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EU Regulator Raids Intel Offices 138

stevedcc writes "BBC news is reporting that Intel's offices in Munich, Germany have been raided by European Union competition regulators. From the article: 'The Reuters news agency reported that the Commission also raided computer retailers on Tuesday including Germany's Media Markt, which sells PCs with Intel central processing units but not those made by AMD. Regulators have the power to fine Intel up to 10% of annual turnover if they find it guilty of stifling competition. Intel has said it is "confident" it had acted lawfully.'"
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EU Regulator Raids Intel Offices

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  • by snowraver1 ( 1052510 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:27PM (#22393228)
    You don't really want it. Competition would be way better in the long run. Competition keep prices down and innovation moving. If you really want to help the industry, buy AMD so that next time you are building a computer, you will still have the option to choose the CPU.
  • Gone Too Far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:30PM (#22393262)
    As to Media Markt, if they wish to sell only the crap from Intel, why shouldn't they be allowed to? Simply because you don't "like" a company (...Microsoft...) doesn't mean in a free market, retailers should not be able to be exclusive.

    When a group actually hates a company as much as people do here with Microsoft/Intel, it's easy to become overly biased against the rights of people to choose these two businesses.

  • by mikeabbott420 ( 744514 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:33PM (#22393310) Journal
    When this happens in Ireland it will be a surprise.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:34PM (#22393320)
    Sure, it means that competition is present at the moment, but it also means they're attempting to eliminate the competition. A larger company will sell below cost because they know a smaller company will go bankrupt trying to compete on price well before they will. If this sort of thing goes unchecked, the larger company will jack up its prices after the competition is eliminated, and the end result will be no choice and high prices for consumers.

  • Re:Gone Too Far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:36PM (#22393344)
    How it works:-
    1. Dominant player in market cuts costs to below cost of manufacure
    2. Secondary player has to cut costs to match
    3. Secondary player has shallower pockets than dominant player and goes out of business
    4. Dominant player is now only player and can raise costs as high as they want to make back all they lost in action #1
    There are reasons for market regulators, and not just because we European liberals like big government.
  • Re:Gone Too Far (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abigsmurf ( 919188 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @12:57PM (#22393670)
    The problem is Intel are producing better chips than AMD and are able to make them for less because of lower failure rates and smaller die sizes. The main problem with the CPU industry at the moment is AMD are just doing bad in general and not keeping pace.
  • Re:Gone Too Far (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stevedcc ( 1000313 ) * on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:03PM (#22393742)

    The problem is Intel are producing better chips than AMD and are able to make them for less because of lower failure rates and smaller die sizes. The main problem with the CPU industry at the moment is AMD are just doing bad in general and not keeping pace.

    If this had always been true, it might be fair to say that AMD were a poor competitor. However, from the launch of the Athlon until the launch of the Core2, for several years, AMD had a better product, yet found major difficulties in getting market share. Intel's alleged tactics are illegal, and it's right that they should be properly investigated. It's just a pity that any fine imposed will hurt Intel but not benefit AMD or consumers, who are the real injured parties.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:04PM (#22393758) Homepage Journal
    So... you'd prefer a monopoly with a vested interest to do it?
  • That's fine (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:11PM (#22393868)
    But that's clearly not the case with Intel. Their products are not being sold below cost, indeed they are making plenty of money. Also a little searching turns up that they aren't dumping (selling cheap abroad and full price at home) or anything like that. So what it appears to be is that Intel produces a quality product that AMD is having trouble competing with. Well, that's the free market at work. AMD's problem isn't that Intel is undercutting their prices to a level they can't sell at, their problem is that Intel has better chips out.

    So unless you can show how Intel has been doing something illegal, like selling below cost, then this seems to just be a punitive action since AMD has a big fab in Germany, and Intel does not have any European fabs.
  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:13PM (#22393896)
    Actually, you're 180 degrees wrong. You're effectively rewarding incompetence. This is why many people are against the credit bail-out. You are saying that even though these companies made risky loans and lost a bundle of money on it, we're going to bail them out because it's in our best interests. This logic gets built into the market, and people start making bigger and bigger risks.

    Your "informed economic decision" effecitvely rewards a company for poor performance. Not only that but it gets you, the buyer, a technically inferior product.

    You're also baking in the assumption that price is the only differentiator here, when clearly it isn't. There's support, technical compatibility and platform choice, speed, stability, etc... that all goes into a decision like this. Now, if all these things are close enough to equal then by all means pick your favorite company if you want them to do well. But just buying a crappier chip and paying more for it out of some misguided sense of econ-101 isn't real wise.

  • by sane? ( 179855 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:25PM (#22394028)

    I mean, come on. Its well known that governments will attempt to physically raid companies in search of the evidence they don't have. This is a high tech firm. Surely any sensible CEO would ensure that any questionable docs were held securely in another (corrupt) country, behind heavy duty encryption and only accessible by remote session.

    Its not as if there would be a vast number of them, and the skills to make this invisible to the raiding agencies are not likely to be in short supply in somewhere like Intel.

    All you can assume is that these raids are a show of force, not seriously expected to deliver anything of value.

  • Best Processors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.enderandrew. .at.> on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:25PM (#22394032) Homepage Journal
    At what level? At the top level, yes Intel has a lead right now. There is no denying that. But the low-end AMD processors are so cheap, they give far better bang for the buck. The last processor I bought was an AMD X2 3600+ brand new for $35. At the time, the cheapest comparable Intel dual-core offering was $150. They benchmarked about the same, and the X2 overclocks amazingly well.

    $35 or $150, wow that is a tough one.

    Again, Intel isn't always the best processor.
  • by foxalopex ( 522681 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:32PM (#22394128)
    There were several articles about a year ago about Intel limiting shipment of CPUs to retailers who dared to sell AMD products. This was back when Athlon64 was king of the hill and P4's were terrible. Sadly, I'm not sure if much came out of that. It may be for this reason that the newer AMD chips are not as great. AMD may have never gotten the extra profit it was entitled to make the next better generation of chips. Seeing how slow most governments are to respond this may be a response to that initial complaint. On the other hand, I seem to recall Germany loaning a huge amount of money to AMD to build a chip fab there. Maybe this is a way of ensuring their investment was sound? Personally I think Intel should get fined anyhow. AMD needs a little help to make sure they survive. If AMD bites the dust we all loose in a big way.
  • Re:Gone Too Far (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @01:48PM (#22394318)
    It doesn't help that, the moment they start to get traction towards resolving their anti-trust concerns, their products take a nosedive in quality.

    In the CPU front, the Core 2 is spanking the Phenom in all market segments, although the Athlon series is still holding on to the very low-end on low cost alone.

    On the GPU front, they just gave up on the high end entirely for a while. The only way they can even compete with nVidia's 8800 series (which is about to be replaced with new cards) is to stick two of their best GPUs on one card. Yes, it's a neat technical solution, but it'd be a heck of a lot more impressive if each of those two GPUs was the equal of an 8800. nVidia's soon-to-be-released 9000 series is going to hurt AMD a lot. What're they going to do, put four GPUs on a card to compete with nVidia's one? What happens when nVidia starts putting multiple GPUs on a card, offering double the performance of AMD's solution?

    It's only a matter of time before the Core 2 products start breaking into the very low-end market, and AMD gets supplanted there too. Unless their next generation of CPU and GPU products can actually compete on merit, it may not matter if Intel's semi-monopoly is broken.
  • by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @03:51PM (#22396000) Homepage
    No, it doesn't. It means that AMD is down and Intel is going in for the kill. If AMD is killed, competition in that market will be completely dead. CPU prices will soar, Intel won't need to spend so much on research, and everyone else will be so far behind Intel that no one will be able to catch up. In short, the consumers will get screwed.
  • by Pulzar ( 81031 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @03:54PM (#22396046)
    This is especially true since the processors are their big market. I mean I could see Intel doing it with some other market, like say NICs, that is a small part of their business.

    It's exactly what they were doing when AMD was dominating the desktop and 1P/2P server performance with Athlon. They were giving big customers huge rebates on their desktop and 1P/2P server chips to keep AMD from gaining market share, while raking in the profits on the mobile and 4P+ server chip sales since they were still dominating there. They were still profitable, while making AMD's life difficult.

    It's also not true that they were still making tons of money. If you look at their gross margins, they severely declined over the last few years because of this competition with AMD.
  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Tuesday February 12, 2008 @09:14PM (#22400746)

    If that where right 100% of the time then where is the competition for microsoft?
    You're joking, right? There is tons of competition for Microsoft. Linux in hundreds of variations, Apple, Open/FreeBSD, [Open],Solaris, and uncountable niche OS's. In the application space there are all kinds of products in every field they sell in that compete as well. This exactly highlights my point. People didn't like MS OS's and/or their prices, so they went and developed Linux and all the other OS's.

    And that's precisely why MS doesn't charge a ridiculous amount of money for their product, they know they would lose even more customers were they to do so.

  • by Sergeant Pepper ( 1098225 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @12:05AM (#22401946)
    That's not what selling below cost is. It would be like this:

    I have this widget, which cost me $2 to make. I sell it for $1.

    The goal is to move on to this:

    Though I take a loss on every sale, the competition is a smaller business and cannot take the loss for as long as I can. Once they arebankrupt from either no one buying their products because mine are cheaper or also selling at below cost with their coffers running out sooner, I can then sell my widgets, that were previously $1 and cost me $2 to make, for $50.
  • by gr8scot ( 1172435 ) on Wednesday February 13, 2008 @01:00AM (#22402252) Journal

    You're effectively giving charity to AMD. They can't win your money by making the best product, but you're convinced that it will somehow serve you in the long run. I don't know how you can rationally make such an analysis, but I certainly wouldn't bet on it if I were you.
    I also prefer the AMD brand in general, so much that even if they are marginally worse in price/performance at a particular time for a particular purpose, I would probably not buy the Intel chip, and I don't mind explaining my rationale. The price/performance difference would have to be quite a bit to get me to seriously consider Intel, because I remember the pressure their introduction put on Intel's prices not so long ago, and more recently I remember how quickly they surpassed Intel in performance, and by what a dramatic margin. Intel's current lead in the bleeding-edge is not as wide, is a recent development, and does not overcome my general impression, based on years of following the high-tech news well enough to comfortably post my opinions publicly, that Intel is comparatively bloated, and dependent on its Marketing and Sales departments rather than its Research and Development. Then, there is the anecdotal evidence they frequently give us when they sell below cost, that they recognize their own technical inferiority and can only "win" by the sheer magnitude of their pre-existing capital.

    PS Such behavior is irrational when viewing corporations and their customers as entities, and of course the motivations are quarterly earnings, EPS, and other jargon used mostly by people who don't know or care what they're talking about, but all come down to short-term interests of certain investors. I consider that by itself a good reason to dislike collective ownership and laws that favor collective corporate structures, generally. Collective ownership should not be outlawed as such, but it should receive no special preferences, either. Although AMD is also publicly-traded, they appear to have saner management, and to be at worst, a smaller contributor to the same problem, and often appear to have positive effects.

"It takes all sorts of in & out-door schooling to get adapted to my kind of fooling" - R. Frost