New developments have surfaced in the ongoing anti-trust case against Apple. The tech giant has been accused of fixing e-book prices. Five publishers suspected of colluding with Apple have settled. Apple is the remaining defendant in the case. The Justice Department is trying to depose Tim Cook to discover what he knew about the e-books business.
Due to the death of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the Justice Department feels that it is worthy to engage top executives. It is likely that Cook may have discussed the e-books business with Jobs. Eleven Apple executives have already been deposed. Cook previously submitted correspondence that he played no meaningful role in e-books business discussions.
Apple’s lawyers have fought the request. They feel this is a fishing expedition to desperately find evidence. It demonstrates the weakness of the case against Apple. Although the five publishers involved have settled, Apple feels they have done no wrong. The settlements admit no guilt, but they do arouse suspicions. However, corporations often settle to avoid the expense of litigation and bad publicity.
The Justice Department is not seeking damages in this case. They are attempting to block Apple from future acts of collusion. The government is also trying to convict Apple of anti-trust violations.
If Apple did fix prices on e-books, this has only hurt sales. I have never purchased an iBook. They are far too expensive. You can get a Kindle version of the same book for significantly less. Perhaps the Apple fanatic unwilling to part ways with the ecosystem has paid a steep price. There are quite a few options for e-books on iOS. The rational consumer will most likely skip the iBook and purchase the same content from Amazon or others.
Many people, often those who don’t use Apple products, seem to believe Apple locks-in their customers. This isn’t true. In fact, Apple users have more options than any other platform. You can buy books, music and video from a variety of vendors. The AppStore is populated with apps developed mostly by third-party vendors. You can move your iTunes music out of iTunes. You can import your Amazon or Google Play music into iTunes, even storing it in Apple’s cloud with iTunes Match.
iOS users can use iOS Maps, Google Maps, TomTom, MapQuest, Waze and a variety of other options. Apple TV offers access to Hulu Plus, Netflix and a variety of competing content providers. You can even run Windows on your Mac. Apple has no problem allowing other vendors on their platform.
The e-books debacle goes against the grain of Apple’s recent strategies. The rational consumer downloads the Kindle app. If Apple’s ecosystem was closed, there would be no Amazon, Google or other third-party apps allowed. We can only hope that, if Apple is found guilty, they learn from this mistake.
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