Earlier today Apple and Amazon will end their long standing agreement that froze other publishers and services out of selling audiobooks on the iTunes platform.
The nature of the original agreement saw Amazon’s Audible as the sole seller of audiobooks via iTunes since 2003. As previous cases have shown, things like this don’t sit well with the regulator agencies in Europe and sure enough this agreement floated right into antitrust territory.
With continued complaints from publishers in Germany, the Federal Cartel Office investigated the concerns in 2015. To cut any eventual action from the Commission Apple and Amazon ended the agreement. The result was the Federal Cartel Office suspended those investigations against the two companies.
“Audible and Apple have a strong position in the digital range of audio books in Germany,” said Cartel Office President Andreas Mundt in a press release (in German). “By deleting the exclusive agreement, Apple can now use other sources of reference for digital audio books. A greater supply diversity and lower prices for consumers are made possible.”
The European Commission—which regularly investigates and rules on antitrust concerns—were pleased by the decision to end the agreement and commented on it in a separate press release (in German).