Saturday04 February 2023

Probe Into Apple's EU Sales Tactics Could Spell Trouble

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During the Samsung V Apple patent trail we briefly covered some of the requirements that Apple has if you want to sell their products. These requirements include a minimum purchase order, marketing material, special cabinets and displays for Apple products and more. These tactics make it seem almost impossible that anyone would be confused about what they were buying (unless the sales person was not honest). Our coverage was more about the ridiculous claim that Samsung and other Android tablets were creating marketing confusion, but we also talked a little about how these marketing requirements were a little anti-competitive.

It seems that we are not the only ones that feel this way. According to recent reports Apple is now under investigation for their tactics in the EU. As of this writing the investigation is not much more than digging into anonymous complaints from carriers through the use of a questionnaire. The questionnaire focuses on Apple sales tactics and restrictions asking carriers if Apple forces a minimum purchase, requires a certain percentage of the marketing budget be spent on Apple and that Apple is not trying to limit what carriers can sell other phones for. One of the most interesting questions is whether or not Apple requires the iPhone 5 be prevented from accessing 4G networks in the EU.

Apple has a history of doing many of the things covered in the questionnaire in the US. I can remember looking into simply providing service to Apple products as a qualified service center back in the mid-90s and I was told that I would have to buy around $1 million worth of Apple products and spend a certain amount on Apple marketing just to service the devices. We have heard since then that Apple has become more subtle about their demands, but they are still there.

Carriers have until June 17th to return the questionnaires at which time a decision will be made as to if this probe will move to the next step. If it does this could be bad for Apple in the EU where they already face strong competition from Samsung, LG, and other phone makers. This could also trickle to the US where Apple already faces hearings about their tax practices and a price fixing suit. This is just another issue that Tim Cook has to deal with at a time when Apple is finding their influence and consumer acceptance falling on top of sluggish investor interest. Apple stock was down $3.95 as of this writing continuing its downward spiral after the death of Steve jobs.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 13:37

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