An American judge has decided Apple did make pricing agreements with a number of publishers to keep prices of e-books artificially high and to keep Amazon out of play. The company has already announced it will appeal the decision.
“Victory for millions of consumers”
The judge in New York considered it to be proven that the publishers worked together to limit competition and to keep prices higher, and that Apple played a central role in all this. "Without Apple's orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010”, she said. In the verdict of 159 pages long she ruled that the “conspiracy” lead to the rise in prices for a number of books, from 9.99 to 12.99 or 14.99 dollar per book.
“This result is a victory for millions of consumers who choose to read books electronically”, said Bill Baer, chief of the antitrust department of the American Justice Department. “This decision by the court is a critical step in undoing the harm caused by Apple’s illegal actions.”
The conviction is only the first step in the process: next will be a new trial to decide whether Apple should pay compensation and if so, how much. The publishers get off in this case, because they already settled with the federal government.
Apple to appeal
Apple has always denied it broke any rules: "When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We've done nothing wrong”, said Apple through spokesman Tom Neumayr. The company has already decided to appeal the decision.
The European Commission had earlier reprimanded Apple and five publishers about illegal price fixing of eBooks. Back then the parties involved decided to settle.