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Old Jul 1, 2013, 10:14 AM   #1
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Apple France Targeted by Regulators Over Treatment of Resellers, App Store Lock-In




French newspaper Les Échos reports [Google translation, via SlashGear] that investigators with the country's Competition Authority raided the offices of Apple's French arm last week as part of an investigation into the company's treatment of its resellers. According to the report, the agency is investigating whether Apple offers preferential treatment for its own outlets while disadvantaging independent retailers selling Apple products.

Apple's Opéra retail store in Paris
The investigation was sparked by complaints from reseller eBizcuss, which had sued Apple in late 2011, charging that product shortages, credit line decreases, and required store upgrades were making it nearly impossible for independent retailers to survive. eBizcuss ceased operations last year.

Today's report indicates that investigators searched the offices of Apple France, as well as those of several distributors, seizing documents addressing Apple's relationships with those distributors and ultimately resellers.

In addition to the controversy over Apple's treatment of its resellers, French authorities are also examining the behavior of not only Apple but also Amazon and Google for "lock-in" on their application marketplaces that make it difficult for consumers to change platforms. That investigation has apparently been driven by Apple's move to increase the minimum selling prices of newspaper and magazine content, a move that has apparently left some developers feeling trapped between Apple's policies and their customer bases locked into the iOS platform.

Article Link: Apple France Targeted by Regulators Over Treatment of Resellers, App Store Lock-In
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 10:19 AM   #2
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I guess I don't understand the full issue here. Apple sells its products. Apple probably ensures its stores have products before everyone else. If you (as a reseller) do not like the terms of reselling, then cease to be a reseller. If enough resellers stop selling and Apple sees a revenue loss, it will change the terms of the resale agreement. It is simple business. Why is the government involved here?
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 10:32 AM   #3
lolkthxbai
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Independent retailers or independent resellers...? I don't get what the issue is. I don't think there should be a problem with treating Apple Retail Stores differently than independent retailers. They're not on Apple's payroll. Or am I missing something...?
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 10:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master Atrus View Post
I guess I don't understand the full issue here. Apple sells its products. Apple probably ensures its stores have products before everyone else. If you (as a reseller) do not like the terms of reselling, then cease to be a reseller. If enough resellers stop selling and Apple sees a revenue loss, it will change the terms of the resale agreement. It is simple business. Why is the government involved here?
I definitely see where you're coming from, but there's something I think you're missing.

People are always going to want iPhones and Macs. If a reseller doesn't stock them, and there's no Apple Store nearby, they're not going to get those customers.

I work for a reseller myself and often you're reselling things you don't want to resell. If there's a request for it, i.e. the 'demand', then they have to get it from somewhere. Sadly it's simply not a case of 'we won't stock it because Apple are breaking our balls', because the problems that arise from that are comprehensive. Yes, if everybody did that, it would probably make a difference. But nobody would be willing to take that risk.

And if Apple are making the whole ordeal for resellers a hellish experience, the government has every right to get involved, if they feel an American company are negatively impacting their native businesses.

(hope this made sense!)
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 10:47 AM   #5
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I agree with the sentiment of keysofanxiety.

If you set up a business based around Apple, then decides it wants to change what it does or the ways it wants you to do things you have no choice but to comply. Or go out of business as the example unfortunately appears to have done.

It must be a real bugger to train your techs with Apple, at a cost. Open a shop the way Apple wants it and then seemingly put you out of business when it opens a store around the corner/wants an expensive change.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 10:56 AM   #6
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Why is the government involved here?
Because it is France, and the French government has a long history of this anti-business, nationalistic protectionism?
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:03 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Master Atrus View Post
I guess I don't understand the full issue here. Apple sells its products. Apple probably ensures its stores have products before everyone else. If you (as a reseller) do not like the terms of reselling, then cease to be a reseller. If enough resellers stop selling and Apple sees a revenue loss, it will change the terms of the resale agreement. It is simple business. Why is the government involved here?
There is another side to this: If you don't want to accept the local rules and laws, don't open a business. The government is actually doing its job there: Making sure that everybody plays by the same rules. And those are French rules, not American rules. Stay out of the country if you can't accept that.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:20 AM   #8
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Love the term "raided." I picture the French Foreign Legion rushing into the store.

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Originally Posted by MacRumors View Post
...investigators with the country's Competition Authority raided the offices of Apple's French arm last week as part of an investigation into the company's treatment of its resellers.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:25 AM   #9
der.be
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at least in germany there are different apple branches: apple distribution international (based in cork, ireland) and apple retail germany GmbH (GmbH = private limited company).

as far as i know european rights, apple distribution hast to treat retailers (e.g. apple premium resellers) the same way as they treat their retail branch (which is a totally different company)
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:29 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by keysofanxiety View Post
...if they feel an American company are negatively impacting their native businesses.
There's the key right there, and the most important element of the equation for France. They are trying to protect their native businesses from the big mean American corporation.

I'm usually of the opinion that government should get involved and protect the little guy, but this a bit absurd. I guess I would need to know the exact law Apple is accused of violating, but it sounds odd to me that there is a law that says "manufacturers who also own their own outlets have to treat third party resellers equal to their own outlets" or something like that.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Winni View Post
There is another side to this: If you don't want to accept the local rules and laws, don't open a business. The government is actually doing its job there: Making sure that everybody plays by the same rules. And those are French rules, not American rules. Stay out of the country if you can't accept that.
Not to mention, how much business can you possibly do with hours like this!

Heures d'ouverture :
Lun - Sam: 09h - 20h
Dim: Fermé

Must be allowing for plenty of Genius boh time!
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:50 AM   #12
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I feel bad for resellers around the world who filled a real need, and then Apple entered retail--in a huge way. But you can't expect Apple to NOT offer retail when that has been such a vital part of introducing people to what makes their products different and great. You also can't expect Apple to harm their own stores to subsidize other stores. That means when a product is new or facing unpredicted demand, there will be shortages of Apple products. Maybe for quite a long time. It's painful, but it's reality.

Meanwhile, my local Apple reseller is thriving, despite a "real" Apple Store 10 minutes away. They serve a very wide range (Windows, non-computer electronics) but they have an extensive Apple store-in-a-store and it's always packed with shoppers. They don't always have the latest new release in stock, but they have found in their niche, offering refurbs, bundles and discounts, tons of accessories, and yes--when supply catches up to demand--the latest products too.

It's always hard to survive as a business. The economy now makes it harder. Apple choosing not to empty their own store to fill yours makes it harder. But not impossible. Would that French store really have survived if Apple had given them the product first? Maybe, maybe not.

(I'm not forgiving or forgetting how "cold" Apple was when they first started retail, catching resellers off-guard and not always being honest with them. I heard stories which, if true, were truly wrong and needlessly cutthroat. But Apple retail is old news today--no need to be caught off guard. Adapt.)

I also wonder: would Apple be within their rights to say that ONLY we will sell our stuff? Plenty of companies work that way, it seems to me. Does every company selling in France HAVE to have resellers as well? (I genuinely don't know.)

Quote:
French authorities are also examining the behavior of not only Apple but also Amazon and Google for "lock-in" on their application marketplaces that make it difficult for consumers to change platforms.
Lock-in? Wait... what do they think Apple can do with the App Store that will make your iOS app purchases run on a non iOS device? Or one version of Android vs. another, for that matter?

Have they never heard of software? Is Apple going to get in trouble because Photoshop for Mac doesn't run on Windows?

Last edited by nagromme; Jul 1, 2013 at 11:55 AM.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:58 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master Atrus View Post
I guess I don't understand the full issue here. Apple sells its products. Apple probably ensures its stores have products before everyone else. If you (as a reseller) do not like the terms of reselling, then cease to be a reseller. If enough resellers stop selling and Apple sees a revenue loss, it will change the terms of the resale agreement. It is simple business. Why is the government involved here?
France is a socialism nation, and I've heard from many people that the French are generally distrustful of computing technology. I've been there, and everything seems so old (but beautiful).

----------

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Meanwhile, my local Apple reseller is thriving, despite a "real" Apple Store 10 minutes away. They serve a very wide range (Windows, non-computer electronics) but they have an extensive Apple store-in-a-store and it's always packed with shoppers. They don't always have the latest new release in stock, but they have found in their niche, offering refurbs, bundles and discounts, tons of accessories, and yes--when supply catches up to demand--the latest products too.
MacMall is great because they repair old Macs, sell slightly old Macs, and sell non-Apple accessories. The Apple Retail Store near me even directed me to MacMall to replace my 2006 iMac's failed hard drive (failed in 2012, which isn't too bad). I opened it myself anyway to save money.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 11:59 AM   #14
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Along the lines of the DoJ investigation of iBooks?

When one is in power, concerns of abuse are high, and the French are just checking for possible abuse.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 12:03 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by litmag01 View Post
Not to mention, how much business can you possibly do with hours like this!

Heures d'ouverture :
Lun - Sam: 09h - 20h
Dim: Fermé

Must be allowing for plenty of Genius boh time!
Wait, they're open during lunchtime? I thought that was illegal. Here in Los Angeles, they close pretty early too.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 12:34 PM   #16
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Hmmm, with Italy going after Apple's AppleCare policy and now this, seems countries in the E.U. might be taking an issue with American corporate policy and conduct. This is rather huge, raiding Apple's corporate offices in France. I'll be following this as it progresses.

Side thought, I wonder how TekServe in NYC is doing with so many Apple retail locations, many not far from there.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 12:38 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by litmag01 View Post
Not to mention, how much business can you possibly do with hours like this!

Heures d'ouverture :
Lun - Sam: 09h - 20h
Dim: Fermé

Must be allowing for plenty of Genius boh time!
So they're open 66 hours a week, out of a maximum of 168 hours a week...

I suspect that they are open around the same time that other stores are, and match with the main periods of maximum retail footfall - no point being open with the attendant costs when there is so little potential trade about. The world beyond the boarders of the USA does not look like the USA, despite what some people might wish for...

Within the EU there are plenty of regulations, restrictions etc that exist to protect the customer, be it an individual or another company, so there is some regulation of competition that many in the US would label as "un 'Merican" and "socialist". Yet the fact remains businesses do OK in the EU, despite the regulation and higher tax regime in general.

Apple is doing what every other big company is doing, pushing the boundaries of the spirit as well as the letter of the law for maximum benefit. Every now and then it gets it wrong and gets a slap. And that's OK. It doesn't have to like it, but it does have to deal with it...
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 12:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Master Atrus View Post
I guess I don't understand the full issue here. Apple sells its products. Apple probably ensures its stores have products before everyone else. If you (as a reseller) do not like the terms of reselling, then cease to be a reseller. If enough resellers stop selling and Apple sees a revenue loss, it will change the terms of the resale agreement. It is simple business. Why is the government involved here?
Because of accusations that Apple violated law and also perhaps contract terms to drive said resellers out of business.

But in the end it may turn out to all be false. That Apple did act within terms of the contract which might have granted them liberty to do things like reduce credit lines etc. and this company is just acting on sour grapes feelings because they enjoyed a lack of competition before Apple came in.

As for the App Store thing, consumers are aware of the lock in when they buy, as are developers. The price change was more likely the same periodic adjustment due to changes in the value of the dollar versus whatever. Nothing more or less and included in the terms even if folks don't bother reading them
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 12:53 PM   #19
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Personally I think it is a gross over reaction and quite frankly the government protecting a few clicky vendors at the expense of consumers - protecting the 'middle man' at the expense of the consumer being able to purchase a product at a reasonable price. I know at least in the case of New Zealand we used to get royally shafted until Apple started selling directly to consumers which forced Yoobee (formally known as Magnummac) to lift its game and offer something that Apple cannot along with other resellers such as JB Hifi, Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming and Dick Smith entering into the market.

Regarding Italy and consumer protection - why is it Apple's fault that the Italian government doesn't put up a website educating its citizens? If their citizens aren't willing to inform themselves of their rights then why is Apple being blamed? is this just more bashing America by proxy by going after American businesses or something?
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 01:04 PM   #20
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Because it is France, and the French government has a long history of this anti-business, nationalistic protectionism?
Sure and spy on every country. Wait...

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Originally Posted by MrNomNoms View Post
Personally I think it is a gross over reaction and quite frankly the government protecting a few clicky vendors at the expense of consumers - protecting the 'middle man' at the expense of the consumer being able to purchase a product at a reasonable price. I know at least in the case of New Zealand we used to get royally shafted until Apple started selling directly to consumers which forced Yoobee (formally known as Magnummac) to lift its game and offer something that Apple cannot along with other resellers such as JB Hifi, Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming and Dick Smith entering into the market.

Regarding Italy and consumer protection - why is it Apple's fault that the Italian government doesn't put up a website educating its citizens? If their citizens aren't willing to inform themselves of their rights then why is Apple being blamed? is this just more bashing America by proxy by going after American businesses or something?
Yeah sure, it's not Apple faults if they don't telle the customer about the laws that every business must apply and try to sell their own apple care despite the product is already covered instead.

It's always funny how people are always siding with Apple whatever they do.

Reminding me Jon Stewart and kitten hearts powered iPhones ...

----------

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Originally Posted by donutbagel View Post
France is a socialism nation, and I've heard from many people that the French are generally distrustful of computing technology. I've been there, and everything seems so old (but beautiful).
Yeah that can do that to people that live in 2 years old nations...

And no, French are less distrustful than Americans regarding computing technology. We are not the ones that gave our credit card number by phone because we don't trust servers ...
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 01:06 PM   #21
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Yeah sure, it's not Apple faults if they don't telle the customer about the laws that every business must apply and try to sell their own apple care despite the product is already covered instead.
Nobody complains when Dell does exactly the same thing. In Britain. In Germany. In Italy!

And please, AppleCare does indeed give you things that are not covered.

1. Cover when it isn't clear were the damage comes from, that is if the customer cannot prove that the damage is Apple's fault.

2. Cover when you are away from the store where you bought - AppleCare covers you anywhere in the world, not only where the store is where you bought.

3. Cover when the seller goes bankrupt, or tries whatever they can to avoid paying out.

4. Cover after two years.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 01:11 PM   #22
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Vive Le France!

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Originally Posted by donutbagel View Post
France is a socialism nation, and I've heard from many people that the French are generally distrustful of computing technology. I've been there, and everything seems so old (but beautiful).


----------



MacMall is great because they repair old Macs, sell slightly old Macs, and sell non-Apple accessories. The Apple Retail Store near me even directed me to MacMall to replace my 2006 iMac's failed hard drive (failed in 2012, which isn't too bad). I opened it myself anyway to save money.

It may be old but far more advanced in many areas of technology than the USA, for example electronic road tolls, gas stations completely cashless (and staff less), credit cards that you can just touch to pay, oh and like most of Europe credit cards with smart chips embedded so signatures not required (chip and pin) and of course it is old and beautiful vive le france!http://cdn.macrumors.com/vb/images/smilies/smile.gif
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 01:28 PM   #23
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There's the key right there, and the most important element of the equation for France. They are trying to protect their native businesses from the big mean American corporation.

I'm usually of the opinion that government should get involved and protect the little guy, but this a bit absurd. I guess I would need to know the exact law Apple is accused of violating, but it sounds odd to me that there is a law that says "manufacturers who also own their own outlets have to treat third party resellers equal to their own outlets" or something like that.
Yup. More EU Politics, and expect much more thanks to the NSA stuff.

Can't really blame the French. I would feel protectionist if my country were smaller than Texas.

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Originally Posted by PracticalMac View Post
Along the lines of the DoJ investigation of iBooks?

When one is in power, concerns of abuse are high, and the French are just checking for possible abuse.
LOL. Apple will win the DOJ waste of taxpayers money. The DOJ is on a political witch hunt. Even if Apple were guilty the DOJ lawyers are among the most intellectually unequipped humans on Earth.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 01:34 PM   #24
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4. Cover after two years.
Only Mac and Displays. iPhone/Pad/Pod and TV are covered only for two years, which in Europe they have to provide anyway. The only real benefit, if you call it that, is software support. And only with Apple Care can you deal directly with Apple instead of a reseller.

http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/

What really pissed me off once is that a Apple Store! in Germany insisted that my dad needed Apple Care to get two years of hardware support. So either a. They were badly trained (although everything is covered by two years warranty so even the sales monkey should know that unless he buys a new TV when it fails after two weeks) or b. they just try to flog it to hit sales targets. Who knows.
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Old Jul 1, 2013, 02:49 PM   #25
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Lock-in? Wait... what do they think Apple can do with the App Store that will make your iOS app purchases run on a non iOS device? Or one version of Android vs. another, for that matter?

Have they never heard of software? Is Apple going to get in trouble because Photoshop for Mac doesn't run on Windows?
Yeah! I tried to play an X-Box game on my PS3 and it didn't work! Total B.S.!
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