Apple slapped with massive fine over shady Spanish sales tactics

iPhone 14 Pro Apple Store
(Image credit: Future)

Apple and Amazon have been fined a combined 194.1 million euros ($218.03 million) in Spain over claims that the two colluded to limit the availability of devices sold online in the country.

The two companies signed a contract in October of 2018 that would make Amazon an authorized Apple dealer but that deal included clauses that went on to affect other companies selling Apple devices via Amazon's marketplace.

Both Apple and Amazon say that they intend to appeal the fine, with Apple stuck with the majority — a whopping 143.6 million euros or $161.3 million.

Collusion with Amazon

Reuters reports that "more than 90% of the existing retailers who were using Amazon's marketplace to sell Apple devices were blocked as a result" of the deal signed between the two companies. "Amazon also reduced the capacity of retailers in the European Union based outside Spain to access Spanish customers, and restricted the advertising Apple's competitors were allowed to place on its website when users searched for Apple products," Spanish antitrust watchdog CNMC said.

Countering the claim, Amazon says that Apple device buyers actually came out the winners here, claiming that "the number of discounts on iPads and iPhones increased."

Apple said that the agreement with Amazon was supposed to help prevent the number of fake devices being sold, ensuring that fewer devices that were delivered to customers turned out to be counterfeit. Apple was reportedly spending time and money sending hundreds of thousands of take-down notices to try and stop those devices from being sold.

However, the CNMC says that the deal actually resulted in the price of Apple devices being sold in Spain increasing. That means that anyone buying Apple's best iPhones or Macs could wind up paying more than if they'd been allowed to buy using a third party.

With Amazon and Apple set to appeal this is unlikely to be the end of this story.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.