Published On: Sun, Jan 20th, 2013

Facebook allegedly fending off competitors

Facebook is being accused of limiting competitors’ access to some of its new products; a move that has become common place in the tech space.

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is on the receiving end of scrutiny after being accused of restricting competitors’ access to some of its products. This news went viral on Friday after Voxer, a small app development company, alleged that Facebook cut its access to the social graph over competitive concerns.

Voxer users are able to share voice clips, location, photos and it also allows them to chat through IM and integrate with Facebook.  It seems as though Facebook has considered the company a threat and has decided to do what it can to stifle Voxer’s progression.

Voxer CEO, Tom Katis, talked to AllThingsD, noting that his company received an email on Thursday from Facebook. Katis maintains that, through the email, Facebook wanted to hold a phone call to talk about possible violations of a section of the company’s terms of service. The section under discussion revolves around the use of Facebook’s social service by rivaling social networks.

Katis argues that Facebook’s actions are new, revealing that past discussions with the social network have been cordial. “Yesterday’s call was the first time I ever had any inkling that something like this would happen,” he remarked.

Although Voxer was dismayed by Facebook’s move, CEO Katis maintains that the move will have negligible impact, contending that Facebook acts as a gateway for those not using Voxer’s service to connect with their Facebook friends who already make use of the service.

Voxer and Facebook’s services clash on the mobile platform. The latter has been increasingly developing its messaging platforms onto phones, demonstrated by the recent move to expand its iPhone app to support free voice calls to other Facebook users. Voxer on the other hand offers a mobile app that allows its users to communicate with each other through text, voice and even a quasi-walkie-talkie service. It is still not certain whether Facebook faces similar problems with other mobile voice and texting services. Kik And Whatsapp, both of which offer services similar to Voxer’s, noted that they don’t use Facebook’s programming interfaces in line with their products.

Google also faced somewhat similar allegations in the past

Facebook’s move is not unprecedented. In the past, many big wigs in the tech space have faced similar allegations, Google inclusive.

Google has for the past two years been under the spotlight over allegations that it has been acting anti competitively. Although the U.S Federal Trade Commission cleared these allegations, the search engine giant is still under investigation in Europe. Interestingly, Google was not the only big tech company involved in these prolonged investigations. Microsoft, Yelp and TripAdvisor were also noted to being looked into.

Google’s snapshot, though, reveals that the seemingly unorthodox means of fencing out competition in the tech space has become common practice and Facebook’s move therefore doesn’t come as a surprise.

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About the Author

- Marcus Holland has been trading the financial markets since 2007 with a particular focus on soft commodities. He graduated in 2004 from the University of Plymouth with a BA (Hons) in Business and Finance.