Apple sees end to EU antitrust probe

Barely a fortnight after Apple abolished some developer restrictions for iPhone and iPad developers, the European Union has said it will stop its antitrust investigations into the company
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

The European Union has ended two antitrust investigations into Apple, following the company's relaxation of iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch developer restrictions.

In a statement on 25 September, Joaquín Almunia, the European Commission's vice president in charge of competition policy said the company's "response to our preliminary investigations shows that the Commission can use the competition rules to achieve swift results on the market with clear benefits for consumers, without the need to open formal proceedings".

The regulators launched two investigations in the spring of 2010 into Apple's iPhone business practices. One focused on Apple's decision to restrict application developers to Apple's own programming languages and tools. The other looked at Apple's insistence that warranty repairs could only be carried out in the owner's country of purchase.

In the statement, the Commission said it will close the investigations after "Apple's announcement that it has relaxed restrictions on the development tools for iPhone applications (apps) and introduced cross-border iPhone warranty repair services within the EU/EEA".

The relaxation of cross-border warranty restrictions "puts an end to the difficulties experienced by European consumers who need repair services for an iPhone purchased in a member state other than their country of residence", the statement added. 

Apple changed its rules and published its App Store Review Guidelines in a surprise move on 9 September. The move is widely thought in the industry to have been influenced by the European investigations, as well as the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) inquiry launched in June at the request of Adobe. That company had complained because Apple's restrictive rules made it difficult or impossible to co-develop applications for the iPhone, which does not run Flash or Flash-based systems.

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