Tag Archives: Intel

Huge $1.45 billion, a new low

After the EC antitrust authority today leveled a €1.06 billion fine against Intel, the company’s general counsel Bruce Sewell gave an illuminating interview to CNBC:

We better come up with a better way to restrict the EC’s range of motion on these matters. Sewell called the action “arbitrary.” The CNBC reporters called it a “shakedown.” They’re both right.

Meanwhile, EC competition commissioner Neelie Kroes added insult to injury when she blithely noted that Intel is now supporting European taxpayers.

A huge array of experts in the legal and economic fields quickly denounced the EU “fine,” (Can you really call $1.45 billion a fine?), and raised very serious questions about arbitrary antitrust becoming the chief protectionist tool of the 21st century.

Scholar Ronald Cass said the EC Competition Directorate acted as

prosecutor, investigator, and judge.

Grant Aldonas of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said,

Given the implications for R&D that drives Intel’s investment in both Europe and the United States, it makes little sense to divert these funds to the European Union’s coffers instead.

And as we attempt to emerge from a brutal economic crisis, where unemployment continues to rise, my former colleague Ken Ferree made the crucial macro point:

If you love jobs and economic growth, you have to love the companies that drive the economy and create employment demand.

The global economy cannot function if large nations or regions, like the EU, the U.S., or China, engage in over-the-top punitive actions against any company, let alone one of the most inventive firms of our time. Without engaging in the type of tit-for-tat protectionism that leads to destructive trade wars, we need to find a way to roll back what I called in a recent Wall Street Journal article “Europe’s anti-innovation ‘antitrust’ policy.” Moreover, we should resist letting the EC’s casual intrusiveness seep into our own antitrust jurisprudence, which has for the most part fortunately been more tightly focused on the question of consumer harm. As this excellent article notes, there is some reason to worry we might be sliding in the wrong direction.

Resisting these impulses will promote the global cooperation we need to rebound from the crisis. It will be better for innovative companies. Better for consumers of innovative, life changing products. And . . . better for the citizens, consumers, and entrepreneurs of that too-long underperforming land we call Europe.

Medical Miracles Needed

Intel is ramping its health care strategy with new hardware and software to help home-bound patients. Mobile giant Qualcomm has an array of new ideas for dis-aggregating today’s hefty, expensive, purpose-built machines that only do one or two things into a web of sensors, software, and wireless links. Think “body area network,” or BAN. Both companies are members of the Continua Alliance, a group of companies creating a “connected personal health ecosystem” of interoperable medical technologies. 

This is just the type of medical innovation I wrote about in Friday’s Wall Street Journal — the kind that will transcend many of today’s debates about who is going to pay for the old system. My answer: Nobody will pay for the old system. Create a new system.