The European Union’s antitrust agency, the European Commission (EC), is keeping very busy with actions against technology companies. The EC has reportedly launched an investigation into Apple’s sales practices. In addition, the commission says it will likely ask Google for more concessions related to its search practices.
Alex Barker and James Fontanella-Khan with The Financial Times reported, “Brussels is investigating whether Apple is muscling out rival smartphone makers from the European market with anti-competitive iPhone sales tactics and technical restrictions on the handset, according to documents seen by the Financial Times. The scrutiny adds to the pressure Apple is facing from government regulators, coming in the week that US senators questioned Apple chief executive Tim Cook for the technology company’s tax accounting practices.”
CNET’s Steven Musil noted, “While no formal investigation has been announced, European regulators sent a nine-page questionnaire to several European wireless carriers last week to determine whether Apple’s distribution terms ensure that competitors can’t secure better sales deals, according to documents obtained by the Financial Times. The interest was reportedly spurred by wireless carriers’ private complaints that Apple’s agreements squelched competition. The questionnaire focuses on whether Apple’s terms mandate a minimum iPhone purchases and whether technical restrictions prevent the iPhone 5 from being used on high-speed 4G networks in Europe, according to the newspaper.”
In a separate story, Foo Yun Chee with Reuters wrote, “EU regulators are likely to press Google Inc for more concessions to end a three-year investigation into complaints it squeezed out Web rivals, the EU antitrust chief said.”
The New York Times quoted EC Commissioner Joaquín Almunia, who said, “After, we will analyze the responses we have received. We will ask Google, probably — I cannot anticipate this formally, almost 100 percent — we will ask Google: you should improve your proposals.”