The hypothesis in summary is: Apple and Amazon have put in place a restrictive agreement to prevent retailers of electronics not participating in Apple's official program from selling (through the Amazon marketplace) Apple and Beats brand products. To present it and to have the task of demonstrating it is the Competition and Market Authority which today announced the official opening of the preliminary investigation involving the two companies.
The Antitrust states that third party retailers, although not joining the official Apple program, buy legitimately the products mentioned above by wholesalers to resell them to retail using the large showcase of the Amazon marketplace. Limiting this activity would be contrary to the rules of competition because in fact only those who adhere to the official program of the Cupertino house would be given priority. On this point the Antitrust states:
According to the Authority, the agreement to exclude some subjects from the marketplace appears potentially suitable to reduce competition due to the raising of barriers to the outlet of online sales markets to the detriment of unofficial retailers, usually consisting of small and medium-sized enterprises that carry out precisely sales on the web using marketplace services.
And then there are the effects that also fall on end users:
The agreement, moreover, with the decrease of retailers active in the online channel, could lower the incentives to compete effectively on the prices of Apple and Beats products, with evident negative effects for consumers and businesses.
For now, there is no mention of sanctions or restrictive measures. The Antitrust Authority merely specifies that it has carried out inspections today (22 July) at the offices of Amazon Italy and Apple Italy. For the results of the investigations we will have to wait.
It is not the first time that Amazon and Apple end up under the observation lens of the Italian Antitrust. As regards Apple, the sanctions for planned obsolescence which were reconfirmed last spring by the Lazio TAR were recalled.
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