updated 02:15 pm EST, Thu January 20, 2011
Belgium, Netherlands worried over iPad sub limits
Apple's recent decision to ban print subscription tie-ins on iPads may trigger a European investigation into possible accusations of being anti-competitive. Belgium's economy minister Vincent van Quickborne said this week that he would have the low country's Competition Authority investigate whether Apple was overstepping its bounds by requiring that any subscription plans go through iTunes. Moves in both Belgium and the Netherlands could violate antitrust law by preventing publishers from using their own subscription methods, van Quickborne said.
The official has a reputation for being critical of Apple's frequent attempts to become the sole arbiter of how content reaches its devices. He has criticized Apple's filters on what can reach its stores in the past.
Any legal action might be welcomed by publishers that have complained that it would not only take a cut from their subscriptions, even when unnecessary, but would also limit their flexibility. The limitation hasn't been put into place in North America, but if spread to other areas could shut down access to the iPad versions of the Economist, People and other magazines that give free iPad access as an incentive to customers. They also can't collect voluntary subscriber data under Apple's current iTunes model.
A handful of publishers have considered publishing on Android, where the restrictions on both app development and privacy are looser. Publications may not get significant traction on the platform until a rumored Google newsstand service goes live as soon as this year. [via mocoNews]