France Launches Probe into Apple's Contracts with Phone Suppliers, Operators

By Rory Lidstone September 27, 2013

Apple’s troubles in Europe have ramped up, according to a source familiar to the matter, as French authorities are now probing the company’s contracts with mobile operators in the country. Specifically, an administrative authority under the French finance ministry is investigating the terms of contracts between major mobile phone suppliers and mobile operators regarding the sale of the iPhone.

This latest probe follows close on the heels of the release of the latest iPhone versions, the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c, which have been as popular in France as they have been all around the world. However, this inquiry is merely part of a larger investigation into not just Apple’s relationship with operators, but also other major handset manufacturers.

That said, it seems as though Apple is often the primary focus. For example, the European Commission began investigating iPhone sales tactics back in May over concerns Apple was using anti-competitive measures and technical restrictions to prevent its rivals from entering the market.

Then, in July, the company’s offices in France were raided by French officials in response to allegations that Apple may discriminate against independent retailers in favor of its own stores.

Throughout all of this, Apple has consistently denied any and all allegations. In response to this latest probe, Apple spokespeople have yet to comment. Unfortunately, the French finance ministry’s anti-fraud and antitrust unit has also declined to comment, so there aren’t many details as to what exactly prompted another investigation.

However, The Wall Street Journal suggests that authorities in France and other European countries are simply worried over the power that American technology companies have over the region’s economy.

Indeed, it does seem that U.S.-based tech companies are constantly under investigation by the European Commission. Both Google and Microsoft have faced numerous probes from the Commission. In fact, Google is in the middle of a long, ongoing antitrust investigation at the moment over how it allegedly favors its own services in its search results.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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