European Carriers Tattle on Apple to EU for Anticompetitive Contracts
March 22, 2013 12:03 PM
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Sales quotas are said to be one detail being examined
The European Union (EU) has received complaints about
anticompetitive practices carried out by Apple
, and its administrative department -- the European Commission -- is closely monitoring the situation.
Carriers throughout Europe (but mainly French carriers) have sent information regarding their contracts with Apple to the European Commission saying that Apple's rules for carrying the iPhone are anticompetitive.
While Apple's terms are different from carrier to carrier, a major complaint from the European carriers is that Apple forces them to sell a certain amount of iPhones over a determined amount of time. If the carrier does not meet this quota, then they must pay Apple for the unsold devices.
The carriers say that this forces them to focus more on selling the iPhone each month than competing devices.
What does Apple have to say about this?
“Our contracts fully comply with local laws wherever we do business, including the E.U.," said Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman.
The European Commission hasn't opened a formal antitrust investigation yet because it hasn't received a formal complaint of anticompetitive practices. The Commission wants evidence that Apple's actions have hurt consumers and it wants to make sure that this is an issue it can solve.
However, the European Commission is monitoring the situation. It will have to speak to the carriers before launching a full investigation.
The carriers said they must agree to Apple's quota or they won't receive the iPhone at all. This is an issue, considering its one of the best-selling smartphones that customers regularly ask for. Having the iPhone draws many customers to carriers in the first place.
If Apple were to be subject to an investigation (and said to have been anticompetitive by the European Commission), the fine could be as high as 10 percent of the company's most recent annual sales worldwide.
This isn't Apple's first run-in with the European Commission. In December 2011,
Apple and book publishers
Penguin, Harper Collins (News Corp., USA), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., USA), Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing France) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany)
were under the microscope when the EU found out about their selling practices. The EU saw this as
anticompetitive against the likes of Amazon
, and launched an investigation.
Apple and four of the publishers (all but Penguin)
submitted a settlement proposal to the EU in August 2012, saying that the publishers will not restrict or limit an e-book sellers' ability to set, change or reduce e-book prices for two years. They also won't interfere with an e-book retailer's choice to offer discounts
, and added the five-year suspension of the
"most-favored nation" contract. The investigation was settled later in the year.
The New York Times
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
3/23/2013 11:00:45 AM
Forcing developers to sell via the Apple Store where Apple take a 30% cut including in app sales should be investigated. Without the Apple software tax I could potentially buy software for 30% less and have more choice. The hardware is overpriced to start with so overpaying for software as well is a joke.
I’m an adult, I don’t need Apple to control what I can buy and charge me a 30% premium for the privilege of being treated like a child.
The same goes for Windows RT and anybody else doing something similar. MS are stupid enough to think that they can do the same.
3/24/2013 12:26:39 PM
Not an Apple fan by any means, but you should be happy about Apple's app store and its effect on prices. Before iPhone, most mobile apps cost much more for the same functionality in the Windows Mobile world. Apple turned the mobile app game on its head, and many apps are actually underpriced now IMO.
I do think Apple takes too much of a cut. Combined with other indicators, such as Apple demanding a much lower price to stream music than their competitors, and it's apparent they really only care about themselves and their profits. Any positive effect for the consumer is incidental.
3/24/2013 5:37:08 PM
Surely the lower prices are due to the large market for iOS apps and also the competing products? I can’t see that the 30% Apple tax offers any benefit for developers or consumers.
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