French watchdog to take €1.1bn bite out of Apple over 'anticompetitive' practices

Respect mah Autorité. You too, Tech Data, and Ingram Micro


The French competition watchdog, Autorité de la Concurrence, has slapped Apple with a stonking €1.1bn fine over claims the Californian fruit farm had artificially limited supply of its kit to wholesalers.

The Autorité de la Concurrence also issued punishing sanctions to wholesalers Tech Data and Ingram Micro, which were fined €76.1m and €62.9m respectively. This fine is the bitter conclusion of almost a decade's worth of legal wrangling, which wrapped up in December 2017, pending sentencing.

As alleged by Isabella De Dilva, president of the Autorité de la Concurrence, Apple and the two third-party distributors agreed they wouldn't compete on price for certain products. According to the watchdog, this created a situation where pricing for several Apple products was virtually aligned across the French market, effectively nullifying competition, and preventing French customers from being able to take advantage of reductions and promotions.

The watchdog specifically named the iPad as one of the devices that was part of the scheme, but also noted that the iPhone wasn't involved in the controversial arrangement.

The Autorité de la Concurrence also alleges Apple abused its position of power over its network of premium resellers by artificially limiting the supply of certain products in order to give its retail outlets a key advantage.

The watchdog said shortages would emerge during periods of intense consumer interest – like after the release of a new product, or at the end of the year (coinciding with the festive season).

This situation, it added, creates incredible pressure on Apple Premium Resellers (APRs), for whom Cupertino's products must account for 70 per cent of their turnover. They're seemingly unable to sell Apple's own kit, but if they sell too much third-party kit to compensate, they could lose their coveted APR status.

The Autorité de la Concurrence claims these practices were partially responsible for the failure of eBizcuss – a French Apple reseller that entered liquidation in 2012, after 36 years of trading. It employed 120 people across 15 outlets.

In 2011, eBizcuss CEO Francois Prudent accused Apple of limiting its access to stock – including the then-new iPhone 4S. In the months before the firm folded, Prudent filed a lawsuit against Apple in a Paris court and issued a formal complaint to the French competition authority.

Seventy-five employees also individually sued Apple, claiming the firm was effectively its co-employer, and therefore they were entitled to new jobs or severance pay. ®


Other stories you might like

  • 381,000-plus Kubernetes API servers 'exposed to internet'
    Firewall isn't a made-up word from the Hackers movie, people

    A large number of servers running the Kubernetes API have been left exposed to the internet, which is not great: they're potentially vulnerable to abuse.

    Nonprofit security organization The Shadowserver Foundation recently scanned 454,729 systems hosting the popular open-source platform for managing and orchestrating containers, finding that more than 381,645 – or about 84 percent – are accessible via the internet to varying degrees thus providing a cracked door into a corporate network.

    "While this does not mean that these instances are fully open or vulnerable to an attack, it is likely that this level of access was not intended and these instances are an unnecessarily exposed attack surface," Shadowserver's team stressed in a write-up. "They also allow for information leakage on version and build."

    Continue reading
  • A peek into Gigabyte's GPU Arm for AI, HPC shops
    High-performance platform choices are going beyond the ubiquitous x86 standard

    Arm-based servers continue to gain momentum with Gigabyte Technology introducing a system based on Ampere's Altra processors paired with Nvidia A100 GPUs, aimed at demanding workloads such as AI training and high-performance compute (HPC) applications.

    The G492-PD0 runs either an Ampere Altra or Altra Max processor, the latter delivering 128 64-bit cores that are compatible with the Armv8.2 architecture.

    It supports 16 DDR4 DIMM slots, which would be enough space for up to 4TB of memory if all slots were filled with 256GB memory modules. The chassis also has space for no fewer than eight Nvidia A100 GPUs, which would make for a costly but very powerful system for those workloads that benefit from GPU acceleration.

    Continue reading
  • GitLab version 15 goes big on visibility and observability
    GitOps fans can take a spin on the free tier for pull-based deployment

    One-stop DevOps shop GitLab has announced version 15 of its platform, hot on the heels of pull-based GitOps turning up on the platform's free tier.

    Version 15.0 marks the arrival of GitLab's next major iteration and attention this time around has turned to visibility and observability – hardly surprising considering the acquisition of OpsTrace as 2021 drew to a close, as well as workflow automation, security and compliance.

    GitLab puts out monthly releases –  hitting 15.1 on June 22 –  and we spoke to the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, about what will be added to version 15 as time goes by. During a chat with the company's senior director of Product, Kenny Johnston, at the recent Kubecon EU event, The Register was told that this was more where dollars were being invested into the product.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022