This is one more step towards the opening of an investigation and potential sanctions against American champions of “cloud computing” such as Amazon or Microsoft. After more than a year of interviews and hearings, the French Competition Authority has made no secret of its fears about possible abuses in the online computing market.
These large platforms, which have become essential for companies, “are able to hinder the development of competition”, lamented Benoît Coeuré, the president of the independent authority, presenting Thursday June 29 the opinion of the institution on “the functioning competitive advantage of cloud computing”, these all-online data storage and processing technologies.
A French market worth 27 billion euros in 2025
For this work on the sector, his teams had no particular company in their sights. But, by sharpening their knowledge on this technical subject, the instruction services have reinforced the legitimacy of the general rapporteur in the event that he decides to take action on his own or to take into consideration a complaint against a cloud platform in the coming months.
Previously, a similar opinion on the online advertising market issued in 2018 had led to an investigation against Google and then, in 2021, to a fine of 220 million euros negotiated with the Californian company.
The stakes around the cloud are enormous. In growth, the French market could weigh 27 billion euros in 2025. In full digital transformation, companies are increasingly using this IT rented on demand that their technical teams no longer have to keep up to date. For three years, worldwide, spending in the cloud market is outpacing spending in traditional IT.
Tied sales, welcome discounts, exit fees
However, this market is largely dominated by American service providers. In 2021, according to the Competition Authority, Amazon held 46% of the French market, against 17% for Microsoft and, to a lesser extent, 8% for Google. Worse, the gap is widening with other providers (OVHcloud, Scaleway, Outscale, Cloud Temple, Alibaba). The three Americans would have captured 80% of the growth of the sector in France, according to the gendarme of competition.
Also seen elsewhere in Europe and the United States, this success raises questions. In detail, the Competition Authority is concerned about several practices, giving reason to the cries of alarm from their French rivals for years. Already contested with the European Commission, Microsoft tying is mentioned without citing the name of the Redmond company. In addition, the significant discounts granted to new customers and the no less significant exit costs charged to those who want to leave for the competition have attracted attention.
In addition to litigation, the return to a more balanced market could also come from regulation. Already, the Digital Markets Act and its French counterpart, the “Securing and regulating the digital space” bill – currently under discussion in the Senate – intend to respond to certain interoperability issues likely to limit competitive pressure. In the process of being adopted in Brussels, the Data Act provides for other measures on the subject.