The European Commission has opened two formal antitrust investigations against the US company Qualcomm concerning possible “abusive behaviour” in the field of baseband chipsets used in consumer electronic devices. The first investigation will examine whether the company abused its dominant market position by offering financial incentives to customers on the condition that they buy baseband chipsets exclusively, or almost exclusively, from Qualcomm. The second will explore whether it used “predatory pricing”—that is, charged prices below costs in order to drive competitors from the market.
The European Commission’s spokesperson, Ricardo Cardoso, told Ars that “the first investigation concerning Qualcomm’s conditions related to the supply of certain chipsets was started at the Commission’s own initiative. The second investigation concerning Qualcomm’s pricing practices follows a complaint.”
The European Commission’s press release provides more details: “The first antitrust investigation focuses on Qualcomm’s conditions related to the supply of certain chipsets that comply with 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) standards, and are used to deliver cellular mobile connectivity in smartphones and tablets.” The second will consider whether the company offered “payments, rebates or other financial incentives” to induce customers to buy only from Qualcomm, and whether that behaviour hindered the ability of rivals to compete fairly.
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