Amazon and Apple Slapped with $218 million Fine for Collusion, Restricting Competition in Spain
Spain's antitrust watchdog imposes hefty fines on tech giants Amazon and Apple for anti-competitive practices that limited third-party sellers and advertising opportunities.
Amazon and Apple have been fined a combined total of €194 million ($218 million) by Spain's antitrust watchdog. The fine was imposed due to the collusion between the two tech giants, favoring direct sales of Apple products on Amazon while limiting competition from third-party sellers.
In 2018, Amazon and Apple reached agreements that restricted the free competition of third-party sellers on Amazon's platform, as confirmed by Spain's National Markets and Competition Commission. These agreements raised concerns about antitrust violations in the internet sale of electronic products and marketing services provided to third-party retailers through online platforms in Spain.
According to Spanish regulators, the tech giants also curtailed the advertising capacity of third parties for Apple products on Amazon. Furthermore, the companies were accused of striking a deal that hindered Amazon's ability to advertise to Apple product customers or offer them competing electronics brands.
As a result of these agreements, the antitrust watchdog reported that 90% of third-party sellers of Apple products were forced off Amazon's platform before the renewal of the Amazon-Apple distribution deal.
Apple has been fined €143.6 million ($161 million), while Amazon faces a fine of €50.5 million ($56.7 million). Both companies have expressed their intention to appeal the decision.
In response to the fine, Amazon stated that it disagrees with the Competition Authority's assertion that excluding sellers benefits the company. Amazon emphasized its reliance on the success of its sellers, which mainly consist of small businesses. The company also highlighted the benefits for customers resulting from the 2018 agreement, such as increased product listings and larger discounts for iPads and iPhones.
Apple defended its decision to sign the agreement, citing the objective of combating counterfeiting and safety issues. The company mentioned that it had sent Amazon numerous takedown notices for fraudulent products prior to the deal. Apple reiterated its commitment to consumer protection.
Europe has taken a leading role in addressing the market dominance of Big Tech companies through antitrust investigations. Both the European Union and national authorities have launched numerous investigations to tackle allegations of abuse of power. Italy, for instance, fined Apple and Amazon over €200 million two years ago for violating EU rules by restricting competition in the sale of Apple- and Beats-branded products.
Amazon and Apple fined €194 million by Spain's antitrust watchdog for colluding to restrict competition.
Agreements in 2018 limited third-party sellers of Apple products on Amazon's platform.
Advertising opportunities for Apple products were curtailed.