May 27, 2013
A couple of months ago, the New York Times reported that European regulators had begun looking into Apple's possibly anti-competitive deals with mobile operators that carry the iPhone. Now, the Financial Times is out with a new report stating that the regulators have taken their investigation a step further. Specifically, the European Commission has sent a questionnaire to EU carriers aimed at getting the lowdown on the issue at hand. The questionnaire, which spans nine pages, inquires into Apple's purported sale practices and technical restrictions:
"The Commission has information indicating that Apple and Mobile Network Operators (“MNOs”) have concluded distribution agreements which may potentially lead to the foreclosure of other smartphone manufacturers from the markets,” the questionnaire states.One such agreement points to Apple's supposed requirement that it be offered subsidies and sales terms that are the same as or better than those granted to other smartphone makers. The questionnaire further notes:
“There are also indications that certain technical functions are disabled on certain Apple products in certain countries in the EU/EEA. If the existence of such behaviour were to be confirmed, it might constitute an infringement of [antitrust law]."In particular, Apple is said to restrict high-speed 4G networks in Europe to work on the iPhone 5, its current flagship phone that is actually 4G-capable. The carriers are given until June 17, which is three weeks from now, to respond to the questionnaire.