US District Court Judge Denise Cotes has finally come back with her recommendations for Apple’s consequences in the eBook Price Fixing case. Her recommendations have met with mixed feelings from both sides (even those that feel that Apple was guilty). Most Apple fans seem to feel that this is far too harsh a punishment and that Apple did nothing wrong by brokering contracts that changed the pricing model for the entire eBook industry. Those that agree with the guilty verdict feel that the recommendations do not go far enough to change Apple’s behavior.
The business world in the US is a funny thing especially when it comes to legal matters. There is an unwritten rule that seems to be in use when companies break the law. This rule is all about making sure not to hurt the business regardless of the damage a company does to consumers or anything else really. We are seeing a great example of this with the Apple eBook price fixing trial. Although Apple was found to have conspired to fix prices at a much higher point that the market standard (by forcing an agency model) they still feel they should not have any consequences for this action.
For a number of years we have talked about the way the copyright industry (and the laws they have fostered) have been the number one source of the growth of piracy. These groups, designed to “protect” rights holders are so blind in their efforts to maintain a high (and growing) revenue stream that they often forget the impact on legitimate users. When these impacts and restrictions become too great these legitimate users will turn to alternative means to get the items they want. One very widely published incident was with EA and their DRM (Digital Rights Management) software on the popular game Spore. The DRM was limited to three installs and often locked people out during their first installation. Because this DRM was so restrictive people that legally purchased the game went out and downloaded copies just so they could install it when they wanted.
Apple has been having a rough time during the first few months of 2013. So far they have been taken to court over their eBook pricing efforts, their tax plans and have even had some older models of their iPhone and iPad banned from import into the US. This all happened to a company that was set to hit $1,000 a share in the latter half of 2012. Sadly for Apple many things have changed since then including their campaign to stomp out competition through the use of patents instead of innovation. Apple’s image and mythology has taken a huge blow while rival companies like Samsung, LG and even HTC and Motorola are working to push new technologies into their products (even if they might not make sense).
Apple just will not give up in trying to get out of the pickle they are in over price fixing eBooks. Despite some pretty convincing evidence that Steve Jobs put together a new agency model with Apple at the head they are still claiming that Apple did nothing wrong. They are now trying to claim that the price of eBooks went down after their agreements with five publishers. They are also trying to throw the original publishers under the bus claiming they were already trying to hurt eBook sales long before Apple got involved.
Here is an interesting one, after our report that covered a few emails where Steve Jobs himself got involved in creating a new eBook pricing structure we find out that one of the five publishers in “the club” has now settled with the 29 states that have open class action suits against Apple and company (This is not the same as the Departmetn of Justice Antitrust suit).
Well, well, well; it looks like Apple has been caught altering the data that Siri returns to their users when asked specific questions. Last week it was reported that when users asked Siri “What is the best smartphone” it replied with the answer The Nokia Lumia 900. Now Apple has previously stated that the information from Siri all comes from WolframAlpha “computational knowledge engine” (pronounce that search engine) and they have no power to alter the data that Siri sends.
Although this is not really new information; it appears that there is enough evidence that the major players in the e-book market have been collaborating to keep e-book prices higher than they should be in the US that an investigation has been started into this. The investigation comes just days after a similar announcement from the EU which is focusing on five of the largest publishing companies and Apple.