It seems like a few years since Microsoft fell foul of antitrust laws, but it appears they have been caught yet again. According to Reuters, this time though they have been able to escape with just a fine.
The problems for the company have arisen in China, where they tried to get a foothold in the console market in 2013. At this time China were removing a 14-year old ban on games consoles and Microsoft formed a joint venture with Shanghai Oriental Pearl Media Co Ltd, also known as BesTV, to sell the Xbox console.
While such venture is not a crime, the problem arose when they exceeded a market share threshold. When this happens the company in question must disclose the fact to the antitrust regulators, which is something that Microsoft and BesTV failed to do. This resulted in the breach of antitrust rules and for the investigation into the venture to be started.
What the Xbox investigation found though was that no serious violation had in fact taken place. Both companies were fined 2000,000 yuan each ($31,430) for the failure to report. If taken further this could have led to further sales of the console in China, though Microsoft haven’t seen much of a dent in the Eastern market with their console anyway.
Luckily for Microsoft this case was not part of other ongoing probes that China’s National Development and Reform Commission have into Windows, and Office software. This could have potentially complicated matters even further.
Obviously Microsoft will be treading more carefully in the future when trying to gain some market share in China. I’m sure they won’t want any more fines or harsher punishments in the future.
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