Apple and Amazon end audiobook deal to avoid antitrust case

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CoM_Audible
Apple won't only buy audiobooks from Audible any more.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple has settled a possible antitrust lawsuit to the satisfaction of European Commission regulators and German Federal Cartel Office, after scrapping an exclusivity deal with the Amazon-owned Audible.

The investigation dates back to November 2015, following complaints from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.

According to the complaint, Apple and Amazon were abusing their position as market leaders with a deal that saw Amazon sell audiobooks to Apple to distribute on iTunes. In doing so, the suggestion was that it stopped other audiobook providers possibly undercutting on price.

The complaint seemed like an echo of the long-running (and now concluded) ebook antitrust case, in which Apple was found to have colluded with five book publishers between 2009-10 to raise e-book prices in a way that was deemed to have hurt competitors.

Fortunately, in this current case it seems that Apple has managed to avoid a similar scrape by ending its relationship with Amazon for audiobooks — causing the EU competition authority to say that it, “welcomes an agreement to end all exclusivity obligations concerning audiobook supply and distribution between Amazon’s subsidiary Audible and Apple.”

“With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers,” Andreas Mundt, president of the German cartel office, said in a statement. “This will enable a wider range of offer and lower prices for consumers.”

This isn’t the only possible antitrust news Apple has received lately. Earlier this month, the U.S. appeals court ruled that the App Store’s “walled garden” could be monopolizing the market for iOS apps. We guess when you’re the size of Apple, these things can be tough to avoid!

Source: Reuters