Trade Commission's progress in the Northern District of California, the ITC will (either now or at a laters stage) have to give serious consideration to the competition issues surrounding Qualcomm's complaint.

The following passage from Intel's statement describes the market landscape:

"When it comes to cellular phones and tablets, Qualcomm's anticompetitive tactics have meant that consumers who wish to purchase a premium product that operates on the LTE network have few choices but to buy a Qualcomm modem—the only real alternatives are the latest Apple handsets with Intel modems, and a modest number of Samsung handsets and tablets using Samsung's own modems."

That doesn't sound like healthy competition...

As I've stated on previous occasions, while I am an app developer (next week we'll start out final beta test with many new testers invited every day), I don't necessarily feel that ACT represents me (a non-member anyway) on all policy issues (nor does any other organization). But when they do, I say so, and they do speak for me when they point out the following in their public-interest statement:

"Thousands of our members reach their customers through the ubiquitous mobile communications devices manufactured by Apple which are the articles at issue in the complaint at hand. App Association members rely on a competitive environment in the information and communications technology hardware space, without which our members would have no means to provide countless Americans (both in the consumer and enterprise context) with new and innovative software products and services that require an increasing amount of bandwidth and computing power."

Finally, it's worth noting that CCIA (the Computer & Communications Industry Association) has frequently filed amicus briefs and other submissions adverse to Apple's interests, but with respect to Qualcomm's complaint, even CCIA (which counts various fierce Apple competitors among its members) is on Apple's side.

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