On Thursday, European Union regulators accepted an offer by Apple and four publishers to relax pricing restrictions on Amazon and end an antitrust probe that was making Apple and others feel uncomfortable all over. The decision boosted Amazon’s prospects in the European Union to sell its e-books at a rate much cheaper than its rivals.
The European Commission said, “The commitments proposed by Apple and the four publishers will restore normal competitive conditions in this new and fast-moving market, to the benefit of the buyers and readers of e-books.”
However, Pearson Plc’s Penguin group, which is also under investigation in the antitrust probe was not part of the settlement reached on Thursday. Penguin might be putting offers in separately.
The EU regulators have the powers to fine any company up to 10 percent of their global sales in cases of violation of EU regulations. So, big companies have little incentive to keep fighting the regulations unless they are sure of themselves.
The controversy arose around Apple making agreements with certain publishers under which publishers were able to set e-book prices and provide a 30 percent cut to Apple. A similar matter continues in the U.S. courts, where Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette have settled with the U.S. authorities, but Apple, Penguin, and McMillan have not.