We cover tons of legal disputes between various companies in the mobile space, whether that’s Apple vs. Samsung, Apple vs. Motorola, Apple vs. HTC… well, let’s just say that Apple’s lawyers sure must make a nice living. One we haven’t touched on too much has been the big Apple e-book pricing scandal concerning Amazon and others, led by the US DOJ. Apple’s since been found guilty of federal antitrust violations, and the DOJ is currently working out a settlement with Apple. As the details are negotiated, we’re starting to get a sense of how this might change the way Apple sells all sorts of media – not just books – as well as get to peek behind the curtain and see how its policies came to be.
Beyond setting up a staggered schedule by which Apple would have to renegotiate deals with book publishers, the DOJ is pushing hard to put other limits on agreements with content providers concerning audio, movies, TV shows, and apps. Specifically, it wants Apple out of any deals it may have in place to control prices for how that kind of media is sold in other, non-Apple stores. Clearly with apps that’s no issue, but that very well might affect deals the company has with Hollywood and the music industry – and ultimately, how that media gets priced.
As part of the new settlement the DOJ just offered, it includes as evidence some email correspondence from three years back between Steve Jobs and Phil Schiller. When Schiller voices concerns that new Kindle ads show Amazon’s cross-platform support making it look like it’s far too easy for users to jump from iOS to Android, Jobs doesn’t waste any time in thinking up the solution: force Amazon to use Apple’s payment systems in retaliation – for all its media. That got the ball rolling, leading to where we are now.