Eddy Cue Talks to Fortune as Apple Appeals E-Book Price-Fixing Judgment

Roger Parloff has an excellent overview of the Apple price-fixing case, including an exclusive interview with Eddy Cue. Here’s the nut of it:

In truth, though, anyone complaining about Amazon has a tough row to hoe. Since the 1970s a broad consensus has emerged that the only proper purpose of the antitrust laws is to protect consumers, and low prices are presumed to be the consumer’s highest priority. Under that regimen, gigantic discounters like Amazon seem to be golden.

This case may mark the high-water mark in that worldview, with regulators rushing to the rescue of a near monopolist against the alleged depredations of a new entrant.

The key question is who needs antitrust protection here. The DOJ chose to “protect” e-book buying consumers from higher retail prices. Apple’s argument is that it’s the publishers who needed protection from Amazon. Parloff makes clear that the publishers had no negotiating leverage with Amazon until after the iBooks Store was announced.

One thing that seems clear to me: Apple’s executive team believes that they’re in the right here:

Many are surprised Apple didn’t settle long ago. The case seems to be more about reputation than money. (Under a conditional settlement worked out in June, if Apple loses the appeal, it will pay $450 million in damages and attorney fees. If it wins, it pays nothing.)

“We feel we have to fight for the truth,” says Cue. “Luckily, Tim feels exactly like I do,” he continues, referring to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “which is: You have to fight for your principles no matter what. Because it’s just not right.”

Tuesday, 2 December 2014