Apple in France: The French government is probing Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s contracts with mobile operators in the country. An administrative agency that falls under the finance ministry stated that this is part of a larger investigation focused on the terms of contracts between mobile phone suppliers and French phone operators.
In fact, this inquiry is not a first for Apple. In March, European Union regulators also decided to look into the company’s contracts, in response to carriers’ complaints about Apple’s strategy being anti-competitive. The gadget-maker requires telecom firms to buy large volumes of phones and dictates marketing budgets, amongst other requirements that limit competitiveness between brands. And, although the rise of other smartphone makers has somewhat dented Apple´s leverage over operators, the launch of the latest iPhone past Friday was a clear display of the company´s resilience. The new devices achieved strong sales, and long lines of buyers waiting to get one, in France.
Given its timing, the investigation could be interpreted as one more in the long list of Europe’s efforts to contain the advance and market power of U.S.-based technology companies.
But this is not the only investigation involving Apple that the Autorite de la Concurrence –the antitrust agency- is carrying out. Earlier this summer, this watchdog authority inspected some of the firm´s offices with the goal of elucidating if it had in deed engaged in unfair competition against Apple distributors in France. “The authority has also opened a preliminary investigation of online mobile-app stores, such as those run by Apple and Google Inc. to decide whether to open antitrust proceedings against a particular company or push for an industry-wide policy” (WSJ).
Although neither Apple’s nor the French antifraud and antitrust unit´s spokesmen confirmed or commented on the topic, the company´s stock still took a hit. Apple´s shares closed down 1.52% on Wednesday trading. Check back here for more updates on Apple in France.
Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no position in any stocks mentioned