And now for something completely different, and, in my opinion, wholly ridiculous. Reuters reports that Germany’s antitrust organization, the Federal Cartel Office, has begun an investigation into Apple’s arrangement for purchasing audiobooks from Amazon-owned Audible. Citing a long-term agreement between the two companies for the purchase of audio books for distribution via Apple’s iTunes store, cartel office chief Andreas Mundt believes deep investigation is warranted.
The two companies have a strong position in the digital offering of audiobooks in Germany. Therefore, we feel compelled to examine the agreement between these two competitors in the audiobooks in more detail.
Yes, it’s true that more than 90 percent of all German audio book downloads were made via Audible, Amazon, or the iTunes store. It’s also true that the iTunes store is exclusively supplied by Amazon’s Audible. Does that mean the two companies are colluding to maintain unreasonable conditions for publishers, though?
According to the association of German book sellers, that’s precisely what’s happening. The association claims that Amazon and Audible are abusing their dominant market position to force publishers to accept marketing conditions that are unfair.
At the beginning of this article, I called the idea of collusion between Apple and Amazon “ridiculous.” Let me explain. Competition between the two tech giants has been fierce and cutthroat recently, with Amazon even taking steps to prevent the sale of Apple TVs on its digital storefront. While there is a business relationship where necessary between the two companies, they wouldn’t colluding to form a monopoly.
They’ll reluctantly work together when necessary, but maintain competition with either other in every other respect. If anything, Amazon itself already has a near monopoly in audibooks, and Apple is just getting the products from the best source it can.