The U.S. Justice Department yesterday recommended that the court-appointed monitor placed on Apple during the price-fixing e-book case that began two years ago does not need to be extended (via Bloomberg). The Justice Department said that it’s largely satisfied with Apple’s response of reforms and compliance with the antitrust laws, even though it believes the Cupertino-based company had internal fights with the monitor assigned to them – Michael Bromwich – to ensure the sale of e-books went as the court appointed.
The government on Monday recommended that the monitoring not be extended. In a letter to the Manhattan federal judge who found in 2013 that Apple illegally conspired with publishers to set e-book prices, the U.S. said Apple has “now implemented meaningful antitrust policies, procedures, and training programs that were obviously lacking at the time Apple participated in and facilitated the horizontal price-fixing conspiracy found by this court.”
Apple admitted that the interactions between the company and its monitor were „rocky at times,“ but disagreed with the Justice Department’s claim of being uncooperative. Apple ultimately feels committed to seeing the case through to the end, stating in a joint letter to U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that “Over the past two years, Apple has developed and implemented a comprehensive, engaging, and effective antitrust compliance program.”
Apple in May lost its legal challenge to the appointment of monitor Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general. The relationship between Apple and Bromwich was contentious from the start, with Apple claiming the monitor asked prematurely to interview Apple directors and submitted excessive bills. Bromwich complained of foot-dragging and lack of cooperation from Apple executives.
The case began back in 2013, when a court ruled that Apple conspired to artificially inflate e-book prices on its own iBooks store, with an estimated $500 million fine. The most recent development in the trial came in June, when Apple lost an appeal it filed last December and was fined a total of $450 million by federal judge Debra Ann Livingston.
When work takes you to the lunar surface, even the smallest detail should have a Plan B. Apollo 15 commander David Scott donned his personal Bulova watch for his final moonwalk in July 1971 after the crystal on his NASA-issued timepiece fell off during a previous walk. As an idea, it proved priceless. As a […]
Apple is speeding up development on its electric car project, reports The Wall Street Journal, giving it a „committed project“ label and targeting 2019 as a prospective shipping date. To facilitate a faster launch, Apple will be greatly expanding the number of people working on the car.
The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan , have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple has already been aggressively hiring for its car project, poaching employees from companies like Ford, General Motors, Tesla, Volkswagen, and more. Many of its recent hires have expertise in connected and autonomous vehicle systems.
The BMW i3, which Apple reportedly considered using as a base for the Apple Car
Though there have been indications suggesting Apple is exploring autonomous vehicles as part of its car project, The Wall Street Journal‘s sources say the first car Apple releases will not be driverless, with that functionality perhaps coming at a later date.
There have been also other signs pointing towards expanded work on the car project. In May, Apple began looking into secure facilities in the Bay Area where a prototype could be tested, reportedly meeting up with officials at GoMentum Station, a secure test facility for connected and autonomous vehicles. Apple also met with DMV officials in August to discuss California’s autonomous vehicle regulations.
It remains unclear if Apple will develop its „Apple Car“ from the ground up or if it will team up with an existing auto manufacturer. Rumors have suggested Apple has held discussions with BMW over a potential partnership that would see the BMW i3 used as the basis for the Apple Car, but those talks have reportedly not progressed into a deal.
The Wall Street Journal warns that Apple’s 2019 target date might not be the date in which Apple will actually ship the car, instead suggesting it could point towards the date that engineers confirm the main features of the product. It’s also possible that given the scope of the project there could be delays, with „people familiar with the project“ expressing skepticism that 2019 is a reasonable target date.
In an interview with Stephen Colbert last week, Tim Cook was asked about the car project, but he unsurprisingly avoided the question with a vague statement. „We look at a number of things along the way, and we decide to really put our energies on a few of those,“ he said.
On Wednesday, Spotify sent emails to subscribers asking them to cancel their App Store subscriptions to the service to resubscribe on the web to avoid a $3 surcharge because of Apple’s App Store policies. The Federal Trade Commission is now looking into Apple’s policies, which include a 30 percent fee that it collects on all app and subscription revenue routed through the App Store, reports Reuters.
U.S. government antitrust regulators are looking into claims about whether Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps is illegal under antitrust law, according to three industry sources.
The antitrust concerns stem from certain App Store restrictions placed on streaming companies, which include a prohibition that the company is on other platforms, a ban on advertising how users can subscribe on a company’s website and the ban on links to the company’s website. While users can still subscribe to the service of their choice outside of the App Store, avoiding the 30 percent fee for the respective companies, sources tell Reuters that many users do not realize its an option.
That 30 percent fee reduces margins for those streaming companies in an industry with already thin margins and makes it difficult for them to compete, Deezer CEO Tyler Goldman tells the news organization. The news also comes after the FTC and other government bodies began looking into Apple’s efforts to set up deals with music labels.
While the FTC is looking into the App Store rules, there’s no guarantee they launch a formal investigation as antitrust lawyers that spoke to Reuters were split on whether Apple is breaking the law. This isn’t the first time Apple has gotten in trouble for its 30 percent subscription cut, as it landed in hot water with the Department of Justice during the e-book price fixing case. In June, it was reported that Apple was considering changing the 30 percent cut for media apps like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and more.