Why Amazon Has Been Put Under The FTC’s Microscope

Amazon is a company that can't stay out of trouble. It has now been put under the FTC's microscope for potential antitrust violations.

By Joseph Farago | Published


The FTC, or Federal Trade Commission, is investigating Amazon for its upcoming plans to obtain the robot vacuum maker called iRobot. Alongside this, the federal organization is looking into Amazon’s new healthcare venture. The tech company intends to acquire One Medical, an online directory of practitioners and clinicians. The FTC worries that Amazon’s acquisitions will monopolize the market and remove necessary competition.

One Medical is a remarkable, futuristic company that’s providing doctor access to people nationwide. Subscribing to the service allows you to make virtual appointments with practitioners at 125 clinics in the USA subscription costs just under $200 per year, saving people a significant amount from regular in-person doctor visits. Amazon’s intended purchase of One Medical aligns with the company’s new foray into the medical industry, hoping to capitalize on healthcare by adding doctor services to its online platform.

Alongside the acquisition of One Medical, Amazon hopes to bring on iRobot to its ever-growing product roster. iRobot created the Roomba, a robot vacuum with automated functions to help it navigate around specific rooms, corners, and furniture. The iRobot iOS has upgraded technology that apparently makes it more capable of analyzing its surroundings and vacuuming efficiently in an unprecedented manner. Though Amazon is excited about its new investments, the government may step in to prevent these acquisitions.

The FTC has a significant problem with Amazon’s expansion to the medical industry. The FTC Chairwoman, Lina Khan, has been a longtime critic of the tech company’s practices and intends to slow down Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical and iRobot. The company’s recent CEO, Andy Jessy, has repeatedly called on the FTC to limit its involvement in Amazon’s business ventures, addressing the investigation as “burdensome.” Though Jessy has adamantly objected to the government organization’s surveillance, his pleas will likely be dismissed by Khan.

Alongside the FTC investigation into Amazon and One Medical’s merger, the group will likely halt the acquisition of iRobot. Khan and her team want to ensure that Amazon isn’t violating antitrust law and that the influential tech company isn’t monopolizing one industry unfairly. For the iRobot case, the FTC will examine the data from competitors and assess if Amazon’s acquisition of the vacuum maker will disrupt the market. The government organization also wants to ensure that merging with iRobot won’t give Amazon an unfair advantage in the vacuum retail industry.

Many analysts view Amazon Care’s termination as an anti-competitive move on the tech company’s part. Amazon Care was a brief stint by the company to provide online healthcare advice and available doctors to people nationwide but was recently removed. Now that the e-commerce giant wants to acquire One Medical instead, many believe that the company is simply replacing Amazon Care’s function instead of monopolizing the online medical industry completely. Though this may give the company a viable case for the FTC to allow this merger, chairwoman Khan’s previous scrutiny of the company could indicate a prolonged investigation.

As of now, the FTC will continue analyzing both pending Amazon acquisitions to check if the company is violating federal antitrust laws.