EU investigates Apple, eBook publishers for anti-competitive behavior

According to Bloomberg, the European Union Anti-trust regulators will be investigating Apple, along with five of the major eBook publishers, for possible collusion to help stifle competition within the eBook marketplace.

The European Commission in Brussels today said it opened a formal probe to examine whether the publishing groups and Apple, maker of the iPad tablet computer, engaged in agreements that would harm competition in the 27-nation EU. The probe will examine deals between Apple and Lagardere’s Hachette Livre, News Corp.’s Harper Collins, CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster, Pearson Plc’s Penguin and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH.

The commission believes Apple and the publishers may have formed a sort of 'cartel' in the eBook market by practicing price-fixing techniques in order to ensure an ongoing revenue stream for all parties. Apple currently takes a 30% cut of eBook sales from within their own iBookstore.

This announcement comes after the EU conducted raides on a handful of publishers back in March along with a held conducted by the U.K. Office of Fair Trading. The publishers, of course, say they haven't done anything wrong and will work closely with the EU to help get to the bottom of it.

Fortune chimed in saying the reason the EU included Apple is because of a deal Steve Jobs set up with the five publishers shortly after the release of the original iPad in 2010, which was followed by a similar investigation in the U.S. looking into anti-competitive behavior with Apple and the publishers to help drive up eBook prices from Amazon.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out and if the impact, if any, has any direct relation to eBook pricing as it currently stands.

Source: Bloomberg, Fortune

Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

EU investigates Apple, eBook publishers for anti-competitive behavior

10 Comments

Eh. I don't think so. Nothing is keeping anyone from going to Amazon and buying ebooks at reasonable prices. It's just Apple Hate.

"Nothing is keeping anyone from going to Amazon and buying ebooks at reasonable prices"
Yes, they prevent that by fixing the prices or so say EU anti trust agency.
Apple hate? Perharps is better to read what the story is about before answering

So you're saying that selling the same thing to someone for cheaper or giving a certain publisher a better deal/margin on reselling their books through your store is a crime now? Where the f do you live? You should be thinking the other way around. Don't force people to pay more for stuff. Amazon is pissed because they can't keep selling at the inflated prices they already offer stuff at. The solution is simple... lower your own margins if you want to sell more stuff. In the end, it'll increase your revenue because more people will buy at the lower price than the few that bought at the higher price before. Like I said, Amazon is just ticked because more people buy eBooks from Apple instead of their store. With the Fire new on the market and the holiday season here, they want to turn that around. So, what better way than to throw some government gas on the fire to cause people to worry. Nothing more than that...

"So you're saying that selling the same thing to someone for cheaper or giving a certain publisher a better deal/margin on reselling their books through your store is a crime now?"
Mmm, no?
" Don't force people to pay more for stuff. Amazon is pissed because they can't keep selling at the inflated prices they already offer stuff at"
Mmm, the contrary, the thing EU is investigating is the price fixing that doesn't allow selling books at a price below if the retailer wants it.
"Like I said, Amazon is just ticked because more people buy eBooks from Apple instead of their store"
You live in a parallel reality, don't you? Amazon is still the first ebook seller, at a great distance of the second.

Well no...in several cases, Amazon wanted to discount prices on popular books, and Apple would not allow the publisher to do so and maintain standing.

This is nothing more than Amazon bitching and crying that their Playbook (yep, I said it... Kindle Playbook Fire) isn't selling and inturn isn't selling books either. There's already a Kindle app for iOS devices, if people don't want to buy from them it's probably because they didn't have an account with them to begin with and they'd rather streamline their bills and keep it all within iTunes. How is that Apple's fault. Amazon needs to stick to what they do best... maintaining a safer online buying environment than eBay does. That's what they need to concentrate on and leave the other stuff they decided would be a good idea to get into to the companies that thought of it first. Damn followers...