French Regulators Fine Apple $1.2 Billion for Anti-Competitive Behavior

France's competition watchdog on Monday fined Apple 1.1 billion euros ($1.23 billion) for anti-competitive behavior in its distribution network and an abuse of economic dependence on its resellers, reports Reuters.

At the same time, France's Competition Authority also levied fines of $84.7 million and $69 million against Apple wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro for their roles in the anti-competitive practices.

In announcing its largest ever fine, the Competition Authority's president, Isabelle de Silva, gave a statement summarizing the findings of its investigation that led to the decision, an English machine language translation of which follows:

"During this case, the Authority deciphered the very specific practices that had been implemented by Apple for the distribution of its products in France (excluding iPhones), such as the iPad. First, Apple and its two wholesalers agreed not to compete and prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products. Secondly, so-called Premium distributors could not risk promoting or lowering prices without risk, which led to an alignment of retail prices between Apple's integrated distributors and independent Premium distributors.

"Finally, Apple has abused the economic dependence of these Premium distributors on it, by subjecting them to unfair and unfavorable commercial conditions compared to its network of integrated distributors. In view of the strong impact of these practices on competition in the distribution of Apple products via Apple premium resellers, the Authority has imposed the highest penalty ever pronounced in a case (1.24 billion euros). It is also the heaviest sanction pronounced against an economic player, in this case Apple (1.1 billion euros), whose extraordinary dimension has been duly taken into account. Finally, the Authority considered that, in the present case, Apple had committed an abuse of economic dependence on its premium retailers, a practice which the Authority considers to be particularly serious.

"Apple and its two wholesalers have agreed not to compete with each other and to prevent distributors from competing with each other, thereby sterilizing the wholesale market for Apple products," it said.

According to the French anti-trust agency, the case originally opened after a dispute between Apple and one of its leading French wholesalers, eBizcuss. The premium reseller accused Apple of abusing its position and in 2012 it shut down in France as a result of what it claimed was unfair competition.

A spokesperson for Apple told CNBC:

"The French Competition Authority's decision is disheartening. It relates to practices from over a decade ago and discards thirty years of legal precedent that all companies in France rely on with an order that will cause chaos for companies across all industries. We strongly disagree with them and plan to appeal."

Apple in its October earnings call said that France's competition authority had alleged that some aspects of its sales and distribution practices were in violation of French law, but did not provide details on which aspects of its business were under investigation.

Apple earlier this year was fined 25 million euros by French consumer fraud group DGCCRF for intentionally slowing down iPhone 6, ‌‌iPhone‌‌ SE, and ‌‌iPhone‌‌ 7 models with the power management software that was meant to prevent older iPhones with degraded batteries from shutting down during times of peak power usage.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
17 weeks ago


It makes sense to fine Apple if it gets caught intentionally developing a device like MB with non-user replaceable parts like the battery, RAM and storage otherwise the e-waste will be exacerbated.

Why aren’t more people complaining about the lack of repairablity of flat-screen TVs? Should Samsung, Vizio, LG, HiSense, etc. be forced by regulation to manufacture easy-to-repair devices?

Again, owning an Apple computer isn’t a necessity or a right. You want a computer with easily replaceable components, go build one.

“You no like? You no buy!”

Also, and more on topic, We’re not going to see Apple open up and allow resellers to get into price wars with each other or sell below their costs. That only hurts the implied value of Apple’s products and it’s image of being “so much better and cooler than a beige box”.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 weeks ago
Well done the French

Wish there were other laws that stops price fixing globally for lessor services in some countries

Only some nationalities get to be thoroughly satisfied with their Apple purchase the rest can pay more and go swivel
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 weeks ago
Not surprising given Apple does fix prices and goes out it's way to unfairly control the market. Pity more countries don't take the same stance against such anti-consumer giants.

Q-6
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 weeks ago
Apple and market/price fixing are synonyms.
I don’t know of any company that so much runs, determines, regulates, dominates distribution of its products - giving itself and a few chosen favorites unfair advantage over others.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 weeks ago


I agree but what do they do with the collected fines? Do they give back to each consumer that bought an item at the fixed price? About the iPhone throttling fines, do they give back to every iPhone 6, 7, 8 etc owner that got affected or felt swayed to buy an upgraded phone they didn’t need?
Trying to get my head around these fines and how the money gets channeled around to the source or reason for the fine (competitors, consumers, researchers, etc)

I wouldn't be shocked if the money went into the French government's general fund.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
17 weeks ago
This is why Americans dont want to become the EU. The company making tge product should be able to control its distribution pipeline. Dont like don’t become an Apple distributor. Apple is not going to let you charge less than them for the product they make nor should they be expected to. Its just not realistic.


a) Maybe they should
b) TVs are upgraded far less frequently, they're not seen as disposable to anything like the same degree as phones
c) TVs have fewer components (I'm guessing here, I'm no expert). If the screen breaks, you pretty much need a new TV, because the TV is the screen.
d) TV aren't portable and so are likely to be damaged a lot less than phones (and tablets and laptops perhaps)
e) How unrepairable are TVs? Mine has standards philips screws on the back. I've never opened it up to see what it's like inside, but the screws bode well.

As for "if you don't like it don't buy it" that ignores the bigger environmental impact of manufiacturnig. I can choose not to buy a certain product but if other people do then harm is still being done. Your choices affect more than just you.

Please... people are choosing to buy a phone every year. They dont need to.

Secondly a TV doesnt get nearly as much usage as your cell phone that goes everywhere you do. Naturally there would be less wear and tear.

thirdly, TVs are not that repairable. People in many cases simply thrown them out when broken or go without for a long period of time because it is not a necessity of life.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Warns Against Closing MacBooks With a Cover Over the Camera

Friday July 10, 2020 11:12 am PDT by
Apple this month published a support document that warns customers against closing their Mac notebooks with a cover over the camera as it can lead to display damage. Image via Reddit Apple says that the clearance between the display and the keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances, which can be problematic. Covering the camera can also cause issues with automatic brightness and True Tone....

iPhone Users Who Experienced 'Batterygate' Can Now File to Receive Around $25 Settlement From Apple

Monday July 13, 2020 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to settle a U.S. class action lawsuit that accused the company of "secretly throttling" older iPhone models. Now, eligible iPhone owners are beginning to be notified about their legal rights and options. Under the proposed settlement, Apple will provide a cash payment of approximately $25 to each eligible iPhone owner who submits a claim, with its total payout ...

Possible 'iPhone 12' Battery Certifications Suggest Lower Capacities Than iPhone 11 Series

Monday July 13, 2020 4:22 am PDT by
MySmartPrice has spotted certifications for three new Apple batteries that it believes could be for the upcoming iPhone 12 lineup, despite them being less capacitive than the batteries in the current iPhone 11 series. The batteries are identified with the model numbers A2471, A2431, and A2466, and appear on Safety Korea, China's 3C, and the Danish agency UL Demko. Apple is expected to...

Google to 'Dramatically' Improve Chrome Impact on Mac Battery Life

Sunday July 12, 2020 1:56 pm PDT by
Google will address long-standing battery life issues, particularly on Mac devices, reports The Wall Street Journal. Chrome will improve "tab throttling" by better prioritizing active tabs and limiting resource drain from tabs open in the background. This is said to have a "dramatic impact on battery and performance." Google has reportedly been performing early tests on Mac laptops in...

Arm-Intel-PowerPC Universal Binaries Are Possible

Saturday July 11, 2020 1:42 pm PDT by
Casual MacRumors visitors may not realize that we have a very active PowerPC forum where users discuss issues related to PowerPC Macs that have not been produced since 2006. Threads range from hardware upgrades and software options to nostalgia: Photo by AphoticD Apple's recently announced transition to Apple Silicon (Arm) based Macs raised some interesting questions about future support...

Apple Pays Samsung an Estimated $950 Million for Missing OLED Panel Purchase Targets

Monday July 13, 2020 10:03 am PDT by
Apple in the second quarter of 2020 paid Samsung approximately $950 million for not meeting OLED panel purchase goals established in agreements between the two companies, according to display analysts at Display Supply Chain Consultants. Samsung last week shared guidance on revenue and operating profit for the second quarter of 2020, which included a one-time gain related to its display...

Apple Shares Humorous 'Working-From-Home Thing' Video

Monday July 13, 2020 9:31 am PDT by
Apple today shared a funny video focused on the problems that people working from home have to deal with, including noisy children, chaotic schedules, communication issues, and more. The video focuses on showing off Apple products and their capabilities that can be useful when working from home, such as the ability to scan a document with an iPhone, mark up a PDF, Siri Reminders, and more.The...

SoftBank Considering Possible Sale of Arm Holdings as Apple Gears Up for Arm-Based Macs

Monday July 13, 2020 2:00 pm PDT by
SoftBank, the company that owns chip designer Arm Holdings, is exploring options that include a full or partial sale or a public offering, reports The Wall Street Journal. SoftBank is working with Goldman Sachs Group as an advisor, and the explorations are at an early stage. The Wall Street Journal says that it's unknown how much interest there would be in Arm from financial or industry...

Rumor Suggests New Apple App for Windows Could Be Coming Soon

Tuesday July 14, 2020 1:54 am PDT by
Apple could be working towards the release of a new app for Windows 10, according to a report this week from an Italian website. The blog Aggiornamenti Lumia suggests that an app from Apple is "coming soon" to the Microsoft Store, but stops short of providing additional details. Apple still maintains a Windows version of the iTunes app, which has been discontinued on Mac and replaced by...

Deals: Amazon Taking $400 Off 16-Inch MacBook Pro, Starting at New Low Price of $1,999.99 for 512GB

Monday July 13, 2020 5:34 am PDT by
Amazon has introduced a new low price on Apple's 16-inch MacBook Pro today, including both 512GB and 1TB models. Starting with the 512GB model (2.6GHz 6-Core, 16GB RAM), you can get this notebook for $1,999.99, down from $2,399.00. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running....