Apple charged with fixing prices

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Russian regulators have found Apple guilty of fixing the price of iPhones sold in the country for years.

In its ruling, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS), Russia’s antitrust regulator, said Tuesday that Apple set the price businesses were allowed to charge for iPhones for the first three months of the devices’ release.

It noted that Apple contacted any retailer that offered a discount for the device during this initial period, and the company terminated the contracts of sellers that did not comply to its pricing system.

“In the case of ‘inappropriate’ prices, the Russian subsidiary of Apple has sent emails to resellers requesting them to change,” according to a statement published by FAS.

The regulators noted that the scheme existed for all versions from the iPhone 5, released in 2012, to the iPhone 6S, released in 2015.

No price fixing was found in the case of the iPhone 7, the most recently released iPhone that was launched late last year.

Apple has three months to appeal the ruling. If the appeal fails, Apple could be fined an amount equivalent to 15 percent of its total sales in Russia.

Apple has not commented on the ruling, but FAS announced the company cooperated fully with the investigation.

Apple markets the iPhone as a luxury brand, which is likely the reason it punished retailers for offering discounts.

FAS went after Apple’s chief competitor Google last year, forcing it to end a practice that prohibited smartphone sellers in Russia from installing rival search engine apps on Android devices’ home screens. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, was fined $6.75 million.

The fine was extremely small compared to Alphabet’s revenue, but the ruling allowed Russian search engines to gain a larger foothold among smartphone users.

Shares of Apple were down slightly amid the news, dropping 0.15 percent by Tuesday’s close of markets to $138.99 per share.

2017.03.15 / 13:59
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