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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Gets Google Inc (GOOG) Treatment from France

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) does have a slightly different business model than Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) does. They both have their ways of producing billions of dollars of revenue and having brands that are recognizable throughout the world. But when it comes to antitrust and anti-competitive business practices, these companies could be seen as the same company. Well, in France specifically. The country takes its anti-competition laws very seriously and will go after companies for anything that seems anti-competitive, even if it might make common sense.

Apple Inc (AAPL)In the case of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the focus seems to be on how Apple handles its new deliveries of devices in the country, as a company called EBizcuss – which is an Apple product reseller in France – filed a complaint with the France competition authority claiming that Apple was being anti-competitive by mandating that all deliveries of its devices go to Apple’s own retail stores. That policy decision, EBizcuss claims, cost the company so much business that it had to file for bankruptcy protection.

And of course, since France’s anti-competition policies are designed to protect businesses from filing bankruptcy by providing very open competition for regular business for as many companies as possible, the country’s regulatory authorities then feel a duty to investigate  what part of the economy did its policies fail any company, so that it can be rectified.

In this case, officials searched the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Paris offices  as the competition authority in that case has reportedly opened an antitrust investigation into Apple’s distribution practices and how they may after affected EBizcuss and potentially other businesses  that rely on deliveries of new Apple products.  Apple’s known major resellers and distributors also were search for various evidential clues, it was reported by a French media outlet.

The complete scope of the investigation is not known yet, and it has been disclosed whether this is an official investigation or just an informal inquiry to determine grounds for a formal investigation into the complaint. As the Apple Store is the primary destination of iPhone and iPad deliveries, it is unclear whether those deliveries were also meant for resellers like EBizcuss or if the resellers were to get deliveries of other devices instead. So far, that seems to be the focus of the initial inquiries.

So were do we go from here?

As this is all preliminary, we don’t know much more and we may not for a few weeks, and at this point Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) representatives in France are not talking as of yet. What do you think? Are Apple Stores anti-competitive? Is this a case of sour grapes … er, Apples? Is this something that investors like billionaire fund manager David Einhorn (see his portfolio) should be watching? Give us your take in the comments section below.


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