I didn’t see this coming, although in hindsight, I should have.
The DOJ and 33 state attorney generals just published their proposed remedies in the Apple price fixing case. Most of it was expected: ending existing contracts with retailers and appointing an external monitor to ensure they don’t slip again.
But check out this one:
“Apple will also be prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content. To reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy, Apple must also for two years allow other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple’s prices with those of its competitors.”
If I’m reading that correctly, it’s huge. E-book retailers are already free to provide links from their apps to their stores. They just have to give 30 percent of the sale to Amazon (as an in-app purchase), so understandably, they’d rather not do that. But this line seems to indicate that Apple can’t enforce that 30 percent cut for two years:
” … prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitor retailers may sell that content.” (Emphasis ours)
The only way retailers could make the same amount of money on a sale through the app, while still giving Apple their 30 percent, would be to raise the price of the book. Looks to me like that won’t be happening.
Considering how many people read and buy books on their iDevices through Nook, Kindle, and Kobo, that’s very good for consumers. Apple must have seen this coming, which explains why they fought so hard.
Happy day for us!