updated 06:30 pm EST, Thu March 8, 2012
Apple denies Jobs admitted e-book collusion
Apple on Thursday hoped to rebut claims that its late CEO Steve Jobs had admitted to collusion with publishers as part of a class action lawsuit filed against it. It believed that the lawsuit's view that comments Jobs made on publishers being "unhappy" with Amazon and iBookstore pricing leveling costs weren't the surefire evidence the plaintiffs thought it was. The beliefs of a pact against Amazon's low prices was just "antitrust buzzwords" that belied steps Apple had taken to level the playing field, as well as the nature of the iPad itself.
"If Amazon was a 'threat' that needed to be squelched by means of an illegal conspiracy, why would Apple offer Amazon's Kindle app on the iPad?" Apple asked. "Why would Apple conclude that conspiring to force Amazon to no longer lose money on eBooks would cripple Amazon's competitive fortunes? And why would Apple perceive the need for an illegal solution to the 'Kindle threat' when it had an obvious and lawful one which it implemented -- namely, introducing a multipurpose device (the iPad) whose marketing and sales success was not centered on eBook sales?"
The only goal was to sell as much as possible from the iBookstore catalog, Apple said. As a relative newcomer to e-books, it wanted what advantages it could have to combat what was supposedly a near-monopoly from Amazon with 90 percent share.
Apple's comments mostly sidestepped key concerns that it had affected prices across the board. By demanding both an agency model where publishers set prices as well as a "most favored nation" rule where rivals couldn't have lower prices, it lifted full book prices on all stores from $10 or less to as much as $15. The company has also taken other steps that make buying from Amazon difficult, forcing the company to remove a direct in-app link to purchase books unless it went through iTunes and gave Apple a 30 percent cut.
Its choice of comments may be made with considerations of other ramifications about its statements. Word has surfaced that Apple may face a DOJ antitrust lawsuit over the same issue and could have little choice but to open up pricing models if the government body decides Apple and publishers have been unfair. [via paidContent]