The European Commission is investigating whether Apple is muscling out rival smartphone manufacturers with anti-competitive sales tactics and technical restrictions on the iPhone.
According to a questionnaire sent last week to several EU mobile network operators, the European Commission’s probe is focusing on distribution terms that might favour Apple by ensuring no rival can secure a better sales deal.
The inquiry is still in the preliminary stages and won’t continue further unless the commission is sure that Apple is dominant in the European smartphone market. Although this may not be the case, the commission has sent a nine page questionnaire to telecoms asking questions about Apple’s sales practices.
The commission wants to know if Apple forces a minimum purchase quantity, restricts the use of marketing budges, requires the best subsidies and sales terms, or restricts use of the iPhone 5 on high-speed 4G networks.
“The Commission has information indicating that Apple and Mobile Network Operators (“MNOs”) have concluded distribution agreements which may potentially lead to the foreclosure of other smartphone manufacturers from the markets,” says the questionnaire. “There are also indications that certain technical functions are disabled on certain Apple products in certain countries in the EU/EEA. If the existence of such behaviour were to be confirmed, it might constitute an infringement of [antitrust law]”.