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IBM Businesses The Courts

EU Launches Antitrust Investigation Against IBM 135

Posted by Soulskill
from the always-bet-on-blue dept.
FlorianMueller writes "The European Commission announced today that it has launched two parallel antitrust investigations into IBM's mainframe practices, following complaints lodged by T3 Technologies last year and French open source startup TurboHercules in March. EU regulators suspect an abuse of a dominant position and illegal tying of IBM's mainframe hardware to its proprietary mainframe operating system z/OS. There's even the possibility of a third case based on a complaint filed very recently by NEON, and the DoJ is also looking into this matter. IBM now finds itself in a situation previously experienced by Microsoft and Intel. This may also affect IBM's credibility when lobbying in the EU for open standards." Reader coondoggie points out a response from IBM saying that the accusations are being driven by Microsoft and other competitors.
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EU Launches Antitrust Investigation Against IBM

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  • by MaggieL (10193) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:50PM (#33034580)

    "IBM now finds itself in a situation previously experienced by Microsoft and Intel."

      Actually, IBM now finds itself in a situation previously experienced by IBM, too.

  • Re:Imagine that! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:51PM (#33034590)
    Thank you. For the /.ers who are (still) unclear about this, having a monopoly is not illegal. IBM is basically the only company left selling mainframes; it's not their fault if everyone else chose to leave what is an incredibly high-risk market that requires oodles of investment. Similarly, tying your hardware to your software is not illegal in itself either (so you can stop clamoring for antitrust litigation against Apple).

    What's illegal is abusing a monopoly, you have to have both a dominant market position and anticompetitive activity like software/hardware lock-in before the government has a case. Which I think they do, in this instance.
  • Re:Groklaw (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:00PM (#33034768) Journal

    blinders on how? PJ is a paralegal and has no ties to IBM whatsoever.

    Florian is doing nothing but spin lately. I debunked him before on this article and if he tries this again, I'll debunk him again. We don't need his spin on slashdot.

  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:16PM (#33035038)

    An abusive business practice is an undocumented clause in your credit card contract that bumps your rate to 29% if you're 2 days late with a payment. An abusive business practice is buying up all the power companies in a state and increasing prices 50% (if this were allowed).

    Creating a product and dictating the price for the product and creating contractual requirements for the product is not an abusive business practice unless you're a blathering corporation hater, which I understand is trendy these days.

    Applying antitrust law to something someone creates from nothing is a joke. It should be applied to physically limited resources and government granted monopolies only.

    No matter how many companies the EU sues, it's not going to help them avoid the catastrophe they're heading towards with a declining population growth and laughably unsustainable social policies and spending. Their anti-business leanings are certainly going to accelerate their collapse.

  • Re:Imagine that! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bws111 (1216812) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:46PM (#33035502)

    This is not about 'bundling' of hardware and software (IBM stopped doing that more than 40 years ago). This is about an operating system (z/OS), which is a product IBM sells. z/OS runs only on z/Architecture machines. Currently, there is one manufacturer of z/Architecture machines - IBM. Therefore, if you want to run z/OS, you must have an IBM mainframe. Microsoft (through TurboHercules) is complaining that IBM is abusing it's position by not licensing z/OS to be run on TurboHercules' emulator. However, they only want IBM to change it's behavior, they don't want to play by the same rules. In particular, they see nothing wrong with the fact that TH infringes IBM patents, and IBM therefore does not recognize them as a legitimate competitor.

  • by Smauler (915644) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:47PM (#33035510)

    If you're going to pretend Apples and PCs are interchangeable

    They are for most people - they do exactly the same job. On the one hand, PC's can play just about all current games and applications, on the other Macs emit an aura of smug. YMMV, but they are essentially interchangeable.

  • Re:Groklaw (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pgmrdlm (1642279) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:56PM (#33035634) Journal
    What a troll. Seriously. There is not just one manufacturer that makes mainframes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainframe_computer [wikipedia.org]

    Market

    IBM mainframes dominate the mainframe market at well over 90% market share.[6] Unisys manufactures ClearPath mainframes, based on earlier Sperry and Burroughs product lines. In 2002, Hitachi co-developed the zSeries z800 with IBM to share expenses, but subsequently the two companies have not collaborated on new Hitachi models. Hewlett-Packard sells its unique NonStop systems, which it acquired with Tandem Computers and which some analysts classify as mainframes. Groupe Bull's DPS, Fujitsu (formerly Siemens) BS2000, and Fujitsu-ICL VME mainframes are still available in Europe. Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC (the "JCMs") still maintain nominal mainframe hardware businesses in their home Japanese market, although they have been slow to introduce new hardware models in recent years. The amount of vendor investment in mainframe development varies with marketshare. Unisys, HP, Groupe Bull, Fujitsu, Hitachi, and NEC now rely primarily on commodity Intel CPUs rather than custom processors in order to reduce their development expenses, and they have also cut back their mainframe software development. (However, Unisys still maintains its own unique CMOS processor design development for certain high-end ClearPath models but contracts chip manufacturing to IBM.) In stark contrast, IBM continues to pursue a different business strategy of mainframe investment and growth. IBM has its own large research and development organization designing new, homegrown CPUs, including mainframe processors such as 2008's 4.4 GHz quad-core z10 mainframe microprocessor. IBM is rapidly expanding its software business, including its mainframe software portfolio, to seek additional revenue and profits.[7][8]

    Quit being a hypocrite and go after every mainframe manufacturer. And yes, I am calling you a hypocrite and a troll.
    Nor does IBM force you to use a specific operating system. From the IBM web site of all places. http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/z/os/ [ibm.com]

    Linux on System z Show descriptions | Hide descriptions Featured topic Increasing economics for server consolidation Linux and z/VM benefit from the enormous improvements of the IBM zEnterprise 196 server capabilities in the areas of consolidation, security, reliability and disaster recovery. You can "do even more with less". 10 Years Linux on IBM System z For the last decade, clients around the world have benefited from the strengths of Linux on System z. Learn more about Linux on System z

    I don't see companies like Apple advertising the fact, and also offering to help install other operating systems on their hardware.

    Show me in witting, on the IBM web site, where their software can not be run on mainframes built by other manufacturers. I don't want your blog, I want IBM official restrictions. Otherwise, your a troll. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • Re:Groklaw (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:03PM (#33036724) Journal

    That's the biggest stretch I have ever seen. Where do you come up with this? Just because someone isn't complaining about something doesn't mean the openly support it.

    Oh wait. Hey, Florian, you never say anything bad about terrorism. You must support it!

    That's how off base your concept is. People can be against software patents while acknowledging contracts, which is something you clearly are forgetting. If Turbohercules causes a stir, it's going to hurt open source and be very pro software patents, actually.

    Your view is narrower than a thread through a needle, and I hope you realize that someday.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:43PM (#33037264)
    Sorry, but I have not swallowed Apple's marketing campaign hook, line, and sinker. Apple produces personal computers, which have always been a part of the PC market. There is not a separate "Macintosh" market, and most of Apple's product lines do not fall into the category of "workstations," if you wanted to claim there is a separate "workstation market." Mainframes, on the other hand, are quite clearly in a different market than other server computers -- they include features that is not even relevant for typical servers (i.e. the ability to replace a motherboard without interrupting service, the ability to execute instructions on two processors at the same time to reduce the chances of erroneous results, etc.); the difference is as clear as the difference between the server market and the PC market. True, a mainframe can be replaced with a couple hundred servers, but I can say the same about replacing a server with a desktop, or perhaps a hammer and a screwdriver.

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