updated 10:25 pm EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Apple publicly responds to DOJ lawsuit
Apple after silence through the past two days responded Thursday to the Department of Justice lawsuit over alleged e-book pricing collusion. Spokesman Tom Neumayr flatly rejected the accusations when asked for comment by AllThingsD, recapping the company's objections to the European Union that the iBookstore was beneficial as it was created. The iPad-focused store kept Amazon from having excessive control and improved e-books themselves, Neumayr said, pointing out that the move beyond the Kindle format also upgraded books themselves.
"The DOJ's accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true," he said. "The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we've allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore."
The opinion mostly echoed that of Author's Guild head Scott Turow and of the two out of five publishers that haven't settled, Macmillan and Penguin.
Many credit the iBookstore and Barnes & Noble's Nook store with dropping Amazon's market share of e-books from 90 percent to 60 percent, and it's suspected that Apple may be more likely to win than not if the DOJ goes to a full trial. Evidence provided by the DOJ itself pointed to publishers talking to each other at meetings regarding e-book pricing, but none where publishers were clearly talking to Apple at the same time.
The statement still doesn't fully address concerns over Apple's demand for a "most favored nation" status that makes sure no one has a lower price than itself. While giving publishers agency model control over pricing isn't exclusively a competitive concern, combining it with a pricing system that enforces an Apple-set minimum price for every store has meant no discounting at competitors, unlike in music or in movies.