At the end of last year, we spoke here about an unprecedented agreement between Apple and the Amazon which made, for the first time, Apple (and its authorized resellers) sell products directly by the world’s largest retailer in several countries.
A few days later, we also talked about the crisis that this would generate in the parallel market, since hundreds of unauthorized resellers of Apple products, several with a tradition on Amazon, would be thrown out of the market and prohibited from selling Apple products if they did not. to join the company – which in many cases was not an option.
It is precisely this problem that is leading to an investigation against the two giants. How did you bring The Verge, a Federal Trade Commission (FTC, that is, the Federal Trade Commission of the United States) launched a special investigation to analyze whether the agreement between Apple and Amazon was harmful to small merchants in any way that disrespects American laws.
So far, the agency has not launched any formal antitrust charges against the two, but it is listening to the parties involved in the imbroglio to find out in detail the causes and consequences of what happened. An unauthorized Apple reseller, John Bumstead, claimed to have met with FTC lawyers and economists to explain the deal’s impacts on his business – he had to leave the Amazon Marketplace and, selling the products on other platforms, made his profit seriously diminished.
Several experts heard by the The Verge said the deal between the giants is in fact fertile ground for an accusation of antitrust practices. Just look at what Sally Hubbard, a specialist in market analysis and director of the OpenMarkets Institute, said about a practice known as Brand-gating – which, according to her, is very common on Amazon:
You put a fence around a brand and say that all its sellers will no longer be able to sell their products on that platform unless they receive an authorization from the brand itself. But it is clear that the brand will not let you sell products below the fixed minimum price. The problem is that this is illegal under antitrust law.
Apple and Amazon have not commented on the case, and it will take the FTC several months before it pronounces with any verdict on the whole thing. Let’s wait carefully.
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