Apple may be struggling to finalize deals with record labels ahead of its Beats Music rebranding this summer, but that’s not stopping the U.S. Federal Trade Commission from scrutinizing it for potential antitrust violations, according to a new report.
The reason? Despite currently experiencing an 8 percent drop in its iTunes popularity, Apple’s history as the largest seller of music downloads means it could theoretically abuse its position to put rival companies on the back-foot.
While Apple hasn’t been charged with anything as of yet, the investigation could conceivably hamper plans to offer artists such as Florence and the Machine exclusivity deals for the Beats Music refresh — rumored to launch this June at WWDC.
Similar concerns have already been raised by the European Commission, which is worried that Apple could disadvantage multiple record labels and digital music companies with its new music offering.
We’ll have to wait to see how this all plays out, but in my view it’s pretty ridiculous given that Apple is far from the leader when it comes to streaming music. Beats Music may have the support of the world’s most valuable tech company behind it, but that alone is no guarantee of its success.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. government has singled out Apple for antitrust investigations, of course. Back in 2012 Apple was charged with violating antitrust after it teamed up with five book publishers to try and force Amazon.com to change its e-book pricing model.
In the aftermath, the company was given a court-appointed compliance monitor in a controversial situation which has caused nothing but trouble for Apple.
Hopefully the same doesn’t happen here.