Apple Fined Record $1.23 Billion in France for Price-Fixing Scheme

Chris O’Brien, reporting for VentureBeat:

The case has its roots in a dispute between Apple and one of its leading French resellers, eBizcuss. The latter accused Apple of abusing its position, and in 2012 the reseller shut down in France as a result of what it claimed was unfair competition. The company was part of the Apple Premium Reseller program, whose participants sell only Apple products.

The French competition agency said that under the APR program, partners were told in advance how many of each product would be allocated to their stores. Apple published “recommended” prices and then tightly restricted promotional materials a distributor could use. One distributor said if it ran a promotion Apple didn’t like, the company would retaliate by limiting product supply.

The result limited pricing competition for about half of the retail market for Apple products in France. In addition, the agency found that Apple limited supplies to APR partners during moments of heavy demand around the launch of new products to steer customers to its own stores. Because Apple knew that its APR partners operated on very thin margins, any shortfall in supply could be fatal, the French agency said in its announcement.

I’m no expert on this, but it sounds like Apple’s way of dealing with resellers has always been illegal in France.

Monday, 16 March 2020