Apple Fined a Record $1.2 Billion by French Antitrust Body

Posted on March 16, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Apple with 6 Comments

French antitrust authorities, Autorité de la Concurrence, have hit Apple with a record 1.1 billion euros (around $1.23 billion) fine over anti-competitive practices. Apple was hit with a 25 million euro fine back in February over its software updates by French authorities.

The latest fine is a largest-ever handed by the French authorities in one case. Apple, as you would expect, denied the accusations and plans to appeal.

French authorities said Apple participated in anti-competitive behaviour, with two of its wholesalers agreeing to not compete with each other. In fact, the authorities are also imposing fines on the two wholesalers, with Tech Data and Ingram Micro receiving fines of 76.1 million euros and 62.9 million euros respectively, reports CNBC.

“Apple and its two wholesalers agreed not to compete and prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products,” said Isabelle de Silva, President of the French Competition Authority.

The authorities also found Apple guilty of preventing distributors from competing with each other, and the iPhone maker was also accused of limiting supply to its premium resellers as compared to its own stores.

“The French Competition Authority’s decision is disheartening. It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards thirty years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries. We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal,” an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

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Comments (6)

6 responses to “Apple Fined a Record $1.2 Billion by French Antitrust Body”

  1. wright_is

    As far as I know, price fixing has been illegal in France for a long time. Likewise, so what if it was "nearly a decade ago"? If you broke the law, you broke the law, saying it was 10 years ago doesn't make it any better. Be thankful that the French were thorough, before they made the decision public.

  2. r2d22

    finally... keep more and higher fine coming

  3. red.radar

    Ooo this looks pretty solid.

    I bet Spotify’s case was made easier to prove

  4. lvthunder

    Wait so in France you aren't allowed to set the price for your own product? That's crazy.

    • wright_is

      In reply to lvthunder:

      You can set prices for your own product in your own stores. You can set wholesale prices. You can give a RRP (recommended retail price).

      You cannot dictate what the other retailers charge the end customer.

      If the retailer wants to cut their margin to zero, that is their decision. Apple was colluding with the wholesalers to restrict the practice of retailers setting the prices they want to sell at.

      For example, if Apple is selling their iPhone 11 Pro for 1,149€ ($1,277 - the current entry price for the 11 Pro on Apple's site) and I am getting it from the wholesaler for 999€, I can decide to sell it for "only" 1050€, to try and drum up trade. That is my right as a retailer.

      But (I haven't read the full details of the suit, but the CNBC report suggests), their was collusion to force the retailers to only be able to use the Apple RRP (probably cutting them off, if they tried to sell below RRP).

  5. obarthelemy

    I've been in charge of a reseller network in France. Anyone can set the prices they want, but an *OEM* setting *resellers'* prices is a big no-no. They're not even allowed to set prices amongst themselves, let alone with their supplier. I had to get out of the room quickly a couple of times at resellers' gatherings, which were a very handy time for them to collude but I obviously didn't want in on it. Legal's orders.