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Reports reveal raid of Apple's French headquarters in retail dispute
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MacNN Staff
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Jul 1, 2013, 10:43 AM
 
Apple's French headquarters was recently raided in the course of an antitrust investigation by the country's competition regulators, local reports say. Government authorities seized documents related to a complaint by Apple reseller eBizcuss, which went bankrupt last year. Following the bankruptcy, eBizcuss complained that Apple was engaging in unfair competition, making sure its own stores are well-stocked with new products while limiting what resellers have access to.

French regulators are also reportedly investigating the App Store. The company is said to have raised the minimum selling price for magazines and newspapers last year, prompting concerns that Apple was making it difficult for smaller developers to compete. The Groupement des Editeurs de Services en Ligne, also known as GESTE, says it "regretted the unilateral and brutal decision" by Apple.

In general, Apple has been facing more intense scrutiny of its business practices in Europe than in the US. While it has had to deal with things like a probe into its tax practices and antitrust charges over its e-book deals, in Europe the company has not only had to deal with equivalent issues, but also complaints about warranty practices and its deals with iPhone carriers.
     
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Jul 1, 2013, 12:00 PM
 
Interesting news. France is considered by many to have one of the least competitive economies in the developed world and yet here the government claims to be intervening to protect "competition." How do you make sense of that?

The answer is that France tends regard quite a few competitive behaviors as illegal competition. A highly competitive company will be run lean, with only the number of employees it needs. France makes it very difficult to layoff employees. A competitive company will sell cheaper to increase sales. France makes that illegal in many areas, such as books.

But making it hard to fire creates an incentive not to hire at all, either automating or exporting jobs. That's why France has such a high unemployment rate, particularly for the young. And banning price cutting means people either don't buy at all or buy where prices are cheaper, such as overseas. France's anti-competitive laws don't protect competition. They often protect those who can't compete. Note that eBizcuss went bankrupt last year.

I'm certainly no fan of Apple's business practices, particularly the vilest one, not locating in a community unless they get tax breaks. A company with over $100 billion in cash reserves shouldn't be shaking down struggling small communities for tax breaks. It should, if anything, give the community money to help cope with the added expenses it brings. And a company that tilts heavily to the left (i.e. Al Gore on its board), is more than a bit hypocritical when, as one of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, it evades paying the taxes that fund the big government it wants. Yes, that is typically liberal, but that doesn't make it right.

But I also suspect that those who've got complaints about Apple's behavior in France would be better advised to take their business elsewhere. If Apple won't supply you with items to sell, change what you sell. If Apple wants to set minimum prices for digital magazines higher than you like, create the magazines for someone else. Compete by changing not whining.

In the latter case, I tend to sympathize with Apple over the magazine publishers. Unlike Amazon, Apple doesn't charge download fees and many graphic-rich magazines may be so large that, sold cheaply, Apple may lose money on each sale. Compounding the problem for French digital magazines may be the fact that the French language is not as popular as it once was. That may be unfortunate, but it's hardly Apple's fault.
Author of Untangling Tolkien and Chesterton on War and Peace
     
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Jul 2, 2013, 07:46 AM
 
Agree with all the above. Resellers can't (and never have for at least the last 15 years) from Apple retailing. It only works if the they are are a Service Provider too which backs up the retail side. Even then its not ideal. But Apple's way of working is nothing new.
     
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Jul 2, 2013, 08:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post
I'm certainly no fan of Apple's business practices, particularly the vilest one, not locating in a community unless they get tax breaks. A company with over $100 billion in cash reserves shouldn't be shaking down struggling small communities for tax breaks. It should, if anything, give the community money to help cope with the added expenses it brings. And a company that tilts heavily to the left (i.e. Al Gore on its board), is more than a bit hypocritical when, as one of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, it evades paying the taxes that fund the big government it wants. Yes, that is typically liberal, but that doesn't make it right.
Is is just ridiculous bullshit. The corporate tax laws have not been touched since the Bush administration, AFAIK.

What do you suggest they do — invent charges they don't owe, just so that they can pay them?

Isn't matching donations by employees and stepping up charity work and public support of worthy political causes enough?
     
   
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