Do you hear that? Oh, it’s nothing. Just the rumblings of CHANGE.
Amazon may end a third-party vendor policy that prohibits merchants from selling their wares at lower prices outside of Amazon Marketplace, according to a new report from Axios. The news comes days after senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren unveiled her policy proposal for “breaking up Big Tech,” including Amazon.
The report comes from a single anonymous source “with direct knowledge of the company’s decision.” Axios claims the decision to change the price policy has been made. However, the outlet has published false reports based on anonymous sourcing before. So the news should be taken with a grain of salt; Mashable has reached out to Amazon to confirm whether it will indeed change this policy.
However, even a discussion of changes at Amazon show how just the specter of anti-trust regulation could already be having an effect. As Axios points out, Amazon changed this policy in Europe in 2013 in response to antitrust complaints. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Con) also asked the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to investigate the “price parity provisions” in December. And perhaps discussions of changing policy just need time to kick around at Amazon — but it sure looks like Warren’s announcement, and subsequent national attention to the issue of monopolies in tech, lit a fire under those Amazon butts.
Pre-emptive, voluntary measures have historically been a way that companies seek to avoid more onerous future legislation. The idea is that companies demonstrate they’re willing to make good faith changes on their own, so they won’t be forced by law to make even bigger changes in the future. We will probably see more moves like this from Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple. But if Elizabeth Warren takes her agenda into the White House, or even the halls of Congress, it might not be enough.