Decision Nº M/03/003 from Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, 2003-04-09

Date09 April 2003
Decision Date09 April 2003
StatusCleared (Phase 1)
CourtCompetition and Consumer Protection Commission (Ireland)
Decision NumberM/03/003
Determination of the Competition Authority
Determination No. M/03/003 of the Competition Authority, dated April 9, under
Notification No. M/03/003 – Microsoft Corporation’s Acquisition of Placeware
1. On 17 February 2003 the Competition Authority, in accordance with Section 18
(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 (“the Act”) was notified, on a mandatory basis,
of a proposal whereby Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) would acquire all the
voting securities of Placeware Inc. (“Placeware”).
The Parties
2. Microsoft, the purchaser, is a US-based publicly owned company that develops,
manufactures, and licenses, on a worldwide basis, a range of software products,
notably operating systems for servers and consumer software. It also sells
hardware devices and provides consulting services.
3. Placeware is a US-based privately owned company that operates in the Web
conferencing sector, where it provides a software-based service that enables
customers to conduct real-time interaction using software products via the
4. The transaction provides for Microsoft acquiring all of the outstanding voting
securities of Placeware.
Geographical Market
5. The geographical market for the products offered by Placeware, and any relevant
software products sold by Microsoft, is worldwide.
Horizontal Effects
6. Placeware operates in the market for Web conferencing services, which allows
different users to interact with each other by sharing applications and
presentations at the same time when using a personal computer across the
Internet. This market is growing rapidly, and Placeware has a number of
competitors in the market. Microsoft does offer a similar product called
NetMeeting. However, NetMeeting does not possess the ability to cross
“firewalls” (unlike Placeware), thus making it useful for real-time conferencing
within the same network, but rendering it less suitable for conferencing between
customers not operating in the same network.
7. Moreover, market investigations have shown that intrinsic to Placeware’s product
is the support service associated with that product. Placeware organises and

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