Apple And Amazon May Face Antitrust Charges In Germany Over Audiobooks Deal

German regulators are investigating claims that Apple’s agreement with Amazon subsidiary Audible has helped it monopolize audiobook sales.

Apple And Amazon May Face Antitrust Charges In Germany Over Audiobooks Deal
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Germany’s competition regulator, the Federal Cartel Office, has launched an investigation into the deal Apple inked years ago with Audible, the Amazon-owned audiobooks company, according to Reuters. The probe should address allegations that Apple’s agreement with the tech company has given Amazon an unfair advantage in the audiobooks business in Germany.


Apple has long exclusively provided audiobooks from Audible; all of the offerings in the iTunes store are obtained through the digital audiobooks platform, which Amazon acquired in 2008.

“The two companies have a strong position in the digital offering of audiobooks in Germany,” Andreas Mundt, president of the Federal Cartel Office, said in a statement. “Therefore, we feel compelled to examine the agreement between these two competitors in the audiobooks in more detail.”

The claims against the two tech giants were brought forward by the Association of German Publishers and Booksellers, which told the Federal Cartel Office in September that the deal brokered between Amazon and Apple had led them to monopolize audiobook sales. Ninety percent of audiobooks downloaded in Germany, it said, were made through either Amazon, iTunes, or the Audible website. The organization argued that publishers were being strong-armed into accepting “unreasonable conditions” to have their audiobooks distributed.

Amazon and Apple have both been the target of recent investigations in the European Union, due to their dominance in their respective markets. In June, European regulators looked into Amazon’s e-books practices over claims that it was pressuring rival retailers to keep their prices higher. Both companies have been accused of underpaying taxes in Europe, which Amazon responded to in May by opting to alter how it reports revenue–thereby agreeing to pay taxes in additional countries.

[via Reuters]

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Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.